An Open Note to Rabbi Kenneth Brander about Richard Andron

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Tonight, on the eve of the 9th of Av many people will be mixing the ashes of mourning for the destruction of the Temple with their searing memories of innocence allegedly lost to Richard (Rick or Ricky) Andron at YU, NCSY,  and perhaps, even the Boca Raton Synagogue where you are rabbi emeritus.

Rabbi Brander, how in G-d’s name, knowing his history as an abuser, could you give him access to youth by letting him regularly organize and work with children to lead the singing of Anim Zmiros and Havdalah? When individuals challenged you about this you would acknowledge his prior history but insist he was now cured. Did you also assign an alcoholic in remission to be the bartender at celebrations?

Rabbi Brander, you are now YU’s Vice President for University and Community Life and the Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. We Jews have long memories. Why else would Jews be on the floor tonight mourning the destruction of the Temple over two thousand years ago? Do you envision a future for Judaism that ignores the recent catastrophic destruction of the innocence of thousands of children.

Rabbi Brander, I urge you to ignore the lawyers and answer to a higher authority. Please acknowledge your mistakes, give an honest accounting of what transpired, apologize for any needless hurt you caused to victims of Richard Andron, accept responsibility for repairing what you can, and promote a future of zero tolerance for abuse.

Please don’t wait until after the last moment when the exposes have piled up and the lawyers tell you an apology will help ease the financial burden of a settlement. Do these things now for the right reasons. Do it for an honest accounting of the Jewish past and for a genuine opening to a better future for our children. If none of these reasons appeal to you, do it to salvage your reputation. But do it.

UPDATE 7-18-13: The Forward reports that members of the Boca Raton Synagogue are asking for explanations for Andron’s role as a youth leader. The Forward also confirms what I wrote about Rabbi Brander knowing about Andron’s history.

Update 10-3-13: Brander is casting about for ways to refurbish his reputation on abuse through PR put out by his proxy/protege, Rabbi Effrem (Effie) Goldberg in BRS and by allying himself with new intiatives on abuse being considered by the Wiesenthal Center.

See also: Why Am I Suddenly Getting More Blog Hits on Kenneth Brander and Richard Andron

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46 thoughts on “An Open Note to Rabbi Kenneth Brander about Richard Andron

  1. From my dealings with him I can tell you Brander does very little for the right reason. He himself is abusive. Many times I have seen him (when he was here at Boca Raton Synagogue) angry and bullying. Intimidation and hints of alienation were sure fire tactics of his. It was “my way or the highway”.
    As many have noted the past few days, YU has some great minds but when applied to life they rarely practice what they preach. I hope more is paid attention to this issue. If just one of those children step forward he could be looking at some serious jail time not to mention taking his house and cars.There would be no statute of limitations to hide behind.

    • Brander is a fat shlub. It’s time to clean out BRS and start over again. Goldberg is no different. I’ve seen Brander sitting in a group setting, too, and he is nothing less than bully with a big mouth. Unfortunately, Jews are like sheep. Congregants are apathetic and will not abandon this man until he’s bankrupted YU and BRS because of this negligence with pedophiles on campus. By then, it will be too late.

  2. This is a superb, spot-on letter. Yasher koach.

    I recommend sending Brander a copy of it directly as well (if you haven’t already).

  3. This article is disgusting. Instead of shaming the actual molesters into admitting their crimes and comforting the victims for our inability to stand by them 30 years ago we are pointing our fingers at those who currently hold power and who have taken great measures in todays times to have a no tolerance policy.

    The entire orthodox community should be apologizing to the victims of the past and present for failing to act on their behalf. We have bred a culture where we continue to sweep our problems under the rug and turn a blind eye to these horrendous crimes. What happens? We are forced to deal with issues that should have been dealt with thirty years ago instead of learning from our mistakes. The victims have had to sit in silence. We need to change our ways as a people not point fingers. Where is your urge to petition no tolerance policies in day schools, yeshivas, synagogues?

    Shame. I urge you to stop blaming others and change the problems at hand.

