Residents of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway upset with Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, one of the roshei yeshiva of Torah Vodaath, forced the last-minute “postponement” of a planned “Five Town Shabbos with the Roshei Yeshiva.” Some synagogues cancelled planned appearances. Others conveyed reluctance of many of their members to contribute, including those who had given generously in the past.
Belsky angered residents by backing Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, formerly of Shaaray Tefila, after all the local rabbis issued a public announcement declaring he had behaved improperly and warning residents against using him in any rabbinical, educational or counseling role. While the public statement did not specify the misconduct it was widely known to have involved sexual improprieties with females.
Belsky wrote a letter claiming that Weinberger had been denied a fair chance to make his case. In fact the local decision was undertaken after much deliberation, consideration of his defense, and consultation with Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon of BMG in Lakewood and Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky, a member of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America.
This cancellation is a major financial hit for Torah Vodaath that has been struggling financially for a long time. The Five Towns is a major concentration of orthodox Jewish wealth. One email circulated widely estimated the likely take for the weekend at $200,000.
It is not clear if they will be able to recover this lost revenue unless Torah Vodaath removes Belsky or he issues a very profuse apology. In the past, Belsky has not backed down from controversial actions and postions. He has provoked controvrsy in the past for his defense of convicted molesters, Yehuda and Yosef Kolko, his involvement in coercing Jewish divorces through kidnapping and torture, his financial conflicts of interest in rulings about kashrus, and other actions and decisions. Belsky remains a senior posek at the OU in spite of these controversies.
Below is the text of the last-minute Friday “postponement” notice:
Yeshiva Torah Vodaath Five Town Shabbos with the Roshei Yeshiva
Unfortunately circumstances dictate that we postpone the Torah Vodaath Lawrence – Far Rockaway Shabbos with the Roshei Hayeshiva, originally scheduled for this Shabbos, Parshas Tazria-HaChodesh.
Hopefully, b’ezras Hashem, the event will be rescheduled in the near future.
Best wishes for a Good Shabbos and hatzlacha,
Rabbi Yitzchok Gottdiener
718-941-8000 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeshiva & Mesivta Torah Vodaath
HAT TIP to “Malaach Hamoovies”