Friday, June 30, 2006

Rabbi Mordecai Tendler Speaking in Israel Next Week

From the Cannonist Blog

Next week:

Harav Mordecai Tendler will be in Israel next week and will be giving a shiur on Thursday July 6th. The shiur will be in English and is open to all. The topic will be:
“Halachik Considerations of Financial Expenditures”

(Tzedaka vs. Household)
We will daven Mincha at 7:00pm; maariv will be after the shiur (around 8:45pm).
The shiur will either be in Beit Shemesh or Yerushalayim – I will send another e-mail with the exact location.
Moshe Siegel
“Making the World a Healthier Place … One Person at a Time”

I also heard a rumor, but haven’t confirmed, that he was on the dais at a recent dinner of honor at MTJ.

From The Awareness Center's web page:
  • According to Rabbi Benzion Y. Wosner, head of the Shevet Levi rabbinical court in Monsey, One should never allow their wives or daughters to go to Rabbi Mordecai Tendler at all including [for] counseling... and all his rulings are null and void." He also stated: "The RCA had every right to oust this rabbi from their organization, and his own congregation has the same obligation." In conclusion, he wrote, "the rabbi can no longer officiate at divorces, weddings. ...

  • A Law Suit Filed Against Mordechai Tendler, Kehillat New Hempsted, and Rav Aron Jofen Community Synagogue on December 20, 2005.

  • On December 24, 2005 the Rabbinic Committee that was Formed to Expose Mordecai Tendler made a public statement that "Must be read by all adults. According to Halacha, these women would still be believed.

  • On January 4 - A Call To The Entire Community of Monsey To Stand Together For Kavod HaTorah This Shabbos - And For Many Shabbos As Necessary

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Attorney Elliot B. Pasik Calls For A Yeshiva Parent Association for Schools

We at least need to bring the qualifying standards for nonpublic school teachers up to those for public school teachers, in terms of training, education, certificatin, and the like. Background checks are only the first step. I'm in for the long haul.

We need a Yeshiva Parents Association. We need to organize and get better laws on the books, and then we need to monitor our schools. And take it from me, the yeshivas even want us to do this. They want to improve their own standards, they just need outside prodding.

Anybody who is interested in helping me form such a group may contact me at my email address below. You can be involved as actively as you want, or you can just be counted among us and watch.

Thanks again.

Elliot B. Pasik, Esq.
Long Beach, New York

Because time won’t heal all: State must end statute of limitations on child sex abuse

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
By Jetta Bernier and Jeffrey Dion
Boston Herald
Thursday, June 29, 2006

Massachusetts has an historic opportunity to establish a “zero-tolerance” policy for child sexual abuse. The Legislature must pass, before the upcoming recess, bills that would eliminate the civil and criminal statutes of limitation for these heinous crimes. Reform is necessary if the state is serious about no longer allowing sexual predators and those who assist them through silence and inaction to escape accountability.

Decades pass before many sexual abuse survivors can even begin to confront the trauma they suffered as a child. Reasons for these delays vary and underscore why most victims cannot report the abuse within current legal time frames. For some, the abuser was a parent, relative or other trusted adult. Other victims blamed themselves and feared retribution if the abuse was revealed. For many, the trauma itself prevents them from coming forward earlier. As adults, victims may not even connect the assault to its long-lasting impact until they seek therapeutic help years later. If evidence is sufficient to prove criminal or civil liability, the mere passage of time should not foreclose sexual assault victims from seeking justice.

Abolition of the civil statute of limitations must logically accompany repeal of the criminal statute. To deny a victim the right to hold financially accountable the people responsible for the abuse protects no one but the abuser and those who enabled the abuse through negligence.

Massachusetts is out of step with the country and the region. Thirty-one states have no criminal statutes of limitation for certain sex offenses or abuse of children. Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island have eliminated statutes of limitations. Connecticut has eliminated them for Class A felony sexual assaults and through the victim’s 48th birthday. New Hampshire extends time limits until the victim reaches age 40. Clearly, Massachusetts is out of the mainstream and its dismal legal protection of children may be one of the many reasons child sex abuse has run rampant here.

Some raise the specter of “constitutional issues” as a reason to do nothing even though the Massachusetts legislation is narrowly drawn and contains no statutory reform that has not already survived judicial review elsewhere. States that strengthened their laws to protect children have demonstrated that these changes can be constitutional.

Some lawmakers support an “incremental approach” by excluding victims of incest, children molested after age 13 and victims who were not raped but subjected to other illegal touching or non-touching offenses. These proposals are based on false assumptions that younger children are more traumatized than teens; a child molested by a stranger is more traumatized than if he or she is molested by a family member; and children subjected to sexual penetration are more traumatized than those that were fondled or forced to pose for pornographic pictures.

Studies show that the trauma suffered by victims is not correlated to the frequency or brutality of the abuse experienced but rather to the length of time the abuse was concealed. Incest victims are among those who need our protection the most; and the more we learn about teen victims the better we understand the obstacles to their coming forward. Piecemeal legislation will not provide sufficient safeguards. If we are serious about stopping abuse, how can we create a caste system of victims where some abused children are worthy of protection, but others are not?

Every day that the Legislature fails to act, it fails to protect another group of children from the horrors of abuse. More than 130 state legislators support this legislation, along with the lieutenant governor, attorney general, the Governor’s Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, numerous district attorneys and a long list of child advocacy organizations. So what is the Legislature waiting for?

Predators are beating the clock under our current laws every day. Now in these final days of the legislative session, the countdown is on for legislators, too. Will they beat the clock and fail once gain to pass meaningful legislation to protect children?

Jetta Bernier is executive director of Mass. Citizens for Children and a member of the Coalition to Reform Sexual Abuse Laws in Mass. Jeffrey Dion is a senior attorney with the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

(NY) Yeshiva's in NY Need to do Criminal Background Checks on Employees

A HUGE Thank you goes to Elliot Pasik, who started lobbying for this new law!
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Lawmakers OK Background Checks
New fingerprinting law giving private schools ability to weed out known sex offenders awaits governor’s signature.

Jennifer Friedlin - Special to The Jewish Week
Jewish Week (NY)
June 28, 2006

The New York State Legislature has passed a bill that would permit private schools to conduct federal background checks of prospective employees, enabling yeshivas, Catholic schools and other private institutions to determine whether a person is a convicted sex offender before they are hired.

“I’m pleased that we [have] now opened the availability of getting criminal background checks in private schools,” said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), the bill’s sponsor.

Passage of the legislation comes in the wake of allegations that a yeshiva in Flatbush, Brooklyn, harbored a sex offender for decades. The allegations and a lawsuit against Rabbi Yehuda Kolko of Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah have generated a debate within the Jewish community about how to protect Jewish students.

The bill, which must still be signed by Gov. George Pataki before it can become law, is similar to a 2000 law that requires New York’s public schools to conduct fingerprint-based checks in the FBI’s national criminal background check system. Such checks reveal whether a person has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor anywhere in the nation.

Until now, a “no fingerprinting” law forbade private schools from running federal background checks on job candidates. To get around the law, some schools have conducted name-based checks through private companies. However, those checks are thought to be susceptible to fraud. In addition, name-based checks only reveal felonies, while misdemeanors, including some sex abuse offenses, are omitted.

While the new law represents a step toward leveling the playing field between New York’s public schools and the private schools that serve 500,000 students statewide, the legislation treats the private schools with a degree of lenience not afforded the public schools.

Not only does the new bill allow private schools to opt out of doing the background checks on prospective teachers, janitors and aides, it also does not contain a mandatory reporting provision requiring private schools to report credible allegations of sexual abuse to the authorities. Public schools are required by law to report all credible cases of sex abuse.

Leaders within the fervently Orthodox Jewish community have generally opposed reporting abuses to outside authorities, often opting to handle allegations by themselves.

The 2003 guidelines issued by Torah Umesorah, the national network of yeshivas and Hebrew day schools, say that principals who become aware of inappropriate sexual behavior between staff and a student must take action that “may include, under appropriate circumstances, reporting to the civil authorities when the principal determines that there is reason to believe that inappropriate activity has in fact occurred, insofar as halacha and secular law require such reporting.”

