Israeli Beit Din’s Problem Isn’t Naivete, It’s Narcissism

Guest Post by “Kevin in Chicago”

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

I don’t want to discourage anyone from recounting her experiences with Elimelech Meisels, as Yerachmiel Lopin has requested in a prior post, but I question whether these anonymous accounts will have any effect on the Israeli Beit Din. Lopin believes that “The great flaw of the Israeli Beit Din … is thinking they are dealing with isolated violations arising from spontaneous lust for which Meisels has repented.”

Unfortunately, the failure to acknowledge the predatory, sociopathic personality of serial abusers is more than an error of fact. If it were, a little reading in the psychological literature of the last 30-40 years would dispatch it. It would be better called a prejudice, which might be defined as a verifiably false belief that costs too much to give up.

The prejudice has theological roots, as Dr. Nachum Klafter acknowledges in the linked article. Deeply-rooted principles, such as the presumed character-building effect of Torah study, the ability to overcome temptation, and the possibility of teshuvah lead to wishful (if not magical) thinking. Furthermore, rabbis judging rabbis are inclined to focus on the accused rabbi’s lapse of moral control, rather than on his utter insensitivity to his victim.

Corresponding prejudices go a long way toward explaining why the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) has also handled sexual abuse so badly.  Some within the RCC are recognizing that the real problem is not deviant priests so much as a culture of clerical narcissism that shields priests and silences or shames their victims. Ironically, obsession with a highly restrictive sexual morality contributes to the sexual immaturity of priests who inappropriately “act out” their sexuality with minors, as well as the shamed silence imposed on their victims, and the hierarchy’s urgency in concealing abuse.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran

Uncomfortable as it may be to consider similarities between orthodox Judaism and the Catholic Church, there is something to be learned here. Rabbinic narcissism well describes the ruling of the Israeli beit din formed at the request of Torah Umesorah and headed by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran. Accepting the translation from Hebrew to English as accurate, allow me to translate the Israeli Beit Din’s language into tachlitese (results-oriented language), slicing away the verbiage to reveal its vacuity.

“The problem … reached resolution through the removal of the party responsible from every function and connection with the seminaries.”

Translation: “We won’t look past the perpetrator and ask whether anyone turned a blind eye or ignored complaints.”

 “The beit din will shortly sit to clarify the complaints themselves and the implications at different levels to add financial and educational clarification of the controlling staff that are said to be customarily in place in such seminaries and the correction of that which needs to be corrected.”

Translation: “We have as yet no real idea of what we are dealing with, what safeguards are supposed to be in place, or what needs to be done.”

 “In light of what is said, there is no cause to refrain from sending girls to study and dorm in these seminaries. It can be confidently assumed that the distinguished staff does its work trustworthily and it will continue to educate Jewish daughters for Torah and purposefulness.”

Translation: “Although we know little, not having investigated, and have told you nothing, we nevertheless urge you to share our apparently ungrounded assumption that despite the likelihood that staff members aided, or at least ignored, Meisels’ egregious breaches of trust, the ‘distinguished staff does its work trustworthily’ and your daughters will be safe.”

 “We turn to the community of school principals and parents [to advise them] not to give credence to various pronouncement by those who are either anonymous or use fictitious names. These pronouncements are motivated by intentions that are argumentative and by agendas different from those they claim.”

Translation: “Whatever bloggers say, we won’t bother to respond, because agendas are more important than truth, we know the agendas that motivate them, and although we won’t say what they are, we know they differ from whatever agendas they claim motivate them. Our ignorance of the facts perfectly matches our omniscience concerning the intentions of those making accusations.”

In short, they are saying, “Trust us, we’re rabbis with authority.” Given that the source of the problem is that seminary girls trusted Meisels because he was a rabbi with authority, this Beit Din’s pronouncement is neither helpful nor encouraging. The Beit Din is saying not only that they don’t get it, but that they don’t intend to.


59 thoughts on “Israeli Beit Din’s Problem Isn’t Naivete, It’s Narcissism

    • This entire mess is a really good example of why so many secular Jews have no interest in Judaism and dislike Orthodox Jews. In my opinion it is 100% the fault of the frum and haredi community that so many Jews are unaffiliated and know nothing about Torah Judaism and have no interest. And why would they want to have anything to do with us when they see how horribly abuse is handled in our community, along with numerous financial crimes. If Meisels had been a professor at a secular college he would have been fired and been put in jail by now and no one would have doubted the victims and mistreated them as they have on this blog. It is so shameful! I deeply hope the leading rabbis think hard about our Torah obligation to Kiruv secular jews and what that requires of our behavior and midos as a community. Maybe instead of spending 25k to send our kids to Israel to “learn” those resources should be spent on teaching Torah to the unaffiliated secular Jews.
      Let the top 10 % learn and let the others work and support their families and Kiruv organizations and day schools so more scholarships can be given to kids from secular families. Maybe instead of seminary for girls they should volunteer at Kiruv programs and work to fund day school scholarships. Just ideas. The system is clearly broken. Too many molesters, too many financial crimes, too much focus on what type of hat your neighbor is wearing, too many kids going OTD and not nearly enough chesed and Ahavas Israel. Where would we be without these brave Chicago rabbis leading the way to clean things up?? It’s a great start and interesting that it’s being done by “out of town” rabbis. . . .

      • Chicago is a strong “out of town” community. They also have the historical advantage of being familiar with some of the most corrupt politicians and the most violent gangsters. Seminary students should be “untouchable” by their teachers, and rabbis should be untouched by the commercial and reputational interests of seminary owners.

      • Would you mind explaining what makes you think the ‘chiyuv’ of kiruv of the grandchildren of those who abandoned torah umitzvos should get priority over the education of the grandchildren of those who did remained loyal to yiddishkeit?

