Friday, May 19, 2006

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni also a BDSM Dungeon Master?

The image “http://www.ynetnews.com/PicServer2/01082004/659979/gafnii_116.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Rabbi Mordechai Gafni

I'm hearing rumors about Rabbi Marc Gafni sexual practices while he is abusing/assaulting women. Is the holy Ha Rav Mordechai Gafni really a BDSM Dungeon Master?

Remember a few weeks ago Yori Yanover raved about the fact that Marc Gafni and Hershy Worch were speaking together in Chicago? Isn't it odd that a pious man like Mordechai Gafni would speak with the BDSM Rabbi - Hershy Worch.

Then I started to realize that people of like minds often hang out together.

I can't stop asking myself if Yori Yanover is also into BDSM like his friends? Let's not forget to mention his buddy Rabbi David Lipman who is a convicted child molester. I'm trying to remember if he's also friends with convicted sex offender, Kabbalah Coach - Rabbi Michael Ozair too?

Luke Ford's been writing about it all week on his blog.


Yori Yanover / Rabbi David Lipman


Rabbi Hershy Worch / Rabbi Michael Ozair

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The Hope for Rehabilitating Gafni/Winiarz

Steven I. Weiss writes:

You had to know that he would end up trying to pull some kind of therapy-makes-me-better schtick, and Jewschool's got the details on what appears to be the route he'll take to that.
My perspective on this is still pretty well encapsulated by the staff editorial I wrote for the Yeshiva University Commentator more than four years ago, in response to this story.
The thing is, virtually all of Gafni's defenders based their recent defense on the notion that even if he'd committed the abuses alleged against him a while ago, he could reasonably be said to have healed, should be allowed to repent, and so forth. Obviously, that proved to be a crock this first time around, but according to his defenders' reasoning, there's no cause for them to bar him from continuing to serve as clergy if he gets a good bill of rehabilitation.
And that's a plainly-wrong atittude; clergy are in place not by grace of God, but by opportunity granted by the community. It is not their right to be clergy, but their privilege. And when they so severely break the trust granted them, they can never be accorded that privilege again.

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Rabbi Fired Over Sex Claims, Defenders Offer Mea Culpa

Jennifer Siegel writes the first article (I can find) in the Forward about Gafni:

...At least five female students and staff members have come forward to accuse Rabbi Mordechai Gafni of luring them into sexual relationships through intimidation, psychological manipulation and deception.

"The saddest part of the story is that there were these women from the past who had the courage to speak up despite their isolation and their own pain, despite being threatened by him repeatedly, and nobody came forth to give them support," said one of the current accusers at Bayit Chadash, who did not want to be identified by name. "People in this culture [chose] to support the male predator rather than...the women's voices that were alone."

That's nonsense. Plenty of people offered support to Gafni's past accusers and there were those like me who published their stories. Any woman who chose to get involved with Gafni after Gary Rosenblatt's article in 2004 chose to get involved with a sexual predator. It's hard to cry for them.

In the weeks after Rosenblatt's column appeared, several Jewish communal leaders vigorously defended Gafni in letters sent to The Jewish Week and attacked the newspaper for running the story. Berman, Telushkin and Firestone wrote a joint letter stating that together they had conducted a thorough investigation and found all the accusations against Gafni "totally unconvincing." This week, in a statement to the Forward, the three rabbis said that they are "deeply regretful of our prior support of Rabbi Gafni."

In a subsequent e-mail to the Forward, they argued that "it is vital to distinguish between past accusations against Rabbi Gafni and the current situation."

Green, who in 2004 penned one of the most vociferous letters in defense of Gafni, agreed that the new batch of allegations were different from the ones that plagued the rabbi two years ago.

"The stories were from long ago, and he had rejected and outgrown that side of himself," Green said in an interview with the Forward. "These are now new cases and new investigations."

In a 2004 letter to The Jewish Week defending Gafni, Green said that he had not investigated the allegations and had "no interest in doing so." This week, Green told the Forward that he felt "victimized" by Gafni's lies and actions, while acknowledging that the accusers have suffered more.

Less than a month after the four rabbis wrote their letters to The Jewish Week in October 2004, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv reported allegations, dating from 1994, that mirror the current accusations against Gafni. According to an Orthodox couple interviewed for the lengthy Ma'ariv profile on the rabbi, he sexually preyed on their 23-year-old daughter while serving as a visiting rabbi in Kfar Saba. He went so far as to tell her that he wanted to leave his wife and marry her.

