What Belsky Is Saying to the Orthodox Union

Sources inside the Orthodox Union (OU) tell me that Rabbi Yisroel Belsky still insists that Yosef Kolko is innocent. He even concedes that the additional victims who came forward to the prosecutor may have been telling the truth. However, he claims that Yosef Kolko was below the age of bar mitzvah when he groomed and sexually assaulted the other two victims. Hence, Rabbi Belsky insists, their stories are irrelevant to whether he is guilty of molesting children as an adult. Naturally, the seer, Rabbi Belsky, knows that Yosef Kolko should be believed when he privately denies molesting the Lakewood boy even though he pled guilty to all seven charges in open court.

For argument’s sake, I am going to concede Belsky’s factual claims about the other two victims so I can focus on his clumsy reasoning.

The alleged pattern suggests that Yosef Kolko was himself molested when he was a boy. Kids below puberty almost never act out sexually unless someone models this behavior for them, usually by molesting them. The most likely candidate is his Uncle Yehuda (Joel) Kolko. Yosef Kolko grew up just blocks away from his uncle.

If this is true, Yosef Kolko is a tragic figure who may never have become a molester but for his abuse at the hands of his uncle. His abuse might never have happened but for Belsky’s own indifference to Yiddi’s alleged misconduct in Camp Agudah in the late 60s, almost a decade before Yosef was born.

In the late 60s, Belsky was the Rav of Camp Agudah. A counselor came into a bunk where Yehuda Kolko was on a bed with two younger campers. Kolko quickly got up and left. The boys were upset and told the counselor that Kolko put his hands inside their pants. The counselor raised the matter with Rabbi Belsky. Belsky, the tzadik (saint) wouldn’t listen to such terrible allegations unless the boys came to him on their own to complain. The counselor correctly concluded that Belsky was determined to avoid the issue and never pressed it further. I say correctly, because Belsky has a long record of protecting Kolko no matter what the proof. Had the boys gone to Belsky he probably would have dressed them down and re-traumatized them. (This account comes to me from a reliable source who is basing it on the statements of the counselor who is now a respected mechanech (educator)).

Throughout this long, sad, multi-generational saga of the Kolkos, three things stand out about Belsky. He always believes Kolko denials, he makes it his business to refuse to talk to accusers, and he  trashes those accusing the Kolkos as liars or worse.

The official OU line is that Belsky is not their spokesman just their senior posek (Jewish law authority) for OU food certification. Is the OU really claiming that you can be a posek if you opine recklessly and make it your business not to know the facts and not to listen to both sides? Belsky, who refused to listen to negative reports about the Kolkos, uncritically accepted Yosef Kolko’s slanderous allegations about the victim’s family and broadcast them in a public letter. Belsky behaves like a posek guilty of negius; he demonstrates a consistent pattern of having an interest in a case and nevertheless opining as if he is objective. Has the OU fallen so low that honesty, integrity, objectivity and decency are not important traits for their poskim?

The unofficial OU argument for retaining Belsky is that he is indispensable for their business. He makes their modern orthodox hashgachah acceptable to ultra orthodox consumers. What would the OU do if Rabbi Belsky unexpectedly died? Of course they would find a replacement.

The OU is also afraid of Belsky. If he is forced out, he ‘will not go gently into that good night.’ He will take his revenge by telling his followers that he quit because the OU’s kosher standards were declining. You can count on these allegations spreading faster than this week’s measles outbreak in Boro Park and Williamsburg.

The OU can mitigate the damage and immunize itself by publicly announcing it is firing him because his position on sex abuse is inconsistent with the position of their halachic arm, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA). People will buy this argument in the context of the recent Kolko guilty plea. They will give the OU credit for biting the bullet to uphold their standards. However, if the OU dithers and waits a year, no one will believe the argument. They will correctly ask, “If this is the reason, why did you wait so long?”

I do not envy the OU leadership. On the one hand they depend on a dubious posek who nevertheless helps them market their hashgachah in the ultra orthodox world. On the other hand they are part of the modern orthodox world which claims the RCA as its “rabbinical arm.” Their modern orthodox constituents value the RCA policy of bringing abuse allegations directly to the civil authorities.

The OU is trying to straddle this divide by claiming that Belsky is only their kosher posek, not their spokesperson on other issues. But their kosher business and logo has come to define them in the eyes of the public. The OU’s PR line that Belsky is not their spokesman will not wash. The OU will either have to embrace Belsky with all  his flaws or sever their ties.

10 thoughts on “What Belsky Is Saying to the Orthodox Union

  1. This is the tip of the iceberg. Belsky is an unscrupulous thug who has been terrorizing victims for years. Which is bizarre considering many believe that both he and Yehuda Kolko were molested by the prolific Mike Tress.

    It’s time for the whole truth to be exposed.