Critics say the absence of a uniform standard for reporting sexual abuse allegations can lead to the mishandling of abusers. If, for example, a school fires an alleged offender without attempting to prosecute, he or she could wind up in another school, as has been known to happen. Most sex offenders are never prosecuted.

While some legislators had previously said they would not support a bill that did not contain a mandatory reporting requirement, people close to the legislative process said there was not enough time to debate the merits of such a requirement before the session ended last week. Instead, lawmakers opted to move ahead with the background check aspect of the bill and leave the discussion about mandatory reporting for next year.

Elliot Pasik, an Orthodox attorney from Long Beach who first approached state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Center) with the idea for a background check bill, said he was thrilled with the bill’s passage. He noted, however, that it was now up to parents to ensure that schools perform the checks.

“Parents are the teeth” of this bill, Pasik said. “We must collectively insist that our yeshivas fingerprint, even to the point of withdrawing our children from those schools which do not fingerprint.

“Fingerprinting must be done, and if it isn’t, parents should return to the legislature in time for next year’s session, and ask for a mandatory fingerprinting law,” Pasik said.

Rabbi Saul Berman's "Modern Orthodox Think Tank To Fold"

The problem is NOT a sign of the times. The problem is that Saul Berman went out of his way to protected a confessed child molester and rapist -- Rabbi Mordechai Gafni.
Where is Berman's appology?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
"Modern Orthodox Think Tank To Fold"
Is demise of Edah a sign movement has tacked toward center or is unique voice being silenced?

Adam Dickter - Staff Writer
Jewish Week, NY
June 28, 2006

Nine years after Edah took up the challenge of reversing what it called a “separatist trend” within Modern Orthodoxy, the think-tank announced this week that it is winding down its operations, hoping to pass on its work and most successful programs to others.

While not exactly declaring its mission accomplished, Edah’s founder, Rabbi Saul Berman, said this week he was proud of achievements that exceeded expectations, while noting that much more work needs to be done.

We have created a new benchmark for Modern Orthodoxy,” said Rabbi Berman. “We have created some very powerful instruments to transmit its values.”

Some board members were upset about the organization closing, in part because of financial problems, saying a unique voice was being silenced.

From the start, Edah has tried to engender an Orthodoxy that retains its commitment to halacha while expanding opportunities for the participation of women in communal leadership and seeking greater engagement in issues outside the Jewish world.

Rabbi Berman cited the recent participation of 300 Yeshiva University students in a Washington march against the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, as “a very important statement” that Modern Orthodox Jews were increasingly taking up “a humanitarian cause that did not involve the Jewish people.” He also cited the “growing breadth of religious Zionism,” wider acceptance of post-yeshiva college attendance, the expansion of Torah studies for women and their acceptance as halachic sources as “enormous victories from a Modern Orthodox perspective.”

He said he sensed change, at least on the surface, at YU’s rabbinical school, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. “The kind of periodic antagonism that used to be heard from within RIETS [toward other perspectives within Orthodoxy] has been muted,” he said.

Edah is perhaps best known for its widely read journal and annual conferences that drew as many as 1,500 participants. The packed agenda of its 2005 conference included sessions on substance abuse in yeshivas, sexual abuse in the Orthodox world and perspectives on women being called to the Torah.

“People were thirsty for an alternative voice,” said Suri Kasirer, Edah’s vice president for leadership development and a prominent Democratic political consultant. “They came from the chasidic community and the right-wing and said we appreciate that this voice is out there.”

Edah also offers adult education programs at the JCC of Manhattan and funded a Jewish Teacher Corps geared toward young people. It ended after several years.

Rabbi Berman said he was negotiating with several Jewish organizations to take control of the journal, the organization’s Web site — which attracts some 300,000 visits per month — and a vast audiovisual library of classes and forums. He declined to name the organizations he was speaking with since the discussions are preliminary.

Kasirer said the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance had worked closely with Edah and she hoped it would continue its advocacy for the inclusion of women. “They’ve done an incredible job,” she said. “Hopefully they will keep it going. There are quite a number of good organizations out there who can continue to work together [to further Edah’s work].”

From its inception, Edah has been a shoestring operation, employing only a small full-time staff that includes members of Rabbi Berman’s family with a budget of about $600,000 a year.

The next stage for Edah would have involved a much more localized effort. “Essentially it would mean moving from a think-tank function to implementation of model programs in different communities … and developing methods to concretize ideas,” said the rabbi.

While insisting the decision not to continue was not purely financial, Rabbi Berman noted that that next phase would have required the addition of fund-raising and other professional staff.

“When we looked at what it would take … we came to the conclusion that we did not feel it was justified from a communal perspective when the programs we have created could now be carried by other organizations.”

The demise of Edah comes at a time when Modern Orthodoxy is believed to have undergone a transition. “There was a growing consciousness all through the mid-80s that Modern Orthodoxy lacked energy and that its major institutions were so busy fighting off modernity and not creating paths for the integration of modernity,” said Rabbi Berman.

A leading chronicler of American Jewish history, Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University, noted that the recent creation of Yeshiva Chovevei Torah — a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school that encourages rabbis to seek ways to include women as well as work with the non-Orthodox community — and the appointment of a non-rabbi, Richard Joel, as president of Yeshiva University, were “huge developments” that coincided with Edah’s work.

“The very term Modern Orthodoxy has come back into fashion,” said Sarna.

Sources say Rabbi Berman will take an administrative post at Chovevei Torah, but he would not confirm that fact.

Assessing the demise of Edah, Sarna said the group “is not really good at publicity and fundraising. But if it is dead, it’s because it has won rather than lost. There is a women’s tefilla network and some of the women’s conferences have all really demonstrated the strength of Modern Orthodoxy. It is alive and well at YU, and therefore Edah doesn’t really serve the purpose it did when people were afraid that YU was abandoning its Modern Orthodox moorings.”

But Professor Samuel Heilman, a City University of New York sociologist, said the demise of Edah proves the thesis of his new book, “Sliding To The Right,” which posits that American Jewish Orthodoxy has been largely co-opted by “contra-acculturative” haredim.

“Even though Modern Orthodox still constitute the majority, the pendulum of leadership and a sense of empowerment has swung more to haredi elements,” Heilman told The Jewish Week. “They in many ways control the rabbinate and, increasingly, the nature of how to define Jewish education and … seek to define what is genuinely Orthodox. What Edah was trying to do was offer a broader spectrum of definitions of what constitutes Orthodoxy. Their passing from the scene means one less voice.”

But Rabbi Berman insisted that his and other Edah voices would not be silent in that debate.

“This is the close of Edah as an organization,” he said, “but not by any means a close of its vision.”

Robert Kolker Responds to Rabbi Avi Shafra on the Case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko

Orthodox Abuse And Cultural Forces
By Robert Kolker
Jewish Week
June 30, 2006

Rabbi Avi Shafran

For those closely following the issue of rabbinical sexual abuse accusations in the fervently Orthodox Jewish community, last week’s Jewish Week represented something of a historic moment: An authority from the esteemed haredi organization Agudath Israel, Rabbi Avi Shafran, openly acknowledged that sexual abuse is indeed a problem that requires more attention and measures than the community currently brings to bear.

In the past, The Jewish Week’s own reporting has mentioned how rabbinical sexual abuse has been roundly ignored at Agudath Israel conventions. Rabbi Shafran himself has eschewed any calls for a centralized body to deal with the problem, instead encouraging anyone claiming to have been abused to “go to the rebbe or community rabbi.” So it is refreshing to read Rabbi Shafran grappling with these issues in an open forum and writing, “Must more be done? Yes. And it will be.”

But pausing only briefly to extend sympathy to victims of abuse, Rabbi Shafran saves his real outrage — and most of the space in his piece — for my recent feature story in New York magazine, “On the Rabbi’s Knee,” the first report to publicly detail plaintiff David Framowitz’s astonishing allegations in a recent sexual-abuse lawsuit. (The defendants are Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, Yeshiva & Mesivta Torah Temimah of Flatbush, and Camp Agudah, which Rabbi Shafran acknowledged is affiliated with Agudath Israel.) While the detailed and brave testimony of Framowitz received little attention from Rabbi Shafran, the uncomfortable question asked in my piece — if molestation is more common in the fervently Orthodox community than it is elsewhere — must have hit a nerve. Because last week, Rabbi Shafran accused the New York magazine article of “slip[ping] toward slander, not only of Orthodox Jews but of Judaism itself.”

