Update to R. Levin’s Defense of Alleged Molester Bodkins

I have substantially updated the post, Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin’s Close Call With Justice, with additional documents including portions of the statement by Bodkins in withdrawing the lawsuit. He states,

“We are now confronted with the other side issuing subpoenas to leading scholars and heads of institutions in Chicago, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. None of whom know me personally, or can testify as to any of the points at issue in this lawsuit for libel and slander. But all are being annoyed and burdened.”

See the update for my additional analysis and for a copy of the kol koreh defending Bodkins signed by Principal Jankowski shortly after he got the letter from Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin.

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She Knew She Was in Trouble When Weberman Closed the Bedroom Door

Nechemya Weberman in Kings County Supreme Court on 3-25-11 (photo credit Joseph Diangello)

Nechemya Weberman waiting outside courtroom while his relative shot photos of victim supporters who were Hasidim to circulate around Hasidic community to intimidate them.

From my archives of 9/20/12. First posted in the lead-up to Nechemya
Weberman’s trial which concluded with a 103-year sentence.

She was a bad girl. Was it because she talked to boys, or she was dressing too fashionably, or she asked too many questions? That didn’t matter. She was bad and the vaad hatznius (modesty committee) of Williamsburg was willing to fix her, for a hefty fee, of course. The alternative was being stuck with a reputation as a nebbish (loser), an oiysvorf (outcast), and a shiksa (gentile). Once you acquired that reputation no decent family would let you marry their son.

Her family’s last hope was a “Torah therapist” who could change her into a good girl. She didn’t know what to expect. But she assumed he would counsel her with words of Torah. He would be a rabbi with a reputation for being zealous about torah and tznius (modesty). That of course meant he would scrupulously observe all the halachos (rules) and minhagim (customs) governing relations between men and women. She was only twelve, just a bat mitzvah, and thus liable for violating any of the halachos applying to a grown woman.

She knew the rules. Din yichud, the rule of seclusion, prohibits an unrelated man and woman from being alone in a closed room. She grew up with those rules. She knew how to avoid violations of yichud. You had to leave a door open if it didn’t have a window. A full door would only be closed if you both knew that someone else could pass through the room unannounced. Then there was tznius, the covering of one’s body from neckline to elbow to below the knee. There was also negiah, the rule against contact with the other sex. On the streets she saw gentile men and women touching each other. But Hasidim didn’t do that. Hasidim even avoided casually talking with the opposite sex. Hasidim were tznuah, shomerei negiah and medakdek (particularly careful) about yichud.

She went to an apartment building on Classon Avenue. She went into a small apartment with just a living room/dining room and a small bedroom off to the side. The Torah therapy was going to happen in the bedroom. It had a bed, some chairs and a video player. Then he closed the door. It was just her and the “Torah therapist” in a closed room.

I am trying to imagine the shock. She probably wanted to be somewhere else. She was probably scared. She was probably anxious, very anxious. She knew this was her last chance to avoid being thrown out of school. She couldn’t complain and she couldn’t argue. She had no one to back her and only the Torah therapist in front of her.

I wonder if she asked herself, “Is this my punishment for being a bad girl? Did they send me to this closed room because bad girls aren’t protected by din yichud? Can vaad hatznius (modesty committee) rabbis do anything they want with bad girls?

They abandoned her the moment the door closed. Even if nothing else happened during that first visit she now knew she wasn’t going to be protected by din yichud. She was on her own against someone who made his own rules, someone who could fix her reputation or destroy it.

In a different world all these girls would have known the cardinal rule: “If he makes me uncomfortable, get away, call for help, and tell my parents.” Perhaps a few complained and no one listened to them. Maybe they didn’t listen because they feared the vaad or were being paid by the vaad. Perhaps, others were so prejudiced against these girls that they ignored their complaints. Perhaps, most frightening of all, these girls just surrendered. Weberman had them where he wanted them and he proceeded to shred the shulchan aruch (the Code of Jewish law) as he violated their innocence.

When Weberman got arrested Continue reading

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Much Ado about Very Little in the Letter by the Five Gedolim

Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn  is protective of the seminaries operated by Meisels particularly of their right to refuse parents refunds and of the job security of everyone who worked for Meisels. As criticism of the Israeli Beis Din mounted, he seized on a new source of authority for his postion. On Thursday he posted:

New letter from American Gedolim praises new spiritual supervisors of the 4 seminaries.

A letter signed by American gedolim – including Rav Levin from Telz of Chicago, Rav Aharon Feldman of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel, Rav Aharon Schecter of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, Rav Malkiel Kotler or Lakewood and Rav Yaakov Perlow – praises the four seminaries which were acquired by Yaakov Yarmish from Meisels.

They express their clear approval of the new spiritual management that will be closely supervising these seminaries.

A comment on his posting by “Avraham” begs to differ

Rabbi Aharon Feldman

Rabbi Aharon Feldman Protects Moshe Eisemann

Let us first note that RAF [Rabbi Aharon Feldman] was unsuccessful in his attempt to get the full Moetzes to sign on to the decision (as he has tried for some time). Instead we are left with five rabbanim who either have negius [conflict of interest] – Rabbi Levine – or terrible track records dealing with abuse.

