Sauna Rabbi Rosenblatt Is Hung Out to Dry

Jonathan Rosenblatt

Jonathan Rosenblatt

Following his forced retirement from the Riverdale Jewish Center, sauna-boy-gawker Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt started advertising himself doing “spiritual and psychological counseling” at Scarsdale Integrative Medicine (SIM).

His reputation caught up with him and SIM dropped him unceremoniously, even claiming he was never part of their operation, but merely someone renting space from them according to the Forward.

But, as my readers know, he was listed on their website as one of their staff back in May, whatever the financial arrangements.

It would not be fair to criticize SIM too much for this lapse in vetting and judgment. They did manage to dump the chump in about two months. Continue reading

There Are No Warnings when Sex Offenders Move From Israel but We Can Fix That

scales of justice and childSex offenders, like smugglers, take advantage of borders to avoid paying for their crimes. Sometimes they hop borders one step ahead of the cops. Israel, unfortunately is a popular destination for our miscreants.

But there is also a reverse flow where Israel’s flotsam washes up on America’s shores. Local communities are often clueless. This is true, even if there was a conviction in Israel because Israel does not have a public sex offender registry.

Let’s say Shlomo Shimon Ben-David gets convicted for molesting a neighbor’s child in Israel. He serves his time and then heads off to the United States. For good measure he starts using his middle name, Shimon, or perhaps, Simon, and becomes an accepted member of his new community and volunteers with a youth group. No one is the wiser about his past history.

Don’t start saying there ought to be a law to deal with the problem. There is a law: the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). If offenders move, start work, or start school in a new state they have to register within three days or can be sentenced to a year. SORNA’s regulations also apply to foreign convictions (IV-B).

Mr. Ben-David should register himself within 3 days of arriving in the the US. But he probably won’t register, even if he knows the law. He has nothing to fear. After all, how will the local jurisdiction even know he has an Israeli conviction. As far as I can tell, local registry enforcers don’t even try to deal with this problem.

Six months ago, on Feb. 8, 2016, President Obama signed a law designed to deal with some of those problems. The bill requires child sex offenders to notify their registry office of their plans to travel abroad. The US government is supposed to transmit  this information to foreign countries and where appropriate, to  INTERPOL. The law also requires the US State Department to mark offender’s passports with indications of their child sex offender status.

Under the International Megan’s Law (HR 4573; 113th Congress, 2nd session) the US government should Continue reading

Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau

Chief Rabbi Lau’s Statement about Child Abuse

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, David Lau issued a public statement about child abuse. As far as I know it is his first to date.

Below is a translation of its flowery language gracefully executed by *Danny Wool. An image of the original in Hebrew is at the end of the article.


R. David Stav

It is addressed to religious educators. I suspect it was written in response the arrests of yeshiva teachers last week. See, 6 Alleged Offenders, 22 Children (Ages 2-10), Over 11 Years in Tel Aviv Belz School

It may have also been a response to a statement by Rabbi David Stav, head of Tzohar, that not reporting sexual abuse violates the Torah. Stav was Lau’s main competitor in the election for chief rabbi.

It is interesting that he managed not to make public statements about other sex abuse scandals involving prestigious religious teachers such as Motti Elon, Ezra Sheinberg, Naftali Maklev, Meir Pogrow, Elimelech Meisels, Eliezer Berland, Ben Tzion Sobel, and Matis Weinberg. Lau doubtlessly knows of many others who  escaped public exposure,  criminal prosecution, or any sort of consequences.

But he has finally spoken, so let’s read it and then evaluate it.

Tammuz 29, 5776

August 4, 2016

To All Who Work Educating the Children of Israel in Good Faith


Re: Awareness of Injuries Caused to Students

Much to my regret, terrible incidents occurring in our courtyards and domains have recently been made public. Cases in which boys and girls alike have been hurt in their homes or educational institutions have taken place recently, shocking anyone with a heart. How painful it is to hear that those very places, which should be a support, a stronghold, and a source of succor for our children and youth have turned into a nightmare and source of terror for them.