        If one has limited financial resources (as do we all) why shouldn’t one spend what one has one’s own children’s Jewish education? Why should I keep my son from learning torah of his father, grandfathers and greatgrandfathers in the right yeshiva for him in order to send to yeshiva the decendents of those who chose not to send their sons to yeshiva? Why on earth should my father a”h be rewarded for the sacrifices he and his parents made for shemiras shabbos by having his grandsons’ learning curtailed in order to bring the children and grandchildren of mechalai shabbos back to yiddishkeit?

        Until we find a bottomless pit of funding, keeping the grandchildren of those who suffered for shabbos and learning on the correct path should have priority over kiruv.

        kshot atzmoch.

        • RT, I will take a stab at it:
          Your definition of Jewish education apparently mirrors the standard approach: mesivta, seminary, kollel. For you, that seems to be what makes for Jewish education.
          Some of us believe that our religion has more of a chessed-oriented, outreach approach. Teaching kids ‘to learn’ (whatever that means) might actually take a back seat to the idea that many or our co-religionists could be served by warm interactions with us, who have the background that they don’t.
          That’s why.

      • Tova, I agree that only small percentage – the best and brightest – should be supported in learning, and the rest should be working to support their families. However, there are a lot more needs in Orthodox communities before spending the funds on Kiruv. As it is, Oorah pulls in millions upon millions of dollars from their brilliant, and at times less than honest fund raising campaigns. There are myriad monetary needs in the frum community before Kiruv. I understand that as a BT (which you mentioned on an earlier post) Kiruv is close to your heart. But in the traditional hierarchy of Tzedakah priorities it is nowhere close to the top.

        Seminary and yeshiva in Israel became a social “need” in order to secure girls a “good shidduch.” Nobody wants to deprive their children of something that “everyone is doing.” Before the 80’s, only a minority of girls or boys learned in Israel for a year after high school. If anything, frum life has gotten more expensive since then, and it makes no sense to spend that kind of money when families need to pay yeshiva tuition and make weddings, Pesach, etc. A 1 or 2 month Israel summer experience would more than suffice to give kids the experience, learning and “growth” that seminaries and yeshivos in Israel purport to give them. Anything longer than that and the “growth” becomes brainwashing, and the money spent is simply a luxury and cannot be defended as a necessity.

  1. This analysis correctly demonstrates that the Israeli Beis Din has no interest in investigating Meisels and interviewing victims to find out the role of others working for him in Pninim and the other seminaries. However there is a great need for the graduates of these programs, whether they were abused, or saw inappropriate behavior, or are convinced that there was no abuse to speak with both therapists and rabbinic figures who understand rabbinic abuse. Many of them are traumatized and are profoundly shaken by these reports about a major influence on their lives. In earlier cases this was at least partially done for young men attending Yeshivot after they had been in an environment where there was a teacher or rabbi who was an abuser. This will be particularly difficult in this case because the women are unlikely to be in educational settings where they can find people who are qualified to meet with them.
    Yosef Blau

    • Rabbi Blau, perhaps the Orthodox community needs an independent task force that is independently funded, which provides therapy to those who have been through situations like these in which the Orthodox community has failed them. It should service all who were affected – those who were abused, those who were witnesses and were silenced, and those whose base of identity and respect has been shaken to their core.

  2. Let me make it clear at the outset that I have no personal knowledge as to the extent or lack thereof of the guild of R; Meisels. I am not employed by any of his schools, nor are any of my family members. I have been following the story and have scene very strongly worded criticisms of Mr./Rabbi Eli Meisels, but have not seen any sort of evidence, or even hearsay, backing it up. While it does seem clear that he is a manipulative educator who was horrible in terms of keeping to the boundaries of appropriate interactions, and I have no doubt that someone like that has no business in chinuch, whether of males or females, there has yet to be even one statement of particular wrongdoing in terms of was would justify the calumny he has been subjected to in the posts and comments of this blog. The Chicago Beis Din rightfully said that nobody should attend schools with which he is affiliated, but they did not call him a molester or sex abuser. Neither did the Beis Din in Eretz Yisrael. Even in the post specifically calling for his victims to let their stories be known, there was not one account put forth of what would justify those labels. There was one second-hand report of him placing his hand on a student’s leg (which again I stress is, if true, justification for his being banished from chinuch), and I know that the purported victims are under no obligation to share their stories, but I, as an objective observer, find it suspicious that not even one account of abuse or molestation has been presented. I would suggest that absent any concrete allegations against him, the vilification should be toned down.

    • A Chicago Beis Din investigated “Unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature.” They concluded, “Students in these seminaries are at risk of harm and it does not recommend that students attend these seminaries”

      The Chicago Beis Din was trying to avoid getting into the details because of their sense of modesty, their feeling they had said enough to force the issue, and their misplaced sympathy for Meisels’ family.

      In light of your comments, and similar ones by Meisels’ defenders, I feel they erred in not being much more explicit, in fact so explicit that their announcement might have been X-rated.

      I is awful for a victim of abuse to have to testify in trials, describing all the intimate details. However, that may happen since Meisels’ acts were illegal in Israel, even with an adult student because clergy can be criminally charged for exploiting their position to obtain sex. This became the law in Israel about 4 years ago and is also the law in many other jurisdictions in the Western world.

      “Just Wondering,” if your expressions of doubt are sincere, I would urge you to contact one of the members of the Chicago Beis Din and they will tell you that their language, while vague, covers way more serious offenses of the sort you seem to demand to justify their action.

      However, you yourself have said, even what is reported is enough to disqualify him from having a role in running a seminary. Am I correct in my understanding of your position?

      • You are correct that based on what has been reported first hand about his conduct, I fully agree that he has no business in any form of chinuch whatsoever, let alone running one or several mosdos. My point is just that based on what has been reported, he does not deserve to be called a molester and/or a sexual abuser. If one reads the letter from the Beis Din carefully, they write that he was “investigated” for unwanted sexual contact, but in their recommendation, they state merely that they think girls would be in danger. As Orthodox Jews, I think that they would write this even if the worst thing he ever did was to place his hand on a girl’s leg, which is the most offensive thing he has been accused of to date. I do not plan to call the Chicago Beis Din, as I do not have a dog in this fight, so to speak; but I think that those willing to use those types of criticisms should at least have some sort of allegation on which to base it.