The Bayit Chadash accuser contacted by the Forward said that the five women who recently came forth had all been told by Gafni that he wanted to marry them — and the accuser said that all the women had been dumped shortly after being told he was committing himself to celibacy.

In response to an e-mail from the Forward asking if he ever contacted anyone connected to the Ma'ariv story as part of his investigation, Berman wrote that the "article was no more than a repetition of earlier allegations which had been part of our original inquiry."

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Rabbi Saul Berman Must Be Removed From Public Jewish Life Immediately

Shmarya blogs in response to the Forward article:

Rabbi Berman found these allegations to lack credibility, even though it now seems clear that he did not speak to Gafni's victims, and even though the 1994 allegations mirror earlier allegations against Gafni. (As the story notes, they also mirror the new allegations against him.) Now, Rabbi Berman "regrets" his support for Gafni. But he has not issued an apology to Gafni's victims, and seems far more concerned about the damage done to his own reputation that the damage done to the bodies and psyches of Gafni's victims.

Also note the following line; "it is vital to distinguish between past accusations against Rabbi Gafni and the current situation." It is vital for Rabbis Berman, Telushkin and Firestone that this artificial distinction be made. With it, their deplorable conduct can be whitewashed.

Gafni has a 30 year history of abuse, a history these scum in rabbis' garments still seek to deny. If the board of Edah does not remove Rabbi Berman, all of us should remove Edah from our checkbooks.

Again, note the lack of concern these "spiritual leaders" have for Gafni's victims. I don't know who is sicker – Gafni the rapist or Berman the rabbi.

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Mordecai Gafni - Let The Healing Begin?

Hilarious posts from Gafni's friend Ken Wilber of Integralnaked.org. He's all shocked that someone who teaches for something called Integralnaked could commit "sexual improprieties." Here are excerpts from Wilber:

...I do not believe that somebody with an acknowledged emotional illness or sexual pathology is competent to be a public spiritual teacher. Therefore, at this time, Marc will not be involved in public teaching or presentations of any sort at Integral Institute.

...Sending all of you much Love, Light, and Life,

Ken

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Rabbi Yosef Blau responds on Jewschool:

Some critics of Jewish Renewal are responding to the accusations against Mordechai Gafni by criticising the movement. This should not lead to the defensive response of refusing to reevaluate the tragic dismissal of earlier accusations.

I have known Mordechai for at least twenty five years starting when he was a student and during the years that he functioned as an Orthodox rabbi. The young women who complained then and have never modified their stories, did not receive much of a hearing then from an Orthodox rabbinate that was impressed by his charisma and talent. A number of us, followed a career of short periods of brilliance as a head of an outreach program, a teacher and a congregational rabbi each ending suddenly with rumor of scandal. After changing his name and moving to Israel the pattern repeated itself. The only thorough investigation of the accusations was made by a private investigator in Israel in 1997 and it did not clear him. Based on my ongoing conversations with women who had made accusations, which was only a portion of the dossier prepared by the private investigator, the supposed investigations by various rabbis two years ago were minimal and their testimony not heard. I suggest that all the defenders read the long interview with Rabbi Gafni in the magazine (sof hashavua) of Maariv Oct. 15, 2004. If he is sick, then it is not the kind of illness that suddenly strikes someone in his mid forties and his earlier behavior should reevaluated accordingly.

Whether one supports Jewish Renewal or not is irrelevant to the fundamental issue of protecting women from abuse from an authority figure.

Micha Odenheimer writes:

Ken Wilbur has an unfortunate history of turning a blind eye, or “rehabilitating” even the most egregious offenses of people he considers “brilliant”–usually those whose ideas conform in some ways to his own. This history includes fawning praise of Da Free John, but even more significantly, continuing association with “enlightened spiritual master” Andrew Cohen, whose history of severe, ungoing and systematic psychological abuse of his followers is well documented in two books: “Enlightenment Blues” written by Andre van der Braak, a student of Cohen for 11 years, and the other, Mother of God, by Cohen’s own mother, Luna Tarno, who was also his disciple until understanding the tyrannical and narcisistic nature of Andrew’s guruship. There is also ongoing documentation on www.whatenlightenment.blogspot.com.

