Illiterate Hasidic Jew Sues Quebec Because His Religious Education Taught Him “Nothing of Use” in the Real World

Four years ago, Canadian Yohanan Lowen, then 33, left his Hasidic community behind. That move allowed him to take stock of his religious schooling. Lowen quickly began to see that, due to his education having consisted mostly of studying religious texts, he was woefully under-equipped to deal with life in secular Canada.

A 37-year-old former Hasidic Jew is suing the Quebec government for $1.25 million (U.S. $1.1 million) for allowing the ultra-Orthodox schools he attended in the province to teach him nothing of use in the non-Haredi world.

“I feel like a child of six years old, alone in the world, who doesn’t have parents, who doesn’t have somebody to take care of him. … I feel even worse than that child because that child only has to take care of himself, but I have to take care of my four children,” Yohanan Lowen told thestar.com.

Lowen, who left Quebec’s Hasidic community in 2010 and moved with his family to Montreal, says he is illiterate in French, doesn’t know the alphabet, and understands only the most basic math. He earns a little money teaching Aramaic at a secular night school, and otherwise supports his family on his monthly welfare check.



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Muslim Extremists in China Are Thought To Be Behind Another Attack With Bombs and Axes

In a movement that is as much political as it is religious, China’s Uighurs, a Muslim community of about 10 million (0.8 percent of China’s population), have been agitating for an independent nation for decades. All too often, that has involved the use of terrorist violence that’s barely distinguishable from that committed by the Uighurs’ extremist brethren in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Chechnya, and so on.

Here‘s the latest example:

Fifteen people were killed when a group threw explosives into a crowded street where vendors were selling food in China’s restive region of Xinjiang, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday. Eleven were attackers who were killed by the police, the agency said, and 14 people were injured. The attackers also stabbed people in Friday’s attack in Shache County, state-owned Xinjiang news website Tianshan News said. It said police found detonation devices, large knives and axes at the scene.

Deadly attacks in the north-western region in recent years have left hundreds dead. The government has mostly blamed attacks on ethnic Uighur separatists, who it says want to form an independent country called East Turkestan.



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Nepal Blood Festival Draws to a Close; Hindu Faithful Hack More Than 200,000 Animals to Death

Every five years, the Hindu goddess Gadhimai works up quite the bloody appetite. In Nepal, besotted believers sacrifice goats, pigs, buffalo, and roosters to her. Accompanied by their animals, they undertake a twice-a-decade pilgrimage to Gadhimai’s temple in the south of the country. Many participants are from neighboring India. CNN describes the festival as “the biggest religious slaughter in the world.”

“From my village everyone has made a vow [to offer animals],” says Kushwaha from Bariyarpur, a community in Bara district about 60 miles south of Kathmandu. Some, he explains, are glad they have got a son or a daughter, others that a different form of good fortune has befallen them.

The ritual sacrifice of goats, buffaloes and roosters in temples and at home is widespread in Nepal where 80 percent of the population are Hindu. Some five million people from adjoining districts — and also from the bordering Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh — will attend the festival, according to local authorities, although only two days are dedicated to the sacrificial ritual itself.

The slaughter follows a set pattern: on Friday male water buffalo calves are killed while on Saturday attentions switches to goats. Officials estimate that up to 10,000 buffalo calves and 150,000 goats will be offered to Gadhimai — the goddess of power — during the ritual.



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Connect the Dots: Ken Ham Edition

(Via Skeptical Spectacles)

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Israel Contemplates Bill That Gives Jews More Rights While Reducing Those of Religious Minorities

In Israel, all are equal, but some may soon be more equal than others.

The “Jewish nation-state” bill would recognize Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalize Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and possibly de-list Arabic as a second official language. It is being promoted vigorously by the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu [pictured below], and was approved by the Israeli cabinet on Sunday, but has attracted fierce criticism.



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