As a journalist and a Jew, I take this accusation very seriously, and I’m grateful for the chance to respond. First, Rabbi Shafran suggests that when I wrote that “there’s reason to believe the answer to that question [of more sexual abuse among the fervently Orthodox] might be yes,” I was engaging in something “sinister” — and that the only substantiation I provided was an insight from the author Hella Winston about the countless incidents she heard about in her laudable research on chasidic exiles.

While everyone including myself and Rabbi Shafran can stipulate that no hard statistics are available, my explanation of this belief extends for several more paragraphs. The next paragraph suggests that some experts believe “repression ... creates a fertile environment for deviance.” Rabbi Shafran takes this as an assault on what he calls “a Torah-observant life.” I intended it only as my sources did: as a belief that any society that shies away from open discussion of certain issues is a society that allows problems to fester longer — and abusers to stay in business longer.

But it’s what I discuss next that Rabbi Shafran ignores completely: the cultural forces of shame and denial that have kept alleged victims like David Framowitz from going public for decades. Nowhere in Rabbi Shafran’s piece is a mention of the so-called shonda factor, lashon hara, shalom bayit, mesira, and chillul Hashem, all of which are invoked to keep victims from bringing their community unwelcome attention by the authorities.

Rabbi Shafran spoke to mental-health experts who believe the problem is smaller among the fervently Orthodox. The experts I interviewed said otherwise — like the pediatrician who was in tears discussing how these pressures keep victims silent, and two psychologists who agreed that the fears of being ostracized from the community prevent victims from speaking out and being treated.

Common sense would indicate that even if there are fewer fervently Orthodox abusers, if they’re allowed to remain in positions of power for decades they can abuse hundreds of more victims and perhaps even create victims who go on to become abusers themselves. As one abuse victim told me, “Whether it’s Jewish or Amish or Mennonite or Catholic or Muslim, it doesn’t make a difference. I feel like this is kind of like a fungus. It grows in the dark.”

But above all, this sort of chauvinistic we-abuse-less argument is an insult to victims like David Framowitz who felt so alone and intimidated for so long. Can there be any doubt that until the cultural bias against the reporting of abuse is tackled head on, not defensively, community leaders are only paying lip service to the problem?

Rabbi Shafran would have you believe that something is being done, but is it really? While the Catholic Church now has a charter calling for removal of any clergyman who commits an act of abuse, the 3-year-old guidelines for preventing abuse in Jewish day schools that Rabbi Shafran mentions are non-compulsory. Torah U’Mesorah, the National Society of Hebrew Day Schools, has no real disciplinary system in place, but the New York City schools do. Are Jewish children somehow entitled to less protection than public school children? If Rabbi Shafran wants to suggest that fervently Orthodox religious observance in fact fosters superior moral behavior, then why not throw open the doors to the public? Why not urge complainants frustrated by the bet din process to take those grievances to an American court?

The absence of such conviction leads me to conclude that the real point of Rabbi Shafran’s editorial appears to be to distract attention from the Framowitz lawsuit and make people believe that Agudath Israel’s reputation deserves their support more than the victims do. He would have you believe that the mainstream media — the usual bugbears of the Internet and MTV — are the villains here. He is obviously more concerned with defending Judaism from paper tigers — illusory enemies — than he is with actually dealing with the problems of his community.

Still, a major step has been made. At long last, by admitting there is a problem, Rabbi Shafran has opened the door for more discussion. Is it possible that outside forces like the Framowitz lawsuit and the mainstream media have actually done some good here? As a Jew and a journalist, I hope so. n

Robert Kolker is a contributing editor at New York magazine.

Thread #8 - Case of Shmuel Juravel (Baltimore, MD and Savannah, GA)

On May 25, 2006, there was a Pre-trail hearing on the case of Samuel Juravel. The case has been continued to July 10, 2006. There was NO plea hearing entered. Shmuel Juravel is still in custody. No bond posted.

Pre Trial Continued
July 10 at 9:00 am.

Judge Coogler
United States Circuit Court - Alabama Northern District
Hugo L. Black U. S. Courthouse
Birmingham, AL

Shmuel faces 70 years in Federal prison without parole plus a $750,000.00 fine.

Agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FBI arrested Shmuel Juravel (Feb. 21, 2005) at a Birmingham hotel after he arranged to have sex with a minor.

Juravel grew up in Baltimore, MD. Around fifteen years ago the first allegations were made against Shmuel of child sexual molestation. According to statements made on the various threads relating to this case on this blog the survivors and their parents sought help from Rabbi Moshe Heinemann who said he would take care of things. Needless to say, nothing happened.

Shmuel is the son of Rabbi Moshe and Shulamis Juravel of Baltimore, MD. Rabbi Juravel is employeed as a teacher at the Torah Institute of Baltimore.

Due to the number of postings on Thread #7, the discussion of Shmuel Juravel will continue here on Thread #8

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Deposition Of Mordecai Gafni's Third Wife

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
June 27, 2006

They divorced in August of 2004, before Gary Rosenblatt's article that blew Mordecai's story wide open.

(Third Wife) Gafni Email Deposition
May 9th , 2006

The following is my personal testimony of what it was like to be married to Mordechai for almost 7 years. I share what I have known of Mordechai's drastic and tragic dark side. I focus upon the shadow aspects of our marriage and his personality, for I believe they are crucial to share, given what has unfolded in these past weeks. Please keep in mind that I could also write pages worth of testimony about the light side of Mordechai - from the beauty of his teachings to his ardent dedication to making a contribution in the world and helping others. May his light side and his dark side know full integration.

Also, while you can pass this testimony on to other concerned parties, please do not share it with the press. I do not want my name to appear in the press. Thanks.

Background: I was 19 years old when I first encountered Mordechai I was studying in Jerusalem the summer after my freshman year of college. I was an eager baalat-teshuva, newly "turned on" to the beauty of Jewish practice. I devotedly went to his classes at Isralight and other venues. We went on our first date the spring after I graduated college. I was 23 and star-struck.

He was 15 years my senior. We got married at the beginning of 1998, less than 8 months after our first date. Several people warned me about Mordechai's past. He adamantly insisted that the bulk of the rumors were lies, exaggerations and the evil workings of other people's jealousies. I believed him.

He actually told me early on about some of his sexual misdemeanors as well as affairs he had on his 2nd wife. He assured me that he had done teshuva, changed, and that things with me would be different. I was all too ready to believe this as well Plus I thought that I could help him, fix him; that my love could help him become the great man he had the potential to be. As soon as we started seriously dating, he pulled me into working for him full-time on writing and organizational projects. I was dedicated to his "mission" of Jewish Rennaissance and gave it all of my time and energy.

His emotional abuse and manipulations began immediately upon our marriage. But I was so dedicated to the mission that I withstood it. The years that followed were a strange mix of great excitement, activity and purpose, as well as huge despair, confusion and pain. On the outside I seemed to be living a fairy tale of success and contribution. Behind closed doors I was living a life of enslavement, debasement, manipulation and verbal abuse. On top of the abuse, Mordechai was having more than one affair on me; 1ying to me on a daily basis.

Finally, I started to see through the fog of falsehoods. Fled Israel in February of 2004, only to be lured back in June, 2004 by Mordechai's promises of change and commitment. But nothing changed. By early August of 2004 I finally demanded and received a divorce.

Soon thereafter, Mordechai came "under attack" by his enemies in America. In the fall of 2004, articles about his sexual misconduct and questionable reputation came out in America and Israel. He begged me to keep our divorce a secret until all of this bad press died down. I reluctantly agreed - mostly because I believed that the work that was going on at Bayit Chadash was valuable and I did not want to jeopardize it. Mordechai lied to the reporters and all who asked, saying that we were still married. He even lied to the Rabbinic supporters who helped wage a campaign to protect him. Mordechai refused to publicly tell the truth about our divorce until Pesach of 2005 (March/April). I am ashamed to admit that I was manipulated in to also remaining silent and covering up to protect him, as I had done myriad times during our marriage.

