Monday, September 30, 2013

Outdoors -- the edge

It's here, the cusp of October.

When I was in sixth grade, the teacher made us learn six pieces to recite in front of the class.

I still remember bits of "October's Bright Blue Weather" by Helen Hunt Jackson.

I think all of us in the D.C. area agree that October is just about the best month of the year.  The sun is still warm but the breezes and nights are cool.  We get some rain (we hope, we're short about half an inch right now according to the meteorologists).  Lots of things are still green, even though our leaves usually turn this month.

There are even some flowers.  The little white wild asters, a last few golden cosmos in my garden, some Rose of Sharon.  People who planted specially for autumn have chrysanthemums out.

The wrens are still calling, but they have left off that rasp they use in August.  I hear the robin cluck once in a while.  Chickadees are setting their territorial limits.  I've been hearing Black-crested titmice whistling (it sounds like somebody calling a dog) and some tufted titmice ("peter peter peter").  I think our young mockingbird is practicing softly to himself (herself?).  The catbird still mews once in a while, although he will soon flit.  When it gets nippy the male cardinal calls.  Jays are starting to get noisy.  The crows are leaving for a city with more lights and fewer owls.  The sparrows are waiting for the kernels on the privet hedge to ripen.  I've seen a few strings of geese migrating.

I'm hanging on to summer as hard as I can because I hate winter so much.  It's nice to have the October breather.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Garden -- Shutting down

If I really wanted to, I suppose I could plant some hardy vegetables now, like kale or beets.

But I have a big project on so I'm going to shutdown until next spring.

I'm going to dig the okra under.  It was too cool this year to get much fruit, but I'm going to see if I'll get any volunteer plants next year. 

I'll take out the tomato plant in about a week.  There are a couple of fruits coloring up.

I have been pulling a few carrots each day for munchies.  My first planting went south but the second planting has done very well.

I have a few beets still in the ground and some beef in the freezer all ready for a good pot of borscht, great food for autumn.

The basil sets I planted in spring went to seed and the seed I planted are just about picked bare.  Have you ever had pesto made from basil that was still on the plant 10 minutes ago?  MMMMMM!  But I don't love it enough to bring the plants inside and buy a gro-light.

I'm experimenting with letting some cucumbers go to seed.  The question is the tomatoes gave me volunteer plants and the cucumbers were also grown from open-pollinated seeds, so will the cucumbers give me any plants.

Two varieties of lettuce went to seed and it will be interesting to see the results next spring.

The grass is dormant because it's been dry so far this autumn.  A couple more mows and then I'll let it alone so the blades can keep the roots from freezing.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fact Checking -- Hebrew lesson

The real "Fact Checking" lessons will start October 4.  In the meantime, study up on Exodus 21:24-25.

If you are planning to use my Hebrew lessons so that your fishing in Torah will be more effective, the first thing you need to know is the alphabet.

Each of the first 30 lessons or something like that will list the new letters in that lesson, but the more letters you memorize from the table, the less you will need that part of the lesson.

Notice the names of the letters.  Most of them are similar to Hebrew words starting with those letters.  BUT if you try looking them up in a dictionary of pure Hebrew, you might not find them.  For example, nun is supposed to mean “fish,” but the normal Hebrew word for “fish” is dag.  Don’t sweat it.  You will only need these names if somebody makes you spell a word out.

I’m not going to teach you how to write, either script or the other form, which is called the “square” form.  There are web sites that can teach you to write cursive.  No sense learning to write before you learn to read at least one verse.

So I’m going to start with that one verse, and it’s the first verse.  Traditionally, when a child starts learning to read, somebody dips his finger in honey and he can lick it off.  Go get yourself some honey, honey, and start this off traditionally.

To Genesis 1:1

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- no way to run a trial

The government handed their prosecutors a murder charge on which they could not win.  That was due, not only to the faked evidence, but also to how the case was conducted, and that goes back to normal Tsarist legal practice, with which the prosecutors dealt extremely ill.

The first and most pervasive problem in trying the Beilis case was that the government did not proceed quickly to trial.  Some witnesses were deposed two years before the trial began.  Some were first deposed in summer 1912, including Brazul, Krasovsky, Margolin and the Dyakon sisters.  But even a year is too long to remember details.
The government did not bring the witnesses in to rehearse them before the trial.  In the Russian legal system, it was perfectly legitimate to use depositions at trial instead of bringing in the person who gave the deposition.  This played into the government’s hands in some cases.  People with the most dangerous knowledge were sent to Siberia or lost track of deliberately so they could not be cross-questioned on the witness stand.  They testified only through depositions.

Russia also had a legal practice which allowed people taking depositions to leave out information they felt was not important at the time.
That meant that the forensic investigator had full power to force his own theory of the case on the documentation the prosecution and defense would both rely on during a trial.  If evidence turned up later that falsified the theory, the forensic investigator had full power to call the witnesses back in, disrupting their jobs, to find out what they knew relative to the new evidence.

If, of course, he was not too lazy, or too arrogant, or too prejudiced (or too bribed) to do it.
The multiple depositions taken by Vasily Fenenko suggest that he was conscientious in his work.  But when it got to trial, important material was missing from the depositions.  The one deposition that Fenenko did take down in every last devastating detail, was the fumbling, self-contradictory statement of Vasily Cheberyak on December 20, 1911, during which Chaplinsky was in the room to oversee Fenenko’s work.

When the prosecution ran across this problem with the depositions, they berated the witness for lying if the witness claimed they told Fenenko this or that detail, because it wasn’t in the deposition.  Or they would ask the witness why Fenenko left that detail out of the deposition.  Or both. 
Mashkevich, who took depositions in 1912, was just as bad as Fenenko; detective Krasovsky testified to that.

Fenenko testified at trial, but not until day 19, and by then the handwriting was on the wall, and in any case he was called by the defense, and the prosecution didn’t seriously muck around with one of the two Kiev officials who had kept their jobs while, all around them, Chaplinsky was cashiering people who refused to support the ritual murder part of the government theory.  Somebody who can survive that has serious connections and nobody messes with that.
Another thing the prosecution had to deal with was the fact that numbers of witnesses, almost half of them, were illiterate.  When Fenenko tried to get dates and times from them, as often as not, the best they could do was say “it happened in autumn” or, in one case, “it was after the Feast of the Forty Martyrs.”  Kazimir Shakhovsky didn’t say he saw Andrey and Zhenya at 7:30, he said that the third whistle at the factory had gone off.  Fenenko, a long-time Kievlyanin, knew that this happened at 7:30 and that’s what he put in the deposition.

Illiterate people do not read newspapers or keep diaries, and almost everything they knew about the case was hearsay.  That was perfectly admissible evidence in a Russian court, as long as the witness could name the person he heard it from.  One chain of hearsay went from a 12-year-old boy named Pilaev, to his mother’s friend Repetskaya, to an unnamed night guard, to an unnamed plumber. 
By the time Andrey’s murder became a Federal case, there was nothing but rumor for most witnesses to go on.  That, in the end, is why the government had to build their case out of whole cloth.  That or abandon it.  But abandoning the case would not have satisfied the Black Hundreds; even Golubev might not have been able to stop a pogrom if the government had dropped the case for lack of evidence.

So the government sandbagged the prosecution from two ends.  One was in not telling them the case could not be won because honest and reasonable people would be telling the truth on the witness stand, and the truth didn’t support the government theory.  The other is that the police and Fenenko had hosed up the evidence to the point where nothing direct pointed to even the real murderers.  It would have been equally difficult to convict Vera and her gang with the information that the government collected in 1911 and 1912.
Unless they turned to the private investigators.  Brazul’s 1911 work was a load of garbage, but what he and Krasovsky did in 1912 was two-fold.