    • Laura,

      I am addressing the problem at hand. You call for a zero tolerance policy. Even the Catholic Church’s official zero tolerance policy calls for excluding any individual found guilty of child abuse from ever working for them, let alone working with kids. Rabbi Brander knew that Richard Andron was guilty of abusing a number of children and yet let him work with youth. That is not “Zero Tolerance.” We are not talking about 30 years ago either. This was already after the OU commission report on Lanner which documented that Lanner had previously made promises to stop abusing kids.

      The biggest problem is not abusers themselves. They are impulsive or calculating. Either way, they can be contained and stopped after their first reported episodes. The problem is those who allow them to prey on kids for their entire career which can span decades or even more than a half a century. Yes Andron owes ammends, big time. But Brander also owes apologies for his bad (perhaps politically motivated) judgment.

    • @Laura:

      You directly contradict yourself within the space of your short comment.

      First you condemn Yerachmiel’s post for “pointing… fingers at those who currently hold power and who have taken great measures in todays times to have a no tolerance policy”.

      But then, you bemoan the fact that “we have bred a culture where we continue to sweep our problems under the rug and turn a blind eye to these horrendous crimes”.

      Which one is it, then? Have our rabbis “taken great measures… to have a no tolerance policy”? Or do they “continue to sweep our problems under the rug and turn a blind eye to these horrendous crimes”? Your two assertions are in diametric opposition to each other.

      As regards Rabbi Kenneth Brander, he was clearly aware of Ricky Andron’s history of molesting kids at MTA and NCSY. In spite of this, he not only welcomed Andron into his shul, but also assigned him to youth activities that directly exposed him to children. And he allowed Andron to continue running these activities until only last week, after Andron’s history of abuse was revealed to the entire world in the media.

      Kenneth Brander willingly exposed the children of his congregants to a known child molestor. In spite of this, you inexplicably describe Brander as someone who has “taken great measures… to have a no tolerance policy”. What, may I ask, is your basis for describing him this way? If you believe that exposing children to a child molestor is consistent with a”no tolerance policy”, then I shudder to imagine what you would consider a more tolerant policy to allow.

      You write, “Shame. I urge you to stop blaming others and change the problems at hand.”

      So let me get this straight: You believe it is “disgusting” and “shameful” to find fault with a prominent community rabbi who entrusts his congregants’ children to a molestor, and you instead expect “the problems at hand “to be solved by the owner of this little blog — and that he should somehow accomplish this without even criticizing abuse-sponsoring rabbis like Brander.

      To say that you make no sense would be a gross understatement.

    • Laura, why do you only want to shame the molesters? What about the enablers? If the molesters are 100% guilty, then the rabbis that knew what was happening and did not stop them are 200% guilty. Who is the rabbi that now invites Andron into his shul to possibly offend again, and threatens his members with excommunication if they protest??? Who is this raving maniac? He should be BANNED in shame from this community forever, and never allowed to show his face again!!

      You want to change the problems at hand? Then you need to change the rabbis at hand, each and every one of them. Let the families sue them into personal bankruptcy for what they have done to these children.

    • Laura, the Rabbis that covered up these crimes are just as guilty. Rabbi Brander knew about it and knew Andron was part of the Boca Raton congregation yet did nothing. Now many members of our congregation at BRS are also very upset demanding answers from our current Rabbi Goldberg and Rabbi Moscovitz as to why they did not warn the community and why did they allow Andron to get so involved without ever saying anything about these terrible crimes. Currently they refuse to give any answers. Our orthodox community leadership is more busy worrying about they reputations and covering up crimes committed by Rabbis than to do the right thing and protect the community from such criminal acts. They often quote the las of lashon Hara or how saying something will destroy the community in order to keep things cover up. Terrible!

