Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The dangers of doing nothing - Rabbi Hershy Worch

From: The Awareness Center's daily newsletter

Over the last few years The Awareness Center has done what it could to alert the public about the serious allegations made against Rabbi Hershy Worch.

The Awareness Center has had several "Calls to Action" including one requesting the Rabbinical Council of America, the Orthodox Union and the Chicago Rabbinical Council to make a public statement denouncing Hershy Worch's behavior of professional sexual misconduct. Remember Hershy Worch was ordained by Shlomo Carlebach, which makes him an orthodox rabbi. The problem has been is that he does NOT belong to any rabbinical association. Meaning no one wants to get involved. The problem is that "it takes a village to raise a child, including children who grow up to be sex offenders." Hershy Worch is everyone's problem, and as a people we all have a responsibility to protect others from any potential future harm.

The Awareness Center
was just made aware that the Jewish Ledger (West Hartford, CT) is promoting a haggadah created by "rabbi" Hershy Worch. I'm sure they are unaware of the serious allegations made against this man. By their promotion of this haggadah may put unsuspecting women at risk of harm. It also may seen as legitimizing his writings. Remember, Hershy Worch is the author of his "Torah of Desire."

The Awareness Center is asking everyone to call and write the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union to demand they make a public statement denouncing Rabbi Hershy Worch's behavior; and also the Jewish Ledger to make them aware of the allegations.

Please read the article below and contact the following organizations and individuals below so that your voice can be heard.

Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC - Executive Director
The Awareness Center
(the Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
P.O. Box 65273
Baltimore, MD 21209

Rabbinical Council of America
Rabbi Basil Herring - Executive Vice President
Rabbi Dale Polakoff - President
305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, New York 10001
Phone: 212-807-7888
Fax: 212-727-8452

Orthodox Union
Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

Jewish Ledger
Lisa S. Lenkiewicz - Managing Editor
NRG Connecticut LLC - Publisher

Jeremy Hershy Worch was born in Manchester, England, on May 20, 1954. He recieved his smicha (ordaination) from
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach in 1992.

There have been several serious allegations made claiming Reb Hershy's behavior as being predatory, manipulative and sexually abusive. Allegations have been made in while residing in Chicago; from a group from the Hamakom Synagogue in Melbourne, Australia; and from other locations.

Rabbi Worch has been accused of utilizing a mixture of kabbalah, hypno-eroticism and other manipulative techniques to enagage his potential victims prior to sexually assaulting them.

There have been allegations that Reb Hershy creates a cult-like devotion to himself utilizing trance-like-states, guided meditation, hypnosis; all under the guise of kabbalah teachings. Allegedly his MO (modus operandi) has been to use such techniques on women with histories of childhood abuse, so that he can lead them into BDSM
(Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism). activities with him.

Rabbi Worch has allegedly written a "BDSM-Kabbalah" and finds his "students" over the internet, primarily through his Livejournal "Kabbalah_101" community.

Online Haggadot - from traditional to build-your-own
By Mark Mietkiewicz
Jewish Ledger - April 6, 2006

Passover is quickly approaching and that means pretty soon you'll be reaching into a familiar drawer and pull out stack of well-worn and slightly wine-stained haggadot. Nothing will ever replace those haggadot and their special memories. But if you take a few minutes on the Internet, you will find many stimulating and provocative on-line haggadot that could give you new insights and make you shine at this year's seders.

Most of the haggadot below are in English, some with Hebrew sections. None require Hebrew fonts. Please be aware that many of these haggadot contain God's name and should be treated accordingly.

Chabad has created a wonderful section about the haggadah. You can go through the seder with an English translation that includes step-by-step instructions. And you can download a pdf file that contains the entire Hebrew text of the haggadah (with Hebrew instructions.) Unfortunately, there is no version at this site that contains both Hebrew and English. []

For insights into how the seder has been observed in Sephardic homes, take a look at the Sephardi Connection site. For example, among North-African Sephardim, after Mah Nishtana is recited, the seder leader would leave the room and come back with a walking stick and the afikoman in a cloth on his shoulder. The children would ask: "Where are you coming from?" And he would proceed to tell the story of his exodus from Egypt. On the other hand, the haggada adds, "Note: stealing the afikoman is an Ashkenazi tradition." When the Sephardi seder concludes, "some take the haroseth and put it in five places (khamsah) at the entrance of the house (near the mezuzah, on the door posts, etc.) for good luck." []

Several traditional haggadot have been scanned in their entirety and can be downloaded and printed out at the Torah on the Net site. I particularly recommend the 1920 edition that is "Arranged by J.D. Eisenstein" and "Illustrated by LOLA." []

There are many on-line haggadot that represent a great deal of individual effort. Robert Parnes' Hagadais a synthesis of the traditional and the modern and is set out clearly with responsive readings. []

Another unique version is The Anonymous Haggada: A Synthesis of The Passover Ritual and Liturgy With The Twelve Steps of Recovery By Hershy Worch. Worch draws a parallel between the Israelites' trek to freedom and the modern-day recovery program used by people to free themselves from various addictions and dependencies. []

Charles Finn took a decade to put together his companion to the haggadah. Just 16 pages long in Word format, it is mostly in English with some Hebrew text. He has illustrated his work with lovely medieval woodcuts and more contemporary artwork. []

A bit less traditional but very wonderful site is Uncle Eli's Special-for-Kids Most Fun Ever Under-the-Table Passover Haggadah. Written in the style of Dr. Seuss, Uncle Eli retells the haggadah in a familiar yet unique way:

"Why is it only on Passover night we never know how to do anything right? We don't eat our meals in the regular ways the ways that we do on all other days...Cause on all other nights we may eat all kinds of wonderful good bready treats like big purple pizza that tastes like a pickle crumbly crackers and pink pumpernickel...Yes -- on all other nights we eat all kinds of bread but tonight of all nights we munch matzah instead." []

If you're planning to lead a seder this year and need a bit of help on your Hebrew pronunciation or want to brush up on a tune, the Virtual Cantor is at your service. (Actually, you're at HIS service.). The Cantor - also known as Josh Sharfman - has recorded the entire traditional haggadah and put in online so that you can listen to it anytime. The seder has been divided into 38 parts (e.g. Dayenu, Fourth Cup, Chad Gadya etc.) so that you can easily jump to any part of the haggadah. And since all the files are in the mp3 format, you can even copy them onto your iPod or mp3 player and review them anywhere. []

After visiting everyone else's haggadah, create your own. The Open Source Haggadah allows you to skim through Hebrew and English text, commentary, songs, readings and rituals, choose the elements that appeal to you, and assemble your own haggadah online. You can even filter texts by affiliation: "Chabad, Conservative, Feminist, Humorous, etc." When you're done, you can print your own haggadah. And if have a favorite custom or commentary you'd like to share, you are encouraged to add it to the site. Please note that this site is free but does require registration. Also, I have had some problems with the display of Hebrew characters on my PC. On my Mac, Hebrew displayed properly. []

Mark Mietkiewicz is a Toronto-based Internet producer who writes, lectures and teaches about the Jewish Internet. He can be reached at


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