The most important thing was that they got a visit from a guy who knew a guy who had served out a sentence in jail and never knuckled under to the jail officials, giving him a great reputation among criminals.  The team worked out a way for this guy, Karaev, to get to Singaevsky, Vera’s brother, and get his trust.  At the end of April, 1912, Singaevsky unloaded a lot of anger against Kiev’s officials, and then confessed that he and Rudzinsky and Latyshev murdered Andrey in Vera’s apartment.  He said it happened between the Adamovich robbery and the getaway to Moscow.  He said he thought that Rudzinsky was going to be OK, even though Ivanov was sweating him for a confession, because Rudzinsky could use the robbery for an alibi.
The problem with that, which both sets of attorneys tried to pound into Singaevsky when he took the stand, was that the government theory said Andrey was murdered in the morning.  Think about it.  Singaevsky didn’t need an alibi unless he was the murderer.  When the prosecution went after him on this issue, they admitted that Beilis was not the murderer.  They blew their own case, and that was the other thing Karaev’s team accomplished.  Why did the government believe in a morning murder?

There are two reasons.  First, the government had a deposition from a man named Yov Zelensky who lived in a village called Grebenki.  Zelensky and half a dozen other people from this village came to the factory to work, and Yov said they didn't get there until 3 p.m. March 12, 1911, or later.  This meant that the only people on the factory grounds were Jews who would lie to protect Beilis. But the same accounting records that proved Beilis was at work on Saturday, proved that the two Grebenki workers who could read and write had signed paperwork for their loads on 8 March.  What's worse, the in-court testimony of Yov and all six of the other Grebenki workers contradicted each other.  No two of them told the same story.  If none of their stories matched, none of their testimony supported the government theory.

Second, Vera Cheberyak had a fight with Zinaida Malitskaya, who lived downstairs from the Cheberyaks and could hear everything that went on upstairs.  Her husband went up and complained about it more than once.  After the fight, Zinaida went and told the police a vague story, which they didn’t really believe.  In August, after her husband came home from tending beehives in the country, Zinaida told him the story.  In November, when he came home for the winter, he took her to give a deposition to Fenenko.  There were just two problems.  She told her husband she heard suspicious noises in the morning, but she told Fenenko she heard them at night.
The other problem, of course, is that Malitskaya was convinced Vera had murdered Andrey.  Nothing in her story brings in Beilis.  That was a pervasive problem from day 15 of the trial through day 19.

Because on day 15 the jury heard from Ekaterina Dyakon: she and her sister Ksenya went to Vera’s at 11 on March 12, saw Andrey almost 2 hours after the government theory said he was dead, and knew he was still in the house at 3 when they left, ahead of Vasily coming home for dinner.

The government mixed up the Dyakons’ testimony with Adele Ravich’s story about seeing Andrey’s body rolled up in Vera’s jute carpet before the Dyakons got to Vera’s.  And they did that because Adele Ravich never told the government that story.  She told it to her husband, and he told it all over Lukyanovka, and by September 20, 1913, it grew into Vera keeping the body in her apartment for three days still rolled up in the carpet.  It was all rumor and gossip.  But in August 1911, Adele and her husband left for America using 300 rubles that Vera gave them, and the government refused to contact the Russian embassy in the U.S. or Canada to find them and bring them back, not in the whole two years before the trial began.
In 1914, Krasovsky and another man went to America, found the Raviches, got an affidavit from them about Andrey’s murder, and came back, all in the space of six weeks.  The affidavit has disappeared.  Nobody knows now what it said.
But the government knew there were bloodstains on Vera’s jute carpet; it says so in the indictment.  And they had the carpet tested for blood.  The man assigned to this test used his naked eye to examine spots on the carpet that looked like something had been poured on them.  He used no microscope.  He ran no chemical tests, of which a dozen reliable ones had been known for the previous 50 years.  The Russian government screwed up its case against Mendel Beilis in every possible way and if it failed to convict him, at least it also would fail to convict Vera.
Now, what kind of connections do you suppose she had?

The juror's story

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 23, 2013

Garden -- tomatoes

Almost everybody wants to grow tomatoes but they are picky puppies so know what you are doing going in.

First, now that you know where the sun falls in your yard, you probably want to put in half a dozen tomato plants. 

BUT does that spot get sun by 8 in the morning in the summer?  If not, the dew won't dry fast enough and you could have problems with your plants.

AND how many spots like  that do you have in your yard?

Tomatoes have to be moved on a four-year plan.  If you grow tomatoes in the same place over and over, they will develop a disease that will turn the lower leaves brown.  Putting in new compost won't prevent the problem.  They have to be planted in a different part of the soil every year for four years.

And manure won't work either.  My guru, Mike McGrath, says manure is too rich for tomatoes.

Don't forget, you will need to save up eggshells before you plant.  Crush a dozen eggshells and put them under the soil to prevent blossom-end rot.

Finally, a little reminder.  In 2012, I think it was, gardeners found out that the tomato sets they bought from mass sellers like Lowe's had blight.  The potato blight that ruined the crop in the 1800s in Ireland and brought so many Irish to the U.S., had evolved into a version that could attack tomatoes, which are a distant relative of potatoes. 

I have always grown tomatoes from heirloom seeds which are open pollinated.  If fruit dropped into the ground, it was fertile and produced new plants the next year.  Of course, that ran up against the rotation issue above, but it was cool to find the volunteer plants in the garden and they even grew tomatoes.  If you're going to start from seed, you have to wait longer for your tomatoes, or you have to start them inside with a gro-light, but you avoid the blight problem.

Another thing you'll find out is that too hot a summer will keep the tomatoes from blossoming.  That happened in 2012 too.

Commercial tomato growers admit that they have bred all the flavor out of tomatoes in favor of something that travels well.  Grow your own and find out what tomatoes should really taste like.  But be prepared to baby them.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 22, 2013

DIY -- farmer's market

I'm hitting the farmer's market today for cucumbers, beets, cabbage, and hopefully a couple of green tomatoes.

There are things you can't get in your local store unless you live in the right place.  You may find them in a farmer's market or a specialty market, but you might have to drive a ways to get there.

Chow chow is a cauliflower and green tomato relish I grew up with.  I lived on the western edge of Pennsylvania Dutch country and I always connected the two.  Now I've found that almost all the old cookbooks online have a recipe for it.  It's how you make sure not to waste what you can't eat fresh for several vegetables that don't keep well.

Picallilli is a green tomato relish that uses up what stayed green late in the season and so there aren't a lot of alternatives for preserving it.  I've found recipes for green tomato catsup but piccalilli is less work.  Might make some fried green tomatoes as well.

The beets you can straightout pickle of course, and that will cost you half  what you spend on the  little jars in the store.  You can drop hard-cooked shelled eggs in the sauce for pickled eggs of a beautiful red color.  BUT I'm going to make a batch of traditional Jewish fermented beets, which seems to have been adopted in Ukraine.  It's called Russell and you use it to make borshcht just like you do with fresh beets. 

Then I have an old recipe for garlic dill pickles and another for sweet mustard pickles.

With the cabbage, I might make some Amish sweet pickled cabbage with my home grown carrots, but only after I shred a bunch of it up for sauerkraut.

My kitchen is going to smell SOOO good this week.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fact-Checking -- The Language

This is also the introductory posting for the Hebrew lessons I promised. 