  4. Yerachmiel, I have a bigger bombshell to tell you…but have been waiting for the right time. I don’t think it will ever be the right time. I notified R. Goldberg 3 months ago that I just became aware that a prominent Doctor living on Montoya Circle….had sexually molested 2 of my sons. Due to statute of limitations…the police could do little or nothing…..I have hired a lawyer, and G-d sent me an incredible lawyer who has accepted my case. He is a gentile who does nothing but child molestation cases. To my knowledge…r. Goldberg has done NOTHING to help protect the children from this active molester. The dr. attempted another molestation on one of my sons 4 months ago. I told the Rabbi about this too.
    I’m thinking…if this is what organized religion does, if this is what modern orthodoxy is….then remove me from that book

    • Yerachmiel, I have a bigger bombshell to tell you…but have been waiting for the right time. I don’t think it will ever be the right time. I notified R. Goldberg 3 months ago that I just became aware that a prominent Doctor living on Montoya Circle….had sexually molested 2 of my sons. Due to statute of limitations…the police could do little or nothing…..I have hired a lawyer, and G-d sent me an incredible lawyer who has accepted my case. He is a gentile who does nothing but child molestation cases. To my knowledge…r. Goldberg has done NOTHING to help protect the children from this active molester. The dr. attempted another molestation on one of my sons 4 months ago. I told the Rabbi about this too.
      I’m thinking…if this is what organized religion does, if this is what modern orthodoxy is….then remove me from that book

      • I must say, I always found R. Brander to be an incredible Rav and appropriate and caring in all of my personal interactions with him and our family

        • @nice j girl: You say that Brander is “an incredible Rav and appropriate and caring”. But in a previous comment, you wrote that Andron “was a known molester from New York…and Brander had him go through therapy”.

          I don’t think that a rabbi who welcomes a known child molester into his shul and even allows him to run activities with children can be described as “an incredible Rav and appropriate and caring”.

          Not by a long shot.

          • R. Brander did not welcome Andron into his shul. Andron was there already ! I think Andron should be completing his jail sentence for the molestations. However, I don;t know of any that took place in Boca Raton. Rick had access to my own children and never made a move. I understand ur point…I am however saying that R. Brander was an incredible Rabbi to me and my husband and children.
            And yes, the doctor is a member of brs. I cannot post his name to due to litigation currently taking place. Yes, I have warned people in the community

          • Moshe, my husband thinks your position is the correct one. I only say to him…and you….if our family needed R. Brander 100 times in all the years, he came through for us 100 times.

      • U all hide behind a fake name making allegations about rabbi goldberg. I dare u to come out publicly and slander him for your stupidly and he should be accountable. Plenty of lawyers including myself waiting to take all of u down. Until then – u are a rabbi hater , and an ignorant individual.

        • to nicej boy….. my sons are rabbis…i am no rabbi hater…rather a rabbi lover . The case of my children being molested by a BRS member is in litigation. I am not after the Rabbi…..I am after the molester .

        • “U all hide behind a fake name… I dare u to come out publicly…”

          …says some guy hiding behind the name “Nice j boy”.

          Pot, meet kettle.

          “Plenty of lawyers including myself waiting to take all of u down.”

          Oh, no. I’m sure everyone’s shaking in their pants now, terrified of what some anonymous “lawyer” who doesn’t know how to spell is going to do to them.

    • Is this doctor a member of Goldberg’s shul? What is his name? Have you warned other people in the community about him?

      • Do you know adults today that were molested as children by pedophiles? I know several. These poor souls suffer every day of their lives. They are emotional wrecks. They have nightmares, emotional and mental scars, obsessive compulsive disorders, versions of ADD, weight problems, drinking problems, drug problems, self-esteem problems, and most of all, relationship problems. Why? Because they were sexually assaulted or sodomized by someone they knew or was protected by someone they trusted–family, clergy, neighbor. Rabbi Brander! Rabbi Rabovsky! Rabbi Goldberg! OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE THE DAMAGE YOUR SILENCE IS DOING TO THESE CHILDREN YOU PRETEND TO LOVE!!

        Cowards.

    • Jgirl, why don’t you post the name of this Dr on the poles in our community so we are warned. We have children living with us, we are not alone! PLEASE let us know who this molester is so we can contact the local police, have him arrested and ban him from the community. It’s not enough to keep this information private. If he touched your children, you must give us all a fair warning!

