Jonathan Rosenblatt and the Boundary between Innocent, Creepy, and Abusive

Yossele Rosenblatt

Yossele Rosenblatt

Jonathan Rosenblatt, rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, is the great-grandson of Yossele Rosenblatt. I am sitting here listening to Yossele’s magnificent cantorial singing on recordings made a hundred years ago. He had everything, vocal range, control, phrasing, musicality, originality, and above all, soul. His secular contemporary in the opera was the great Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso. According to an often repeated story, Caruso attended one of Rosenblatt’s New York recitals. After hearing Rosenblatt sing Eli, Eli, he went on stage and kissed him. That was an innocent kiss expressing one great artist’s admiration of another.

But other interactions devoid of physical contact can be downright creepy. Most women have had the unpleasant experience of being visually undressed by strangers or having conversational partners talking to their chest instead of their face. Continue reading

Sex Abusing Rabbi Dovid Weinberger is back in the Five Towns

Rabbi Dovid Weinberger

Dovid Weinberger

Dovid Weinberger recently moved back into West Lawrence some two years after his abrupt departure from his position as rabbi of Congregation Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence, NY.

He quit in the wake of revelations that he was sexually exploiting women who sought his help for various kinds of counseling including marital counseling.

According to local sources some of the same rabbis who forced him to agree to quit the rabbinate, and publicly denounced him, are now divided about whether to advise their communities publicly.

In December 2013 he promised to stay totally out of the rabbinate when he signed the following statement:

To whom it may concern, I Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, formerly the Rabbi of Cong. Shaarei Tefilla of Lawrence, NY, do hereby acknowledge that I will retire from the Rabbinate effective immediately, and will never again serve in the capacity of Rov or Rabbi of any congregation or community, nor will I ever again be involved as a mechanech [teacher] in any venue of Chinuch [education]. Continue reading

Malka Leifer and the Skeptical Social Worker

Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer

I was reading the text of the court ruling* awarding more than a million dollars damages to the woman sexually assaulted by her Adass Israel School principal, Malka Leifer. This jumped out at me:

[In 2007] the plaintiff consulted Ms Chana Rabinowitz, a counsellor/social worker, concerning her symptoms. The plaintiff saw Ms Rabinowitz on five or six occasions and then ceased seeing her. The plaintiff said she stopped seeing Ms Rabinowitz because she did not appear to believe that she was sexually abused by Leifer. Eventually, the plaintiff resumed sessions with Ms Rabinowitz after she confirmed the plaintiff’s allegations with the plaintiff’s sister and a person at the School. (page 57, section 155)

It shocked me for several reasons.

It was proof that the Adass Israel School knew Malka Leifer molested her students and yet kept her on as principal until 2008 at which time they knew of a total of 8 victims.

Mrs. Chana Rabinowitz is a staff social worker at Darchei Binah Seminary (according to a blurb for Mrs. Debbie Fox’s book, Seminary Savvy, 2015). It raises the possibility that we are dealing with a therapist unwilling to believe a victim of sexual abuse without corroboration from other sources. This pattern makes it less likely victims get necessary support and contributes to the underestimation and under-reporting of sexual abuse. Continue reading

Yom Hadin: Judgment Day in Australia for Malka Leifer’s Sex Abuse

Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer

In 2008 the management of the Adass Israel School (AIS) in Melbourne, Australia learned its principal, Mrs. Malka Leifer, was sexually abusing teen girls including manually penetrating them. Fearful of the police, they convened a group including Rabbi Zvi Telsner of the Chabad Yeshivah Centre and decided to cover up the crimes and whisk Mrs. Leifer out of Australia. Within days, they paid some $ (AU) 8,000 to ship her and her family off to Israel. There she remains, fighting off Australia’s request to extradite her to face criminal charges.

While the extradition demand wound its way through the Israeli courts, a victim sued AIS. Just after Rosh Hashanah the court awarded the victim  $(AU) 1,024,428 ($US 734,310 ). This includes “exemplary damages” (aka punitive damages) of $(AU) 100,000.

Expensive judgments are the looming nightmare of institutions that cover up sex abuse, as well they should be. By rights they should have prevented or stopped abuse. When they fired an abuser they should have made sure s/he did not move on to another job. They should have protected other children by reporting an abuser to the authorities. Continue reading

New Jersey Is Our Friend- from the archives

If it's to Jersey, It's Federal!

If it’s to Jersey, It’s Federal!

(First posted 9/12/12)

I have said many insulting things about New Jersey over the years. I take them all back. When a menuval from Brooklyn takes a child to or through New Jersey to sexually abuse him or her it becomes an interstate crime and therefore a federal crime. Now the victim can approach the FBI and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will prosecute the case. All of us in the advocacy community are impressed by the Feds’ honesty and competence in investigating and prosecuting cases. Thanks to the Feds, Yisroel Moshe Weingarten will probably be taken away from jail by the chevrah kadishah (burial society).

The feds also came to the rescue after a lenient sentence for former Ohel Children’s Home employee Andrew Goodman. According to the New York Post

A Brooklyn child molester who was recently given a two-year prison sentence by a judge in a shocking sweetheart deal was smacked today with federal charges that could lock him up for life.

Unrepentant perv Andrew Goodman — who creepily told his trembling teen-age victim “I love you” at his July 12 sentencing before state Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy — was charged by the feds with having sex with the same boy in a New Jersey hotel room in 2010, then taking him to a Kid Rock concert in Atlantic City. Continue reading

Thinking About Chanah Before Rosh Hashana

Let me take this opportunity to ask forgiveness from any reader that I may have harmed through omission or commission. Please be in touch privately if that is the case. See the upper right of this page for ways to reach me privately.

Rosh Hashanah Scrimshaw Alaska

This post below first appeared on Frum Follies in 2012

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. Continue reading

Good Riddance, YU President Richard Joel; Why wait to 2018?

YU Pres. Richard Joel & Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

Richard Joel (L)

Richard Joel, Yeshiva University (YU) president for the last 13 years, just announced his resignation in an email to the entire YU community (full text below). The email does not specify the effective date but states that he is asking the board to form a search committee for a successor. It would be nice if he had specified an effective date.

His announcement was timed to coincide with YU’s losing control of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (due in part to mismanagement and to Joel’s managing to lose $1.3 billion). Fixing YU will depend on getting rid of the board that enabled Joel and was in some cases profiting from the problematic investments. Continue reading