    • Could you say more about your allegations. When you say many, even if you won’t disclose names, could you describe the age cohort, or the circles, or the neighborhood from which these allegations arise. Clearly, UOJ and Failed Messiah have implied that the “Glatt” described in Phil FIshman’s biography was Mike (Elimelech) Tress, the charismatic lay leader of Agudah till his death in the late 60s. The allegations in Fishman’s book centered on Tress’s conduct in the Williamsburg Pirchei and Agudah building on Bedford avenue during the 1950s. Belsky was a charismatic protege of Tress during that period. I have no knowledge of whether or where Tress and Yiddi Kolko might have made contact.

  2. So bizarre. So the kid got it right that he was at some point capable of sexual aggression against others, even that he has same-sex attraction – he just happened to get that right, what Kolko is – or was – into, but Kolko didn’t do it to him? A gevalidge svora! Migu! Since Belsky could have said something that made a modicum of sense, mistoma he is right. No wonder he is such a great posek.

    Ugh. Almost makes me want to filter my water.

  3. Someone asked me how the prosecutor could have spoken of dropping charges if they were that old and in any event probably not prosecutable. I have no inside knowledge of whether or not the prosecutor perhaps did have actionable charges from one of the victims. In addition the prosecutor may have spoken to other victims who were not willing to come forward as witnesses at the trial but would have been potentially available in the event that Kolko was acquitted.

  4. the fall out from this trial is enormous, most people in Lakewood are fuming mad at radicals like m. rottehburg for his involvement in this case, but are scared to open there mouth as he has even bullied malkiel kotler.
    the regular guy i.e. in yeshiva or not thinks the victims family was thrown under the bus by bullies. now that we have a real guilty plea, with more victims. almost everyone except the chassidim agree that going to authorities was correct. and from my understanding so felt most rabbonim, but as you know Lakewood is not a democracy. nor do we have benevolent dictators

  5. i have first Hand information that the tress family was very activly supported yosef kolko, attempting to disrupt the victims family even after they left lakewood. i was never able to make the connection, but BH thanks to this thread, i think a lot has been figured out.

    also can someone please be so decent as to explain the “glatt” refrence from phil fishmans biography thanks


  6. There are many victims of Belsky on the Bais Din front. The most famous is rabbi Avrohom Rubin who was left for dead with a forced get. The other famous one involves the daughter of Berish Fuchs where belsky was mevatel the kiddushin le’mafreah. Then there are the fake siruvim he always gets involved in including Ahraon Friedman of Washington DC whose wife abducted with the daughter and also Meier Kin. All these cases need to be re-opened in light of the utter corruption of belsky and his co chief posek Herschel Schachter. What about his fake psak on cows?
    What about the cover-up of Norman Lamm and Michael Broyde of YU molestors? What about Mordecbhai Willig’s cover up of Boruch Lanner

  7. I love how no one really knows anything yet because this is a “blog” you could say what you want.

    You have NO idea how the OU works. You have NO idea how a kashrus agency works. A relative of mine works for a major agency (not the OU) and has worked in kashrus for well over 30 years inspecting facility after facility. I asked how involved the poskim are. He said he has probably done at least 60 THOUSAND inspections and he could probably think of maybe 10 where one of the organization’s poskim had to get involved.

    What I am saying is that Rav Belsky shlita or Rav Shachter Shlita, both of whom have probably forgotten more halocha than any of you would EVER know, are hardly involved in “day to day ” things.

    But hey, you’re able to spew you loshon hora and r’chilus like its halocha l’moshe m’sinai for one reason ….. because you can. But that’s not to say that after 120 you aren’t going to roast in hell for it.

    • mah inyan shmita etzel har sinai? So big deal you HAVE A FRIEND! I didn’t say Belsky is out there with a magnifiying glass and light box inspecting lettuce. But Belsky and Shachter who are great lomdim do help settle policy which governs the everyday policies implemented by your FRIEND. But lomdus alone does not make one erlich. Elishah Ben Abuya was a tanah but an apikores. Spinoza may have been a greater lamdan than the rabbonim who put him in cherem. There are also great scholars who are crooks. CAPICHE! A great lamdan can matir toiveling with a sheretz. But that doesnt mean the tvilah is kosher.

      I did not say a word against Rav Hershel Shachter, a great talmid chacham. I was talking about Belsky and I accused him of ridiculous assertions which fly in the face of the facts.

      There is no issur of loshon horah when there is a toeles of protecting people. The Chofetz Chaim is very clear about that. It is not motzi shem rah if it is true. But where is your heter to accuse me of ignroance. Where is my crime? Is it that I forgot to mention your friend who is irrelevant to this whole discussion?

      You are right about one thing. I can say what I believe and I intend to use that right responsibly to try and improve things.

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