The RCA/OU Finally Responds to Kolko Conviction- Not With a Bang but a Whimper!

Statement from the Orthodox Union and RCA

Jun 6, 2013 — The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America reaffirm that any individual with firsthand knowledge or reasonable basis to suspect child abuse or endangerment, or the sale of illegal drugs, has a religious obligation to promptly share that information with secular law enforcement. Further, those deemed “mandated reporters” under secular law must obey their state’s reporting requirements.

Lives can be ruined or ended by unreported child abuse or endangerment, or drug sales, as we are too often tragically reminded. The Torah’s statement in Leviticus 19:16, “Do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed,” obligates every member of the community to do all in one’s power to prevent harm to others.

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Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, President of the RCA, and Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, received the following letter (also here) from Rabbi Israel Belsky, confirming his position reporting to civil authorities in matters of child abuse.

B”H
28 Sivan, 5753
June 6, 2013

Dear Rabbi Goldin and Dratch,

It was a pleasure to meet with you the other day.

As we discussed, we all share a concern in protecting children in our community from sexual or physical abuse. Though some have misunderstood my position, I completely agree that, given firsthand knowledge or credible evidence of child abuse or molestation, one should definitely go to the authorities. This not only a theoretical position that I hold, but alsoo one that I have personally implemented.

To cite one occasion, in Brooklyn several years ago a claim was made against a driver who transported children to a playgroup operated by his wife. There was reasonable cause for suspicion – the child would wake up crying in the middle of the night and described the abuse – and I advised the parents to report the matter to the police. As it turned out, when the police investigated they felt there was not enough actionable evidence to pursue a case. Nevertheless, I took the step of advising the parents to not enroll their children in the playgroup and it ultimately closed down.

Sincerely yours,
Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

In essence Belsky says, oh yes, I support reporting when someone is guilty. So, in theory, I agree with the RCA when I, Harav, Hagaon , Yisroel Belsky Shlita, happen to know of a case where someone is guilty lefi daati (as I see things). But

  1. I am the final arbiter
  2. I do not hold from the silly RCA standard that these things are best left to the police to investigate
  3. I completely feel Kolko is innocent so we do not let the police investigate
  4. Since I disagree with the RCA you will turn yourselves into shmattas for me and not mention the Kolko case even by name
  5. Since I disagree with you about the Kolko case I am entitled to intimidate, call the accusers molesters, mosrim and rodfim (and thus incite to harassment and even violence)
  6. Since I disagree with you about Kolko we will not mention three victims willing to testify, the five rabbis willing to testify he confessed to them (in addition to the father), the social worker ready to testify that Kolko tested as a molester, and the fact that Kolko pleaded guilty.
  7. Since you need me for your hashgachah business, you will make believe that you are unaware of the fact that I reached my conclusion on the basis of four decades of protecting Kolko molesters, of being invested in Yosef Kolko because I ordained him (~2001and having reached a conclusion in this case without talking to any of key individuals who testified or were ready to testify for the prosecution at the trial

If I were Belsky I would be proud as a peacock. He turned the RCA into shmattas who turned tail under pressure from him. Now we know the truth, the RCA has no spine when threatened by the kosher business interests of the OU. They only have spine when it comes to attacking Satmar over Weberman. If I were a Satmar Weberman defender I would have a field day going after Belsky, the RCA and the OU.

This is pathetic beyond belief! It turns out that modern orthodoxy can talk modern but not act for children. It turns out that the key to getting a pass as a molester is to do it in Lakewood instead of Williamsburg and to have the backing of Belsky instead of Satmar. So much for din echad (one rule for all)!

If you are offended by this bizarre reply, 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 Weinrebexecthw@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. Butplease 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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18 thoughts on “The RCA/OU Finally Responds to Kolko Conviction- Not With a Bang but a Whimper!

    • DYL, do you have a total count of the member of RCA/OU??? I mean just how many braindead spineless Rabbis (sic) are we talking about here. Roughly??? Could you perhaps do a post with all of their names, locations and affiliations??? Here and on FB?

  1. At the playgroup where the government didn’t have any evidence of guilt, Belsky called him guilty. Kolko, who admitted guilt, Belsky called him innocent.

    Someone please make sense of this.

    • 1. Belsky is daas torah so he can say your right hand is your left hand and the right thing is wrong.