      • I called the police, i notified rabbi goldberg, and the highschool was notified, leaders in the community were notified by me…now it is in litigation…….he will be stopped today I believe…due to the notification he received today. He knows his sick days caught up to him. I can assure u that everything was done by me to stop this..and still being done…u have weak leaders ! DON”T Leave ur kids alone with any man, doctor, dentist, lawyer, tutor, rabbi….I trust no one. NO ONE. Don’t let ur children sleep in any house other than ur own or grandparents. Respect all, Trust NONE

    • Rabbi Golberg is too busy covering up for big donors and rabbis, if he did nothing he should be fire and brought up to face justice as an accomplice. Terrible news to here! Please publish the name of the Dr. so that the same thing don’t happen to other children in the community.

  5. I will further state and repeat myself that I believe the victims of Rick Andron, and think Rick should be completing his 30 year to life jail sentence. I however, am not convinced and am even doubtful that Rick touched any boy in his Boca days. Rabbi Brander was a very young man when he took over BRS…he inherited Rick Andron. R. Brander sent Rick for counseling…and any positions Rick had with youth were public, at the pulpit…singing songs…..never ever private. If G-d forbid…one child comes out with a molestation charge of Andron while in boca….I think the Rabbis should go to jail with Andron….all the Rabbis…….now for the current perpetrator…..ur R. Goldberg has known about the current boy molester since May 2nd…..when I told him…..If any boy was touched during this time since notification……I think Goldberg should be as culpable as the molester. Let me make one thing clear….Rabbi Goldberg is ur Rabbi…not mine…..anymore.

    • One final note on Rabbi Brander….he was a 30 yr old Rabbi…comes to BRS, inherits Rick Andron , sends him for counseling, only allows Rick to be with youth publicly, and apparently Rick Andron is rehabilitated,judging by the fact that NO children have come forward with accusations from Boca Raton….NOT ONE. There are different approaches, I think R. Brander’s had a reasonable approach. R. Brander did not cause Androns’ pathology. R. Brander went to professionals for help….apparently the approach worked. The law states ” No victim, no crime”.
      R. Brander cannot be blamed that not one of Andron’previous victims filed a police report. And to date…no more andron victims in 30 years.
      This does not change the fact that Andron should have rotted in jail for what he did in New York…I think child molesters should receive the death penalty

      • Your neighbors and best friends in shul are not with you. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to endanger their parnassah. They don’t want to ask difficult questions. That’s why you don’t see the outrage, the anger, like when they arrested the coach at Penn State. The Inner Circle of BRS needs to pull together and protect the rabbi and his cohorts. When rabbi has his first meeting back tomorrow morning, the strategy will be damage control. It’s not important that children were molested, it’s more important to get the propaganda machine chugging. “Deflect criticism, the story will die down”, this is what they’re telling each other.

        Don’t let BRS do what was done to these kids at YU. G-d is watching.

      • No one will come forward in a Community that will shun you if you say anything! They just move away. Child abusers they must be always watch as they can relapse at any moment.

  6. After last nights television report on the local news, the Forward article this latest allegation and lawsuit, I think it’s time for an independent investigation into Brander, Goldberg and the rest of their cronies. I have my own bombshell, I have it on good authority (one of the lead investigators ) that the financial relationship between BRS, Goldberg and several of the big money men is being looked at for money laundering and fraud. While I can’t name names, I will tell you that the usual suspects are involved and that there is one husband and wife team in business together that is front and center. The Andron cover-up is only the tip of the iceberg, Brander created this culture of secrecy, arrogance and deceit. The only way to make BRS respectable again is to clean house, completely and I mean from Goldberg on down to the office staff. I give kudos to Jeff, he started this with his post on the original Andron article… took a lot of heat….but has been correct all along. I suggest the BRS board print his post and follow his suggestions step by step. Modern Orthodoxy is really Money Orthodoxy and it’s time for BRS to become a real shul. You can’t be all things to all people and as much as I respect diversity, it is a dangerous path to take when it comes to a shul.