        • In my case I do have more to go on. Moreover, in spite of their reticence, the Chicago Beis Din made the choice to include the specific language of their allegations for a reason. They could have left out the language “Unwanted sexual contact.” They were being coy. But they have been very conservative, too conservative in my opinion.

          • Hi, I need to clarify something that keeps coming up in posts. It is a fact – yes fact – that Meisels never denied the behavior of which he is accused. The evidence collected was so clear and powerful that he could not deny it. There is curiosity abound, about what in fact did happen. However, for the tznius of the girls that were his victims, I do believe that it is important that the details remain confidential. Plus, the minds of the community members don’t need to sink to the level of processing the evil behavior of a guy like him. What matters ultimately is that highly damaging and violating behavior has in fact transpired. Unsuspecting girls who should have been able to trust Meisels were victimized rather than cared for and protected. No one further should chas vesholom be hurt by this man or by the system that covers for him. I presume that it is for this reason that the Chicago rabbonim have accepted the responsibility for protecting prospective students of these schools.

      • Rational Faith: It is comments like your’s that prevent the comment sections of blogs from being a place to have reasonable discussions. If there is something that I wrote that you feel you would like to respond to, by all means do so. I don’t know why you think that gratuitous personal insults are productive or appropriate.

      • RF, I agree with “Just wondering.” Your comment is no more helpful or productive than the often-repeated, “Aren’t you afraid you will burn in Gehinnom for such loshon hora?” Some people will never change their minds, but no one was ever converted by contempt.

  3. while I might agree with everything written about this topic, what you all don’t realize is the HUGE problem of dealing with this mess.
    Since the beis din of Chicago has no REAL authority besides giving their opinion, All the money given, will not be able to be taken back from them.That means that while they can tell people not to go ,they can not get their money back!!! only a beis din with authority has that power.Therefore the BD in Israel is thinking twice about “just shutting them down” and actually dealing with the whole issue from a real Halachic point of view not just the court of public opinion.

    • However, the seminaries are not full and will not be filled if Touro and Hebrew Theological College continue to suspend accredidation, thus blocking students from getting US government loans and grants. This is creating enormous pressure on Meisels to sell and on the Israeli Beit din to show tangible evidence of more substantial evaluation and reform of the seminaries. Chicago is not bent on being wrecker, just on forcing change, and they have enough leverage to force change if they stick to their guns.

      • Why would you think the BD in Israel is not going to make some serious changes.They said they will and I happen to have NO reason not to believe them .As you once said”they are smart intelligent people”

  4. During the Three Weeks and particularly on Tisha b’Av, our community members will be told that the causes of our Galus are problems with tzenius, loshon ha’ra, and the usual suspects.
    One wonders if the words of neviim condemning the morally scandalous behavior of our supposed leaders might ever be the subject of a shiur? Maybe we should ask ourselves if our failure to speak up because of our misguided definition of loshon ha’ra has helped enable these predators? Maybe the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation needs to update its programs to include “Lo Sa’amod al Dam Reyecha” … Isn’t that one of the mitzvos of the Torah?

    • I agree the chofetz chaim’s intent was subverted by ignoring his many permissions for reporting negatives to protect others, or just because they are already known by enough other people. Don’t expect action by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. They continue to employ Shmuel Borger, notwithstanding the evidence that he molested children. They say they don’t want to listen to loshon horah. they also employ the speaker Peysach Krohn who defends his brother-in-law, and notorious sexual abuser, Rabbi (sic) Eprhaim Bryks.

      • Interesting about some employees of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. One would be forgiven for thinking that just as predators gravitate to work with children, people with secrets may work for institutions dedicated to protecting secrets…except that protecting these secrets is unfortunately much more widespread than that, involving (essentailly) the whole community.

        • Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman of Passaic’s Ahavas Israel said:

          “The people who know the laws of lashon horah the best are the molesters. Three times in the last year I have told people that if you move into this neighborhood I will have one hundred people in front of your house on the first day protesting. . . . . . [One of the molesters] said, that is lashon horah, and he had lots of klolos and misheberachs (curses and blessings). All of a sudden the laws of loshon horah were so clear; you can’t talk about this!

    • We could start with the words of this week’s haftarah:

      כו. כְּבֹשֶׁת גַּנָּב כִּי יִמָּצֵא כֵּן הוֹבִישׁוּ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה מַלְכֵיהֶם שָׂרֵיהֶם וְכֹהֲנֵיהֶם וּנְבִיאֵיהֶם:

  5. The things Meisles has done to me:

    I was once having a passionate conversation abt his inappropriate flirting with the girls privately in his office. He said to me “u know u sound ridiculous and embarrassing right now. You should hear the way you are talking.”
    I said-” huh? I am just speaking passionately bc I am CONCERNED and worried.”
    He goes, while nonchalantly taking his phone out of his white shirt pocket-“oh really? Well I just recorded you right now on my phone. Should I play it back to you so you can hear yourself?”

    Enough said. But I won’t stop there.

    I complained to him and said, “it’s ridiculous. Please. You have to realize that girls look at you in a certain way. It’s ridiculous that girls have CRUSHES on you.”

    His reaction (literally)- he smirked and said “so how many of them have crushes on me?” I was silent and appalled. Then he said-“do girls like rabbi So-and-so too? Do more people like me than they like him?”

    I concluded the conversation by telling him: “no offense, but you’re 40 years old and you have 12 kids. You’re not exactly on the top of my list as ‘attractive’ and ‘crush’ material.”

    He would comment on things I wore and I told him it made me uncomfortable. Nothing too dramatic but still not okay. Like commenting on how ‘frum’ my sweater looked. I think he was too afraid to cross boundaries with me bc I was so on top of his case. He has called my friends pretty. I know that for sure.

