Friday, February 23, 2007

Case of Yosef Meystel, Samuel Juravel and Brad Hames

Today, Steve Is 25.
By Phil Jacobs
Baltimore Jewish Times
February 23, 2007

Editor's Note: It would be very difficult to write one definitive story on the issue of sexual molestation. With the clear understanding that there are many different, unique stories, we decided to tell the story of abuse through the experiences of one particular victim. This toxic problem is not exclusive to any one denomination of Judaism. It is, unfortunately, pervasive.
But we also understand that there is yet more to tell in the future, so this will be the first of an occasional series.

The teacher's son. *Steve was 11.

The yeshiva administrator. Steve was 13.

The attorney. Steve was 15.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

steve, i admire the courage you have shown by surviving these experiences and taking your story public. i don't know if i believe in god or if you believe in god. i do believe in karma, that what you put out comes back to you. your abusers put out ugliness and hate and are getting back the same. you, on the other hand, are living your life in a positive way and influencing people around you positively. this article will hopefully raise awareness to a level it has not yet been raised, and bring the orthodox leadership one step closer to changing their ways. i am sure that the positivity and awareness you have put out into the world will be returned back to you and that you will continue to experience good things in life.

February 22, 2007 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for having the courage to speak so openly about the horrible things that happened to you. Especially since you are the survivor of multiple offenders.

I also was raped by three different people. I felt like no one would believe me so I never told anyone about the third assault. I was raped as a teen and also as a young adult.

Your words in the story gave me the courage to say what I'm saying for the first time.

February 22, 2007 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go steve, and also Phil Jacobs! Steve, your courage in speaking out is an inspiration to all survivors. Phil, hey man, it's about time. Thank you for finally doing this!

February 23, 2007 6:10 AM  
Anonymous Mod-Ox rabbi said...

As an orthodox rabbi who teaches in a Yeshiva, I am sickened by these horrible experiences. How could someone who is charged with passing on the values and laws of our Torah debase himself and inflict such harm on the very people he is charged to guide, teach, and protect?
I am noticing, however, that these stories and experiences are much more common among the so-called "right wing yeshivishe" segment of the orthodox Jewish community and less so among the "modern orthodox" community.
Baltimore is a city whose orthodox community is composed largely, although not exclusively, of "yeshivishe" Jews with all the customary black garb, etc etc.
Boro Park where cases such as the Kolko one took place are the same.

Is there a common thread here? Could it be that the segment of the Jewish community which seeks to insulate itself against the greater "modernishe" world is failing miserably because it considers itself immune to this type of behavior?
Steve-if you read this, I too admire your courage in coming forward. Shmuel Juravel apparently had a long history as a sexual abuser and is paying the price.
Unfortunately, so are you and his other victims AND his own children and ex-wife and his parents.

Judaism is not about repression, it's largely about sublimation. The Torah doesn't seek to deny, it seeks to establish a system of controlling the instincts through the intellect. Nothing is denied, but rather must occur in a certain framework.

The Yeshivishe world must acknowledge that they are exposed on a daily basis to the values of a society where pornongraphy and open sexuality abound. Nothing short of building an island with walls and disconnecting oneself with the outside world will provide total isolation. Try to fulfill our mission of being a "light to the nations" in total isolation from the nations.
Denial and repression are not effective means of dealing with the sexual drive. In addition, there are numerous other psychological issues that lead people to becoming abusers. It's about control, not about sex.

While I do not particularly care for some of the things I read on this blog, I believe that publishing this article and the subsequent comments by readers will be productive.

February 23, 2007 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Torah Madua said...

Hey Modern Ortho Rabbi, take your anti-yeshivish agenda and stick it where the sun don't shine. Go through the Awareness Center list and check how many molesters are modern. Starting with Boruch Lanner, then George Finkelstein from YU. I'm also aware of some other cases that haven't been publicized yet.