The Gafni connection is that, through Wilbur, Gafni met Cohen and invited him to tour Israel together with him as a guest of Bayit Hadash. I personally contacted Gafni and warned him of Cohen’s systematic humiliation of his followers, and his creation of an almost fascistic hiearchy of people “in favor” or “out of favor” with Cohen–to no avail. Gafni continued to promote Cohen in Israel. Wilbur continues to benefit from his association with Cohen and to appear with him on the pages of Cohen’s magazine “What is Enlightenment”. So there is a triangle of abuse here, with Cohen, Gafni, Wilbur, with Wilbur acting as enabler of both–and with both Cohen and Gafni returning the favor by continuing to promote Wilbur as a great philosopher and theologian of the New Age. Will Wilbur learn from the Gafni incident and reexamine the copious evidence of Cohen’s continued and extremely severe psychological abuse of followers? I doubt it.

Incidentally, as my friend Shefa Siegal has pointed out, one of the aspects of both Wilbur and Jewish Renewal’s promotion of Gafni and failure to truly investigate accusations against him despite repeated warnings is that Renewal, and I assume Wilbur’s organization, made good money from Gafni. Gafni, a facile “charismatic” speaker, was a good draw for Renewal events and for retreat centers such as Elat Chayim associated with Renewal. Whether consciously or not, I assume this was part of what kept the whole kit and kaboodle running forward.

Yeilah writes:

I am more than a little disturbed by Ken Wilbur’s assumption that Gafni’s sincerity is meaningful. People with pathologies like Gafni’s (I am assuming he has a personality disorder of some kind) are frequently sincere in their apologies once they get caught. I have personal experience with this through a family member, who has issued more than eight deeply sincere and moving apologies but hasn’t been able to stop his behaviot. People like this may mean what they say, but will often cycle through the behavior again, and then offer more sincere apologies when they get caught again. Sadly, sincerity is not a benchmark for success in this matter.

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Rabbi Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen Enlightenment, Evolution, and the Future of Judaism

Rabbi Marc Gafni is not your average Rabbi. He's an unorthodox Orthodox Rabbi, a passionate Kabbalist, a popular Israeli television host, and the founder of Bayit Chadash, an international spiritual community and retreat center committed to Jewish renaissance. Yet no matter how far from the established order he may travel, Gafni never loses sight of those most basic Judaic tenets: pray to God and live a moral, ethical, and generous life, because this life is the one that matters most!

In this videotaped conversation between two spiritual masters, Andrew's original conception of an evolutionary enlightenment engages with Rabbi Gafni's soul-level understanding of Judaism's timeless mystical teachings. Together, these two free-thinkers propel an enduring ancient tradition into the exhilarating and uncharted terrain of the future.

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Haviva Ner-David Thinks She Got Semicha [Rabbinic Ordination]'

Steven I. Weiss got this email from Haviva Ner-David (she and her husband Jacob were longtime enablers of sexual predator Mordecai Gafni):

Subject: Thanks a lot!!!
Body: Steve, I don’t know what your agenda is, but I smell something fishy. Why did you want to prove on your blog that what I got from Rav Aryeh Strikovsky is not smicha? You asked me to forward you the smicha document, and yet, you did not put it in on your blog, at least not that I could see. Is that because it would show that it is indeed smicha? What are you trying to prove? Are you some right-wing reactionary? Do you have something against the idea of women rabbis? I’m trying to understand what makes you tick. I am not sure what Rabbi Strikovsky actually told you, but I am sure you must have misquoted him or misunderstood him. Either that, or you scared him away from saying the truth. He signed the document I sent you. His only reservation was about giving me the title of Rav because he felt the Orthodox world was not ready for that yet. But the more people like you hound him, the more he will feel threatened and scared and reluctant to admit the truth. So what is your agenda exactly? Why didn’t you include the document or at least quote from it?

I know I learned one thing from this, which his not to trust people who pose as reporters, I should have checked your credentials before being helpful. I try to live by the ideal of dan lekaf zechut, but it is getting harder and harder these days.

Steven I. Weiss responds.

Gary Rosenblatt Reports On Gafni In The Jewish Week

He writes:

...“We feel we were deceived,” Jacob Ner-David, a co-founder of Bayit Chadash, told The Jewish Week, which first reported on allegations against the rabbi in September 2004.

“He should not be called a rav [rabbi], his was not the behavior of a rav and he should not be in a teaching or counseling position,” said Ner-David, who noted that the incident “is my worst nightmare come to life.” He added that Rabbi Gafni is “a sick man, and has harmed so many.”

...[Gafni] was ordained by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, founder of Lincoln Square Synagogue here and now chief rabbi of Efrat, in the West Bank. Rabbi Riskin revoked his ordination in 1994 after his former student, in a lengthy interview in Haaretz, called for restoring a balance between the erotic and the spiritual in Judaism.

