Young Israel President Farley Weiss Is Truly Incompetent

The Young Israel movement was started a century ago to give young American raised orthodox Jews a shul to which they could relate. Besides decorum in general they had a few innovations. They ended the selling of aliyot and other unseemly activities that elevated a few rich members over the rest. They decided to have member led services without rabbis leading them.

Times change. Flash forward a century and Young Israels do have rabbis and they are usually doing all the usual things to raise money even if they don’t sell aliyot.

Farley Weiss, President of the National Council of Young Israel is incompetent in both of those areas. He was deeply involved in the Young Israel of Phoenix board that hired a “rabbi,” Ari Mandel, who turned out not to have ordination.

Weiss also managed to give the NCYI’s Chovevei Zion award in March at a gala dinner to Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, associates of Rudy Giuliani, who were just arrested for their role in funneling Ukrainian money illegally into a Trump super PAC. But that isn’t why I call Farley Weiss incompetent. Seriously, I don’t expect a man like Farley Weiss to care about the shady reputation of his honorees, especially if they are on team Trump which is where Farley is.

But the shnook, Farley, got taken for a ride. The honorees did not give any money to NCYI. According to Weiss, Continue reading

TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF FRUM FOLLIES: How I Started, and Where the Cause Is Now

Ten years ago, today, on October 6, 2009, I started Frum Follies because I thought I had just one piece of satire I wanted to post and none of the existing blogs (UOJ & Failed Messiah) were interested in posting it. I wanted to call my blog Frum Satire, but Heshy Fried already had a blog by that name. So I settled on Frum Follies.

My first post, Moetzes Gedolim Speak About Znus Affecting Children (Satire), nailed the mentality of Agudath Yisroel then and now. To spare you my too-long first effort here are some choice excerpts.

The problems of znus and pritzus in our hefker society threaten the very life of our holy community. Rabbossaichatani, we have sinned. Yes, even to the point where we have allowed foxes into the sanctuary, and znus into some of our mosdos torah. It is hard to keep out all those who fool us b’chadrei chareidim, break the mitzvos and are mizalzel themselves with the Internet……

Our sonim lose no opportunity to say, chas v’chalileh, that certain rabeim are touching certain places… Many of these accusations have never been proven. We will do our best to keep it that way… Many of those making the accusations must be distrusted because they are really just fishing for heterim to commit the grave sin of mesirah (snitching).

So great is the chet of mesirah (informing) that it endangers a person himself, his children, and his children’s children. When it says in the torah that a punishment is passed down it means that you won’t find shidduchim (marriage partners)…

Our sonim (enemies) look for chances to make Yiddishkeit (Judaism) look bad. If a goy (gentile) does something they claim he is a Jew. If a Jew does something they claim he is an orthodox Jew. If an orthodox Jew does something they claim he is an ultra orthodox Jew. When a Jew with a beard and tzitzis (ritual fringes) does something they claim he is an ultra orthodox rabbi. Actually, most of those of those accused are goyim, Conservative and Reform Jews, bar mitzvah tutors, cheder teachers, hashgachah (kosher supervision) employees, mental health counselors, or camp and day care operators. They only call themselves Rabbi for the clergy discount. Ignoring reality, the anti Semites run headlines about the arrest of an “ultra orthodox rabbi.”

May of these problems are created by mosrim (snitches) who went off the derech. We have rachmonis on them because they are mentally ill. When someone is mentally ill we don’t accept them as eidim in a besdin; if American courts had seichel they would also reject such testimony. We do these unfortunates a great favor in declaring them mentally ill. We spare them shame by not calling them intentional liars. Unfortunately some of those who are moser or advocating mesirah have clearly demonstrated their apikorsus befarhesyah by the ways in which they are mevazer talmidei chachomim.

Sadly, the poison of such chutzpah has even spread to some who are part of our kehilot kedoshimHakol, kol Yaacov, v’hayadaim yedei Eisav (the voice, is the voice of Jacob and the hands are the hands of Esau). Among us they speak the toras Yaacov about tznius, tzedakah, mishpat, emes, and caring about klal yisroel. Their hands, their hands type with the sinah of Eisav. They strike at yidn in ways that cost them parnassah, the honor of their families and the prospects of their children and grandchildren. Moreover they are choteh umachti, they sin and make others sin. They encourage other yidn to repeat their lies. These cowards hide behind Internet firewalls. If they had any faith in the truth of what they say they would come out into daylight and let us tear them apart, piece by piece.

We owe a great yasher koach to those at the Agudah who go forth in milchemes hashem and expose themselves to the 49th madreigah of tummah. They fearlessly read treyfah blogs to fight this shmutz. On these blogs they uphold the honor of torah by refuting these false accusers by letting them know the real facts about these terrible accusers. They are like the great talmidei chochomim of the past who went into public disputes against our accusers…. We engage them in disputes now as we did then and we win. Alas our prosecutors have made up their mind to hurt us because they envy our pure families and loving community. Because they want to hurt us they believe every single betraying meshumad.