People like you also make the false claim that the "right wing" are behind most of the financial scandals. The Unorthodox Jew blog has put that myth to rest too.

Stormin' Norman Lamm coined the "caveman" cliche but he doesn't publicize that he's running away from his roots at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. How many in contemporary YU crowd know that he went there?

February 24, 2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Posters on UOJ are reporting that Meystel is currently the gabbai at Rav Eichenstein's shul in Chicago. Rav Eichenstein is the brother in law of the Novominsker Rebbe.

February 24, 2007 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I would love to meet you some day and talk about my run in with Yossi Meystel in Rochester yeshiva. He was forced out by other boys who caught him molesting freshman. I had been abused in yeshiva as well and was told to ignore te problem. After leaving rochester yossi went to south bend. I warned some guys about him and was hoping to never see his name again.


February 24, 2007 11:10 PM  
Anonymous Yosef Blau said...

Steve deserves support and appreciation for his courage. Ary's comment should focus our efforts. YM showed abuse behavior in one yeshiva but managed to gain employment in a second where he continued to abuse students. This pattern can be stopped. Demands from the community can force yeshivos (and other mosdos) to create a registry and properly report dangerous employees.
Yosef Blau

February 25, 2007 5:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that Rabbi Davidowitz in Rochester is blamed for covering up the Catskills camp molestation by Rav Scheinberg's convicted nephew by menacingly threatening victims and witnesses that they will be "finished". Does anyone know anything about this?

February 25, 2007 7:51 AM  
Anonymous mod-ox rabbi said...

Interesting to note that regarding the Lanner case, those who let Lanner get away with it,e.g. his immediate supervisor in OU/NCSY was a musmach of Chofetz Chaim. As for G. Finkelstein, have any other allegations been made against the man?
Rav Blau-you obviously read this blog and I am sure you know Rabbi Finkelstein from both YU as he was at MTA-I have not heard your opinion on these allegations at all.
Modern Orthodoxy has become a culture of "pick and choose" with little in the way of meaningful leadership. Corruption abounds in all communities. But we hear less about the modern orthodox community and I was positing a theory which you are free to analyze and reject. But I have little to respond to boorish people who have little more to say than "stick it where the sun don't shine".

From my experience as both a student and an educator, I have found that many of the out-of-town yeshivos such as those mentioned tend to be micro-cosms made up of the Rabbeim and the talmidim with the focus on the out-of-town talmidim who have little in the way of a support system beyond the dorm counselor and the rabbis. Such an environment provides an ideal "hunting ground" for a sexual predator. The out of town students are completely dependent on the rabbis and staff and parents are not around to observe behavioral changes, etc.
Also, in such situations parents tend to look to the rabbis for feedback regarding their sons. If these rabbis are the perpertrators of sexual abuse, it would be easy to dismiss the concerns of parents with "your son is fine". Other than Sukkos, Winter Break and Pesach, when is a rabbi going to be directly confronted by a concerned parent of an out of town yeshiva student?
The same dynamic may exist in an 8 week Summer Camp.

Truly Rabbi Blau is correct is his assertion that a registry needs to be developed, however, what standards are to be used?

1 Allegation? 2 Allegations? What about the veracity of allegations?
Certainly a disgruntled student can hurl accusations against a teacher and destroy a career even if objective authorities outside the school (such as police, etc) investigate and find no substance or a motive for the student to falsify an allegation?

What safeguards are in place to assure that while every allegation is investigated, the reputation of the teacher is protected until that time that substance is found?

Rabbi Blau, I call upon you to answer these questions as an advocate for survivors AND as an educator yourself.

If an unbalanced talmid were to make an allegation against you, as Mashgiach Ruchani (Spiritual Advisor)of YU,how would you defend yourself and protect your own reputation? How would people know what is true and what isn't?

The scandal would be unimaginable, but what would you do?

Steve is a courageous young man and deserves respect and support. Those who victimized him should be sought out and exposed and removed from their positions.