...This week, Rabbi Berman said he is “deeply regretful” of his prior support for Rabbi Gafni, and worried that his past defense may have prolonged the rabbi’s “predatory behavior against women.”

“I was clearly wrong in stating that Rabbi Gafni’s continued role as a teacher within the Jewish community constitutes no risk to Jewish women,” he wrote in a statement.

Rabbi Berman said he had felt the earlier accusations “were not justifiable foundations for public disgrace and exclusion,” and noted that he will “continue to struggle with the ideal line between presumption of innocence and protection of potential innocent victims.”

He told The Jewish Week the Gafni case underscores the ongoing need for a mechanism to investigate allegations against rabbis “in a way that the community has confidence in, so that when it’s over, it’s over.”

He said that rabbis are “not capable of enough objectivity to handle such matters themselves,” and called for a collaborative effort of rabbis, lay leaders and professionals in the health care field who deal with abuse.

Steven I. Weiss blogs:

Gary Rosenblatt’s Self-Serving Take on Gafni/Winiarz

How do you atone for a story that essentially wrote off allegations of abuse against a rabbi when you find out a couple years later that he's alleged to have abused again? By pretending you had the story right all along, of course.

....No mention of Rosenblatt's apologetics for Gafni/Winiarz in that 2004 report. Also no mention of Jewschool, which broke the story, but that's predictable.
This story also gives a pretty easy walk to Gafni's enablers: Berman, Telushkin, Waskow, etc.

By the way, for those of you looking into whether Waskow's claims of doing an investigation in the first place are legitimate, notice this from the 2004 story:

Two groups in the Renewal movement, Aleph and Elat Chayyim, looked into the allegations against Rabbi Gafni and found "no evidence of wrongdoing," according to Rabbi Arthur Waskow. (The three women with whom I spoke said they were never contacted.)

Jewish Whistleblower writes that Gary's article is weak:

1) Really does not go into the NY "investigation" and various Jewish Renewal "investigations" and declarations of innocence.
2) Ignores the nature of the current allegations.
3) Ignores the nature of the past allegations.
4) Does not go into the treatment of Gafni's survivors who came forward. Dissmissal of their allegations and refusals to even talk to them.
5) Ignores much of the the inappropriate behavior detailed in the maariv article and other articles.
6) Ignores Rabbi Blau's attempts to speak on behalf of Gafni's earlier survivors and his treatment by Berman, Telushkin and others.
7) Ignores the alteration of name from Winiarz to Winyarz when he "left" NY and went to Florida.
8) Overall, a wishy-washy article.

I emailed Saul Berman May 18, 2006 and called Joseph Telushkin and left him a message. I asked them both to comment on their support for Gafni and their condemnation of those who warned about Gafni. Neither responded to me.

Berman and Telushkin and company enable predators and condemn those who call out predators. And neither of them have the courage to talk to me or to anyone who will ask them tough questions. Yet they regarded as moral leaders of American Judaism.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

j hershy worch now lists "bdsm kabbalah", "bdsm", and "s/m" as interests on his kabbalah_101 livejournal

May 19, 2006 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you forgot to add Rabbi Harlan Tsvi Kilstein and also Rabbi Tovia Singer to this list.

May 19, 2006 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Yanover threats said...

http://usajewish.blogspot.com/2006/05/yori-yanover-denies-engaging-in-bdsm.html


Sunday, May 21, 2006
Yori Yanover Denies Engaging in BDSM

"BDSM" are the initials for bondage-domination-sadism-masochism continuum of power-play games.

Dear Luke,

In the past, when you presented some bizarre notes about a guy using my name to rile up demonstrators against the WTO in Seattle, you wondered why I hadn't protested this misuse of my name, insinuating that by not doing that at the time, I must accept the fallout (there was none, but that's a different story).

Although this logic is reminiscent of the opening chapters of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where an alien ship destroys the earth to make room for an intergalactic highway, telling the inhabitants they had ample time to contest the move in an office only a few light-years away, there was probably some practical wisdom in what you wrote.

Indeed, I've made it my habit to google myself at least once a week, just to stay on top of things. And what I don't find myself, I get by email. Like the email I received late Friday afternoon from a close friend: “Jewish Survivors is claiming now that you do BDSM games with all your friends -- and you don't invite us?!?!?!?”