    He once asked me if I had any boyfriends in high school. I said no. He then seemed to play around with me by saying “I don’t believe you. You’re telling me you grew up the way u grew up and never did anything with boys?” He was smirking. It was a passing/playful comment, but I hated hearing it.

    I also saw YouTube comments which he made under his name with his profile picture. They had not nice language and one was inappropriate.
    When I told my best friend “u see?? He IS deceiving.” She did not believe me and told Meisles that someone must’ve hacked into his account and written those comments under his name. He immediately deleted them and said “thank u. Someone prob hacked my account. I never even knew I had a YouTube account.”

    Straight out LIE. Bc when I was in seminary, he showed me of a video he was in and commented on on YouTube.
    Straight out lies. Over and over.

    I also one time went to him for advice on how to deal with a girl. I told him I’m afraid this girl might get into an abusive relationship and who knows what could happen during physical intimacy with a guy. “She can be taken advantage of and controlled” I said worriedly.

    He smirked and said matter-of-factly “people have their preferences when it comes to that. Some enjoy it that way.”

    I’m sorry. I needed to say all of this. I never told even my best friend these things (even the recording story) bc she would never have believed me.

    • Thank you TruthSeeker for sharing that story. The telling might have brought up all of your feelings of disgust and revulsion at Meisels. Hope it was cathartic and not traumatic. The arrogance is extraordinary, saying all of those things to a student who was outspoken and on to him, i.e. his perversions, proves just how untouchable he thought he was. well, he was, for way way too long. Yasher Koach

    • I am so sorry you had to go through that.

      I only wish that the vehement Meisels defenders would have heard your story before gushing on and on about how simply “AMAZING” he was. May I ask if you felt a desire to leave the seminary at that point, or if you were paralyzed by fear and stuck it out? Were there any girls that left upon hearing such awful things?

      Hopefully, you can take a teeny measure of comfort knowing that people here support you and are willing to listen.

      • Thank you so much.

        Part if the reason I post here is bc of the support I will hopefully receive. I nvr wanted to leave the school bc it was Ana amazing place. I had amazing teachers. Altho I did think about it once bc I felt that down thing was so off with him.

        I nvr opened up my mouth to my friends bc no one would believe me or support me bc everyone thought he was a tzadik. It was difficult to handle. Thank u for your support.

    • Truthseeker-
      I have great respect for you and your courage. What you write certainly makes it clear that this man has no place in chinuch. But I ask you, re-read your comment and think about whether any of those grossly inappropriate behaviors merit the labeling of sexual molestation or sexual abuse.

      • Hi- nope, none if this screamed “sex abuse” Altho I have apart of my story which I havnt told yet in detail, which might bring years to some on this blog if I choose to post it…it is truly so so difficult re-living some things..

        Either way, u was never touched by him and I nvr saw touching. There were behaviors which I highly suspected that he WAS touching girls. Again, I was so on top of his case, that he would nvr even try to abuse me. My mouth and courage were too big 🙂

        He preyed on the impressionable ones…the weak ones in sure…

      • “Truthseeker” just took a huge risk in describing her experiences. I would ask readers to please carefully note that this young woman just described that she was someone who had clearly recognized Meisels’ inappropriateness – rebuffing his advances, and standing up for others for whom she was concerned. “Truthseeker,” you are true to your name and you should be proud of yourself, as you are one strong girl! Back to what I was saying though, despite “Truthseekers'” strong stance, Meisels’ behavior was STILL unabashedly inappropriate.
        It is not uncommon for students – both boys and girls to develop a deep appreciation for their teachers. Neither the students nor the teachers need to be Jewish for that matter. It is not difficult to believe that young women may at times be enamored by their rabbeim. Knowing that he had free rein, Meisels took advantage of the girls’ vulnerability.
        Like I posted earlier, it is a fact – yes a fact – that he has NOT DENIED the Chicago Beis Din’s core accusation of “unwanted sexual contact.” We must accept that there are some bad apples among us, and do what is necessary to protect our children – in all school environments.
        I hope that we can create a safe environment to support the brave individuals whose worlds have been shaken by the recently-uncovered tragedy.

      • If you doubt whether the label of sexual molestation or sexual abuse applies to Meisels contact the beit din in Chicago and ask them. I fault them for not having said it more explicitly. But their private communications make it quite clear that the labels fit. Understand that much that is known is not said outright because of various sensitivities of either the victims or the beit din (which is in my opinion too concerned about the additional reputational harm of using those words.) Also bear in mind that voyeurs do not have the right to hear all the gory details. That is necessary for legal, judicial or therapeutic reasons, not for outsiders. I ask you and others to keep these privacy considerations in mind. Let us just say, your qualifiers about language are duly noted and move on.

  6. During my time in e”y, I saw with extreme intuition that something was devastatingly WRONG with our principal. I could not ignore it. I couldn’t sleep at night and cried myself to sleep.

    I went to Mr.Meisels and wrote him a letter basically saying, “I am watching you. Please stop what you are doing. It is hard bc you have given me everything, yet I cannot and will not ignore the fact that I think something is majorly wrong with you.” I gave the letter to him. He hardly flinched after he read it and continued to his charming self straight away with the public.

    I was so surprised by his complete lack of reaction to my letter that a few days later I decided to speak to him personally. We spent about 2 hours talking. I explained my concerns and he put me down and called me childish and immature. He made me feel like the dirt beneath his shoes for accusing him of improper behavior. This is when he recorded me and took his phone out of his pocket and said, “I just recorded you. Should I play it back for you so you can hear how ridiculous you sound?”
    I. Almost. Cried.

    But don’t worry. He pulled his manipulative trick and made sure to “compliment me” on my impressive intuition before I left. He said as I walked out of his office, “Boy, I better watch out for you! You’re a smart one” with a smirk. So I left the office and he thought I was convinced of his side.

    Little did he know that he MAJORLY messed with the wrong girl.