And anyone who knows anything about Rabbi Norman Lamm knows that he went to TVD.

Kol Tuv and I look forward to reading Rabbi Blau's response

February 25, 2007 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Vicki Polin said...

I wanted to thank Steve for coming forward and telling his story. I know how difficult that must have been for him. I think it's also important to thank Phil Jacobs for having the courage to write the story and publish it in the Baltimore Jewish Times. I'm sure he is taking some heat for doing so.

I also want to point out that witness tampering is a crime throughout the United States. If someone is a victim of a sex crime and reports it to the police, there are legal remedies to those who threaten the victims, family members and friends of those who had been violated.

The best protection all survivors have is to connect themselves with a local rape crisis center. These center's network with those in law enforcement and the local states attorneys office. They can make things happen where a private attorney can not.

Again, I want to thank Steve for the courage he has show by sharing his life experiences with the world.

February 25, 2007 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Yacov said...

First I think it's great that Steve had the courage to tell his story and that Phil finally wrote an article with substance.

The problem with sex abuse is not just limited in the frum world. The cover-ups and miss information can be seen in all movements of Judaism.

One thing that bothers me a great deal is that there is a fear of naming those who offend. The only way we can stop offense from continuing is by naming those who are suspected. In the case of Shumel Juravel everyone knew what he was about for years. It took the BJT's almost a year to publish his name in print after he was arrested. How many months went by after he was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in federal prison before BJT's published his name? I think it's at least 6.

The offenses committed by Yosef Meystel are well known and have been for many years. Why didn't the BJT publish his name?

Where's the article about Rabbi Moshe Eisemann and his sudden retirement from Ner Israel? He retired because of the heated allegations of him raping boys for many years.

Also how long until the BJT publishes Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro's name? He was another alleged serial child molester. Don't the survivors of these people deserve to see that the individuals who altered their lives for ever be known?

March 26, 2007 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a survivor of George Finkelstein. While in high school, the abuse was clever and always just skirted the boundaries. It was not until he visited me in my year in Israel that he actually attempted clear sexual overtures. While it is clear that predators would more naturally be attracted to unnatural all boy environments far from family support, my experiences at MTA are proof that it can happen in the capital of Modern Orthodoxy. Aside from the terrible acting out that characterized most of my adult life, the pain and confusion of being abused by someone who was supposed to be someone I needed to trust and guide me. As he has ruined my life, he must have ruined countless others. But predators like him seek out the broken, the not so trustworthy, as his victims. I am in my mid-40s. I was a solid B+ student in high school went to YU early admissions, graduated and now have a successful business. So I'm no disgruntled student. I'm one of his probably countless victims. His secret to success was masking his abuse in as much gray as possible while we were underage. It's just wrestling, all the clothes are still on, etc. That YU let him go on to another school was probably a legal decision based on a lack of actionable evidence and threat of a lawsuit. That doesn't make it any less painful. He deserves a cell on Rikers, not a director position in the Great Synagogue.

May 11, 2010 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I noticed that the link to the Awareness Center for Brad Hames is broken. When contacting them I found that he has been removed from his list. Perhaps you should do the same in order to make sure Brad has a clear name.

October 07, 2010 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have worked at many Jewish Day Schools-reform to orthodox. The problem seems to be that the so called ultra orthodox, on the whole, are very content to go along with the hierarchy they have in place. As a group-and I am not talking about individuals, they seem to have a "herd" and "tribal" mentality. Most of the individuals are afraid to speak out for fear of being rejected by the very group they serve. They can only survive in an "air-tight" community they have created and teaching their children that anyone who is not like them, is less than spiritual. This same behavior happens in other "cult" like activity. What is so troublesome is that we don't expect Jews, who have always been the enlightened ones amongst many nations to act like this. But we must remember, the ultra-orthodox and their mentality can only function within the boundaries of ignorance and blind-faith.

October 21, 2011 12:43 PM  

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