Captain Louis Renault feigned indignation when he proffered that famous line in Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Abraham Rubin experienced the real thing when he was kidnapped in 1996 and a cattle prod was applied to his genitals to get him to “consent” to a religious divorce (get) which was written out in the back of the van where he was blindfolded and handcuffed. He was then dumped, bloody and half-naked, still blindfolded and handcuffed, at the entrance to a cemetery. Luckily, a passerby spotted him a few hours later and brought him to a hospital.
In an affidavit submitted under affirmation to the New York State Supreme Court in the case of Abraham Rubin Vs. Israel Belsky, et al., (Index No 38143/97) Rabbi Elya Amsel stated:
On April 16, 1996, I was personally present at [Yeshiva Torah Vodaas] 425 East 9th Street, Brooklyn, New York, at Room 206… There were numerous people there including Israel Belsky, Martin Wolmark, [and] Mendel Epstein… Epstein and Wolmark both acknowledged to me that they were present regarding the “Get” procedure of… Abraham Rubin.
I openly confronted… Belsky with a letter from the Beth Din of the Central Rabbinical Congress, dated in Hebrew to correspond with December 18, 1995, which stated [Rubin’s] readiness to participate there for arbitration..
Belsky replied in the Yiddish language and in an aggressive tone of voice saying “We will proceed with the rabbinical litigation regardless of his not being present.” Should he not show up here by the end of the litigation we will issue a decree [against him] which states Kefiya Beshotin (forcing with sticks/rods/clubs”; “Men vet em fizish geben klap (We’ll physically give him beatings”)…
Martin Wolmark speaking in Yiddish and in agreement and support of Belsky, stated,
“Azoi vet zein, un zug em in mein numen az mir vellin em geben azelcha makis achzuriyois vos keener in der velt hut nuch nisht bekumin azelcha makis (That is how it will be and tell him in my name that we will give him such murderous beating which no one in the world did ever get such beatings).”
Say what you will about this gang of thugs, they were good to their word. Rubin tried to get his assault prosecuted, but the Brooklyn DA, Charles Joe Hynes, had an understanding with the orthodox community. He let them “handle certain things internally” for much the same reason that he looked the other way when they intimidated witnesses to sexual abuse.
Rubin tried suing Rabbis Belsky, Wolmark and Epstein. But he was never able to identify the kidnappers, and thus unable to establish the link between his kidnapping and the rabbis on the rabbinical court who authorized his torture. But everyone in the community knew the players and the scenario in this and other divorces.
Epstein was the muscle man. Wolmark was the man who took in women seeking such a divorce. In effect, he was the sales representative. Belsky was very important because his imprimatur was needed to make the divorce succeed at freeing women to remarry. There is a basis in Jewish law for beating a man till he “agrees” to issue the divorce. Many rabbis completely reject the procedure in countries where it is against the civil law. Others reject it unless there is compelling evidence of extraordinary abuse by the husband. Even when the procedure is acceptable, the divorce is null unless it can be clearly established that the husband indeed “agreed” and said the full necessary formula. Unless all these conditions are met, the divorce is worthless because the woman cannot successfully remarry in the orthodox world. If a woman “remarries” with an invalid divorce, any children of the new marriage are mamzerim (offspring of adultery or incest) and according to Jewish law, they cannot marry most other Jews.
Belsky was essential for his rabbinic bona fides. He is a prestigious, extraordinarily-learned rabbi and rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. On his say-so, many will accept a divorce that was otherwise questionable. In effect, Belsky was the kosher certifier in these arrangements.
The rampant criminality of these coerced divorces was finally brought to heel by an FBI sting of another planned kidnapping. Thus far, the arrested include Wolmark and Epstein, along with a scribe and a group of thugs gathered to do the dirty work. The sting involved a man they had never seen, who in fact was never married to the female agent who came to them seeking a divorce. This arrest also revealed that these rabbis didn’t even conduct a proper investigation before ordering a compelled divorce. Among the items seized at the arrest were a feather quill, parchment, and ink.
The initial arrests involved Wolmark and Epstein together with the hired thugs and the ritual scribe. Shortly afterward, the Feds interviewed Rabbi Belsky, according to sources close to him. Since this is a conspiracy charge, it makes sense to include him in this racket, as Belsky was clearly in on the deal in other cases. The FBI also raided Wolmark’s office and hauled away many boxes. I imagine there are records of the Beit Din rulings and I imagine Belsky is on many of these documents. He was the man who could vouch for the divorce and thus make it useful for these women in getting remarried.
Belsky also plays a major role with the pre-eminent kosher certifier, OU Kosher (Orthodox Union). He is a senior posek (rabbinical authority). His association with OU gives the certification credibility with many of the ultra orthodox Haredim who otherwise would be suspicious of a certification issued by a nominally modern orthodox organization.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, the longtime CEO of OU Kosher, has chosen to disregard the torture kidnapping allegations about Belsky that were first publicly aired in Newsday over a decade ago. He also chooses to disregard allegations that Belsky protects child molesters and intimidates witnesses against them.
Rabbi Genack is quite skillful at managing the reputation of the OU. The Forward included him in their list of 50 most important Jewish personalities in 2006 because of his skill in managing the potential damage of the Rubashkin AgriProcessors scandal of labor law violations and mistreatment of animals captured on video by PETA. As the kosher certifier of their meat, the OU was on the line for shocking news stories including their inappropriate use of cattle prods. He made the right public noises and got Rubashkin to sell to another owner, something that would have had to happen in any event because the firm was bankrupt. He also did some high profile events with Temple Grandin, the reigning authority on humane kosher slaughter.
Some in the OU are wondering whether Genack can get away with continuing to support Belsky. Others are outraged and are questioning the legitimacy of the OU.
- How To Succeed in Kosher Without Really Trying
- Kolko’s Decisions Were Driven by Belsky, Belsky, and Belsky
- QOTD: Belsky Must Go
- RCA Is Wrong When It Says, “Belsky Agrees With Us”
- Rabbi Yisroel Belsky Also Covered Up for Molester Lipa Brenner
- Parody/Satire: OU Announces Hasgochah on Cattle Prods and Duct Tape