I said before it will be hard for you to appreciate some of the things I write on this thread if you don't know Hebrew.  I gave you links to the two parts of a free online Hebrew grammar specifically for Jewish classics.  It's a Victorian-era work; Modern Israeli Hebrew didn't exist at the time:
As a Victorian-era text, Kalisch's work may not get you what you want fast enough.  My lessons will go verse by verse with transliterations, translations, vocabulary, grammar notes, and also how each verse relates to Jewish culture.

If you do one Hebrew lesson every time you read a post on this thread, by the time you finish this thread, you should be able to read the Torah in Hebrew and also, as I put it, be able to "fish", answer questions for yourself.

Here’s a description, which has some terms you need to know, so read this part even if you stop at the end of it.

The Hebrew alphabet is really a syllabary.  Each letter is thought of, by default, as a consonant plus “a” as in “father”.  Except for two letters which have no sound of their own.

Somebody I know who read some ancient book on Hebrew thought these two letters represented glottal stops.  Not in spoken Hebrew they don’t.  Not even in the traditional chant used to read Torah on Sabbath in the synagogue.  They are a matter of spelling, not a matter of pronunciation.

There has been some speculation that one of them originally had a sort of glided sound in the throat like the Greek gamma, and that was used to explain why the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Torah has “Gomorrah” when in Hebrew it’s pronounced “Amorah.”  The cursive Hebrew letter even looks like a Greek gamma.

It doesn’t have that sound now, so don’t sweat it.  I just included that factoid because you might hear about it some time.

Sofit    This is a description of some Hebrew letters which have two shapes, one of which only appears at the end of a word.  Count yourself lucky.  Arabic has four shapes for some letters, and so does its descendant Syriac.

One letter does have four forms, if you want to count it that way: one plain with the “kh” sound back in your throat; one with a dot in it that is “k”; one at the end of a word with a vowel that makes it “kha” which is a masculine gender ending; and one at the end of a word with a shva in it that makes it “kh” again, a feminine gender ending.

Dagesh  This is a dot in the middle of some letters.  It changes the sound of some of them.  It is part of the spelling rules and all you care about is to recognize when you have to say a letter differently because of dagesh.  Some letters never take dagesh and I’ll point them out.

Shva  is two vertically placed dots under a letter.  This is also a spelling rule, but sometimes shva has a sound you may have been taught about in school, the schwa e, which is kind of a half-vowel sound.  Schwa is a German version of shva. 

Now go to the Hebrew thread for the rest of the introductory info.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Biblical Hebrew Lessons -- Intro

I promised that I would post a Hebrew lesson every week.  If you do one every time you read a post on the FACT-CHECKING thread, by the time that thread ends, you should be able to read the Torah in Hebrew and at some point, be able to answer questions for yourself.
Here’s a description, which has some terms you need to know, so read this part even if you stop at the end of it.

The Hebrew alphabet is really a syllabary.  Each letter is thought of, by default, as a consonant plus “a” as in “father”.  Except for two letters which have no sound of their own.

Somebody I know who read some ancient book on Hebrew thought these two letters represented glottal stops.  Not in spoken Hebrew they don’t.  Not even in the traditional chant used to read Torah on Sabbath in the synagogue.  They are a matter of spelling, not a matter of pronunciation.

There has been some speculation that one of them originally had a sort of glided sound in the throat like the Greek gamma, and that was used to explain why the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Torah has “Gomorrah” when in Hebrew it’s pronounced “Amorah.”  The cursive Hebrew letter even looks like a Greek gamma.

It doesn’t have that sound now, so don’t sweat it.  I just included that factoid because you might hear about it some time.

Sofit    This is a description of some Hebrew letters which have two shapes, one of which only appears at the end of a word.  Count yourself lucky.  Arabic has four shapes for some letters, and so does its descendant Syriac.

One letter does have four forms, if you want to count it that way: one plain with the “kh” sound back in your throat; one with a dot in it that is “k”; one at the end of a word with a vowel that makes it “kha” which is a masculine gender ending; and one at the end of a word with a shva in it that makes it “kh” again, a feminine gender ending.

Dagesh  This is a dot in the middle of some letters.  It changes the sound of some of them.  It is part of the spelling rules and all you care about is to recognize when you have to say a letter differently because of dagesh.  Some letters never take dagesh and I’ll point them out.

Shva  is two vertically placed dots under a letter.  This is also a spelling rule, but sometimes shva has a sound you may have been taught about in school, the schwa e, which is kind of a half-vowel sound.  Schwa is a German version of shva. 

A little orientation.

Hebrew is a Semitic language.  It is a northwest Semitic language from the same sub-family as K'naani/Ugaritic, from which it gets its original alphabet and letter forms.  The ancient Mesopotamian language Akkadian is a northeast Semitic language closely related to Aramaic.

The northwest Semitic languages began splitting from Akkadian about 2000 BCE.  Ugaritic had a written form by 1300 BCE and notes in its writing system appear on tablets in Egypt from the reign of Akhenaten.

Written Hebrew with a distinct letter form from Ugaritic developed by 800 BCE.  One tablet from 1000 BCE is probably also Hebrew. 

Hebrew letters double as numbers, in a base-10 system.

Somebody once suggested to me that since there are no letters in Hebrew that always represent vowels, a given set of Hebrew letters can represent almost any word.  That's not true.  If you wrote down a sentence in English without the vowels, after some puzzling you could make out what it means.

Writing is only a record of words already known from a spoken language.  Before developing a system of writing, a spoken language develops a grammar, a syntax, a set of idioms, and a morphological system that represents things like tense, mood, number, person, whether a verb is reflexive, whether a noun changes according to its use in the sentence, all the things that writing records but only in oral form.  The only exception I can think of is Esperanto, an artificial human language developed to be perfectly regular.  I don’t know how many people speak it.

By the time writing develops, it has to record the spoken language, not make the language up, and people who know how to read understand when the sentence should have a past tense verb or when a noun should be in the instrumental case.  It's not free form at all.

You've probably heard about variants in the Bible that scholars tabulated.  I did some statistics on that for Torah, which you probably call the Pentateuch.  The scholars worked in the 800s CE; the Torah was first put into writing about 12 centuries before that.  It was written without vowel marks, but the scholars worked on a written text that did have vowels.  They marked every word that varied from what it was supposed to be.  Only 6% of the 5845 verses in Torah are marked; 5% are marked as having spelling errors and 1% are marked as being written in a way that varies from their pronunciation.

So the variants were not an alternative form of Hebrew, it’s just that the copy the scholars worked from had mistakes in it.  They marked them and moved on.  None of the mistakes made any difference to Jewish culture.  Judaism ran by a set of laws that was based on the oral reading of Torah, not on the spelling in that particular copy of Torah. 

All right.  That's a lot of words but hopefully you now understand that the written form of Hebrew, even without vowel marks, means what it means because it records the same words used in speaking Hebrew.  Next, the picture that is worth a thousand words.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- The Government Story

The government version of Andrey’s last days was this. 

He went to school March 11, 1911, came home and brought his aunt some things she needed for her work, the box-making that paid for his schooling.  Saturday, March 12, he ate breakfast at home and went to school, or so everybody thought.  He actually went to Lukyanovka to play with his old friend Zhenya.
About 7 in the morning he played a trick on Kazimir Shakhovsky, the lamplighter, and about 8 in the morning Ulyana Shakhovsky saw him near a government-licensed shop.  He and Zhenya and Lyuda and Valya and at least one other child went to play on the factory grounds.  Their favorite game at the factory was to ride the pugger.  A pugger is like a huge cup, with a rim higher than a horse’s head, set on the ground.  Inside is a vertical shaft that attaches to a horizontal crossbar above the rim.  The end of the crossbar is attached to a harness for a horse.  The horse walks a track around the pugger, and in the bottom of the cup, at the bottom of the vertical shaft, flanges mix ground clay and water to the right consistency for bricks.