    I spoke to 2 diff rabbis in the school. I BEGGED them both separately, with my face in my hands, and so close near tears, that I KNEW something was wrong with Meisles and he was corrupting and damaging girls.

    “Please,” I said to them. “Please help me get him fired from his own seminary. We need to get rid of him NOW.”

    Of course I gave them examples of my concerns, but I had no proof. Both rabbis were shocked and disturbed when I told them this.

    When speaking to one, I started off with “there is someone in the school that is very dangerous.” he said kindly “okay so why don’t you just go to the head of the school? I am sure he will protect you if you feel like someone out there is dangerous.”

    I was silent.

    All of a sudden, I heard Meisles’ footsteps. I quickly signaled to the rabbi to stop talking fast, least he hear us. After we heard his footsteps go off into the distance, the rabbi (his face was horrified) said, “you can’t go to the head of your school…bc the dangerous person you are talking about IS the head of the school…”

    I shook my head yes and nearly burst in tears.

    Bottom line. Nothing was done. I was either told “I’ll speak to a big Rav for you and ask a shayla” or “he is too powerful right now. But I’ll see what I can do.”

    Empty promises. All of them.

    When spoke to one of the rabbis from the Bais Din, I CRIED to him that it was MY fault, that I hadn’t succeeded in doing my job in protecting the girls and I had to wait three and a half years for the Bais Din to “finish the job that I started” and get rid of him. I said I had a responsibly to all those girls bc I knew I was the only one who saw it. As far as I know, ppl might have complained against him, but no one EVER was serious enough, like I was, to get rid of him.

    When this rabbi of the bias din heard this he said, “I will SCREAM to you off the phone all the way to Your side of the country until you hear me. THIS. WAS. NOT. YOUR. FAULT!!!!!! He is a monster!!!”

    He continued to scream on the phone until I had the courage to hold back my tears and become more composed.

    I DO NOT believe that that monster will stay in a room his whole life. Ppl say he will be monitored with email and phone calls, but no one can be certain of that. He is not on house-arrest.

    It is not only WRONG but MESSED UP that people are still defending him. We need to protect people.

    It is a whole other thing when girls in seminary are still dreadfully loyal to their monster leader and refuse to accept the truth from Bais Din. They are still heavily MANIPULATED and were carefully ‘groomed’ by the Meisles monster to the point that they will disagree with Meisles HIMSELF after he fully confessed. NO ONE should outwardly say he is innocent. NO ONE. That is DANGEROUS.

    I completely understand the point on l”h and ppl should take it seriously. BUT. People are NOT going about it the right way. No excuse for covering up abuse and supporting a sex offender who used mass manipulation to create a cult of girls to support him to the grave.

    HKB”H should send the Geulah and Moshiach b’mheira.

    We need to stand together to get through this nightmare.

  7. There was a very interesting essay by Rabbi Yair Hoffman which was posted on For reasons unknown, it was taken off the website. However, a cached copy was located and can be found at the following links:


    • Not still. It was up yesterday morning then went down for most of the rest of the day and came back this morning. Tis mysterious. Suggests a back and forth between competing forces.

  8. I just want to say one thing..although I hope this is all lies, but in the back of my mind I expected something like this to come out. I was in pninim years ago, and while i did get along and attempt to have a kesher with rabbi meisels, it just didnt feel right…i did see alot of flirting though, but i say it takes two to tango…nothing happens if only one party flirts, but if both parties are flirting, chances are it will lead to many more things…so while it might be rabbi meisels that is suspected in this, maybe some of the girls that flirted back are to blame for this also…I am not trying to point fingers…I hope this will blow over soon…

    • Actually, you are trying to point fingers by saying you suspect these things happened because of the flirting you witnessed and you are assigning blame equally to both sides.

      So let me get this, if a house mother and a student went out together for cheeseburgers, would you say, I hope it blows over soon. Would you not feel that the parents who were paying for religious education along orthodox lines were being ripped off.

      Moreover, the authority figure bears a lot more responsibility. That is why most secular universities will fire a professor in a romantic relationship with a student (even though they do not care about or uphold any particular standards of sexual chastity). It is abuse of power, because it is hard for someone in the subordinate position to effectively hold her own.

      If your allocation of responsibility is accepted in the Yeshivish world parents would be better off sending their students to Harvard. At least the professor would be fired.

      • I agree with you and would like to add something. In many professional relationships, i.e. physician/patient, counselor/client, teacher/student, there exists an inherent power differential. If there is a sexual encounter between the two individuals that are in these types of relationships, the person with the higher position of power is considered to be taking advantage of the lower-power individual. This is true even if the encounter was “consensual,” and no matter what flirting may or may not have occurred beforehand. If there is enough evidence that the encounter transpired, the professional will lose his/her professional license to practice and be sentenced to time in jail. It is both unethical and illegal for the professional, who by nature has the upper hand, to take advantage of the “weaker” individual – termed abuse of power. I am not familiar with the laws in Israel, but in America, someone who abuses their power with students in this way could be suffering with even more than a sullied reputation and a loss of parnassah.

    • Yes, you are indeed pointing fingers. I’ve heard comments from A NUMBER of girl saying “I feel so bad for him (Meisles). I mean, it’s the girls’ fault also. They are old enough to say no. They aren’t kids.”

      These comments make me sick to my stomach for a number of reasons.

      I am no psychologist, but just in case no one could use their common sense, I’ll spell it straight out for you:

      Sexual offenders prey on the weak/ the ones who no one will believe or support (the “messed up” ones).

      This is sex predator 101 ABC.

      • TruthSeeker @7:18,
        “bool” you are so on target. exactly, amazing how so many people cannot comprehend this, even, theoretically non-paid posters, ethical people with, in general, good intentions.
        . Abuse of power is abuse of power. And I would hazard a guess, that the Meisels minuval, went of out of his way, if he had any chashash re a particular victim, to point out to her, that, both no one would ever believe her, and anyway she is a consenting adult, therefore complicit in the sexual act, whatever it might have entailed. Your comments have been so accurate, so on target. Kol Hakavod for your insightful posts. Sorry you had to have this highly highly disturbing experience. Even as a non-victim, you suffered the pain of the victims, and felt helpless to enact any change. Such is the effect of a powerful corrupt minuval, YS.

