Brander Talk Moved to Undisclosed Location After Tzedek Criticized It

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s Tuesday, August 6 Melbourne, lunchtime talk on ethics was moved to an undisclosed location after it was criticized, first by Tzedek (Australia), and then on Frum Follies. At issue was YU’s failure to adequately respond to reports of child sexual abuse (CSA) by  Richard Andron, and Rabbis Finkelstein and Gordon. Moreover, after firing the two rabbis for abuse, YU went on to honor them in ways that left others unaware that they were predators, thus endangering other children. Brander was also implicated in allowing, Andron, a member of his Boca Raton congregation to work with youth in spite of his knowledge of Andron’s history of CSA.

On Monday afternoon (Melbourne time), the event’s primary sponsor, Jews of the (Melbourne) Central Business District ( JBD) sent an email announcing:

Change in Venue Notification

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the venue for the JBD event this Tuesday 6th August with Rabbi Brander on the topic ‘Ethics in Philanthropy: Should synagogues and Jewish institutions accept tainted funds?’ has changed.  We will not be advertising the new location for the event. All those who have already RSVPed (via Facebook or e-mail) will be advised directly. Anyone else wishing to come should please contact to be advised of the location for this event.

We apologize to members and friends for this disruption. It’s complicated. (emphasis added by YL)

Actully, it’s not “complicated.” The event’s organizers are intent on screening attendees to avoid embarrassing questions.

I don’t think they were worried  about demonstrations. No such plans were announced by any of us who objected to this event. Nor am I aware of any such plans by others.

Kenneth Brander is an apostle of the Joshua model of leadership, an argument for shifting to more community-wide involvement in decision making and social change. Apparently, he doesn’t apply that to himself when it is time for accountability.

BREAKING: COSA REJOINDER’S TZEDEK & PELCOVITZ ALLEGED TO WHITEWASH BRANDER- Just as I was ready to hit the publish button there were two more developments. The other sponsor of the event,  the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Australia (COSA) issued a statement, reproduced in an editorial in the GalusAustralis website.

As one who is supportive of the mission and goals of Tzeddek, it was extremely disappointing that its founder, Mr. Manny Waks saw fit to criticise COSA for bringing Rabbi Brander to Australia. As an organisation dedicated to pursuing justice and rooting out abuse, one would expect it to  uphold the highest standards of truth and integrity. Rather than allowing himself to accept uncritically spurious allegations and smears that were recently levelled at Rabbi Brander, had Mr. Waks conducted an honest inquiry into both the facts of the alleged accusations as well as Rabbi Brander’s strong track record in the area of social activism and child and family abuse cases in general, he would have discovered that not only were the allegations totally without foundation, but that Rabbi Brander has a reputation for being a pioneer and role model for how rabbi’s should conduct themselves in such cases. By his actions, Mr. Waks has sought to impugn the credibility of someone he should be lauding as an example for all Rabbis thereby damaging the cause of those seeking to eliminate both child sex abuse and the culture of covering up this crime. (Bolding was added by YL).

Meanwhile, Failed Messiah reported allegations that Brander’s supporters are relying on a report exonerating (and praising) Brander prepared by Dr. David Pelcovitz, a professor at Yeshiva University with a history of defending other errant Jewish institutions such as Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. If so, like Failed Messiah, I suspect a whitewash just as I have suspected Ohel in the past.

Stay tuned for what I expect will be Tzedek’s response. It arrived Thurs. am (US time). See here.


17 thoughts on “Brander Talk Moved to Undisclosed Location After Tzedek Criticized It

  1. Updates:

    1) Subway Icon Dr. Jonathan Zizmor Calls Accused Y.U. Abuse Rabbi ‘Best Teacher’
    Famed Acne Doc Endows Fellowship in Macy Gordon’s Name
    By Paul Berger
    Published July 30, 2013, issue of August 02, 2013

    2) Accused Y.U. Abuser in Florida Speaks to Local TV News
    Richard Andron Declines Comment on Allegations
    By Paul Berger
    Published July 25, 2013.

    Some angry Boca Raton congregants want to know whether the rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Efrem Goldberg, his predecessors or board members were aware of the allegations against Andron before they became public.

    Goldberg announced July 24 that the synagogue’s board of directors has set up a special committee to reexamine how the synagogue deals with members accused of abuse and congregant safety.

