Israel FINALLY Agrees to Australia Extraditing Malka Leifer for Sexual Abuse of Haredi Girls!

In the first decade of the century, Malka Leifer was molesting girls in Adaas Israel, the Haredi girls high school in Melbourne where she was the principal. When police investigations were closing in, the Adaas school board flew her out of the country on less than a day’s notice in 2008. In July of 2013 Australia indicted Leifer on 74 counts and asked Israel to extradite Leifer back to Australia for trial. Now, seven and half years later and after 74 court sessions, and a final ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court and a signoff by the Justice Minister, the extradition is set to happen. Thankfully, we can count on the Australian government to act with dispatch and finally bring her back and commence trial proceedings. The scandal is that a gentile government is doing a much better job of protecting Jewish children than the Jewish state.

Compounding the scandal is the fact that it was haredim who were the main culprits in Leifer’s evasion of justice by fabricating the lie that she was too mentally ill to participate in the legal process. This fakery depended on consultants, lawers, and even an acting health minister who leaned on mental health experts to falsely certify her as incompetent to the courts. This went on for years.

But for the inventive intervention of Shana Aaronson, then with JCW, and now head of Magen, this scam would have continued indefinitely. Aaronson hired a Private Investigator, who surreptitiously videoed Leifer leading an active and thoroughly competent social and communal life. This forced the hand of the Israeli police who then conducted their own surveillance operation which confirmed Leifer’s competence. In the aftermath of those findings Leifer was arrested, charged with fraud and imprisoned pending the completion of extradition proceedings. Acting Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman was also investigated for his role in subborning fraudulent mental health diagnoses. The court than went through an inexcusably long process of revisiting the mental health determination before finally finding her fit and then proceeding to the extradition hearing itself which was fairly cut and dry.

So now at last, we can expect Leifer to be brought back to Australia over the next 60 days. Now at last we can watch an Australian justice process which we can expect to be fair and timely. This is so different from the feeling many of us had watching the Israeli process where we always expected delays, fraud, and deception.

Enormous thanks must be extended to the three sisters, survivors of Leifer’s abuse, Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer, and Elly Sapper, who brought the charges and persisted throughout this process to bring Leifer to justice. They are also functioning as proxies for other Haredi girls who were victimized by Leifer but have been intimidated into silence by their Haredi community. And once again, shame, shame on the Israeli government and the Haredi community in Israel and Australia.

Click here for other Frum Follies posts about Malka Leifer

Thinking About Chanah and Rosh Hashana

The approach of Rosh Hashanah makes me think of Chanah, barren like Sarah. Before she could glory in her triumph she was misjudged as a nobody by Eli, the cohen gadol (high priest). He mistook her unvoiced words for drunkenness when they were actually a prayer full of pain and power. But she triumphed and bore a son who would eventually eclipse Eli.

In the meantime the sons of Eli was thieves and lecherers who abused the mishkan (tabernacle). Eli was a decent man but he wasn’t brave enough or determined enough to correct his sons. When a leader is meek it is not merely a failure; it is a disaster. Shmuel, the son of this modest woman foretold this new reality. He started out not being able to recognize the highest call. But then he heard the message and foretold the disaster to Eli. The house of Eli fell and Shmuel crowned kings.

Every year on Rosh Hashanah I am reminded by Chanah’s story  that things don’t have to stay the same. The mighty can fall and the humble can rise. The scoundrels can lose their power and the just can replace them. The erlich ones who let corruption surround them cannot escape the awful consequences of their inexcusable meekness.

I wish all of my readers a year where justice will rule, where kindness will console the victims; where proud and haughty scoundrels will be brought down. Perhaps even a year in which the decent meek leaders can rise to their responsibilities. I believe that time will yet come, and those who help it come will be rewarded.

kesivah v’chasimah tovah to all of you and wishes for healthy for you and the entire world.

At Last, Israeli Supreme Court Eliminates Leifer’s Fake Illness Claims

After 70 hearings over 5 years, the way is clear for Leifer to face extradition hearings. She can no longer claim mental illness prevents her from participating in hearings to determine if she should be extradited to Australia on charges of sexually abusing three sisters in her school in Melbourne.

It never should have taken this long. But the head of the Health Ministry, Yaakov Litzman put the fix in on evaluations and the Israeli system allowed Leifer to get away for years with faking mental illness.

But for the actions of Shana Aronson, head of Magen, the fraud might still be going on. But she had a PI who produced videos of Leifer engaging in all sorts of social and commercial activities even though her lawyers and the government mental health experts claimed she was severely debilitated.

The process is still not over. But at last the court sessions will involve the evaluation of Australia’s brief for extradition. A hearing on extradition is set for September 21.

Mondrowitz Sued along with Ger Yeshiva in Brooklyn for Sex Assault

Avrohom Mondrowitz escaped to Israel and beat back extradition on charges of sodomizing boys. Mondrowitz was a frum radio personality who falsely claimed to have smichah and a doctorate in clinical psychology. Relying on frum referrals he “counseled” and sodomized many boys. Eventually he non-Jewish victims came forward but he escaped to Israel back in 2006 before his arrest warrant could be executed.

Because Israel won’t extradite him there is no way to bring him back to face criminal charges. But thanks to the New York State Child Victims Act, Chaim Zuckerman, another of his victims will get his day in court. The Ger yeshiva, Yeshiva & Mesivta Bais Yisroel, where Mondrowitz was used as a counselor is included in the lawsuit. They were directly responsible for enabling the abuse by Zuckerman, who chose to use his name for a report in the New York Jewish Week. The events leading up to the abuse was Zuckerman seeing Mondrowitz bent over a boy with both their pants down. Zuckerman reported this to the principal who it turns out is also an alleged abuser who fled to Israel. Rabbi Avrohom Leizerowitz, the principal chastised the boy and forced him to enter counseling with Mondrowitz who sodomized him. Eventually Zuckerman was kicked out this and other yeshivas run by Ger and ended up on the streets.