    • I just spoke to a friend if mine. She has an adorable baby girl who a year old.

      I told her one thing: “Chani (not her real name), I just want it leave you with this…imagine if it was YOUR daughter who the 40-something year old Meisles messed around with? How would you react? How would your HUSBAND react?”

      That’s all it took for her to say: “omg I’d kill him!”

      Picture the parents of these girls who placed their daughters into the hands of a “rabbi” to look after them for a year away from home…instead, they got a “rabbi” who fooled around with them.

      Just imagine it your daughter. I’ll leave it at that.

  9. For at least 2 reasons, I am very uncomfortable with comments like “Sexual offenders prey on the weak/ the ones who no one will believe or support (the “messed up” ones). This is sex predator 101 ABC”.
    1. Yeshivah Centre Melbourne is a counter example, probably 80 kids were molested by 1 predator, David Kramer, in the space of a couple of years. They included the full gamut of students in 2 classes.
    .2. As stated above “the person with the higher position of power is considered to be taking advantage of the lower-power individual”, this is inherent in the situation, implying nothing about the victim.

  10. First off-
    Thank you for all who appreciate my posts and comments. I hope to help even more with further posts for whoever is interested in reading them. And thank you for all your support/sincerity for what I went through.

    I brought up the following issue to someone recently. It is VITAL for any parents using this website/blog comments to educate them of the Meisles situation.

    True, the Israeli Bais Din has deemed it “safe” to send their children to these seminaries. But I ask of any parent reading this to take the following into consideration:

    If I were a parent, I would want to call up the main staff members of the seminaries and ASK them, “do u believe he did it?”

    If they would say, “I’m not being mekabel”, I would NEVER send my daughter there.

    And this is coming from someone who attended/loved this school and had a great experience.

    It is very serious and scary if the school would take such a stance (or even go as far as to still defend him). I encourage ALL parents: Call up the MAIN staff members of the seminary your daughter was suppose to attend and ask them THEIR stance on it. If they refuse to be mekabel/ seem to think he was simply “framed”, then, I don’t know about you, but I’d never ever send my daughter to such a place who has closed their eyes and ears to such an atrocity within their own facility.

    One last thing- I emailed the secretary from one of the schools and asked why Meisles was still listed in the staff. I received a very immature and unprofessional email back. I will not go into detail of what it said. I shared this with Yerachmiel Lopin, who was equally shocked when he read the email I had gotten.

    I will not post details of that email. Again, the Israeli Bais Din got it right when they said that the staff there is amazing.


    Think about the above.

    • Truthseeker, I enjoy your comments and perspectives very much. My guess is that you feel somewhat torn between publicizing your truth and saying too much. In other words, where does protecting others end and saying lashon harah begin? In addition, it must have been difficult to integrate the positive stuff from attending the seminary – while also recognizing that so many things were very wrong in that environment. You enlighten me on how the predicament has affected those who attended the school and were not physically abused. My guess is that you and many other former students have suffered other effects – like trusting rabbeim, teachers, our frum system. From what you have said in earlier posts, you largely kept quiet about your experiences once you returned home after seminary. It must have been torture living with the knowledge of what happened between that time and now, year later. Please do go ahead and correct me if I got the timeline or any of the details incorrect.

      • I appreciate your post. You are beyond accurate. In literally all you have said.

        I said previously, at one point it was so hard that I was ready to storm out of the school, suitcase and all. On the other hand, I would not be the person I am today without having gone to those seminaries. I knew that- so I stayed.

        It is hard to deal with the conflicting feelings. I guess the lesson is to be very factual: my seminary experience was incredible and there was tremendous growth. At the same time, there was bad going on that I tried to stop but couldn’t…

        As for trusting others, I rely heavily on my intuition for that. It came in handy when dealing with Meisles ;). Yet it will be harder for me to trust anyone (not just rabbis/teachers) after this experience. I have been in touch with some seminary teachers who I have respected so much, but have fallen in my eyes due to their appalling approach to this very serious situation.

        I’ll tell you the truth. I think I am quite alone in a way. So many girls who are convinced he is guilty still “feel bad for him” bc they only remember positive/selfless memories of Meisles. I don’t blame my classmates for feeling this way. It has been tough for them. I am in a different situation than them though. I suspected him the whole time.

        I have, indeed, been more than just “quiet” when I came home from seminary. It is difficult. I found out about his YouTube account (see my earlier posts) a year after seminary. I continuously was proven that my assumptions of him was correct. Yet even my best friend did not support me.

        There is much to explain about me/my background/my story, but I simply cannot expose all this info to the public. It’s hard to keep it to myself, and yes, I very much wanted Yerachmiel to post the disgusting email I had gotten from the school.

        I guarantee you- if any parent would have read it, they would immediately decide not to send their child there. It was an embarrassment to the school. It was a challenge not to publicly expose the school’s atrocious response. I always try to remind myself of loshon hara and it’s ripple effects, which is why I asked Yerachmiel not to post it.

        Thanks again,

        • SO MANY VICTIMS in this situation. Truthseeker has described suffering a painful loss of trust, so many conflicting feelings, and so much ISOLATION. Plus, she did not even suffer the worst of it. She has stayed true to what she believes in; not an easy task under these circumstances, and even more difficult for the more serious abuse victims. Certainly something to consider when we read reports such as that by Pew, on the 87% retention rate among Orthodox-raised children. As we hear more of these personal accounts of people who witnessed or even experienced abuse, it becomes more clear just how encompassing this tragedy truly is. Ultimately, the more that abuse is allowed to perpetuate within the Jewish educational system, the more we create turmoil within individuals who are just trying to do what they are expected to do in seeking a Jewish education.