I thought that would be the beginning and end of it, and I would be able to write clever pieces and thus limit the work load. But I got drawn into various cases, starting with Shmuel/Sammy Borger and was provoked by various outrages. So here I am ten years later with over 6 million page views of the 1,345 posts I have put up. And the effort was stimulated by tons of comments (over 18,000 at last count). Engaging with them and moderating them was an education in both the pain out there and the incredibly obnoxious  harassing tactics of the defenders of abusers. In recent years most of the commentary and interaction has migrated to FaceBook under my own account as Yerachmiel Lopin and when my posts have been reposted by others on FaceBook.

It is impossible to summarize all I have learned, all that has changed, and alas, all that stays the same. The good news is that I have helped educate folks about abuse and helped expose some dangerous people and supported many survivors both through the blog and in direct contact. The bad news is that most of the leadership of the Haredi world still covers up abuse way more often than they address it. They almost always deter reporting to the police and child protective services even though that is the single most effective way of preventing the same person from abusing again. They also discourage civil suits which would help survivors get some help coping with the damage. The Modern Orthodox world is definitely better officially in their positions. Additionally, it is rare for survivors who pursue criminal cases to be intimidated by expulsions from schools and shuls. Yet they too have a long way to go.

So, the war is not won but we have won some battles. At least there is a widespread official admission that child sex abuse is a problem in the frum world. Ten years ago, Avi Shafran was spouting nonsense about how child sex abuse almost never happens in the frum world. Now, there are many more programs to educate kids and parents about preventing abuse. Schools, shuls, camps, and youth groups are adopting some policies to prevent abuse. But the as a poet once said, “between conception and creation falls the shadow.” The shadow remains that when actual abuse happens, the responses are often partial or ineffectual. Additionally the reality is about half of all child sex abuse happens in the home, usually by relatives. This is especially true of the abuse of girls in the frum world since predators have less access to girls outside the home. That realm of abuse is even harder to confront, or even to expose.

So the war continues. More than ever, we now know that child sex abuse happens everywhere. It happens in all sorts of religious groups. It happens all over the secular world. It happens in every country. It is a world-wide plague that depends on shame and secrecy to perpetuate itself. So going forward, we have our work cut out.

Shlomo Hyman Disappears from Ahavath Torah, Not with a Bang but a Whimper

In May, the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey announced the dismissal of long-time teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Hyman with a cryptic statement,

It was determined that Rabbi Hyman’s conduct had been neither acceptable nor consistent with how a rebbe in our Yeshiva should interact with students.

Congregation Ahavath Torah of Englewood was left in the lurch since they privately found out about the RYNJ’s investigation in February and had had him on leave  from his position as their Youth Rabbi but were left in the dark about the allegations or final findings. So they continued the suspension and conducted their own private investigation, in some cases talking to the same witnesses who spoke to RYNJ’s investigators. Eventually Hyman’s leave turned into his departure. Whether this was by resignation or firing is not known to me. But they finally removed his profile and listing from his website. He is now completely gone from their website. Continue reading

Bina’s Netiv Aryeh Tries to Minimize Its Connection to Alleged Child Pornographer Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick

As the saying goes, “Success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan.” That goes doubly when the institutional failure involves hiring a child pornographer as a religious educator. SAR and the Yeshiva of Flatbush have issued the usual statements about not having a clue about his years of using fake online identities as a teen girl to try and engage their students, and in at least one case, succeeding in getting a boy to send a nude pic.

The latest entrant is “tough love” Rabbi Aharon Bina’s gap year yeshiva, Netiv Aryeh. For starters, readers should know that tough love in his case is a misnomer for brutal control employed against students considered incorregible by their parents. In the interests of space I refer readers to “Has The ‘Tough Love’ Rebbe Gone Too Far?” published in the NY Jewish Week (2012) by Yedidya Gorsetman and Gary Rosenblatt. There is also a website devoted to reports of his abuse. Bina has his defenders, including some of his “reformed” students who swear by him with all the passion of cult inductees.

Back in 2009, around this time of the year, the Netiv Aryeh newsletter (YNA Newsletter – Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech, p2) proudly reported, Continue reading

Bethany Mandel Reverses Herself to Seeing Lawsuits as the Way to Get Orthodox Institutions to Get Serious about Child Protection.

Writing in The Forward this week (9/19/19), Bethany Mandel, a victim of Rabbi Barry Freundel’s mikeveh peeping, takes back her earlier reluctance to sue the RCA and her shul because she felt it would hurt valuable institutions. She has now come to realize the extent of institutional irresponsibility and feels it will take the cost of lawsuits to finally get institutions to be responsible about protecting folks from predators. Continue reading