The game was that the children would boost each other onto the rim of the pugger.  From there they leaped over to the crossbar at the top, and stood there while the horse rotated it. 
On March 12, Beilis jumped out at them, grabbed the boys’ hands, and Zhenya struggled free, but Beilis put 14-year-old, kicking, screaming Andrey under his arm, ran 90 meters with him around several hangars where bricks were stored to dry before firing, and threw him into the upper kiln, which at the time was cold and out of use.  The other children ran, and Zhenya told his father, but the other child with them didn’t tell anybody.  Nobody knew this story, according to independent information, until July 1912, almost a year and a half later, except supposedly the Cheberyaks, who failed to inform the police and initially claimed that Andrey’s relatives murdered him.

Lyuda also “remembered” that a week or so before this incident, she and Zhenya and Valya went to Beilis’ house, sent there by their mother, to buy milk. Inside the house they saw two strangely dressed Jews whose very appearance struck them with fear. 
The government theory goes on to state that these two men were Chassidic tsadiqs (holy men), living at the factory in March, waiting to receive Andrey’s blood for use in baking matso for Passover, which was three weeks later, and also to consecrate a prayerhouse at a hospice that the Zaitsevs were building for convalescents from the hospital built by the founder of the factory.  These two men were named Ettinger and Landau, and they disappeared after Andrey’s murder.

Every detail of this story was false.  Who would tell a nice little 11-year-old girl that she was lying through her teeth?
Well, they didn’t put it that way.  In the 7 days before Lyuda got on the witness stand, and the 11 days that followed, one adult after another – and half a dozen of Andrey's friends and 3 of Lyuda’s – came to the stand and destroyed one item after another in her story.  The testimony was backed up by official documents like passports, and business documents like accounting records.

The milk story implies that Beilis owned a cow.  He did.  In 1907, 1908, and 1910.  In 1910, his son Pinchas was to go to gymnasium and hence have a chance at going to university, and Beilis sold the cow to pay the fees.  The only cow at the Zaitsev factory in 1911 belonged to an employee named Zaslavsky, who didn’t sell the milk.  The man whose wife took care of this cow testified at trial about it.
The two “tsadiqs” were Yakov Ettinger, brother of the wife of Mark Yonovich Zaitsev, the current paterfamilias.  Ettinger was an Austrian citizen, secularly educated, and had left his technical school before graduating to take care of the business left to him on his father’s death.  He was in Kiev December 1910-January 1911.  His international passport confirmed his entry and exit.

The other was Samoil Landau, son of Mark Yonovich’s sister.  Landau was also secularly educated and lived a dilettante life in Europe.  He was in Kiev in November-December 1911.  His international passport was all in order as well.
The Zaitsevs bought their matso in the Kiev marketplace.  They had been doing that since the death of Yona Mordkovich Zaitsev in 1907.  From 1897 to 1907, Yona Mordkovich had the custom of having grain, grown on his estate of Grigorovka, made into Passover matso, and had entrusted Beilis with going to the estate, carting the matso back, and distributing it to the families of his nine children.  There was no matso baked at Grigorovka in 1911.

The Zaitsevs built the hospice, getting the plans approved in 1910.  In February 1911, the ground was cleared.  On the anniversary of Yona Mordkovich’s death, 7 March, 1911, they held a religious service when the concrete was poured for the foundation.  Police officials were there at the time.  Andrey was still alive.  Jews do not need consecrated ground to pray on.  In fact, the ceremonies of the Passover Seder, and the lighting of Sabbath candles, are properly done in the home, and so is the lighting of the Chanukah lamp, and this home can be in a building which Jews did not build.
The hospice was built with bricks made in 1910.  These bricks were hauled from the factory grounds during the week after the foundation was poured.  Dozens of Christian as well as Jewish workers were on the factory grounds, and some of them lived in basement apartments in the same house where Beilis lived.  If Beilis had carried Andrey to the upper kiln, these people would have seen him or heard Andrey’s screams or both and come running to do something about it.

The pugger that the children liked best to ride on was operated only when new bricks were being made.  This work started after Easter every year, once the Zaitsevs had bought a new lot of up to 60 horses.  Easter was in April in 1911; work had not started and there were no horses to operate the pugger on the day of Andrey’s death.  The horses had all been sold off the previous autumn after the work ended.  The horses used in hauling bricks to the hospice belonged to Zaslavsky or to hired carters from Kiev.
This pugger was the closest one to the Zakharchenko property where the Cheberyaks and Lyuda’s friend Evdokia Nakonechny lived.  To get there, they crawled through gaps in the fence between the two properties.  The pugger at this location was not in the direct line of sight to Beilis’ house; there were brick-drying hangars in the way.  Beilis would have to know the kids were on the property before leaving work to chase them off.  One of the boys who had been in the habit of riding the pugger testified that in 1910 and later, a special guard and not Beilis was set to keep them off the grounds.  Beilis was assigned to office work in 1910.

The children couldn’t get through the fence in March 1911. Mikhail Nakonechny and a dozen other Christians testified that the Zaitsevs put up a new fence in autumn 1910.  In spring of 1911, because of the fence, Mikhail Nakonechny had to go around the factory grounds instead of through them, to get to the cemetery where his mother was buried, so he could visit her grave.  He also testified that the kids only “rode” the pugger in summer when the factory was making new bricks.
The brick haulers and the managers of the factory said work started at 4 in the morning and lasted until 6 at night.  One hauler confessed to getting Beilis out of bed at 3 in the morning.  The reason was that every load of bricks had to be accounted for three ways at the factory: loading; exiting; and for the purposes of the accountants at the construction company.  This last was where Beilis got involved.  He had to fill out bills of lading for the accountants and stubs for the factory records, and starting March 12, 1911, he also had to sign them.  With 24 loads hauled in 12 hours, Beilis sometimes had to interrupt meals to get his work done.  The police took the construction company records into custody, preventing any forgeries.

Work proceeded every day of the calendar year, including Saturdays but not Sundays.  The factory manager said the Jews got off Yom Kippur but not Sabbath.  So Saturday March 12, 1911, found Beilis at his post, signing for loads of brick that were being taken to the hospice that his employers were building.  He literally did not have time to interfere with any children that might be on the grounds, and that wasn’t his job anyway.
It's clear from the trial transcripts that the three prosecutors weren't ready for their case to dissolve out from under their feet.  Not Aleksey Shmakov, who had been obsessed since at least 1906 with the blood libel; not Georgy Zamyslovsky, a powerful member of the Duma who was in tight with the Black Hundreds; not Oskar Vipper, the hired gun from St. Petersburg who was not assigned to the case until March 1913 and didn't know any of the background.  They became increasingly abusive of witnesses and quarreled with each other; Zamyslovsky battled the judge constantly for control of the proceedings.  That was in lieu of striking back at the Tsar, whose government faked the data they were supposed to use to convict Mendel Beilis, because the Tsar held all their futures in his hands.

Running a show trial

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 16, 2013

Garden -- soil

Actually, it doesn't matter what soil you have if you want to garden.  Check around at garden shops and see if they sell fully composted shredded leaves.  If  they do, you're golden.  Remember, not wood chip or wood bark mulch.  That stuff will ruin your garden. 