      2. He is like someone who shall not be mentioned who was matir issurim.

      3. For this case that means Kolko is like Voldemort (He who shall not be named).

      4. It is really all about drugs (that should distract your from child abuse.

      5. At the end of the day this is an elaborate ruse to kasher Belsky who still believes that Kolko is innocent and he was right to accuse the victim’s father of being a molester and to call for people to do whatever one is allowed to do to mosrim-rodfim (which halachically even includes killing them).

      6. You can see that Belsky had the OU over a barrel. Either let him go on saying and believing this or he will go to war against their $20 million dollar a year hechsher business. Hakol holech achar hakesef, lo saamod be damned.

      • Time for one of your creative dramas, Belsky visiting Kolko in prison, Hollywood filmed. OK, emet tasbir l’kulam lama hodaata b’ashma? Maybe the ibur, the dybbuk of his uncle nichnas bo. BTW where is the uncle, what is/was his fate?

  2. This letter was asinine. First while the RCA says To report if there Is “reasonable basis” belsky says only is there is “credible evidence”. How does he expect to gather this evidence? Second I am pretty sure we are looking for an apology on the kolko situation. Instead he brings up a bizarre and clearly incomplete story from 20 yrs ago to discredit the police and brag about taking matters into his own hands?

    I can’t be the only one confused by this letter/apology

  3. Dear Mr Lopin,
    You may not realize this but your campaign has produced a huge win on behalf of abuse victims as now we have in writing a formal P’sak from the head of the OU (I.e. Rabbi Belsky) that a person who has reasonable suspicion of abuse should go straight to the police and not via a Rabbi.

    I appreciate that what you really wanted was an apology from Belsky over the Kolko affair, but in reality you got more then you ever asked for.
    This puts Belsky squarely at odds with Agudath Yisroel.

    What you should now concentrate on is getting Agudath Yisroel to agree with Belsky. This will do a lot more for Klal Yisroel, than any apology to Kolko’s victim, where all in all people have come to the conclusion that there is something about the relationship between Belsky and the Kolko’s which is of no consequence to the main game. Bel sky’s view will not save Kolko from Gaol.

    In fact I am of the view that it is only because of the pressure put on the OU by this campaign which has forced Belsky to publicly concede that going to the Rabbi’s first is not an option. The fear that I had was that Belsky would have come out with an apology to the Kolko victim but still maintained that it was not acceptable to go directly to the police.

    I guess that for whatever reason, Belsky couldn’t apologize as he should have but has instead been forced into this new position.

    Kol HaKovod to you Mr Lopin – but now it is time that you moved on to the ‘real’ issue which is to publicize Belsky’s new found P’sak of going to the authorities without prior Rabbinic approval.

      • Mr Lopin,
        I have responded to you in the comments on the Daat Torah blog. In my view you have been selective in your quotes of Belsky. I say this because in Belsky’s own example of “credible evidence” he defines this term as “reasonable cause for suspicion”. I don’t see how you can misconstrue this to mean “ask a rabbi first”. To be fair to Belsky (and I know this is difficult), you need to read his statement as one, as it is on face value, intended to be. The ‘example’ is qualifying his usage of the words “credible evidence” and unless you ‘know’ something that others do not, then you have no right to claim in Belsky’s name that he requires a person to ask a Rabbi first. In fact this was never the issue. In the Kolko case a Rabbi was consulted first and that did not make any difference to the situation. You cannot for instance criticise Belsky for claiming that he ‘knows’ that Kolko is innocent and at the same time yourself say that you ‘know’ that Belsky requires a Rabbi to tick off on the police report.

        In relation to his example Belsky states that he himself has closed down someone’s childcare business based on ‘non-actionable’ evidence.

        Now let us consider what Belsky is saying. He is saying that on account of a child waking up in the middle of the night and screaming that he is being abused by the bus driver that this is ‘credible’ evidence – in fact, so credible that he is entitled to take away the bus driver’s family livelihood? Did he consider the possibility that someone else was abusing the child and the nightmares of the child that ‘it was the bus driver’ was a dream. Did Belsky ever consider the possibility that dreams can be partly true and partly fantasy. In that case the police clearly got it right.

        This example simply demonstrates Belsky’s ineptitude. One has to wonder what planet he lives on?

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