Meisels Must Come Clean about His Sick Sexual Encounters According to Emes Ve-Emunah

According to the blogger of Emes Ve-Emunah, Harry Maryles:

Until yesterday, I did not know just how sick the sexual encounters Elimelech Meisels had with his victims were……

I have found out exactly what he did. To call it unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature is an understatement. I am not at liberty to say what it was. But suffice it to say it was disgusting by any standard……

He violated the… rest of his student[s] Continue reading

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What a Meisels Seminary Is Saying to Parents

Rabbi Meir Kahane, Principal Chedvas Bais Yaakov

Rabbi Meir Kahane, Principal Chedvas Bais Yaakov

On Sunday (7/20/14), Rabbi Meir Kahane, menahel (principal) of one of Meisels’ seminaries, Chedvas Bais Yaakov, sent the email which is below this posting. In it he:

  • Ignored the allegations that Elimelech Meisels, the owner, sexually abused seminary students. However noted that Meisels at “At the hadracha of daas Torah (guidance of rabbinical authority), Rabbi Meisels retired six weeks ago.”
  • Made sure to say that Meisels would sell the seminary real soon, but this was part of a long-standing plan.
  • Chicago is not the presiding beis din (rabbinical court). “The Bnei Brak beis din is the most updated and informed and their guidance is being followed every step of the way.  The case is still in its beginning stages.  No conclusions or decisions have been made.” However, they ruled: “that there is no risk of harm to any student who attends.”
  • “Call us with questions or the independent source… Rabbi Yoel Burstyn, the principal of Bais Yaakov Los Angeles.”

Rabbi Kahane is also conducting a campaign against loshon horah (gossip) about Meisels’ sexual misconduct, according to Continue reading

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Rabbi Hoffman Strengthens the Chicago Case against the Meisels Seminaries

Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Rabbi Yair Hoffman, a Haredi Rabbi from the Five Towns, has written an important essay, The Seminary Scandal and Halacha. Anyone aware of the Chicago Special Beis Din’s psak (religious court ruling) knows that they ruled that one should not send one’s daughters to the seminaries, Pninim, Binas Bais Yaakov, Chedvas Bais Yaakov and Kesser Chaya which are owned and were run by Elimelech Meisels. They based that ruling on their investigation into unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature by Meisels toward his female students. Touro and Hebrew Theological College are abiding by that ruling and will not accredit study at those seminaries. Without accreditation, students will not be eligible for US government grants and loans. According to a Bais Yaakov guidance counselor cited by R. Hoffman, the seminaries will lose approximately 40% of their funding and be forced to close.

The Chicago ruling is terse and leaves out the details and reasoning behind their findings. Moreover, an Israeli Beit Din headed by Rabbi Mendel Shafran proceeded to contradict that ruling. It claimed the problem was solved when Meisels agreed to no longer be at the seminary (though he retained ownership). (See here, here, and here for reactions by others to that reasoning)

Rabbi Hoffman makes the following points:

Continue reading

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Harvard Doesn’t Blame the Student

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

Secular society tolerates most forms of consensual sex between competent adults. But it draws the line on sexual interactions between a boss and employee or teacher and student. Yet I have a number of commenters trying to mitigate the guilt of Elimelech Meisels by claiming the students have no complaint since they consented. I would reject that argument even if Meisels was not an extremely manipulative man. I would reject that argument even if Meisels didn’t have the responsibilities and religious aura of a rabbi and a principal of a seminary. I reject that argument even for those indifferent to the halachic violations he committed.

According to the  the Faculty Handbook of the Harvard University School of Public Health (HSPH) “inappropriate relationships” are strictly forbidden. The Handbook states:

Amorous relationships that might be appropriate in other circumstances have inherent dangers when they occur between any HSPH faculty or non-faculty academic appointee and any person over whom he/she has a professional responsibility, e.g. as a teacher, advisor, or Continue reading

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Shah Shtil in Meisels’ Shtetl

Stop abuse iconMiriam Isserow questions the shah sthil (be quiet) mentality of Elimelech Meisels‘ seminaries. Commenting on “A Father’s Complaint about the Priorities of Seminaries” where it originally appeared in the blog, A Mother in Israel, she writes:

I know nothing about these seminaries but it is typical–if there is even a suspicion–for schools to send a letter to parents. The fact that they haven’t is at the very least unfortunate and reflects a desire to cover things up. Continue reading

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Cover-Ups Are an Old Story

Medieval priestA. W. Sipe has written a terrific review and analysis of how and why the Roman Catholic Church is permeated with child sex abuse. His term, clerical narcissism was referenced in “Kevin in Chicago’s” excellent post, Israeli Beit Din’s Problem Isn’t Naivete, It’s Narcissism. Sipe reports on the long history dating back at least to the eleventh century. According to him,

In 1049 C.E. St. Peter Damian wrote to Pope Leo IX and decried the prevalence of sexual abuse by clergy that he called “criminal vice” and said it was epidemic. (Letter 31).
Continue reading

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Israeli Beit Din’s Problem Isn’t Naivete, It’s Narcissism

Guest Post by “Kevin in Chicago”

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

I don’t want to discourage anyone from recounting her experiences with Elimelech Meisels, as Yerachmiel Lopin has requested in a prior post, but I question whether these anonymous accounts will have any effect on the Israeli Beit Din. Lopin believes that “The great flaw of the Israeli Beit Din … is thinking they are dealing with isolated violations arising from spontaneous lust for which Meisels has repented.”

Unfortunately, the failure to acknowledge the predatory, sociopathic personality of serial abusers is more than an error of fact. If it were, a little reading in the psychological literature of the last 30-40 years would dispatch it. It would be better called a prejudice, which might be defined as a verifiably false belief that costs too much to give up.

The prejudice has theological roots, as Dr. Nachum Klafter acknowledges in the linked article. Deeply-rooted principles, such as the presumed character-building effect of Torah study, the ability to overcome temptation, and the possibility of teshuvah lead to wishful (if not magical) thinking. Furthermore, rabbis judging rabbis are inclined to focus on the accused rabbi’s lapse of moral control, rather than on his utter insensitivity to his victim.

Corresponding prejudices go a long way toward explaining why the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) has also handled sexual abuse so badly.  Some within the RCC are recognizing that the real problem is not deviant priests so much as a culture of clerical narcissism that shields priests and silences or shames their victims. Ironically, obsession with a highly restrictive sexual morality contributes to the sexual immaturity of priests who inappropriately “act out” their sexuality with minors, as well as the shamed silence imposed on their victims, and the hierarchy’s urgency in concealing abuse.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran

Uncomfortable as it may be to consider similarities between orthodox Judaism and the Catholic Church, there is something to be learned here. Rabbinic narcissism well describes the ruling of the Israeli beit din formed at the request of Torah Umesorah and headed by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran. Accepting the translation from Hebrew to English as accurate, allow me to translate the Israeli Beit Din’s language into tachlitese (results-oriented language), slicing away the verbiage to reveal its vacuity. Continue reading

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