BTW You have one more step in planning after this post so wait one more week before you spend any money.

If you have some trees, get a leaf shredder and run them through it every year, instead of bagging them for trash pickup.  I spend about $60 a year for bagged leaf compost and there are electric shredders for about $180 so it will take about 3 years to pay for itself.  You should be using this compost around the tree as well.

Plenty of sites can teach you how to do composting.  Here is one.

Anyway, scrape the grass off the place you've chosen for your garden, or put down a bottomless red cedar planter which you can buy online.  You will have to assemble it yourself and that will take a power tool.  I know that from experience.

Layer your compost 2 inches deep where you scraped the grass off, or fill the planter to within an inch from the top.

And you're ready to plant.

I posted this part now in case you like the idea of composting your leaves, because that takes a while.  DON'T buy seeds until you read next week's post, because you still have some planning to do.

And for those who want to plant in containers or place out some flower pots, more power to you, but use compost and not the "topsoil" or other bagged stuff that, for example, my grocery store carries.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 15, 2013

It's Gone!

For the first time in about 20 years I got through the Yom Kippur fast without feeling sick and getting a terrible headache that rivals my migraines.

Then I found out, I've lost 20 pounds of ugly fat!

I put it on when I had my last job and a commute that sucked up all my free time.  Sometimes it took 3 hours to go 25 miles, depending on how many tractor trailers had jack-knifed.  I got out just about the time that traffic crashes tripled because of people using their smart phones while driving.  Three of them almost hit my car during the last two weeks.

My secret?  It's no secret.  Doctors and registered dietitians have been saying these things for about 20 years now.

1.  Get your sleep.  If you don't get 8 hours of sleep, your body makes a hormone that makes you feel hungry.  If you do get 8 hours of sleep, your body makes a hormone that makes you feel full.  See my INSOMNIA post for how to get your sleep.

2.  Get your exercise.  My experience is that half an hour of aerobic exercise kills my appetite for an hour, and you need that hour to rehydrate.  START SMALL.  I knew a guy who never exercised and started a biking program and had a heart attack.  Walk the block in front of your house if you can.  If not, pace across your living room.  If that's also hard, see if you can find a yoga program on TV and do that.  Build up.  I now do all my gardening with hand tools and use a push mower on my lawn. I just spent a week scrubbing the house, taking down curtains to wash and lifting the window sliders out to clean the tracks.  I was whipped but I felt great.

3.  Find out how much you should eat a day for your height and level of activity.  There's a USDA program called My Plate that is free online.  There are apps for your smart phone; a young relative of mine used one and had lots of success.

4.  Divide that amount of food up across the day, getting most of it in the morning.  My best success has come when I copied the serving sizes of my young relatives.  I also copied recommendations of experts on the radio (not Dr. Oz and don't get me started) to eat protein at breakfast -- I ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST -- and my fruits and vegetables later in the day.

5.  Another radio expert (not Dr. Oz) worked with one of the radio personalities who goes to fancy parties where the food is always great.  She helped him take off 50 pounds and one of her tips was YOU DON'T HAVE TO EAT THE WHOLE THING.  She got him to take just a taste of whatever looked good.  Whatever you have, eat enough to suit one of your servings from your program, and then stop.  Put the rest away for later.

6.  DON'T GIVE UP YOUR FAVORITE FOOD.  There are two ways to deal with cravings.  One is "just a taste."  The other is one I just heard about but the testing has only begun.  I did it with my favorite treat, chips.  I made a bargain with myself.  I wouldn't buy chips every week but I was allowed to buy them on Federal holidays.  It cut 3/4 of those purchases out of my budget.  The studies show that if you put your favorite food on the table in front of you, look at it, smell it, but WAIT a certain amount of time before eating, you can learn to put off your cravings.

7.  I know some of you also have no-time lifestyles.  No time to cook, no time to shop, no time to exercise, not if you want to be with your friends or play video games or tweet or whatever.  I'm sorry for you.  It sucks.  But the same things you buy for emergency planning (another post) will help you with your weight.  Buy energy bars (NOT energy drinks) that DON'T have sugar for the first ingredient, and eat those for breakfast.  Instead of going to a restaurant for lunch, find out if there's a grocery store nearby and spend that same money on fruit and salad.  You can eat the salad right away and save the fruit for the afternoon.  Also get some milk -- cow milk, soy milk, whatever.  You can have that at bedtime.  You'll spend the same amount in one day that you used to spend at restaurants, get healthier food and be able to lose weight.

8.  GET RID OF SODAS.  Including diet sodas.  Recent studies show that what causes diabetes and puts fat around your belly is having a sweet taste on the tongue.  Your body reacts by pulling sugar out of your blood and that wears out your pancreas, promoting diabetes.  Your body stores that sugar as fat.  The phosphates in diet sodas leach calcium from your bones and cause osteoporosis.  The BPA in the lining of the cans changes your DNA.   So does the sodium benzoate preservative, especially in sodas containing vitamin C.  The acid in the carbonation etches enamel off your teeth so that you have more cavities.  Spend the money on bottled water ONCE and then re-fill the bottle from the tap.  You'll cut back on the waste in our landfills, the money you spend, and the threats to your health.

9.  EATING RIGHT IS NOT BLAND.  Not when it includes sourdough multi-grain bread and fruit, adds onions and garlic and bell peppers and hot peppers to recipes, as well as all the bright vegetables like yams and broccoli and yellow squash.  I used to post to an Internet group on dieting and we found that people who hated vegetables mostly didn't know how to cook them right.  Cut up your veg.  Put 1/4 cup water in the pan.  Dump in the veg.  Sprinkle with black pepper.  Cover. Turn on the heat.  15 minutes later the veg is cooked and your hamburger or chicken is ready too.  Stir-frying is just as fast.  Now experiment with herbs and spices. 

10.  NEVER STOP.  Skipping exercise or eating wrong one day will not derail the whole plan.  Stop feeling guilty.  YOU WILL START UP AGAIN THE NEXT DAY.  String more and more days together when you do exercise and also eat right, and you'll eventually succeed.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Heisenberg and Torah

I know what you’re thinking.

You think I’m a crazy woman for telling you to start your own blog and post ideas that disagree with me.

That’s not the point.  I want you to blog things that are your own ideas, not the urban legends you believed up to now.

That’s what the Internet is for.

I used to have a website called QUESTION AUTHORITY.  I believe that authority has to be questioned.  It creates and passes along urban legends that stifle individual thought.

That’s what Rene Descartes was trying to destroy when he wrote his Discours sur la Methode in the 1600s.

He realized that the Classical authors taught to him in school never really solved anything.  Their conclusions had no practical results.  Scholars just kept chewing over the same dried out old 20 century-old gristle.

What makes the Bible different?

The Torah, for the last 2500-3500 years, has been the basis of the law and the culture of Judaism.

Where you have laws, you have a judicial system.

That judicial system runs the culture.

To run the culture, the judicial system has to help solve problems and resolve disagreements among the people in that culture.

If it doesn’t, the culture breaks down.

The fact that the Jewish culture has been around for 2500-3500 years shows that its judicial system works, a practical result not achieved by any of the Greek or Latin classical authors that Descartes was taught in school.

There are people even now who are authorities in Torah, and also in the collections of material that accumulated to document how the Jewish system ran its courts – rules of procedure, legal decisions, sometimes the facts of the cases, and conversations between the judges that illustrate their points of view. 