Now that I see the damage that Mordechai has caused in so many people's lives I deeply regret that I did not speak out earlier about the abuse that I suffered at his hands. I also deeply regret that I did not speak out about the countless lies and manipulations that I witnessed him engage in on a regular basis. I sorely regret that I led people to believe that we had a good marriage when in actuality it was most often a hell. I have been studying, practicing and engaging in psychotherapy these past two years since I left Mordechai. The more I have learned - and now that I have beard the stories of what has happened with other women - it is now utterly clear to me that Mordechai is a dangerous sexual predator and sociopath. He hurt me in deplorable ways and I fear that he will continue to hurt others if he is not stopped. I pray that my speaking out now can help to thwart any and all future abuse at his hands.

1. Information about Sexual Abuse Molestation of a Minor:
Before we got married, Mordechai shared with me that he had indeed had a sexual encounter with a minor. Her name was (Name Withheld) - a teenager who was in his JYPSY youth movement He explained to me details of their encounter and how he went about covering it up and discrediting her. He told me that she had seduced him. He said that they did not have intercourse, but that they had at least been undressed, sexually physical and that he had ejaculated. After (Name withheld) reported this, he lied to everyone involved, saying that she was emotionally unstable, jealous and had made it all up. He even received a document signed by a Rabbi attesting to his innocence. (Name withheld) was under-age, a student of his, and were it not for the statute of limitations, he could go to jail over this.

2. Mordechai also told me stories about various teachers and staff people connected with Yeshiva University with whom he had struggles. He told me how he blackmailed a teacher (one of his "enemies" at YU) who tried to block him from studying teaching there after the (Name withheld) incident He had information about this particular man and threatened to share it if the man continued to try to block him. The man stayed quiet

3. Adultery Lying:
He also told me of several affairs that he had in Boca Raton while married to his second wife. These affairs were with women in his Congregation (the name of one woman was XXX XXX). At least one of them was a married woman (whose name I don't recall, though I can find it). There was a scandal at the synagogue over rumors about his sexual misconduct I do not think that his second wife ever found out about these affairs. They eventually left Boca to move to Israel I believe that the main reason for this was that he needed to flee before people found out the truth (though he never framed it that way).

4. Adultery Lying:
One of the reasons (among many) that I divorced Mordechai was because he had an affair while we were studying in Oxford. It was with a woman named XXXXXX at Wolfson College. He lied to me on a virtually daily basis to cover up this affair. This went on for approximately 10 months (from December 2002 - Sept 2003). It was an agonizing time for me even though I did not consciously know what was happening. I finally convinced him to tell me the truth about the affair when we left Oxford and moved back to Israel. I was devastated, and realized that all of my hopes that he was a "changed man" were baseless fantasies.

5. Adultery Lying:
I also was racked with suspicion that he was having another affair - with his "teaching partner", [Erica Ariel Fox]. On countless occasions I begged him to stop teaching with her and to pull back from their "friendship". He refused. Also on countless occasions I point blank asked him if they were having an affair. In response, he consistently told me how crazy, jealous and insecure I was. I have finally found out that they were indeed intimate with each other while we were married, as well as after. (All of this went on between 2002 until our divorce in August of 2004). I also have heard that he had affairs with two other women while we were together - one a young woman in Israel and the other in America.

6. Debasing Sexuality:
Mordechai was consistently verbally demeaning to me, particularly when we were having sex. While we were being intimate, he would demand that I repeat, "I am a whore." I reluctantly went along with this at first. Eventually I refused to say it. Over the last two years that we were together I would go to bed absolutely dreading the possibility of having sex with him. Additionally, he viewed pornography on a regular basis; including paying money to have memberships to certain sites. Eventually his computer and email were so full of pornography that he paid tens of hundreds of dollars to get it cleaned, for fear that someone may see it and that he would lose his job. I understand from formal depositions made with lawyers and the police in Israel that he had much more "extreme" sexual interactions with other women after our divorce; which involved a lot of S&M and also played heavily on themes of debasement.

7. Stealing Intellectual Property:
Mordechai used other people's stories/teaching (making slight changes) without attributing them properly. (The story in Soulprints about Eitan giving him a soulprint box was, for instance, based upon a story in one of Robert Fulghum's books.) Furthermore, I worked full time on both books "Soul Prints" and "The Mystery of Love". There are entire sections of these books which I myself wrote - with no public recognition given as to the depth and breadth of my contribution. Just a few of the numerous examples of this are the poem/invocation at the beginning of "Soul Prints", as well as the Parable of the Royal Wine in ''The Mystery of Love". I insisted that I wanted at least these pieces to be attributed to me. He refused Seeing I had no real choice, I gave in in the end and allowed the pieces to be used without attribution.

8. Verbal Abuse & Emotional Manipulation:
This was a constant throughout our marriage. I have pages and pages of journal entries describing entire scenes and dialogues full of emotional abuse. His yelling explosions, full of demeaning putdowns and blame, were virtually a daily occurrence. I eventually stopped fighting back and would just dissolve in tears after each explosion. He needed to always be right, always in control. If I didn't agree with him on something then he would burst into a rage and tell me how stupid I was. But more than that, he would tell me how unloving, insensitive and selfish I was. Convincing me that I was the evil, selfish, unloving one was one of his most powerful tools of manipulation. He capitalized on my natural desire to be loving and giving. My goodness was a knife in his hands with which he daily carved his sick designs into me. I was utterly bewildered by his manipulations; the way he would turn everything around and make me the bad one. These turn arounds rendered me powerless time and again. In fact, I was so distraught by the nature of his putdowns and manipulations that I had regular fantasies of doing violent and suicidal acts against myself. My most recurrent fantasy during his abusive tirades was of slashing my throat. I was not "allowed" to express or feel anger towards him and so I turned all of my anger at him back upon myself. I had never in my life been suicidal before this time and since I left him I have not had suicidal or violent thoughts at all.

9. Verbal Abuse Manipulation of Others:
I witnessed Mordechai being verbally abusive and manipulative with many other people. I saw it happen most with Dafna, his main staff person, but also - tragically - also saw it with his Sons, most particularly (NAME REMOVED). I found his neglectful and insensitive treatment of his sons to be deplorable. I could go in to greater detail about this but will refrain out of respect for bow hard all of this must be for them. Seeing him with his sons was another big factor in my wanting a divorce. The thought of him mistreating any future children that we would have was just terrifying to me.

10. Lies:
As I mentioned above, Mordechai lied about our divorce and other essential issues to the numerous Rabbis who supported him when he was being attacked in the press and at various teaching institutions. The Rabbis he lied pointblank to include R'Danny Landes, R'Joseph Telushkin, R'Art Green, R'Eli Herscher and R'Saul Bennan, as well as others. He likewise lied to the press and the entire Bayit Chadash community and Board. (He was so efficient and convincing a liar that I view all of his supporters - from the Rabbis to the Ner-David family to the Jewish Renewal Movement at large - as victims of his pathology. I strongly believe that they should not be held responsible for 'covering up' his misdeeds. I believe they all did the work to find out the truth, but the truth was too elusive.)

11. Exaggerations - Beyond the examples above I witnessed Mordechai lying routinely in most every type of setting. Whether it was in a speech, at dinner with friends, teaching. or in talking to donors. He was consistently aggrandizing himself by exaggerating his successes, popularity, power and connections. He would get furious with me when I myself did not join in on telling these inflated stories about him; saying that I was selfish and unloving for not also telling these tales. Time and again he falsely claimed to be a spiritual holy person. During his writings and teachings he would claim to pray, meditate, exercise, eat healthy, etc. None of which he did in the least. He led entire meditation retreats without ever having meditated himself. In my opinion, all of his frequent claims to spiritual enlightenment were (and are still) dangerously misleading fabrications.