(Rav Perlow [Novominsker Rebbe] convened the first group of rabbanim that covered up for Yehuda Kolko. Rav Kotler vigerously defended Yosef Kolko and drove his victim and his family out of Lakewood. Rav Feldman continues protecting Moshe Eiseman, and Rav Schechter was responsible for the abuse of Issac Hersch [and suing the rescuers and those who reported on it]. [URLs added by Yerachmiel Lopin]

The Real Issue Is Safety

Continue reading

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“Protecting Our Children from Sexual Abuse” Panel: Sunday Sept. 14 in Teaneck

  • Rabbi Yosef Blau

    Rabbi Yosef Blau

    Topic: Protecting Our Children From Sexual Abuse

  • Where: Congregation Rinat Yisrael , 389 West Englewood Avenue, Teaneck, NJ
  • When: Sunday, September 14, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
  • Co-Sponsors: Congregation Keter Torah, Congregation Netivot Shalom and Lubavitch of Bergen County
  • Cost: Free and open to entire community


Dr. Shira Berkovits

Dr. Shira Berkovits

Introductions: Rabbi Yosef Adler, Cong. Rinat Yisrael & Rosh Yeshiva Torah Academy of Bergen County.

Moderator: Dr. Seymour Adler, Rinat Yisrael Adult Education Committee.

Dr. Shira Berkovitz, Youth Consultant for the Department of Synagogue Services at the OU. She has worked on a guide for preventing child sexual abuse in synagogues. .

David Cheifetz 2Rabbi Yosef Blau, Senior Spiritual Advisor at YU rabbinical seminary. Speaker, author and consultant on sexual abuse in the orthodox community.

David Cheifetz, Rinat Yisrael member. Author of NY Jewish Week article, “Sharing The Secret That’s Haunted My Soul.” Advocate for sexual abuse victims/survivors.

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Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin’s Close Call With Justice

Avrohom Chaim LevinRabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin (RACL) wears many black hats. He is the head of the Telz-Chicago Yeshiva. He is a member of the Moetzes (Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America) and of the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva (Committe of Yeshiva Heads) of Torah Umesorah (TU).

It was the TU hat that almost had him deposed yesterday morning under oath/affirmation about his defense of  Rabbi (sic) Yisroel Bodkins, a yeshiva teacher in Miami. In 2013 he wrote a letter that got him entangled in a lawsuit.

Bodkins Letter by AC Levin on Torah Umesorah letterhead to Yisroel Janowski Yeshiva Elementary School Miami

Rabbi (sic) Yisroel Bodkins referred to in the letter was fired by Yeshiva Elementary School because he was accused of molesting several boys. Continue reading

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IBD Discarded in New Bid to Save the Meisels Seminaries

Earlier today the Failed Messiah and Daas Torah blogs posted a declaration by five Yeshiva Heads announcing that the Meisels seminaries are safe places for students. Some people are trumpeting this as an endorsement by the Moetzes (Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America) and a potential game changer. As I will explain below, this letter will have little effect.

Rosh Yeshiva Letter saying sems of Meisels are Kosher 8-28-14 Kotler Perlow Schechter Feldman and LevinNOT A MOETZES POSITION: It is not on Moetzes letterhead because half of the ten members of the Moetzes did not sign including Rabbis Shmuel Kaminetzky (Rosh Yeshiva Philadelphia), Dovid Feinstein (Rosh Yeshiva Tiferes Jerusalem), Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld (Mattesdorfer Rav), and Chacham Yosef Harari-Raful (Yeshivat Ateret Torah). Instead it is on a page without letterhead signed by Aryeh Malkiel Kotler (RY BMG), Avrohom Chaim Levin (RY Telz-Chicago), Aharon Feldman (RY NIRC-Baltimore), Yaakov Perlow (Novominsker Rebbe), and Aaron Schechter (RY Chaim Berlin). Though Rabbi Perlow is the Rosh Moetzes, he did not sign with this title here, because he is not acting in that capacity.

RABBI LEVIN’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: I am planning to post tomorrow, at length, about the deep negius (conflicts of interest) of some of the key players, especially Rabbi Levin who was a long-time chavrusah (study partner) of Elimelech Meisels father. In fact that is exactly why he originally recused himself from being on the Beis Din (rabbinical court) panel for this case even though he was a member of Chicago “Special Beis Din” for sex abuse since its founding over 13 years ago. Continue reading

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Meisels Seminaries Scandal Hits the Chicago Tribune

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

The Chicago Tribune published a story about the Meisels seminaries scandal (8/27/14), “Ultra-Orthodox rabbi accused in sex assault suit” by reporter Ron Grossman. Much of the article’s content is old hat to readers of Frum Follies, and it got a few subtleties of the Haredi world wrong.

However, Grossman has correctly fastened onto the importance of the shidduch (matchmaking) system in this whole story. But for the critical importance of seminaries for shidduchim in the Yeshivish (non-Hasidic ultra-orthodox) world, seminary attendance in Israel would not be close to compulsory. But for those pressures, and the pressure to find a match quickly before “girls” lose their desirability in their low twenties, many more parents would have withdrawn from the Meisels seminaries, sued for refunds, and waited to the next year when there would be more openings in other seminaries.

The choice quote in the article comes from Michael Salamon, an orthodox psychologist in the Five Towns of Long Island, and author about both the shidduch system and sexual abuse.

“The social bonds of the ultra-Orthodox community are loshan hara [gossip prohibition], the seminary and the matchmaker… Parents are convinced a daughter must go to the right seminary.” Continue reading

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