These Jewish classics take up possibly 30,000 pages of material, maybe more.

I don’t expect you to learn all that.

I expect to teach you how to use it to answer your questions.

There’s an old Yiddish saying that goes “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat; teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry.”

I’m going to try to teach you to fish.

You may decide, eventually, that you don’t like my technique.  Fine.  Develop your own.

You may decide you don’t like rod fishing, you want to use a net.  Fine.  If you like the results but not the method, try another method and see if it gets you the same results.

It probably won’t.  The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle applies to knowledge in general: the answers you get depend on what experiment you’re running.  Netting your fish will have a different result than rod fishing.  Worm fishing and fly fishing also give different results.

And that’s part of my point, too.  You’ve been fishing in Torah via the urban legends you already know.  If you're here because you're not happy with the results, you know what I'm talking about already.

Stick with me and look for the instructions on how to fish.

You can still go out and write your own blog regardless of whether you read mine or not.

And I still win, because your blog will QUESTION AUTHORITY.

If you don't have a Bible and don't read Hebrew, you can go here and get a copy in English.

You can learn about fallacies and how to find them here.

Hebrew language: (two parts)

Aramaic language (for Talmud):

Jewish Bible read out loud (mostly in Hebrew):

Babylonian Talmud audio and text

Jerusalem Talmud audio

Tannakh, Talmuds, Midrash Halakhah 
Midrash Aggadah                              
Talmud in PDF                                                    

There are audio lectures at the following sites which use a medieval commentary, famous among Jews, by Rabbi Shelomo ben Yitschaq, AKA Rashi. – find Rabbi Yehoshua Gordon’s Torah video lessons – find R. David Grossman’s Torah audio lessons

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- Vera

With the investigation at an end and the new indictment in the process of being written, the government had one last loose end to tie up before it re-indicted Mendel Beilis.  That loose end was, at its other end, tied to Vera Cheberyak and her family, whom the government had chosen as its co-conspirators in the plot against Mendel Beilis.

Vasily and Vera Cheberyak had been married something like 15 years by the time they became the focus of government attention.  Vasily was an employee of the postal/telegraph office, a government department, making 45 rubles a month.  They had four children: Aleksandr, who died in 1902; Zhenya, who died in 1911; Lyuda, who was 8 to 10 in 1911; and Valya, who also died in 1911. 
Vera was the queen of an active and violent gang of robbers.  One witness at trial noted that she changed her hats frequently.  Throughout history, women’s hats have been notoriously expensive.  How could Vera feed three children, keep up a four-room flat, with a large carpet and a piano, on 45 rubles a month and still “change her hats frequently”?

She had help from her brother, Pyotr Singaevsky, who had been committing robberies almost since his family realized he was never going to learn anything between the covers of a book.  Pyotr had two friends, Boris Rudzinsky and Ivan Latyshev, also robbers.  Vera’s gang included Nikolay Mandzelevsky, “Shurka” Lisunov, Vikenty Mikhalkevich, and a man named Mosyak who died before the trial began.
In December, 1911, the story that Vasily Cheberyak signed up to tell at trial was that Zhenya and Andrey had been on the factory grounds, Beilis and his two sons had chased them, Zhenya got away and nobody knew what had become of Andrey.  When Vasily Fenenko took this deposition, Georgy Chaplinsky was present and Fenenko made an extra perfect job of recording Vasily’s words – including contradictions like the event happening “three or four days before the corpse was found” instead of more than a week earlier.  It was not going to be a stellar performance but Chaplinsky could always whip out Kozachenko’s letter.

The story about “Beilis and his two sons” arose about the point when Vera got out of jail on 7 August, now under Chaplinsky’s protection, and went to the hospital to have Zhenya discharged.  She took him home to a new apartment on Lukyanovka Alley; the Cheberyaks were evicted on 6 August from their luxury apartment on Upper Yurkovskaya Street, by a coalition of their landlord and the other residents on his property.  The landlord kept the carpet as part payment of a debt.  On 8 August, Zhenya was given last rites by Father Fyodor Sinkevich, a member of the Black Hundreds, who was not the parish priest for Lukyanovska Alley.  Zhenya died within 24 hours of his discharge from the hospital.

In August, when Vasily signed his first deposition, he expected a promotion that would take him to a new town.  In November, he was fired.  The Cheberyaks became poorer and poorer.  They were paid nothing in consideration of their cooperation with the government, and the robbery business had dried up.  In July 1911 Rudzinsky was in jail like Vera, and Pyotr and “Red Vanka” Latyshev were out of sight. 
Lt. Col. Ivanov of the secret police was assigned to check out Brazul’s January 18, 1912, submission; on 14 February his superior, Col. Shredel, wrote a letter saying Vera’s gang was back in the cross-hairs.  This letter disappeared; Tager knows about it only from a later letter by Shredel that refers to it.  The government didn’t want Vera’s gang in the cross-hairs.  That would make it impossible to try and convict a Jew, the same as the year before.

On March 7, 1912, Lt. Col. Ivanov interviewed Boris Rudzinsky.  When the interview was over, Rudzinsky had signed a confession to a robbery that he had committed a year earlier.  He had cased the Adamovich optical store on Kreshchatik on 9 and 10 March, 1911, planning to rob it about midnight of 11 March.  He and Singaevsky went there and Latyshev met them.  The job didn’t come off; a guard was posted.

They went home and told Vera, and that night, as soon as the last patron was out the door, they tried again.  They took binoculars, lorgnettes, and knives, worth up to 2500 rubles according to Krasovsky.  They also took the cashbox, and back at Vera’s, they broke it open.  It was empty.

Vera went a couple of kilometers to her parents’ house and got money so the boys could take the 11 a.m. mail train, Sunday March 13, for Moscow where they could sell the stolen goods.  They netted 300 rubles.  On March 16, Latyshev changed a 100 ruble note at the bar where they were drinking.  A detective saw him and they were arrested.

On March 7, 1912, Rudzinsky signed a confession to this crime, as an alibi for Andrey’s murder on the morning of March 12, 1911.  In May, the case against him for the robbery was dismissed.  He was then sent to 2 years 8 months hard labor in Irkutsk on a false charge of armed robbery.  In December, 1912, Singaevsky signed a confession to the Adamovich robbery.  The case was dismissed April, 1913 before the investigation was complete.
On March 29, 1913, Ivan Latyshev was brought into the chambers of Vasily Fenenko and signed a confession to the same robbery as the other two.  Fenenko testified that Latyshev came in very upset.  After signing, Latyshev looked into the next room and saw Nikolay Mandzelevsky being led in.  Latyshev went nuts.  He grabbed the confession and tried to tear it up.  The guard drew his sword part way.  Latyshev ran to the window and climbed out, then fell three stories onto the cobblestones.  He died at the hospital that same day. 

That was the last loose end.  The other two murderers were neutralized.  How did the government do it?  Possibly by threatening all of them using the text of Shredel’s letter, which later disappeared and was never brought into court, nor did Lt. Col. Ivanov give any of its contents, though he knew what they were.  At trial, the surviving murderers were raked over the coals as to how a nighttime robbery could be an alibi for a morning murder.  It couldn’t, but they had been told that the government would accept it as such if they didn’t reveal the con.  Once again, the purpose was to make sure the government could try its Jew.

Was Vera grateful?  You tell me.  Between April, 1911 and August, 1912, she told a different set of lies every time some official questioned her about the case, and some officials questioned her more than once.  When she got on the stand, she told another whole set of lies, until even the judge told her, “You’d better tell the truth.”  Nobody with half a brain could believe anything she said in court.