I sighed, looked at my watch and went to my already closed Mozilla again, to discover the following sweet note on Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out: “I can't stop asking myself if Yori Yanover is also into BDSM like his friends? Let's not forget to mention his buddy Rabbi David Lipman who is a convicted child molester. I'm trying to remember if he's also friends with convicted sex offender, Kabbalah Coach - Rabbi Michael Ozair too?

“Luke Ford's been writing about it all week on his blog.”

I scanned up and down your blog and couldn’t find any mention of my name. Perhaps you did write about my taste for rough stuff and it escaped me. You’re welcome to set me straight.

Now, lest the scourge of Seattle repeat itself, I must stand in the city square -- your blog -- and proclaim that I never engaged in BDSM (which, not surprisingly, does not stand for Beis Din Shliach Mitzvah), nor is BDSM in any other way part of my erotic menu. I do not condemn consenting adults who enjoy it, I simply do not find it appealing in the least. It is sad that one’s reputation can be trashed so easily, but such is life.

One must wonder, however, what was the basis for that "casual" remark? I am not a public servant in any way. I am a private businessman and an author. I do not have employees nor students. I am not a rabbi. I was never accused by anyone of any sexual or other misconduct. Why, then, can an anonymous website make dark innuendos about me and get away with it, merely because they took care to add a question mark at the end of the nasty remark?

I’ll tell you why: Because I exposed Vicki Polin’s appearance on Oprah, where she “confessed” her ties to a satanic Jewish cult, baby-munching and all. I deprived her of credibility in a way she can never restore. And when the tape of that appearance, currently in the hands of one of her victims, will make it to the web, as it will, eventually, she will remain bereft of parnosah. This is why she hates me so much, and "can't stop thinking" about me. This is why she considers it par for the course to assault my reputation, even though I meet none of her definitions for people she normally torments. I’m the guy who proved she’s crazy.

So, anyway, the record is set straight again, I do not now, nor have I ever before engaged in BDSM. I welcome future inquiries regarding my bedroom habits, although I may be forced to charge a small fee.

Yori Yanover

May 22, 2006 12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jane writes:

It's not that a rabbi practices bdsm that in itself is necessarily problematic. It's the fact that he preys on women with histories of childhood sexual abuse and/or violence, and "indoctrinates" through his various trance/altered state teachings, and that he is a serial predator.

---- Most of the people practicing it don't utilize or engage in altered states (drugs or otherwise); (go back to read what that guy who's married to Nina Hartley wrote about consensual bdsm on your profile page and how altered states/drug use are a big no no in the bdsm world.)

----Most people don't present it as a form of "spiritual healing" from childhood abuse, wrapped up in kabbalah or otherwise.

---Most people don't involve it in cultic situations, involving trance, "guided" meditation, mind-control, so-called "hypnoeroticism."

---He doesn't find his partners through those experienced in the bdsm world (pshrew, who was, got wisened up fast), he INDOCTRINATES it in his students, predominantly women with histories of childhood abuse or childhood sexual abuse.

May 22, 2006 11:46 AM  
Anonymous From Luke Ford's Web Page said...

Rabbi Mordecai Gafni's BDSM Angle - It Was Practiced Against Him

Rabbi Gafni was the one who wanted to be tied up, punished and told he was a bad boy. He was not the dom.

Larry Yudelson writes me:

It's odd that your "report" of Gafni BDSM involvement, without actually quoting anyone. How unlike your usual meticulous self. Are you just parroting made-up stuff the "JewishSurvivors" blog, designed to turn the Gafni affair into an opportunity to go after Vicki and the Worch Survivor's object of obsession, Yori ? Or do you have any real source (preferably one who does not have a track record of delusions)?

I first reported, not Jewish Survivors, that the women who filed reports on Gafni said that their sex was on the BDSM continuum and now I got and published the clarification about the direction the power exchange played out, which appears to be, from what I know, on the opposite end of Rabbi Hershy Worch and his women. I am not claiming any end of the BDSM spectrum is better or worse, nor am I claiming that there is anything bad about BDSM.

I remember a big practicioner of BDSM, Ira Levine (husband of Nina Hartley), was getting pushed into Judaism by a major Chabad rabbi in Denver. Ira was not interested. He tried to blow the rabbi off by saying he was into BDSM. The rabbi stroked his beard, thought about the matter, and finally remarked, "BDSM [between a married couple] is not prohibited."

I got emails after the BDSM angle of Gafni's latest fiasco wondering if there was a nefarious link between Gafni and Worch. None that I know of aside from them teaching Torah together a few weeks ago.

May 22, 2006 11:35 PM  

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