12. Psychological Sickness - I think it is crucial to share that based on all that I have known of Mordechai I see that he clearly has two psychological disorders which are evident and expressed in numerous ways. The most obvious is a narcissistic personality disorder. He exhibited the following characteristics which correlate with the DMS-IV diagnosis of narcissism. In the DMS, at least 5 of the following attributes are requires for diagnosis. Mordechai exhibits them all. I could give numerous examples in each category, but will refrain for lack of space and because they are just so very obvious to anyone who knows Mordechai.):
a. has a grandiose sense of self-importance - exaggerates achievements and talents.
b. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance.
c. Believes that he is "special" and unique and can only associate with other special or high-status people or institutions.
d. Requires excessive admiration
e. Has a sense of entitlement - expecting especially favorable treatment or compliance with his expectations
f. Is interpersonally exploitative; taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
g. Is envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
h. Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
i. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
As for the antisocial (or sociopathic) personality disorder. He exhibits the following of the criteria for the DSM (of which 3 are needed for diagnosis):
a. failure to confirm to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors (such as his sexual harassment in the workplace and sleeping with students and employees)
b. deceitfulness, repeated lying
c. irritability and aggressiveness (as is known by anyone who has ever worked under Mordechai, or crossed his path politically)
d. reckless disregard for safety of self or others (such as endangering himself by juggling numerous affairs at once, given his history)
e. lack of remorse; indicated by rationalizing having hurt, or mistreated others

Unfortunately, with Axis II Personality Disorders the chances for change via treatment are extremely slim; as opposed to Axis I disorders which are considered more treatable. Mental Retardation, for example, is also on Axis II, because no amount of therapy will be able to fully 'treat' retardation. The same is understood for Personality Disorders - they are not entirely treatable. Thus, in my opinion, the belief that Mordechai will one day be able to return to being a teacher leader of any sort is a dangerous one. I personally (and professionally) do not think that he should be "allowed" to return to any such roles at any point in the future. A tragic loss, perhaps, but in the end we as a culture and as a people need to reassess the traits that we value and pull forth from our leaders. May this whole fiasco pave the way for new standards of humility, sincerity and a genuine care for others.

Alleged Sex Offenders In West Rogers Park (Chicago, IL)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Flashback: Rabbi Saul Berman's Edah gets subsidized rent from pornographer and trafficker of women Charles Kushner

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Do you remember this old posting by Jewish Whistleblower?

Rabbi Saul Berman's Edah gets subsidized rent from pornographer and trafficker of women Charles Kushner

Remember Saul Berman is a supporter of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni

Failed Messiah said on May 18, 2006:
Rabbi Saul Berman Must Be Removed From Public Jewish Life Immediately

Still No Apology From ALEPH and Others Who Supported Marc Gafni

Jewish Renewal and Tikkun Magazine on the Case of Mordechai Gafni
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Tikkun of Sexual Misconduct Issues in Jewish Renewal
L’shem yichud: For the Sake of Divine Unity

by Sarah Stein and Raachel Nathan Jurovics
Tikkun, CA

In response to recent revelations of sexual misconduct and deceit by a rabbi [
Rabbi Mordechai Gafni] who in recent years has been a highly visible personality within the Jewish Renewal community, much has been spoken about the need within Jewish communities generally to safeguard students and congregants from predatory teachers. A clear demand has been voiced for open channels through which women who have experienced sexual harassment can register the abuse without fear of dismissal or recrimination. Renewal organizations have cut their ties to the admitted offender and engaged in a painful bout of soul-searching, some even raising concerns about the possibility that ecstatic Renewal spiritual practices contribute to the risk of interpersonal exploitation and abuse. Considerable discussion has also been generated about the illness of sexual predators, effective treatment, and the prognosis for rehabilitation.

In the current situation, as in previous instances when a trusted spiritual teacher betrayed that trust through sexual misconduct, the initial shock provoked us to confirm our understanding that when we talk of sexual abuse, we are always talking about violent expressions of power, not sexual desire or pleasure. We next turned to discussing the importance of insuring open channels of communication, first to acknowledge that, at a minimum, we must open our hearts to the painful stories of the victims, and second, to express our commitment to protect and rescue women from any future risks of predation. We even questioned, with an eye for complicity, the nature of interpersonal practices encouraged by our well-intentioned but deeply intimate study and prayer gatherings.

Our compassion also encompassed the perpetrator, as we know our own capacity for sinful behavior and our own struggles with mental disorders. We take to heart our tradition’s emphasis on confession as communal, and so we refused to pretend that the perpetrator-of-the-moment is the only one among us capable of exploitative behavior. Couching this phase of our discussion in terms of
sex addiction and illness represents a generous and necessary step in recognizing the possibility of treatment—however intractable such an addiction may prove to be.

Our discussion may not end here, however, if we seek a long-term tikkun. If we circumscribe our responses to the bounds of female protection and individual pathology—even while insistently excluding the perpetrator from any ongoing connection to Renewal—we reject the opportunity to ask how his acts can reveal structures of thought in Jewish teaching that enable and sustain inequitable power between men and women. The failure to address these aspects of Judaism makes us accomplices in any such future acts.

Jewish Renewal has, to its credit, done much to honor and to integrate the Jewish vocabulary of the Feminine Divine and of female spirituality into our ritual practices and theological teachings. Unfortunately, much of the deep mythical structure we refer to reflects the inherent patriarchy of our culture. Until we recognize in the core of our beings, in the core of our theology and practice, that She is integral to Divinity, that She cannot be separated from nor subordinate to any other element of the divine nature, that "meloh kol ha-aretz k'vodo" alludes to a unitary Divine Presence imbedded throughout all Four Worlds, we will continue to support a spiritual-intellectual-emotional-political system that subordinates the feminine and, in significant measure, lays the groundwork for the pathology we have seen acted out in our midst.

When we depict the Feminine Divine, the Shechinah, as exiled, we contribute to abuses of power such as those we have of late been deploring. How? By depicting her as other, as metaphorically apart from the masculine Godhead, as “weaker than,” as in need of rescue. We may not do this with the intention of modeling the subordination of the feminine, but the narrative explicitly draws from a cultural context we all recognize as disadvantaging the feminine in relationship to the normative masculine. We may think we retell this narrative in full awareness of our commitment to male-female equality, but the storyline betrays our progressive impulses. We image the Shechinah as separated from Ha Kadosh Boruch Hu. We take comfort in contemplating Her voluntary exile from the wholeness of God, undertaken out of compassion for our own exiles of geography and spirit. In grateful response, we seek to be agents of divine tikkun and reunification. As She collects klippot all week long, She depends on our Shabbat preparations to be made pure for her spouse, to be suitable for reunification. We accept our responsibility, for we recognize the klippot as the detritus left by human blindness to the radiance of divine will, leading us to act against our own wellbeing and that of all creation. Shomrei Shabbat make possible the Shechinah’s union and integration with her spouse each week; as the Feminine Divine is purified and made welcome, the klippot of the previous week disperse and, in a foretaste of redeemed time, space, and being, we celebrate the opportunity for human consciousness to continue its ascent.

Jews have for hundreds of years offered l’shem l’yichud kudsha brich hu u’sh’chinteh [for the sake of the unification of the Holy One and His Shechinah] as a kavannah for prayer and other mitzvot. It is now time, for the sake of our own spiritual expansion, to seek out the narrative, interpretive, mythical elements that will permit us to experience this profound kavannah as if fulfilled. It is time to taste the reality of a fully present divine Wholeness. At this moment of crisis, we are called by our increasing awareness of unjust inequalities to confront our complacency within the limitations of the inherited paradigm.

We cannot deny the power of previous theological paradigms, but we need to uncover a new one for the unfolding age. We recognize the healing truth in our sacred stories of divine separation and exile, yearning and return. We honor the spiritual solace and inspiration arising from imagining Divinity Itself as shattered by the obvious fragmentation of our world, as responding to dislocation as we do, with the soul-deep experience of existential division and the longing for reunification. As Reb Goldie Milgrom notes, the comfort derived from imagining such a manifestation of divine alienation, weeping and walking in exile along with us, does not depend on the manifestation’s representation as a female figure. Alenu: in our day, it is upon us to envision a more inclusive model, in the same way our predecessors repeatedly reinterpreted Scripture to sustain the integrity of Jewish teaching throughout history.

The more inclusive model we are on the verge of discerning does not preclude continued study, meditation, interpretation, or prayer based on any of the older models. For example, the erotic devotional imagery of Shir ha-Shirim will still inspire some of us, will still reflect some aspects of the limitless range of potential spiritual experience. Our individual encounters with Mystery will not yield to logic or restraint, any more than those of our ancestors did. How any one of us relates to the countless ways Divinity may manifest will remain personal and experiential, but we would be spiritually, intellectually, and politically naïve to pretend the social structures of our culture do not sometimes constrain our understanding within familiar, yet no longer accurate, patterns.