So they put Vasily on the stand and what did he do?  He told an entirely different set of lies.  For one thing, he claimed that Zhenya had run home from the factory grounds and told him about what happened to Andrey as soon as it happened – about 11 a.m.  Vasily was at work between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., left home at 8:30 a.m. and did not get home until 3:30 p.m. – if he did come home and not go straight to some bar, like Dobzhansky’s on the corner. 

Then he said that Zhenya told him it was Beilis and two rabbis who grabbed Andrey.  That is not what he said in either of his depositions.  Both of the adult Cheberyaks blew the government case to smithereens on day 8 of the trial, a day I like to call Liars’ Day for a number of reasons.

Vera’s lies discredited her, but they also discredited the testimony of her daughter Lyuda, given earlier in the day, and that was the real problem.  Because Lyuda was the only one who told the entire story the government was using as the basis for convicting Beilis.

The government theory

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

OB rant

Yeah I'm awake at 4 a.m. but it's not ordinary insomnia.
It's a cricket.
Charles Dickens was a moron.
A cricket in a tiny house like mine is a nightmare, literally.
I don't know why he's looking near my house.  No lady crickets in here.
But he sits outside my back storm door where the sound goes right up my stairs.
I went to bed early last night and I did get some sleep before he started up.  It was about midnight, I think.  Two pillows over the head don't help, especially as I have nightmares when my head is too warm at night.
So I got up to interfere with the cricket's looking for a wife.
I'm going to booby trap the back porch with boric acid tonight.   Let him feel cheery in a soup of water-molecule-ripping chemicals!

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Garden -- sun

If you're thinking of gardening, now is the time to test where to plant what.

I know you, you're not like me.  You can take pictures with your cell phone or your smart phone or you have a digital camera.

When the sun is out, go to the side of your house with the longest shadow at noon because that's the side that will get the least sun in winter.  Now take a picture looking toward that side of your lawn.

Do this once a week for the next three months, make sure the picture shows the date, and load them to your computer.

In the middle of winter, run a slide show.

If that edge of your lawn still gets sun at noon in winter, you're golden.  You can plant hardy vegetables there in March and again in September.

In the Washington D.C. area I can plant as early as 1 March most years, and still be picking until about Thanksgiving.  In a warm year I can let things stay in the ground in the winter, especially kale and mustard greens, and start picking before the new seeds have sprouted.

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 9, 2013

Outdoors -- little rewards

So I went out yesterday to water my carrots and basil and the tomato plant that still has green cherry tomatoes on it.

There were a few drops of very light rain falling.  I kept going.  Emptied the birdbath -- an old garbage can lid turned upside down -- and refilled it.

And I turned around and there was a rainbow, high in the western sky. 

The early bird catches the rainbow!

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 8, 2013


And we're back.  This week's DIY plan is noodles, pasta, pierogies, maybe a kugel for Shabbes.

I have about a cup of whole wheat flour from the last bag I bought; with an egg, that will make half a pound of egg noodles at about half the price of what you get in the store.

I also have a bag of buckwheat flour and I plan to make soba.  The brand of soba my local store carries always sticks when I cook it.  Mine don't.  I got the recipe off an urban homesteading site.  It's about 20% the price of the store stuff.

My niece found a pierogie recipe I didn't have in my recipe collection until we made it at her house.  That might be for Friday.  I'll have to try it some time with some of my homemade sauerkraut.

It will be great upper-body exercise rolling out the noodles, whether I do it by hand with an old-fashioned wooden rolling pin, or run it through the rollers of my hand-cranked pasta maker. 

I also found a couple of websites for making Chinese hand-pulled noodles.  The videos are way-cool but I think I need to do more pushups for a while before I'll have the energy to try them.
Making Noodles in Lanzhou
Beijing Noodle-Making Class
Jen making noodles and a recipe

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fact-Checking -- Your OWN Ideas

Fact-checking Torah, like fact-checking any other urban legend, means going back to the source.  Besides finding the source, you have to read the source.

Besides reading the source, you have to think about the source and what it means.

What it means may be different from the urban legends you are used to.

There are lots of reasons for that, including that your urban legends use a fallacy called “quoting out of context” in a number of ways that turn into the urban legend instead of tracking the actual meaning of the source.

This thread started with my research that let me answer questions on an Internet discussion group.

The research turned into a mass of material that will take three years to post, at the rate of one post a week.

Here’s how you can deal with that.

I keep saying that to avoid urban legends, you have to go back to the source.  But the source is in Hebrew, and maybe you don’t read Hebrew. 

That’s why I give the link to the Hebrew language text below.  In three years, almost anybody who is willing to do the work can learn a foreign language to some extent. 

When you look at that text, you may decide it says too much about Hebrew and not enough about Torah to let you learn to read Torah.

When I finish the MENDEL BEILIS thread, I will start posting answers to this thread, FACT-CHECKING.  I will also start posting lessons on reading the Hebrew of Torah.  In three years, I should be able to teach you how to understand the first 100 verses at least, and you will be able to take it from there.

Why can’t I just teach you the letters and show you the link to an on-line dictionary?  Because it wouldn’t help. 

I’ve been studying languages and using their dictionaries for 40 years, and that won’t cut it.  There are dictionaries which say they are Bible-oriented dictionaries of Hebrew and English, but they are really dictionaries of a specific set of urban legends about the Hebrew parts of the Jewish Bible.  I’ll bring this up again when it becomes important.

For now, trust me when I say that teaching you the Hebrew alphabet and turning you loose with an on-line dictionary won’t help you.

Again, when you get upset with my contradicting your urban legends, you’re going to hit back by saying that making you learn Hebrew is me trying to brainwash or convert you. 

And I go back to what I said before.  I can’t hold a pistol to your head to make you read this thread.  If you do, you will be exposed to what I think.

You are free to label that as just another urban legend, but I want you to do something else.

It’s easy to start a blog.  I want you to start your own blog.  I want you to document what you think. 

You can keep referring back to my blog and what you disagreed with that I posted.

But that’s going to be self-defeating because other people will say, maybe they shouldn’t be reading your blog; maybe they should be reading my blog.

So if you’re going to blog your ideas, blog your own ideas. 

But if you’re going to blog your own ideas, blog YOUR OWN IDEAS.  Not the urban legends that you’ve been accepting all these years.

And to do that, you’re going to have to read the material and decide exactly what are YOUR OWN IDEAS.

Either way I win, because I will be blogging my ideas, and you will be reading the source.


If you don't have a Bible and don't read Hebrew, you can go here and get a copy in English.

You can learn about fallacies and how to find them here.

Hebrew language: (two parts)



Aramaic language (for Talmud):

Jewish Bible read out loud (mostly in Hebrew):

Babylonian Talmud audio and text


Jerusalem Talmud audio



Tannakh, Talmuds, Midrash Halakhah 

Midrash Aggadah                             

Talmud in PDF                                                   

There are audio lectures at the following sites which use a medieval commentary, famous among Jews, by Rabbi Shelomo ben Yitschaq, AKA Rashi. – find Rabbi Yehoshua Gordon’s Torah video lessons – find R. David Grossman’s Torah audio lessons

© Patricia Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- Stage 3 investigation

The third stage of the Beilis investigation developed out of government knowledge that it had no valid direct physical or eyewitness evidence against Mendel Beilis, but that such an admission would make it impossible to shed Jewish blood and satisfy the Black Hundreds.  So it added a charge of ritual murder, which was illegal both on the grounds that the penal code included no such crime, and because the Senate had decreed that no charges should be brought in court for which the penal code had no definition. 
Krasovsky indirectly, at first, was responsible for the third stage of the investigation.  In September, 1911, before he left Kiev for a new post in Konotop, he told Sergey Ivanovich Brazul-Brushkovsky, “The devil is in it but they’ve accused an innocent man.” 

