Friday, May 12, 2006

Gafni Strikes Again - Jewschool blog

May 11th, 2006
People, Crime, Renewal

There was once a time when I stood up for Mordechai Gafni. Not for the man himself, precisely, but rather the notion that a man is innocent until proven guilty. On one occasion, in the midst of an argument with Jewish Whistleblower here on Jewschool, I was explicitly warned by several of my most esteemed jblogger friends to diassociate myself from such remarks because, when the shit hits the fan, I’m not going to want to be seen in any way, shape or form, to be among his sycophants. So before I break this story, let me just clarify: I have have always been suspicious of Gafni. Though I have never met him or conversed with him (perhaps luckily, as I’ve never come under the sway of his “charismatic leadership”), I have heard one-too-many alarming tales from his students and would-be victims to remain ambivalent towards him. In turn, I have inquired of all allegations against him to both prominent Renewal leaders and their staff members, as well as some contributors to Jewschool who have been in close contact with him. Their responses have hardly satisfied me, and I have since made it a point to warn every person in the Renewal community I know to steer clear of him.

That said, the shit has hit the fan. Gafni, nee Marc Winiarz, who reportedly fled the United States for Israel to avoid either prosecution for previous charges of sexual assault or the social repercussions of such allegations, has been oustered from his position at Bayit Chadash, the spiritual community in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, amidst five distinct allegations of sexual harrassment and one charge of rape.

Letters are presently circulating to the directors of various spiritual communities here in North America at which Gafni regularly teaches, warning them not to invite the man onto their premeses. I should have one of these letters in my possession shortly. More details will follow.

Gafni, by the way, also writes parshat hashavua for ynet. I can’t wait to see how they report this when it hits the press, if they report it at all.

I cannot divulge the source of this information, lest it be said that it comes from someone whose word I value and trust, and I am therefore taking these charges very seriously. I hate to say it, because it’s a bridge I so don’t want to burn, but I think it is high time to demand accountability from Renewal leaders for brushing off previous charges and giving a predator the space and the legitimacy he needed to strike again. They have a responsibility to act, and if they do not act accordingly this time, they will have lost one of their biggest and most vocal young supporters — me.

The teshuva clock is ticking.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

very well said ,,,its high time that sexuall predators should not be hidden under the sheet,,he should be exposed and punished,people of power have no license to take advantage of a womens body against her will,,he should stop calling himself a rabbi

May 18, 2006 8:26 AM  

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