What happens when we contend that the Shechinah is not in exile, can never separate or split from the wholeness of God? First, we address a long-noted problem with the separation and return model—the challenge this model poses to the foundational assertion of divine Oneness:
The kabbalists . . . recognized the theological danger comprised in it [the problem of the unity of the Shekhinah with the other Sefirot], and in their considerations of mystical sin they gave first place—as “the root of rebellion” and as the heretical denial of the principle of the unity of God—to the view that the Shekhinah was a separate power, unconnected with the system of the Sefirot; but they did not deny the possibility of her separation from the system. The mystery of the mystical union is the mystery of the copulation of the Shekhinah with her husband Tif’eret, that is, of her integration into the system of the Sefirot without separation (see Zohar 1:12a, etc.), and the religious mission of man is to maintain this union with the kavvana of the prayer and the commandments.1

That is, it’s the unification, not the separation that we are to focus on, as so many of our holy teachers have insisted. “Ko’ach ha-Po’el benifal,” the power of the Creator resides within each created thing, says Menachem Nachum Twersky of Chernobyl: “God is the fullness of the world; there is no place empty of the divine. There is nothing besides God and everything that exists comes from God. And, for this reason, the power of the Creator resides within each created thing.” “Hu ha-Elohim ein od milvado,” God is God and there is nothing else (Deut. 4:35): says Shneur Zalman of Liady, “because all [the heavens and the earth] are within the dimension of space which is nullified within the being of the Light of Ayn Sof which clothes itself in God’s lowest level of manifestation, the sefirah of Malkhut, which is united in God.”2 Along with the myth of separation, we have inherited the insistent teaching that Divinity is found in the unity of its manifestations.
Second, in emphasizing unification over separation, we promote a new paradigm necessitated precisely by our commitment to male-female equality and we advance one of Jewish Renewal’s most powerful chidushim, innovations—the conscious pulling forward into our own day of spiritual insights and practices that remain vital and that hold the potential to invigorate Judaism’s evolving reality. The reality map that traced the cosmology of our ancestors drew comfort from the analogy of their exile to the exile of the Shechinah (identified often as a manifestation of the Household of Israel). Our new reality map must reflect our determination to reframe Jewish teaching so as to make real the truth that we are all created b’tzelem Elohim to the same degree, whether male or female—each form of human being created in the image of unified Divinity. As ezer k’negdo one human being to the other, we stand on level ground, panim el panim, heart to heart, at one in the One.

We can no longer avoid noticing that the myth of separation provides a convenient justification for the ongoing silencing and subjugation of women by reinforcing notions of male superiority and with it the potential for abuse. A diminished Shechinah explains the persistence of women in caretaking roles that leave them easy prey to exploitation at every level: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. If we fail to engage this holy question seriously, we will abort the opportunity to look at the way that contemporary Judaism—despite the greater inclusion of women as clergy and teachers—does not adequately manifest the true integration and union of the Divine, and instead, maintains the conceptual split of the sacred into masculine and feminine metaphors that sustain inequity and hierarchy.

We propose exploring a new conceptual model, in which the Feminine Divine is always present, indwelling and never separate from the Whole. We can begin to ask, how does that change what is either sanctioned or tolerated in terms of the oppression of women’s lives? How does that change what can be rationalized to mandate the silencing of women as full spiritual authorities, equal to male voices? What shifts when we redefine “feminine” as anything a female does, as proposed by Prof. Carolyn Heilbrun (z”l) many years ago in her landmark book, Reinventing Womanhood? What happens when we look beyond physiology as a reality map, if we see beyond gender to a Place of respect for all its complex potentialities? What happens if we no longer postpone divine yichud to mashiachzeit, to the time of ultimate redemption, but experience it as a present spiritual reality?

We invite our beloved chevre to explore an emerging paradigm of the simultaneous divine masculine and feminine: let us consider what it might mean to understand the Feminine as so intertwined with the nature of creation that it—as do all the elements of Divinity—absorbs and transmits holy illumination in a process that transforms our lives, not only intellectually but in a far more integrated, organic, holistic way that we do not yet fully grasp. Our tradition transmits to us ample resources for shifting our theology and practices, and we have already begun to open up to the questions we need to ask. In Renewal circles, we hear constant expression of the yearning for reintegrating male and female, but unfortunately, we have already seen some men teach about integration of the Feminine Divine without simultaneously allowing the truth of those teachings to enter into their own body or surrendering to the radical upheaval that can follow. By not allowing the teaching to work in their own lives, such teachers fail to transform themselves, their students have no model for living into the meaning of what they have glimpsed, and nothing changes—although a surface ripple, a frisson of revelation, slides across our consciousness. Unless the Feminine Divine is embraced and integrated in a transformative way, the project of Jewish Renewal will share in the failure to welcome the Whole of the Unified, Fulfilled and Fulfilling Divinity we assert is clothed in the reality we inhabit.

In one of her more recent books, Karen Armstrong reminds us of perhaps the most brilliant element of our tradition, its respect for the holiness and power of interpretation. We know, more than many, that “there is never a single, orthodox version of a myth. As our circumstances change, we need to tell our stories differently in order to bring out their timeless truth.”3 One of the blessings of traditional wisdom, even when it may be temporarily suppressed, is that it carries forward the potential for its own reinterpretation, at such time as a need arises. We find ourselves in such a time. To address the most recent shocking predations only in terms of pathology and treatment (or even in terms of sin and t’shuvah) means that the opportunity for the Jewish Renewal community to look at embedded structural inequities is lost. An untrustworthy and abusive rabbi may well be ill; he has also been enabled to prey on his students as he has because he is male, in a power structure based on male privilege.

To derive healing from sorrow, we must remind ourselves of the wisdom of Job: “shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10) Our tradition and our commitment to its evolving vitality give us reason to take heart: in the past, moments of shattering have birthed us into times of re-creation, of renewed understanding, of revelation uncovered. At this time, conscious of our capacity to reinterpret our tradition into previously unrevealed forms—and aware that this effort may be more than the work of a single life-time—may we begin to raise the questions and seek the insights to re-imagine the “inside of the inside,” the spiritual reality we share with Divinity. May this difficult moment usher in a time of spiritual creativity and new growth, a time of wholeness and reconciliation rooted in a clearer vision of the One before us.

Sarah Stein, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Communication
Assistant Vice Provost Information Technology
North Carolina State University

Raachel Nathan Jurovics, Ph.D., Assistant Rabbi
Temple Beth Or, Raleigh, NC

UPDATE: Case of Eugene Aronin - Chicago, IL

Does this make any sense to you?
Can someone explain it to me?

Eugene Aronin is a convicted sex offender. He is currently living in a northwest suburb of Chicago. people are still inviting this individual into their homes for shabbos in the orthodox community of West Rogers Park in Chicago. From what I've been told, he is around children unescorted.

Eugene Loub Aronin, is former Hartford County school counselor (Lubbock, TX), who was convicted of having sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy.

Does anyone know if he has undergone sex offender treatment with a qualified therapist? Would his therapist sign a note saying he was no longer a threat to children?

Has the rabbis in the Jewish Community of Chicago set up any guidelines for Aronin to follow?

Is Eugene (Gene) Aronin allowed in minyan's where children are present?

Report: Manchester rabbi frequents whorehouses

Report: Manchester rabbi frequents whorehouses
By Moody Krightman
YNet News
June 26, 2006

Rabbi Dovid Jaffe<>
The Lubavitcher rabbi is most likely spinning in his grave. One of his Hassidim was photographed consorting with whores. Prior to this event, he announced on TV that, for religious reasons, he is unable to shake hands with a woman

He regularly frequents whorehouses, garters especially turn him on, and he pays extra for special sexual services. No, we're not talking about a high-class pimp or an executive in the pornography industry, but rather an ultra-Orthodox rabbi of the Lubvitcher school.

<>The bestselling tabloid in the world, News of the World, published on Sunday the scandalous story of Manchester resident, Rabbi Dovid Jaffe. Jaffe, married and the father of four, heads the Lubavticher center in Manchester and prepares youths for their bar-mitzvah ceremony.

Recently, he appeared on BBC 4 as a guest on a show featuring Jewish customs. While on television, he described the difficulties in maintaining an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle in England and went on to say that, for religious reasons, he cannot even shake hands with a woman.

<>It turns out, however, that the rabbi who is not prepared to clasp hands with women is more than happy to clasp plenty of other body parts. He was photographed recently visiting the "Angels" whorehouse in Manchester and cavorting with the women there.