  11. I am a therapist, frum, no not just frum but FFB. I am American born and bred, practicing in Israel. I am not a newcomer comer to Yeshivos and Seminaries, like I have said I grew up in the mainstream frum American world (rare among therapists, and even more rare among mechanchim in Israel. But I write this as a regular yid, who happens to have inside exposure to the mess.

    I pride myself in having gone to Yeshivos and my family in every direction too. There may some due criticism for all mosdos, and lots for specific ones, but by and large they do devoted and hard work for our children, as was done for us.
    Firstly, let us acknowledge this; the vast majority of people working in chinuch are devoted and honest people, who are moser nefesh for a praiseworthy goal. Those who don’t live up to this standard, who are not honest and fair and even worse abusive are the exception. Thank you to all the special true mechanchim!

    Now, yes with heartbreak, we must admit not all, and yes it is becoming more and more common, are people we should trust our children, teens or adults too.

    As a therapist, I often deal with such cases, of neglect and outright abuse of all types. Whether the issue stems from parents, friends, strangers or the teachers themselves, too often mechanchim and even rabbonim are implicit. It is simply rare to find people who will stand up for the truth, who are not afraid of it. Who will get up and put down their foot to protect and prevent abuse.

    At the end of the day, adults are responsible for themselves, people need to fight for their rights, fairly and honestly. Parents are responsible for their children, and as such all I can say, is that it is FRIGHTNING how foolish and willfully blinded people can be when making decisions on where and why it is safe to go places.

    (It causes great harm when so many innocent are accused, often by rumors or clearly non-reliable people and their lives ruined without fair and honest investigation. Please, lets be wary of unconfirmed rumors, and be very careful who we really can trust to say one was guilty. Ironically the guilty usually get away and the innocently framed get nailed and shattered).

    For many of us in the field this specific expose came as no surprise, nor is it the first time such ‘problems’ were discovered in seminaries. The writing has been on the wall for years! People in the know make no secret of the questionable situations which come up constantly for young impressionable girls away from home. The options include but are not limited to; hashkafic crumkeit (the majority of seminaries proudly entertain all types of ‘Jewish thought’ -little do parents knew what their child will be exposed to), sexual education -undesired, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, manipulating for egotistic reasons, peer abuse, dangers of all sorts from within and without seminaries, and more. Every year a number of girls learn the hard way. Not a small number, I myself have a connection with a few dozen a year! And I obviously do not come across all. (I am not only referring to abuse, but also other situations, such as girls getting a lot deeper than they planned or their parents can imagine with other people, etc..).

    So, pray tell, Who are we relying on to protect the young and dumb? How do we expect young trusting girls to see through delicate guises?! I hate to say it but the recent letter from one unscrupulous ‘menahel’ forces me to cry out! To cry out with the pain of those precious souls we fool ourselves these people are protecting, I have seen too much to be quiet!

    We don’t need to be savvy to realize that a person who abuses, is rarely a one time crime. Common sense (and statistics) tell us that those who abuse their powers of charisma and stature are generally repeat offenders. It doesn’t compare to a one time drunk attacker. And yes, if a Beis Din of the stature and worldliness of the Chicago beis din, stood up and made a hard statement after months of investigation, clearly only a fool will still be unsure. If they stood up to the danger of taking on a man is not a nobody, a tough guy from powerful background close to home for themselves, this wasn’t a joke. And like I noted, for those in the now the writing has been on the wall for a while.

    Just in case anyone could still believe no one knew something was amiss, that not one staff member of this person wasn’t privy to real life stories or grounded suspicions is ludicrous.

    Most people shuddered when they read the words of Kahane, one of the henchmen. No this is not his fist blatant attempt to cover-up evil for his own advancement. The same manipulative; “you are the saviors, You are my army, Mashiach is coming I have inside info, just follow me” is standard methods for narcissistic manipulators.

    This year there was case involving a student in Kahane’s ‘care’. Nothing that would have implicated him, it actually had no connection to him nor did he bear any responsibility for it. His only connection was that he knew for a while something was desperately wrong and not only did he not deal with it properly, he made sure to control the situation and use it to manipulate the student to remain silent. The name of the seminary stood before him, sic. Somehow the cover-up ended up at the door of one the leading English Rabbonim. This Rov in turn bravely didn’t just go to the next caller, like others might but begged a close student of his, a Rabbi and Therapist trained specifically on abuse, to help and evaluate the situation. Warning he Rov of the working of these ‘mechanchim’, but infuse with a sense of duty, not to allow these people to continue to push peoples pain under the carpet, they took it on.

    Sure enough it was soon confirmed that there was a real problem, and worse the seminary and others were exasperating it. At first he repeatedly stated, that proper help was expensive and not his problem (this is called a caring mechanech? “who cares” its not my problem. But he adamantly refused to concede and allow the proper services to be offered. When he saw his sweet assurances that he knew all and was taking care of were not being accepted due to there absolute falsity.

    As soon as this ‘Kahane’ realized his sweet talk didn’t work, he went on an all out battle against this therapist. Literally threatening him that he will ruin his name, reputation, harm his family, frame him, etc. “you are young and know nothing about the real world, if I let people now you are making trouble, your whole life will be ruined. You’ll be done, for your own good look away” All along kahane swore that anyone but himself would only cause damage to the victim, only he knew (by prophesy we can assume, same channel as ‘sinking feeling mashiach is coming bec of him’) how to deal with it and what was good for her. Go wonder why he threatened, but refused to prove the proper care was actually being offered. Can we believe a word from such a source?
    Worse yet, this Rabbi and Therapist had confirmed (through myself and knowledge from my cases)and in consultation with leading Mental Health Professionals and Rabbonim that Mr. Kahane himself was fully implicit and perhaps more.

