Shiduchim and Yichus in the Book of Ruth

From the Frum Follies archives (5/15/10)

Part I

Once upon a time two young widows were given some good shidduch advice. “Turn back to your mother’s house…[and] find security in the house of a husband.” Orpah took Naomi’s advice and she is lost to history. Ruth ignored the advice and made history.

Ploni almoni was a practical man when it came to shidduchim who didn’t want to be bothered with caring for Ruth. He passed on the opportunity and he too is lost to history.

Boaz was a different sort of man. In him stirred the blood of Judah, a man who took responsibility for his child with Tamar. He was a descendent of Nachshon who stepped forward while other’s hesitated. Where Ploni blew his chance, Boaz took it. His descendents made history. Continue reading

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Freundel Sentenced to 6.5 Years for Secretly Videoing 52 Women in Ritual Bath

Barry Freundel 1The Washington Post reports that Rabbi Barry Freundel was sentenced today (5/15/15) to 6.5 years for his 52  counts of ritual bath (mikveh) voyeurism. That works out to 45 days for each count. If he secures all possible “good time” for behaving and taking courses, he will serve approximately 3.75 years in the D.C. prison system. Continue reading

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Freundel Still Isn’t Apologizing to His Victims

On Friday (5/15/15), Rabbi Bernard (Barry) Freundel will be sentenced for video recording 52 women while naked at a mikvah. The government is asking for a sentence of 4 months for each count for a total of 17 years in jail. This is one-third of the maximum sentence. The government sentencing memo eloquently captures the betrayal of trust and the emotional harm because mikvah is such a sensitive moment for converts and married   orthodox women. It is a moment of sacredness and vulnerability. To be seen naked by one’s own rabbi, the government memo points out, is especially painful to orthodox women who adhere to a modesty code. It is way worse than being surreptitiously recorded in a gym locker room by a stranger.

Barry Freundel running photographers scrumOne of his victims is a woman who confided in Rabbi Freundel about being sexually abused. He counseled her to use the mikvah for healing purposes. Now she feels re-traumatized.

The government’s memo is well worth reading in its entirety.

Freundel’s memo, in contrast is pathetically self pitying. Of course he admits his guilt. But he has a funny way of understanding the gravity of his crimes. His memo dwells on his disgrace with nary a word about the impact of his crimes on his victims. The memo states:

Rabbi Freundel readily admits he has committed a serious crime [and] recognizes and regrets the negative impact his actions have had within the community. His conduct has brought shame upon Judaism, the synagogue he once served, his family, and himself. He has been publicly humiliated, forced to leave his office as a rabbi, and is now a convicted man. His fall, all of his own doing, has been very public and painful for the Jewish community, his family and of course, himself. Continue reading

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Rabbis Issue Warning about an Orthodox Anti-Porn & Internet Safety Expert

A post just went up (5/4/15) on the 5 Towns Jewish Times warning about a sexual predator who preys on young adult women. It was posted by R. Yair Hoffman with the backing of Rabbis Aaron Feldman of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore and claims the backing of five gedolei hatorah (leading Haredi rabbinical leaders).

As posted on the GYE website on 5/3/15, a day before the 5TJT article

As posted on the GYE website on 5/3/15, a day before the 5TJT article

The alleged offender most closely resembles Philip Rosenthal, who was listed as a member of the advisory board of the orthodox anti-porn-addiction organization, Guard Your Eyes/Venishmartem as of yesterday (5/3/15). As of 2 9 p.m. today that page was removed and yields a 404 error. edited to delete his being included on their list of endorsers.

Rabbi Hoffman writes: Continue reading

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Letters to Bystanders – Shay Kaiser

This first appeared in Frum Follies on 1/10/2013. I am reposting as part of an effort to draw more attention to intra-familial abuse including incest. This phenomenon gets short shrift in anti-abuse advocacy because it is even harder to get victims to come forward revealing their own identities and the names of the offenders. Yet such abuse is a big part of the problem, maybe even the majority of all cases, especially for girls. – Yerachmiel Lopin.


guest post by Shay Kaiser*

WARNING: This post deals with child abuse in ways 
which may trigger very disturbing responses for some survivors

When you are hurt by someone else you can vent anger by writing a letter which you don’t send. But the offender doesn’t find out what they did wrong. Imagine what would happen if these letters were sent. These are letters that I am not ready to send in real life. They are addressed to those who let me be abused yet never laid a hand on me. They are the people who looked the other way. I don’t know if it is worth sending them. If they refuse to hear what I have to say it would hurt me again. Yet many of us keep on mentally writing and rewriting  these letters.

scales of justice and childDear Woman,

Why didn’t you notice? Didn’t you see the locks on your husband’s door? Did you  wonder about his business trips and his strange office hours, and all the chesed he did with children? Did you wonder about why he went out in the middle of family gatherings and what he did on his private daddy-daughter trips? And that look on his face – didn’t you see that greedy monstrous look? Didn’t you care about his interesting shopping trips? Didn’t you wonder, didn’t you see?

Dear Teacher, Continue reading
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The Grey Area of Rape Culture in the Black and White World of Jewish Orthodoxy

by Esther Tova Stanley*

Esther Tova Stanley

Esther Tova Stanley

“Yeah, but he’s a man.”

That was the actual reason I was given as to why a rabbi’s sexual predatory behavior was OK. Well not , “OK,” but y’know, understandable.

In the wake of sexual assault allegations brought against Elimelech Meisels, a “rabbi” who controlled and operated numerous seminaries for post high school girls, a very unseemly side of our Jewish orthodox culture is raring its ugly head, yet again. The side that excuses men for being unable to control their sexual urges and, on occasion, even has the audacity to blame the victim for it.

“Well, what was she thinking getting into the car with him?”
“She’s troubled; she misunderstood what really happened.”
“She’s a crazy, manipulative liar.”

Yes, these are actual responses I got when I asked community members why they continued to support this sexual predator/rabbi. Was I surprised? Unfortunately, I was not. Continue reading

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Todros Grynhaus Retrial to Start on Monday April 27th in Manchester, UK

British sources inform me that Grynhaus will be retried this coming Monday (4/27/15) in Manchester UK on charges of sexually assaulting girls between the ages of 13 and 15.

He was first tried in February but the jury was hung. Justice has been long-delayed because he fled the country when first indicted using a false passport and had to be extradited back from Israel. Continue reading

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