Jonathan Rosenblatt, the embattled rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center spoke to a congregational meeting yesterday evening (6/24/15) indicating he would not resign. He is taking this position even though most of his board wants him to resign over the scandal of his predilection for spending time nude with younger males.
Rosenblatt’s contract runs for a few more years and the board is willing to buy him out. They now will have to invoke the morals clause to fire him for cause or they will just have to fire him and then face the legal and financial consequences. Rosenblatt could bring a case to the Beth Din of America (BDA). It is not clear how they would rule. To date there is no proof of criminally prosecutable acts, though his sustained mutual nudity he regularly orchestrated in gyms smacks of impropriety to many including this blogger. Continue reading
Rabbi Menachem M (Mendy) Tevel (aka Tewel)
Yesterday I reported on the 1 year jail sentence of Menachem Tewel (aka Mendy Tevel) on charges of oral sex with a minor. Jewish Community Watch has posted the text he used in making a statement to the court just before sentencing. The victim, now a married young adult, spoke eloquently about the persistent harm of abuse including PTSD, difficulties in intimacy and other after effects.
He also spoke about the various attempts to intimidate him out of going forward in pressing his charges. According to his statement:
I’ve been cheered for by many and harassed by many. It seems everyone I met, had their 2 cents to add. Some felt I was doing the right thing and was a hero and others felt that if the defendant went to jail, he would surely be killed and that would be on my conscience. Some even went as far as to call me and my family ‘murderers’.
During the last few months leading up this day, some have tried to threaten or bribe me to drop the charges. I was offered $200,000 to sign documents stating that I consented to and requested the sexual activity and therefore it was not abuse. Others have tried the other approach, threatening me that they have 4 girls willing to testify that I raped them and they will come forward after the sentencing. I have been threatened to have my name smeared publicly in our community to the point that my wife and I would “literally” be unable to walk the streets. Some have gone as far as to approach my wife and attempt to convince her to leave me.
Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President of the OU 2009-2014
The Rabbinical Council of America and Yeshiva University were critical of Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt’s practice of mentoring boys and young men in extended mutually nude interactions in showers and saunas. However, the Orthodox Union (OU) used Rosenblatt for rabbinic mentoring events starting in 2009 and 2010. These events ran through 2013 but it is not clear if he was used for all of the remaining events, though the OU did not claim otherwise when I inquired.
According to a 2010 email by OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil,
In Toronto I attended a three-day conference for over 30 rabbis from large, medium and small shuls across North America. This is part of a regular series of gatherings organized by the OU, which occur on-site in numerous locations; last year, the rabbis met in Chicago, while next year’s conclave is planned IY”H for Kansas City.
Many of the rabbis who participate in this group are relatively new to the pulpit (within the past decade, but most newer). They are mentored by more experienced rabbis, foremost among them Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center. This event was held at Shaarei Shomayim, following which, I was privileged to remain behind in order to serve as Shabbat scholar-in-residence. (emphasis added).
From the Frum Follies archives two years ago (8/9/13)
On July 23rd Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes estimated a take of $7,500 from a fundraiser with Hasidim hosted by Boro Park Hasid, Ben Barber .
It was at this fundraiser on July 29 that he declared himself a “real shabbos goy” meaning someone who could anticipate and deliver prohibited acts to his orthodox constituents without even being asked. Continue reading
Rabbi Gavriel Bodenheimer
Bais Mikroh, Principal
Rabbi Gavriel (Gabriel) Bodenheimer’s trial on ten felony counts alleging criminal sexual acts with a child under eleven years of age is now scheduled to start on December 31, 2015, in front of Judge R. Thorsen in the Rockland County Courthouse.
It was originally scheduled for May right after Shavuos.
It is not clear if the prosecution is backlogged, the judge is backlogged, the defense has found ways to delay trial, or the witness is needing time to be ready or is wavering.
It would be nice if we could trust the prosecutor to do his best, But alas, Rockland DA Thomas Zugibe is indebted to the Haredi voting block. In the past it was clear he was not going all out in his prosecution efforts. At the same time he is worried about getting hurt in the polls with non-orthodox voters, as Charles Hynes was in Brooklyn, for going easy on Haredi sex offenders.
Bodenheimer, Principal of Bais Mikroh elementary school in Monsey, was arrested in August 2014 on charges dating backing to 2009. Continue reading
Rabbi Menachem M (Mendy) Tevel (aka Tewel)
Mendy Tevel (whose legal name is Menachem Tewel) will be sentenced this morning (6/8/25) In Brooklyn Supreme Court. He pleaded guilty to one count of criminal sexual act in the third-degree in satisfaction of all the charges. He’ll get one year in jail and must register as a sex offender upon release. According to the press office of the Brooklyn Da, the victim was in favor of the plea for many reasons, including that he did not want to testify at trial. I am discouraged that the Brooklyn DA did not bargain for a long probation with conditions which would have helped protect children on his release This follows a long pattern of the Brooklyn DA going easy on orthodox Jewish sex offenders. This is especially important in Tevel’s case because he has in the past worked in his father-in-law’s community center in Los Angeles (JEM). Still more discouraging is that is one of the very few orthodox Jewish sex offenders prosecuted by the Brooklyn DA. I expect even less now that the head of sex crimes is ADA Miss Gregory. See also:
LA Chabad JEM Center Allows Indicted Child Molester Mendy Tevel to Cavort With Kids
June 23rd will be the fifteenth anniversary of Gary Rosenblatt’s Jewish Week expose, Stolen Innocence. It was the first major journalistic treatment of an orthodox rabbi, Baruch Lanner who used his role working for the Orthodox Union’s (OU) National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) to brutalize and sexually exploit teen girls.
More important, the article copiously documented the OU’s failure to respond to numerous complaints about his misconduct. It is a must read for anyone interested in how bad cover ups can be and how much leaders can be complicit in the sexual abuse of an individual. Take the time to read it here.