'Whores dressed in garters'
The weekly paper that exposed Rabbi Jaffe's exploits says that, for half an hour of sex, the rabbi is willing to pay forty pounds, fifty if oral sex is also part of the package. He prefers to have his whores dressed in garters.

"He's a frequent client here," reveals one of the whores. "He's a man who knows exactly what he wants." One whore, who in a moment of boredom perhaps wanted to purify herself, happened to watch the BBC production and discovered that her client was a rabbi. His remarks on the show infuriated her.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Judges cause uproar over claim girl 'enjoyed' sex with father

By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent
June 25, 2006

Chairperson of the women's rights group Na'amat, Taliah Livni, called on the judges to resign. (Archives)

Rights groups called Saturday for the dismissal of three Nazareth District judges who wrote a court decision that claimed a woman who was raped by her father since childhood consented to having sex.

The father was found guilty of raping his daughter for a period of over 12 years, since the age of six, and sentenced to 16 years in jail.

Judges Aharon Aminoff, Nehama Munitz and Gabriella Levy de Leo wrote in their verdict, however, that the girl's failure to inform authorities of the repeated incidents may have indicated that she enjoyed the acts.

"For years, since girlhood, she enjoyed the defendants acts and she willed them," the judges wrote in their decision. "Therefore, she did not evade him and didn't bother telling about his actions until after she was engaged, when fear of being discovered prompted her to act."

The state prosecution denounced the judges' decision and submitted an appeal to increase the father's sentence from 16 to 20 years in jail.

State prosecutors said they felt ashamed delivering the judges' decision to the complainant, adding that they were worried that its publication will prevent rape victims from pressing charges against their assailants in the future.

In response to the decision, Taliah Livni, the chairperson of the women's rights group Na'amat, urged the judges resign their posts.

"We cannot allow them to remain in office after such scandalous remarks," Livni said.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

UPDATE: Case of Yehuda Kolko (Unorthodox Jew blog)

A Father of a sexually abuse child pleads to the rabbinical establishment ot protect our children!

By The Unorthodox Jew

Watch the video to understand the dynamics in the Case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko

From The Awareness Center's Daily News Letter
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
To understand the mindset of those involved with the case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, and some of the other case in the orthodox world, please watched the Bryks video. It's a download and you need a dvd player to watch.

The Awareness Center is providing the documentary "Unorthodox Conduct" in the memory of Daniel Levin.
Our hopes is that it will be used as a way to educate the public on the devistating ramifications a case can have on an individual, family and in Jewish communities around the world. It's important to know what happens when a case of "alleged" childhood sexual abuse in the Jewish community is not dealt with properly from the beginning (bringing the case to law enforcement who is trained and educated in dealing with these cases).

Our hopes is that after you view this documentary that you will go to your rabbis and other community leaders and demand that there be changes made when a child makes allegations they were sexually abused/assaulted. We cannot afford for there to be anymore cover-ups when there are allegations that a child has been molested. We cannot afford to let one more child die. Our hopes is that not one more child will feel so desperate that they will take their own lives, as Daniel Levin did.

Please note: The Investigative documentary: "Unorthodox Conduct"contains graphic information regarding the case against Rabbi Ephriam Bryks. It was produced in 1994 by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Friday, June 23, 2006

UPDATE: Lakewood Rapist

Combat crime together
Asbury Park Press
June 21, 2006

A neighborhood watch group within Lakewood's Orthodox Jewish community has been formed in response to what some leaders say is a loss of faith in the Lakewood police department. Both sides need to work harder to restore that faith. Working together to develop an effective watch group could help.

The group cannot be effective without active involvement of the police. Public Safety Director Al Peters should designate an officer with strong interpersonal skills and an appreciation of the Orthodox community's needs to set the tone and establish the ground rules. Good communication between the department and the community is essential.

The watch group, called a Shomrim — a Hebrew word for "watchers" — comes on the heels of three incidents within the past year involving members of the Orthodox Jewish community. The abduction and sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman last month, which is still unsolved, has been particularly unnerving. Neighborhood group organizers hope the presence of its 30 or so members — connected with cell phones and walkie-talkies — can make the community safer and provide some additional peace of mind.

The neighborhood group organizers are modeling their efforts on a 15-year-old program in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn. Shomrim members there have identification badges issued by the police and a level of trust with law enforcement.

"If we work hand-in-hand with the Police Department, they wouldn't allow us to become vigilantes," said Chaim Rubin, one of the Lakewood group's organizers. He described its members' role as neighborhood sentinels who call police when there is a problem.

A close working relationship between the watch group and the police is a must. Peters and the Township Committee must do everything they can to foster it. And the Lakewood police must reassure the Orthodox community and all segments of the diverse township that all crimes will be investigated with an even-handed approach that respects the law and the people it serves.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

(OK) Law allows execution of repeat child molesters

Law allows execution of repeat child molesters
Chicago Tribune
June 10, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- Oklahoma on Friday became the fifth state to allow the death penalty for certain sex crimes although legal scholars questioned the constitutionality of the new state law.

Under the measure signed by Gov. Brad Henry, anyone convicted twice for rape, sodomy or lewd molestation involving children under 14 can face the death penalty.

South Carolina's governor signed a similar law on Thursday allowing the death penalty for offenders convicted twice of raping children younger than 11. Louisiana, Florida and Montana also allow the death penalty for certain sex crimes.

Defense attorneys and death penalty experts said the laws defy recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have scaled back the death penalty's application.

Barbara Bergman, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the court's decisions have made it clear that the death penalty is reserved for someone who has taken another life.

UPDATE: Murder Trail of Janet March

Jury from outside Nashville to hear Perry March murder trial
By AILENE TORRES, Staff writer

A jury from outside of Nashville will be seated to hear the upcoming trial of Perry March on charges he murdered his wife and disposed of her body, a Davidson County Criminal Court judge ruled today.

But Judge Steven Dozier did not immediately decide from which county the jury would come from and even left the door open to the possibility of moving the entire trial to another jurisdiction.

The decision came in response to a motion filed by March's defense team seeking to change the venue for his third and final criminal trial. March, 45, was convicted earlier this year in separate Nashville trials stemming from his theft of money from an employer, and for a failed jailhouse plot to kill his missing wife's parents.

He is scheduled to go to trial in August on the murder case. March's wife, Janet, disappeared without a trace in 1996.

In requesting the change of venue, March's attorney, John Herbison argued that the potential jury pool was poisoned by the pervasive, extensive and inflammatory nature of the media coverage in Nashville. He suggested the case should be moved to Memphis, where two members of March's defense team have offices.

The judge agreed there had been extensive coverage, although he disagreed that it had been inflammatory. He said an impartial jury could be picked in Nashville but said he didn't want the venue issue to become the subject of a future appeal.

"I don't think it's worth being an issue," Dozier said. "Mr. March is entitled to a fair trial. I will grant the motion for change of venue."

Prosecutor Tom Thurman said the state did not have a position about what venue should be selected, but would prefer a more neutral location like Knoxville or Chattanooga.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Case of Homer Bishop, security guard, Frisch Yeshiva High School, Paramus, NJ

School security guard facing sex-crime charge
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
by Tom Troncone, NJ

LODI -- A high school security guard has been charged with having sex with a 13-year-old borough girl several times over the last year, authorities said Tuesday. The girl was not a student at the school, they said.

Homer Bishop, 33, a security guard at Frisch Yeshiva High School in Paramus, was jailed Monday on a first-degree charge of aggravated sexual assault and second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.

Bishop was being held on $300,000 bail Tuesday night at the Bergen County Jail following a court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

Bishop had limited contact with pupils at the private Jewish high school, Molinelli said.

"He wasn't a teacher or someone who worked with kids every day," the prosecutor said. "He wasn't someone who was in a closed classroom with pupils."

A message left at the home of Frisch Principal Kalman Stein after school hours on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

Police charged Bishop, of East 30th Street in Paterson, after the teen told her mother about the yearlong sexual contact, Molinelli said.

Bishop, who is separated from his wife, has been a security guard at the school for the past three years, Molinelli said.

Rabbi Avi Shafran reacting to the case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. -- Mark Twain
I personally don't get why anyone would quote an individual who has NO clinical degree when addressing sex crimes in Jewish communities; especially when the individual is representing a mental health center!