Some people worry about punishing schools with lawsuits for events in the past for which the current administration may bear no direct responsibility. I would argue that even so, it is a past debt owed. But in the case of Ger, protecting child molesters is part and parcel of their culture. Their designated member of Knesset in Israel, then Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, was deeply involved in fraudulent manipulation to obstruct the extradition of serial child molester Malka Leifer, and help to other sex offenders. So I have not an iota of sympathy for their whining about the costs. More importantly, the abuse traumatized Zuckerman, derailed his normal progress and no doubt still costs him in emotional burdens.

One other thing worth noting. Ohel Children’s home, which has been sued by another abuse survivor was making referrals to Avrohom Mondrowitz.

Agudah: Last to Protect, First to Endanger, Strikes Again!

Agudath Israel of America was asleep at the wheel as Covid-19 swept the globe and made inroads in NYC.

In late February and early March, Lewis Garbuz, a single infected orthodox Jew at the Young Israel of New Rochelle infected hundreds of others through his active involvement in the shul. Garbuz was diagnosed with Covid-19 by March 2. By March 3, New Rochelle was quarantined by NYS Governor Cuomo.

On their own, Salanter Akiva Riverdale yeshiva (SAR) shut itself down the next day because one of the man’s family members attended.  Within a day, Yeshiva University suspended all classes and begin the process of emptying their dorms. Thanks to these actions, while many others were infected, nobody in those circles died from Covid-19 and even Garbuz himself recovered.

By March 5th, visitors to Rav Chaim Kanievsky were no longer being allowed to shake or kiss his hand.

By March 8th, Erev Purim, Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan cancelled their  purim parties, limiting events to Megillah reading and urging those not feeling well or at higher risk, not to attend.

By March 12th The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County issued its own orders which curtailed Purim gatherings and implemented various social distancing measures. Thanks to all those efforts the toll on the modern orthodox world was largely in line with the overall metro NYC population.

Agudah waited for the Mayor and Governor to issue rulings on March 17 and 20. Agudah did very little to warn or educate their members about the risks, and looked the other way as flagrant violations of distancing and stay at home rules sprouted all over their neighborhoods. Sure enough, there was a terrible toll, something even Agudah admitted when it spoke of thousands of deaths in its community (see flyer below, issued by Agudah on 3 Sivan, 5780/May 26, 2020).

Agudah PR flacks like to insist that the unusual physical and interactional density of the Haredi world makes it especially vulnerable. Darn right, which is why it would have been even more important for the Haredi world to deploy the measures undertaken by other orthodox groups. Agudah should have learned the lesson of the NYC measles epidemic centered in metro NYC’s Haredi communities because a number of their yeshivot were disregarding the laws requiring them to confirm the vaccination status of students. Then too they howled about special density factors and saved their fire power for complaining about antisemitism. Within the frum world there was another less publicized shmooze. Many felt the epidemic was a massive chillul hashem because it showed dangerous disregard of reasonable public health laws which endangered others.

Agudah’s May 26th flyer (see image below) admits “We must be careful not to repeat our earlier mistakes.” I thought this would be a lead-in to some admission of errors of policy and public education. Fooled again. There is not a single admission of any error. Nor in all this time has Agudah used its massive PR machine to educate and encourage various measures to reduce risk. Instead their Twitter feeds and emails have been full of self congratulation about their chesed programs helping the isolated with food, participating in plasma donation programs, and various services to patients. They also reported on deliveries of food to all the staff at hospitals. Nice, but I bet the health workers would have been more appreciative of safety measures to reduce the patient load that cost the lives of so many hospital workers.

When Agudah speaks of not repeating earlier mistakes they are referring to talking in shul, letting phones ring, not having enough kavanah, etc. They then go into a set of prescriptions for shul attendance now that 10-person minyanim are allowed by law in NYS. And once again, Agudah completely fails to address reducing risk. They even increase it by urging slow prayer and learning in shuls. The epidemiological rule of thumb is that risk is increased the longer people are together in an enclosed space.

The other theme running through the declaration is encoded in the term gezeirah (decree) with its implication that shul closures were an evil gezeirah. Yet again they are making the government the enemy when in fact their closures might have even been delayed longer but for the actions of the government.

This sort of posturing is built into the politics and financial interests of Agudah. It has lost stature as a moral center in recent decades. But no one disputes it is a hell of lobbying group for getting money for the orthodox community. It regularly rallies its base by painting the government as the enemy when the government tries to enforce safety regs. This has been true about child sex abuse, MBP, the measles epidemic, minimal education requirements, and now, Covid-19.

Oh sure, they make appropriate passing noise about respecting and following the law. But insiders know that is PR nonsense. Having cultivated a stance of resistance, they have to keep playing the game even when it’s very dangerous. They are even more politically cornered because so many of their adherents are taking their views neither from halachah which is very assertive about being careful about health risks, nor from doctors and epidemiologists. Instead, they are catering to the narishkeit spouted by ignorant talk radio personalities who deny the magnitude of the problem and ridicule mask wearing, social distancing, and stay at home orders.  One only has to look at the Twitter feeds of their most prominent followers to see little about torah or protective action, but tons of retweets from Covid minimilizers.

So here we are, with an opportunity to manage things better. But just as a reckless Purim was a prelude to a tragic Pesach, I fear a reckless Shavuos will make 17 Tammuz especially tragic this year.