  2. Maybe if YU had to file bankruptcy, sell it’s assets and close, then this would be a warning to other Jewish Institutions about cover ups for child molesters. Why are rabbis Brander and Goldberg so eager to quote Torah every Shabbes, but not follow the law themselves? Why don’t we hear them crying out for children victims, after their lives have been ruined by known predators in the community?

    Rabbi Efrem Goldberg told us to “leave your egos at the door”. Why? What about the biggest ego in the community, Mr. Goldberg’s himself? Why does this rabbi continue to believe that he is above the law? Do Deutsch and Cantor want their names in the same article about a child molester given the weekly kavod of Havdalah? NO. Why is this rabbi hiding behind “The Board” of BRS and not forthcoming in his knowledge about the molester(s)? Why does rabbi Goldberg want to intimidate you into having to make an ‘appointment’ to discuss said sexual abuse?

    Every one of us that makes up the minyanim at BRS has the right to know. Step up to the plate and tell us, or we will pry the truth out of all those guilty with the help of law enforcement and the press. It’s your choice, rabbis.

    • You seem angry and maybe that is clouding your judgement (and intelligence), but you appear more afraid to actually call and make the time to speak to Rabbi Goldberg. Y.U. filing bankruptcy, they sit on so much money you have a better chance of seeing Moshiach before seeing them declare bankruptcy… Even with your hatred filled heart. If Rabbi Goldberg had an ego he would not make the time to meet with the so called “little” people like you. He isnt your Principal who just busted you cheating on a final… dont be so intimidated! Stop spewing and make the call to set up a meeting, maybe then you can move on in your perfect happy life – I am sorry if I am assuming everything in your life is perfect and happy, but I am basing that on your being able to focus so much on the “other” problems in the world. Otherwise you are just a coward hiding behind anonymous posts. You may reply to me, but I will not answer – because I have better things to do with my day than speak further to an ignorant person who is refusing an opportunity to get informed.

      • Rabbi Goldberg won’t meet with people he does not consider his supporters. Listen I give him credit for at least throwing Andron out unlike Rabovsky who has welcomed him in. It scares me that the synagogue with all the Torah Academy Rabbis as members and leaders is welcoming in an alleged pedophile rapist. It doesn’t make me feel comfortable how they would handle reports of a abuser involved with the school.

  3. Years ago, Pelcovitz saw abused kids, , I first heard his name when a friend took her son to him, molested on a yeshiva bus, by another boy who had been molested by a rabbi, back to those days, perhaps at least 8 years ago,. pretty close. He later took this administrative job at NSUH., His answering machine did not even leave a msg, a recommendation for another psychologist, nothing, he just left, and abandoned all of the abused, not even a recommendation for a different psychologist. Makes me sick. he was the name to whom the chabad crowd took their kids, David Pelcovitz, went over to the other side, betrayed the abused and not even for the money because Lonnie, his wife, makes a fortune, truckload at major NYC Law Firm.

  4.  I agree. Brander was a bully and Goldberg is a narcissist. Their torah education really worked wonders. I find it very hard to take Goldberg seriously, as has been stated above; he doesn’t even listen to his own speeches. He is young and still not quite ready to be his own man. Perhaps with a bit of seasoning he will start to follow Halacha correctly. One word of warning Rabbi: If just one child steps up to the plate in the next 10=15 years at BRS there will be no speeches at all. It’s not allowed much in State prisons. And as his Rav, Hershal Schecter said, “watch out for prison as some black man might just kill you.

    • I’m very worried they allow a man in a dress in the shul. Danton has spent time in jail for criminal activity and has been accused of illegally selling prescription drugs

      • Does Balbin know that Waks is out of town? Sounds like Jackie Mason’s line about the ubiquitous Jewish threat, if he vould have said vone more vord …., except to dis day no vone knows vhat dat vord is.

        Yerachmiel is too kind by the way in posting that picture of Brander that is most flattering one I have ever seen, the first one where he does not display more chins than a Chinese telephone directory.

    • Balbin pompously speaks ‘da same language’ as Stormin’ Norman Lamm. While Lamm intimidated victims inside YU, Balbin is YU’s flag bearer to hunt down child sex abuse victims Down Under.

      Someone should give Balbin a pie in the face. Or to paraphrase ‘Men at Work’, “a vegemite sandwich”.

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