David Mandel is the Chief Executive Officer of Ohel, which an orthodox mental health center in New York. I believe his education is in business.

Please call Ohel and ask them for Mandel's educational background. Ask what qualifies him to speak as an expert on sexual abuse, sexual assault, or anything to do with sex offenders? Ask for his credentials:
  • Phone: 718-851-6300
  • Fax: 718-851-2772
From Jewish Whistleblower
Further to the right on the Orthodox spectrum, the Agudath Israel has not dealt with the issue of rabbinical sexual abuse directly at a convention and is less inclined to institute any kind of centralized body to deal with the problem, according to spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran. Complainants would be encouraged to "go to the rebbe or community rabbi" on an individual basis, he said.

Family Violence? Not in My Community!
by Alice Sparberg Alexiou
Lilith (NY)
Volume 29, Issue 1 - Spring 2004

Miklat, the only battered women's shelter in Israel specifically for Orthodox and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish women and children, has announced plans to open a second shelter, somewhere in the center of the country. Experts say that the country's current crisis mode has increased violence against women. Miklat founder and president Estanne Fawer told LILITH that in the last year and a half, the shelter has had to turn away 70 women and their children because of lack of space. Fawer created Miklat in 1996.

In fact, religious women are less likely to use secular services, so it becomes imperative to give them shelter where they will feel comfortable and welcome.

Breaking the silence on abuse in the Orthodox world, both in North America and in Israel, apparently upsets Agudath Israel, an organization representing the ultra-right wing of Orthodoxy. In January, Agudah spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran sent LILITH a press release complaining that the attention now being focused on spousal abuse among Jews is tantamount to Orthodox-bashing.

"All the Orthodox rabbis I am privileged to know are exquisitely sensitive toward women, as they are towards men," he writes. Those who take seriously those rabbis' advice, Rabbi Shafran says, "would be rendered virtually incapable of abusing his or her spouse."

Tell this to the women in the Miklat shelters.
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
A Matter Of Orthodox Abuse

Rabbi Avi Shafran
(NY) Jewish Week - June 23, 2006

True or false?

1) Child abuse does not happen in the Orthodox Jewish community.

2) Child abuse is particularly prevalent there.

3) Halacha-observant living actually encourages child abuse.

4) The Orthodox community has not taken measures to prevent child abuse.

Answers: 1) false 2) false 3) false 4) false.

Abuse of children unquestionably exists in the Orthodox community. So, though, does fanciful speculation of its extent. Consider a recent long, lurid article about a child molestation lawsuit against an Orthodox rabbi.

(Full disclosure: An Agudath Israel-affiliated camp is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit. The allegations include acts said to have been committed against two adolescent boys in the camp, where the alleged abuser was employed some 30 years ago. The other defendants in the lawsuit are Yeshiva & Mesivta Torah Temimah of Flatbush and the alleged abuser, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko.)

Robert Kolker, writing in New York magazine, cleverly and subtly sandwiched an admission of a dearth of statistical evidence about abuse in the Orthodox world between a sinister question and a damning speculation: “Is molestation more common in the Orthodox Jewish community than it is elsewhere? There are no reliable statistics … but there’s reason to believe the answer to that question might be yes.”

The “reason to believe” is based on speculation by Hella Winston, who has written about once-chasidic people who turned their backs on their communities. She recounts how “shocking” it was to hear how “so many boys [emphasis hers] have had this experience.”

Leave aside her unquestioning acceptance of her subjects’ claims. Focus only on the essential, glaring problem of drawing so sweeping a conclusion based on so slender and specialized a sample. Abuse, tragically, may well have been a factor in the trajectory of those disheartened Jews’ lives. And if it was, our hearts must ache with the anguish of the victims. But to consider their agonizing experience as somehow emblematic of chasidic life, much less broader Orthodox life is like deciding there must be a national tuberculosis epidemic after visiting a hospital and seeing “so many” patients there suffering with the disease.

Kolker then goes on to make an even more offensive and groundless speculation, safely qualified with the preface “There are some who believe.” What they believe, he reports, is that “the repression in the ultra-Orthodox community can foster abuse.” By “the repression” he means things like the strict forbiddance of sexual relations before marriage and the Jewish family purity laws that regulate when married couples may and may not engage in intimacy. The “few outlets for an Orthodox man with compulsions” create “a fertile environment for deviance.”

Here snideness slips toward slander, not only of Orthodox Jews but of Judaism itself. Larger society has ample “outlets” for sexual expression (including many Kolker doesn’t likely prescribe). Yet abuse there is hardly unknown. Might the lack of sexual discipline inherent in a culture of “anything goes” be a greater risk factor for abuse than the ethic of personal responsibility cultivated by Jewish law?

Permit me a counter-hypothesis: A Torah-observant life does not lead to aberrant behavior; it helps prevent it. “I created an evil inclination,” the Talmud quotes the Creator, “And I created the Torah as its antidote [literally: ‘seasoning’].”

That fundamental Jewish truth that human inclinations are harnessed and controlled by Torah-life and Torah-study is self-evident to anyone truly familiar with the Orthodox community. The vast majority of its members are caring and responsible people who lead exemplary lives, free in large measure from societal ills like rape, AIDS, prostitution and marital infidelity that affect their less “repressed” neighbors.

That shouldn’t surprise; halacha-observance stresses family, community, compassion for others, control of anger and passions, ethical ideals. To be sure, there will always be observant individuals who sometimes fail the test of self-control, even with horrendous impacts on the lives of innocents. But that no more indicts Jewish observance than the fact that there are corrupt police or drug-addled doctors renders law enforcement or medicine suspect.

Preparing this essay, I interviewed some of the most respected mental health professionals with experience in the Orthodox world. To a person, they believe (based on their experience; as above, there are no statistics) that the number of child abusers in the Orthodox world is, like that of practitioners of other types of aberrant behavior, below that of general society. Anyone who thinks there is “reason to believe” otherwise has not consulted professionals whose on-the-ground experience uniquely qualifies them to speak to the topic.

At the same time, though, just as bad cops and strung-out MDs must be rooted out, so must we address child abuse, whose victims, tragically, can be emotionally scarred for life. Even if the problem is less prevalent in Orthodox circles than elsewhere, abuse should be nonexistent in a community that believes in the sublime value of children, the momentousness of their upbringing and the consequence of the Torah’s laws to which abusive behavior is unambiguously antithetical.

Anyone who has shown a tendency toward abusive behavior has no business serving as a teacher, counselor or youth leader, and institutions must have procedures in place to ensure that they do not. And, while there is still much to do in this regard, the community can point with some degree of pride to important strides that have already been made.

Many Orthodox schools and summer camps have for years had in place clear policies and effective safeguards to help prevent abuse. Three years ago, the National Society of Hebrew Day Schools published and disseminated internal school guidelines for preventing and dealing with abuse, including reporting to civil authorities when appropriate. Sessions at its conventions focusing on the issue and featuring leading mental health professionals have been standing room only and lasted late into the night.

Special Jewish courts have been established in a number of Orthodox communities across the country to deal with abuse accusations (and have, in cases of proven guilt or admission of a crime, put suitable restrictions in place). A number of Orthodox mental health organizations and social service groups deal both with victims of child abuse and with abusers.

And contemporary rabbinical leaders have publicly spurred their followers to action on the issue. David Mandel, head of the Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, which operates a sexual abuse prevention and treatment program, said, “The degree to which Torah leaders have spoken out [on abuse in the Orthodox community] has been remarkable.”

Has all that been enough? Nothing is, at least not until abuse is nonexistent in the community. Must more be done? Yes. And it will be.

As progress continues, though, we would do well to avoid the New York magazine mind trap. To imagine that what has defined traditional Jewish life for millennia is somehow a risk factor for abuse is to turn all logic and experience on their heads. The true risk factors, as mental health professionals attest, are things like absent parents, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of support systems and the touting of a Woody Allenesque “the heart wants what it wants” mindset, all considerably underrepresented in the Orthodox community. If any environment can reasonably be imagined to foster the bane of child abuse, it is the charged atmosphere of MTV, R-rated movies, contemporary advertising and uncontrolled Internet usage, not the universe of Jewish values. n

Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs at Agudath Israel of America.
Special To The Jewish Week