Day # 19 Since Kolko Conviction and the OU and the RCA Are Still Held Hostage By Rabbi Belsky

When Nechemya Weberman was convicted of child sexual abuse, the RCA came out with a statement the same day. The Orthodox Union followed but then backtracked and removed the statement from its website. This time around, in the aftermath of Yosef Kolko’s conviction,  they are both struck dumb. They don’t need my help in writing a statement but since none is forthcoming, I will propose language based on their previous statement limiting my changes to factual differences between the Weberman and Kolko cases. So below is proposed language to be used by the RCA and OU.

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the world’s largest organization of Orthodox rabbis is encouraged by the process that led to the mid-trial guilty plea by Yosef Kolko  an Orthodox Jew who was a teacher and camp counselor on May 13 for the sexual molestation of an adolescent boy. We commend Mr. Kolko for accepting responsibility and expressing remorse. For many years the RCA has condemned the efforts of many parts of the Jewish community to cover up or ignore allegations of abuse, viewing these efforts as against Jewish law, illegal, and irresponsible to the welfare of victims and the greater community. The RCA strongly advocates, as a matter of Jewish law, the reporting of reasonable suspicions of child abuse to the civil authorities and full cooperation with the criminal justice system. The RCA decries any invocation of Jewish law or communal interests as tools in silencing victims or witnesses from reporting abuse or from receiving therapeutic and communal support and strongly condemn those members of the Jewish community who used such tactics in this case. (I have left out the rest of the statement which repeats the RCA policy on child sex abuse.)

There, that was pretty easy. I rewrote it by changing just one substantive sentence. Of course the problem is that the OU is more concerned with obliging Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, a Senior Posek for OU Kosher, who in fact violated the above policy by slandering the father of the victim, denouncing him as a moser (snitch) and calling on others to pressure him out of pursuing the case in the criminal justice system. The family’s children were forced out of school and the father of the victim, a highly respected talmid chacham, was forced out his jobs, forcing the family to move to Michigan. If that is OK with you, stop reading right here!

If not, either write the leadership of the RCA and the OU to express your views, or learn some more about the issues by reading about Rabbi Belsky’s role in the Kolko case, and my first, and more extended call, for a letter writing campaign. If you are already convinced, just continue on to the lists of addresses below.

The people to whom you should direct your letters include:

  • OU President: Mr Martin Nachimson martin.nachimson@macquarie.com
  • Chair of the Board of OU, Mr. Steven Savitsky   ssavitsky@atchealthcare.com
  • OU Executive VP, Rabbi Steven Weil weils@ou.org
  • OU Executive VP Emeritus, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, execthw@ou.org
  • CEO of OU Kosher, Rabbi Menachem Genack <genackm@ou.org>
  • Executive VP of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), OU’s rabbinical arm, Rabbi Mark Dratch mdratch@rabbis.org
  • President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), Rabbi Shmuel Goldin rgoldin@ahavathtorah.org
  • Chair of the Board of OU Kosher and President Emeritus, Mr. Harvey Blitz (I have no address for him so I would direct it through their Chief Communications Officer, Mayer Fertig fertig@ou.org. Indicate that you wish to have it forwarded to Mr. Blitz

If you favor snail mail or fax, contact:

Rabbinical Council of America, 305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor, New York, New York 10001 Phone: 212-807-9000 Fax: 212-727-8452

Orthodox Union, 11 Broadway, New York, New York 10004 Phone: 212-613-8101

When you send these emails, BCC to anyone else you know in the RCA or OU orbit that is, or ought to be, interested in protecting children from sexual abuse. But please be careful to respect email address privacy by putting these recipients into the BLIND CC (BCC) field.

To establish a record, please share copies of your letters and their replies on this site and as many other places as possible including websites, Twitter, email lists, local newspapers and bulletins and physical bulletin boards  (Comments are moderated so it may be a few hours before you see your submitted comment appear- but that is still a hell of a lot quicker and transparent than the OU/RCA response).

Warning– you will probably not get a substantive email reply. Instead you will probably be given a number to call. Apparently folks are skittish about leaving a written record. If you are satisfied by all means thank them and publicize the reply. If you feel you were given evasive replies, please follow up by explaining your dissatisfaction and sharing it with all those to whom you originally wrote. Let’s make sure there is a feedback loop!

PS- If you have any energy left you might want to write to Rabbi Belsky’s other employer, Yeshiva Torah Vodaas where he is a Rosh Yeshiva. Address mail to  Chaim Leshkowitz, President, Yeshiva Torah Vodaas – 425 E. 9th Street. Brooklyn, NY 11218-5209 (I suggest certified mail and send a copy to Rabbi Belsky at the same address.)

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4 thoughts on “Day # 19 Since Kolko Conviction and the OU and the RCA Are Still Held Hostage By Rabbi Belsky

  1. Your drafting the statement was “pretty easy” only because you left out what you well knew would be the hard part — explaining why the statement is more than two weeks late.

    Some implausible suggestions: (1) No one at OU or RCA had heard of Kolko’s guilty plea for two weeks; (2) No working computer with internet access could be found for two weeks; (3) Such statements require the approval of persons who were unavailable for two weeks for unspecified reasons (is their a heimish Appalachian Trail?); (4) It took two weeks to obtain the court reporter’s transcript of the change-of-plea and have it translated into Hebrew and back into English; (5) The statement had been posted, but was immediately deleted by an Iranian cyber-attack that oddly went unnoticed?

    Your ingenuity is greater than mine; since the obvious explanation would be out of the question, what would you propose to make people overlook the long silence, i.e., make the OU’s waffle kosher for passover?

    Nevertheless, although the OU has apparently been struck dumb, I believe the rule is (please correct me) that while a mute person cannot accuse his wife of infidelity (because testimony must be oral), he can write (or have written) a get divorcing her. So although the deniability OU shouldn’t want demands a decent interval, this indecent incident may yet eventuate in the “divorce” of Rav Belsky from the OU.

    • Interestingly, Belsky is a maven at compelling divorces from recalcitrant husbands by having them beaten up. Of course that only applies when Belsky himself determines that is the correct course of action. However, as Rabbi Belsky himself would insist, it would be a conflict of interest for him to rule in favor of a compelled divorce in his own case.

      See Newsday “A Rabbi’s Tale of Abduction and Torture” 1998.
      http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-rabbis-tale-of-abuduction-torture.html
      http://lukeford.net/Images/photos/belsky.pdf
      http://theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com/2006/09/vile-fraud-that-is-yisroel-belsky-part.html

      • The playful analogy has already gone too far, but it’s not a marriage, and OU doesn’t need a heter meah rabbonim to replace Rav Belsky as its posek against his will. And after looking at those links, and some of the links they led to, including an account of Belsky’s inept and fraudulent attempt to annul the same marriage involved in the beating, I have to ask, where’s OU’s heter for keeping the relationship? More crassly, why is it even in OU’s interest? I guess now I’m the one struck dumb.

        • The OU, to extend the metaphor, seems to feel that Belsky has a prenup and a divorce will be expensive, especially since Belsky will be his own lawyer/dayan in the scorched earth divorce proceedings that will follow. At this point it is not a marriage of principal but a marriage of convenience. Some in the OU feel Belsky has the upper hand because he has the trifecta of heimish cred, halachic acumen, and hellacious thuggery.

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