At this time, it is incumbent on parents, educators both male and female, family members, and anyone else involved in the sacred work of education to open their eyes and assist anyone who needs help insofar as possible. Turning away is not an answer to these difficult and painful issues, and everyone must know that they bear responsibility, even if the matter does not affect them directly. Continue reading

Frum Watch as a Replacement for Failed Messiah

Frum WatchThe February buyout of Failed Messiah by Diversified Holdings left a gap. For almost 12 years, its previous proprietor, Shmarya (Scott) Rosenberg, kept tabs on all the misdeeds of the orthodox world mostly by locating and aggregating news from other sources, and sometimes with original investigation and reporting. His sources included public professional media, blogs, kol korehs (rabbinical proclamations), pashkavilim (flyers, often anonymous), and other leaked documents.

The orthodox world, especially its Haredi segment, does not distribute information that can embarrass it, except in the rarest and most unavoidable circumstances. So those wanting to understand its happenings benefited from Shmarya’s work. It now seems clear that the new owners of Failed Messiah bought it to shut down its criticism. In spite of early promises to continue to cover sex abuse problems, they have done zilch. However, at least the old posts are still up. Should they delete them, they are mostly copied over on the Internet Archive. Just plug in the no-longer working link from FM or any other source, and it will show up if it is on the Archive.

Frum Watch, a FaceBook page attempts to fill that gap and they do a pretty good job at the aggregating function. In fact, I would say they do a better job than Failed Messiah. There is less needless inflammatory language. They have a commenting policy prohibiting bigotry towards any group and they enforce it. They are a collective, including some Hebrew and Yiddish fluent members who occasionally translate and in any event annotate or synopsize material from non-English sources. They seem to post a good half a dozen or more stories a day. There is no muss and fuss. Sometimes they let the story title speak for itself. Sometimes they briefly introduce it. Sometimes, when needed, or when they have more to say, they add to it.  Continue reading

How Rabbis Discourage Reports of Sexual Assaults

Rabbi Dovid Tzvi Ordentlich

R. Dovid Tzvi Ordentlich

Yehuda Shohat and Ariela Sternbuch reported in Yediot Aharonot a year ago about the advice that Israeli rabbis give about whether to report sexual assaults to the police. Sternbuch called up 27 individuals describing obviously criminal sexual assaults.

Until now, only the interaction with Rabbi Ratzon Arussi was translated into English along with his rationalizations (See Haanah Katsman, “Rabbi Defends Not Reporting Sex Abuse”).

What is notable for most of these responses is they did not invoke any prohibitions of mesira (snitching).
Instead they engaged in victim blaming, worried about the impact on the offender and his family, warned about impact of reporting in the marriage prospects of the victim, and insisted the police were ineffective. They often assumed the offense was a one-time event and assumed teshuva (repentence). Their practical solutions for preventing repetitions of this offense involved giving the offender a tongue lashing.

These rabbis abdicated their responsibility to protect the public from presumed sexual assailants.

This is why I always advise against contacting rabbis for advice about reporting abuse, except for the small number of rabbis with reliable reputations for supporting the use of the police to protect the community. Even some of those are inconsistent, supporting it in theory or in special cases but not in others.

Below are the translated excerpts from the article. Read, turn your stomach, and keep this in mind if you or someone you know is the victim of a sex assault. (For the 6/22/15 Hebrew Yediot Achronot version and tape recordings go to שקט, מטייחים. מקריבים את הנפגעים החרדים.

Translations below by Danny Wool a writer, editor, and translator, who specializes in Jewish and Israeli themes. He is deeply involved in the Israeli film industry, having worked on such films and projects as The Gatek.

Rabbi David Zvi Ordentleich

The chief rabbis of Beitar Illit (pop. 65,000), Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Ordentleich, and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yaakov Tufik, are also members of the local religious court. The author, posing as a 17-year-old girl, told them over the phone that she was molested by the father of a friend, and that her mother told her not to complain to the police.

“Did he just touch you and remove his clothes, or was it more than that,” Rabbi Ordentleich asked, knowing that the person she accused was an older yeshiva student.

Girl: He also put his hands inside.

Rabbi: Did he try to do anything else? Did you resist? Continue reading