    • Agreed!!! I have seeing how BRS is just a big club for high rollers, if you have money Rabbis become your friends if they think you don’t they ignored you. Too bad but they should all be fire, and a new leadership should be brought in ASAP.

  7. Simple questions for rabbis Brander and Goldberg: When did you know about the incidents of alleged molestation by Andron? I need the date/year, please. Your congregation needs to know. Stop hiding behind your mother’s skirt. Be a man for once in your sorry life. Admit what you did was wrong, step down immediately and go find another job, but not another shul. Don’t worry about that $300,000+ pay/benefit package, I have faith you, you’ll find a good job somewhere paying the same. Surely, one of your cronies from YU will offer you a cushy Wall Street job. But you are not cut out to be a rabbi, as we now see. Your moral compass is broken, you have destroyed the trust placed in you by over 600 families and their little ones. You do know about little ones, right?

    The Emperor XXXXX, I mean The Rabbi Has No Clothes.

  8. It’s funny when Jeff first called on Goldberg to resign everyone called him crazy and I even commented that it was more of a Brander problem, but how right he was. After knowing what I and others know now, he was definitely complicit in allowing Andron free access to kids AND now he is protecting another molester. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, the fraud that is taking place in the shul involving millions of dollars is the next bombshell to drop…I can’t wait to see Mr. & Mrs. B, DK and the rest of them hauled away in handcuffs. And don’t give me this…I should feel sorry for someone because he’s disabled. Last I checked what he has doesn’t effect your moral judgement. Physical ailments aren’t an excuse for fraud. No matter what anyone says, fraud is not a victimless crime. At the end of the day, we all pay for the wrong doings of others. How sad that we are even having this conversation.

    • Irv, Jeff, all Posters here. What is being done to advance the process of house-cleaning, getting the authorities involved,and moving this story to a resolution so we can get back to davening and doing what we’re supposed to do in shul? Please advise. It would be the ultimate disappointment if this goes nowhere and BRS goes back to ‘business as usual’; molesters, fraudsters, scammers.

      • I want to go back to My shul BRS but I’m not sure i can until all these Rabbis Re fire, please help us clean house and lets start again, with knew leadership and renew our prayers I hope we can get all these accomplish before the high holy days!

  9. Folks, not all of us are Boca insiders. Please provide links to these posts by Jeff so that we can familiarize ourselves with the facts and follow the thread clearly. Thank you.

  10. There is so much more to my story…..what I know first hand will send chills down ur spine……like I say….my case has been handed over to a very competent lawyer who only does child molestation cases………the results will speak for themselves…G-d be willing….and G-d, please watch over all of the children….i don’t care about ur (leaders) house of cards that may come tumbling down….I care about my sons…and your sons…and daughters

  11. Breaking News: Penn State Officials to Stand Trial in Coverup http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/9522435/penn-state-nittany-lions-former-officials-stand-trial-jerry-sandusky-sex-abuse-trial

    Will the victims of Andron get the same justice? Will each and every rabbi that participated in the cover up be put on trial? Hopefully so.

    Why do ‘modern orthodox’ (that’s a joke) want two sets of laws, one for the gentiles and one for us? Why aren’t the leaders in the community, the ‘rabbis’, being held to the same letter of the law that the officials who covered up for Sandusky being held to? Shameful cowardly rabbis.

  12. So the long awaited (yawn) YU Investigative Report has been published. Guess what? There’s nothing new: http://www.yuinvestigationreport.com/report.pdf Did you think it would be any different? Here we are in the holy month, and rabbis Brander and Goldberg have all but swept under the rug this entire debacle. Oh, right, Goldberg wrote his little thesis in Friday’s newsletter, but it’s all BS, nothing more. In the newsletter he ‘admires and applauds’ one YU crony after the other and comes to OU and YU ‘with love’. It’s all bullshit of the lowest kind. We know who you are, rabbi Goldberg. We know that you knew about Richard Andron and still gave him the honor of honors of reciting Havdalah each motzei Shabbat. Be a man and own up to your shortcomings. You need to step down because you have lost all credibility. A rabbi with no credibility can no longer lead.

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