Brazul, as he is often called, was a contributor to the newspaper Kievan Thought, a competitor to Vasily Shulgin and Dmitry Pikhno’s Kievlyanin which took a monarchist line.  Brazul had watched an ordinary murder, that nobody thought was important, blow up into a Federal case with detectives and prosecutors shipped in from St. Petersburg to make sure things went the way the government wanted.  He was a long-time friend of Arnold Margolin.  All three of these men – Krasovsky, Brazul, and Margolin – thought too much attention was being paid to the case, but then all three had lived through the 1905 pogroms in Kiev and they knew that the government had to be forced to mount an investigation then about the Jews murdered in the riots.
Brazul latched onto Krasovsky’s assistant, Vygranov, now ostensibly at loose ends through official disgrace, for help with a private investigation.  Brazul had also latched onto Krasovsky’s idea that Vera knew more about the case than she would tell, and he hoped Vygranov would convince her to tell, now that he was no longer part of the police force.  For three months – no, four, because it went into January 1912 – Vygranov and Vera entertained Brazul with stories about Vera’s failed relationship with Pavel Mifle, whose eyes Vera burned with sulfuric acid in a quarrel.  In October or November, Mifle repaid the compliment by knocking Vera down and out, so that when she went to be questioned by Fenenko, she was wearing a bandage that she explained by saying she had eczema.  As she was leaving, Margolin saw her and asked Fenenko what was going on, getting the story of the eczema lie.

Brazul wanted Margolin’s input on what Vera was telling him; Margolin wanted nothing to do with it but finally agreed to meet up in Kharkov.  Brazul paid 100 rubles for second-class train fare to go 500 kilometers and stay one night at the Grand Hotel, on Vygranov’s claim that Vera could meet up with a prisoner she knew and find out where Andrey was murdered.  A police certificate read at trial showed that this man, Lisunov, had never been jailed in Kharkov.  Another co-conspirator named Perekhrist verified that Vera never left the hotel, although she claimed she sent her husband a postcard and bought a vial of glycerine.
In Kharkov, Vera spun Margolin her old monologue.  When they all got back to Kiev, Margolin told Brazul that Vera was not an innocent bystander but knew about the murder or was possibly involved.

But by that time Brazul had believed Vera’s claim that Mifle had committed the murder, with the help of three other men including Andrey’s uncle and stepfather, something she also told Margolin.  Brazul got a meeting with Fenenko, who brought in a prosecutor and the regional deputy prosecutor for witnesses, and told him this story.  Brazul came back later with Vera’s much younger lover, Petrov, who told the same story.  Fenenko believed it was a lie.
For almost a month Brazul checked back to see what was going on with the case, with the deputy prosecutor telling him to calm down, nothing was happening.  On 16 January, 1912, Mendel Menachem Tevyevich Beilis was indicted for the March 12, 1911 murder of Andrey Yushchinsky, and Brazul felt betrayed.

On January 18, 1912, Brazul-Brushkovsky submitted to the prosecutor a document that accused Mifle and the others of Andrey’s murder, and then he published it in the newspapers from Kiev to the capital of St. Petersburg.   The submission to the prosecutor meant that if there was a trial, Brazul would be called to the witness stand.
Lt. Col. Ivanov contacted Brazul and told him his article was nonsense.

Krasovsky came back to Kiev in February 1912 and raked Brazul over the coals, then began his own investigation which pointed in the same direction.  On April 5, he met up with his former subordinate Kirichenko, told him what was going on, and Kirichenko, who was working for Ivanov, said forget that, you want the Cheberyak gang.  Krasovsky started working with Brazul instead of against him, and at the end of April, Brazul told Ivanov what he had.
Ivanov said, if you publish now, you’ll ruin the case.  It will all be over with by 1 May.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  May 1 came and went and nothing happened.  Brazul submitted a new document to the prosecutor on 5 May.  Three weeks went by, the government dithered, the trial was postponed indefinitely, but no new investigation began although Beilis’ attorneys formally requested it.
On 30 May 1912, Brazul’s results were published in the newspaper.  No, not in Kievan Thought.  In Kievlyanin.  Somebody leaked his work.  Nothing daunted, Brazul still published, in Kiev and throughout the nation, and he added pictures: of Vera Cheberyak; of the house she lived in as of March 1911; of her brother Pyotr Singaevsky; and of his two mates Boris Rudzinsky and Ivan Latyshev.  I told you to remember that name, didn’t I?

On June 22, 1912, Shcheglovitov at Justice assigned Nikolay Mashkevich to conduct a pre-trial investigation into Andrey’s murder.  By August 31, Mashkevich was convinced that Vera and her gang were involved in it, and probably committed it.  Once again, the government’s flunky had proven that the Jew was not the prime suspect in the murder.  Mashkevich refused to obey orders to find a Jew who would help him prepare a charge of ritual murder against Beilis.  He held out until November 1912.  Then the government got him out of Kiev and made him sit down with Justinas Pranaitis and work out the subject of ritual murder for inclusion in a new indictment.

You probably know the name Pranaitis and I’m not going to go into his history or character very much.  What I will point out is that Pranaitis was a Catholic priest who was exiled to Tashkent after embroiling the Catholic church with the Russian government.  Why did the government not assign a Russian Orthodox priest? 
One possible answer is that between March 22 and 26, 1911, the Kiev metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox church issued a circular based on the first autopsy, saying that Andrey’s death was not ritual murder.  When the government contacted Ambrosius, vicar of the Kiev Lavra (monastery), he refused to testify except by deposition.  In general, the Orthodox church refused to support the government in any way on the ritual murder charge, and three academics with positions high in the lay side of the church hierarchy provided scriptural expertise specifically for Beilis’ defense. 

The government paid a prosector 4,000 rubles to testify to forensic medical evidence of ritual murder.  The archives contain two receipts he submitted, one before the trial and one after the trial, each for half of the sum.  All the other medical personnel who testified in this phase of the trial refused even to have their expenses paid, including two surgeons and two psychologists who testified for the defense, one of whom was the dean of Russian psychology at the time.
No, not Ivan Sikorsky.  Sikorsky was the only psychologist testifying for the government side as to ritual murder, and he had been through the mill.  In May 1911, he wrote an opinion, based on the authorized autopsy report, saying he thought it showed ritual murder.  He contributed to the January 1912 indictment, citing to a book by French academic Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, Israel chez les nations, in support of the ritual murder claim.  Leroy-Beaulieu had a letter published in French newspapers in February 1912 saying Sikorsky had misquoted his book and that Jews did not commit ritual murder.  The German psychologists and others started an opposition campaign which brought Sikorsky to write a letter on April 7, 1912, trying to get out of testifying.  During the trial, in October 1913, a convention of psychologists held in London issued a formal announcement slamming Sikorsky’s views. 

On May 23, 1913, the government indicted Menachem Mendel Tevyevich Beilis for the March 12, 1911, murder of Andrey Yushchinsky, and for murder “upon grounds of religious fanaticism,” the blood libel.  The die had been cast.  The gauntlet had been thrown.  What happened from here on out depended on what the government did to support their case in court.  And that is mostly where the Cheberyaks come in.

The Cheberyaks

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