    I still can hardly believe it but so recklessly and foolishly was he determined to cover-up and ‘be in control’, that Kahuna went so far as to summon the police to the home office of the therapist in middle of the night on supposed fear of an endangered missing student! (At times, therapists see clients in safe conditions at off-hours, especially in delicate student situations so as to avoid unwarranted attention and danger from others. As protocol, such sessions are recorded and a witness remains throughout to maintain safety of the therapist and client.) Of course the police, were quite suspicious being called down to a certified session and having been directed exactly where to find an adult student ‘missing’. And the attempted threat to the therapist backfired as the police interrogated the student, worried for her safety in school. It turned out that she had actually arrived directly from Kahuna’s home after her having summoned her there at night and she had told him she was going to the therapist. Luckily, the therapist was able to use connections in police to assure them there was no immediate danger with kahuna. No, not for kahuna and his seminaries business, but for the sake of the frightened young girl.

    I can still hear the worry and pain in the voice of this special therapist, when I was woken by him to consult in middle of the night, he was sick to the stomach at the cruelty this mechnaech had shown to a suffering young child crashing her only safety and subjecting her to the horrifying experience. He cried as he described how she had collapsed with fear when the police arrived and begged in tears that she not be left alone to return to seminary. (A kind frum officer and the therapist kindly escorted visibly trembling back to her dorm.)

    Immediately, kahane used his full manipulative skills to scare the student away from seeking help or getting guidance from anyone. And Meisels, the owner of the seminary himself worked hard to make sure the police and others stay away.

    When attempting to have other seminary collogues and some Rabonim assist him in intimidating and threatening the therapist from steering her to help, kahane realized that not everyone was fooled by his charisma, and more importantly that this particular therapist had strong connections to back him in Mental Health circles, Rabbinic circles and power centers that be. Only then did he drop the offensive. In the end, due to the reckless endangerment he was subjecting this student to, after consultation with myself and other collogues we were forced to step away (I must note, this brave therapist, made one last attempt at personal financial expense to circumvent the monsters and not abandon the victim, though he will never get credit for his act or even be able to see the results). I don’t know if this girl will ever realize how much trouble ‘this loving father to his chedvas students’ caused her.

    The words of his Folly sicken me to no end, having closely seen how narcissistic this man can be, how dangerous people of his like are.
    He has not and will not offer to help his students receive help from this scandal, he will do whatever it takes to ensure his position and protect himself by crushing any attempts to open the box and look around.

    As is evidenced in several places firsthand, he wasn’t unaware, girls complained to him many times. On young woman described in detail phone conversation she had with Kaahane. I can attest to the truth, as the conversation transcribed is so perfectly his style it could not have been made up by someone who doesn’t know him. -though that doesn’t prove its his words, it does show it is a student.

    To all the students of his out there, and of Meisles and others, all I can repeat is the words of one of your peers; “Do not talk to me about the fact that I “need a shidduch and the malachim in shamayim might talk bad about me to HKB”H” (-threat from Kahane) like you did on the phone. I am not in seminary anymore and am ZERO interested in a seminary mussar schmooze. I am living in the real world and I know who I am inside. And TRUST ME, HKB”H knows as well and He has my back.”

    As was mentioned in some the discussions; Kahane is not a representative of the proper Yeshiva world. Thankfully we can say his approach to human pain, to Torah, to teaching yiddishkeit and to self proclaiming himself an mechnaech and General of his army, are the products of our yeshiva system. As is often the case, the ones who live and work through false manipulation are the kasha ksapchas. The people who come from elsewhere and tout themselves as great mechanchim, baalei haskafah and experts. The same ideals and goals which taint the education the slyly fill young girls with, tell them to cover and confront anything which gets in their way, it is not just a slight, that he can publicly dismiss the clear and public decisions of Chicago’s most senior Rabbonim or in the above incident Yerushalyims senior Poskim.
    These people are represented of Torah MiSinai, their strength in kiruv arises from mastering manipulative techniques. The new development is their people have moved into the seminary business and used the same techniques on Bais Yaakov girls who are more vulnerable because unlike the secular Jews, they are not used to thinking critically about the positions of rabbis.

    The four seminaries involved in this scandal, were heavily staffed by out-of-the-box teachers and Rabbis. Is there a shortage of normal, ffb, who can give over the same chinuch and haskafah we guarded for generations? There not. For some reasons, Measles chose, as do many, to surround himself with pawns, people with their own agendas who would not wish to ruin their own careers and agendas with some bothersome incidents. Of course, he forgot to mention in either letter that he feels sorry and wants to help any victims of his partner, of course he will do all he can regardless of the facts to silence with holy reasoning any whistleblowers.

    Parents, girls, be careful! Don’t just allow the human desire to imagine all is fine to fool you. We need to be careful. If it is necessary to send a young girl far away on her own, we need to be very wary of whose care we entrust her!

    As far as the letter from Kahane, please use your sechel, there is nothing more I can say than:
    Manipulative, false, corrupt, disgusting and scary.

  12. What happens when your seckel isn’t enough, and you are a girl and woman stuck facing a a “manipulative, false, corrupt, disgusting and scary” situation as you have mentioned. What the therapist, and many commentators seem to be doing, is putting the error of correction on the victim, or victims family to singly repair and correct.

    And many victims and there family try to correct the “manipulative, false, corrupt, disgusting and scary” evil ways of the abuser on their own, it is in realty only to be met with the combative lying abusers.

    Those Rabbi abusers, like the priest lie lie lie in order to cover-up their abuse, duh.

    Those Rabbis, like Rabbi Aaron Tendler, rallied a orthodox community with Rabbinical guidance/community leader to whom they know are limp in doing anything. Those Rabbinical abuseres can rely on the Bais Din and RCC to denial or silent treatment, as it has been my personal experience to attest too. For such a smart people, we are just as gullible as the people of the church!

    But for the sake of conversation, and correction, let us say that someone does use there seckel, and they get abused, and they go to the Rabbi’s and they report the incident. Then what does your reader expect to happen next? Do they expect the Rabbi to threaten that individual to stop it? And, let us say that the Rabbinical Council or leader of the community does warn the bad man in THEIR community to stop or else.

    hen do we expect the abuser to stop it just because their Rabbi told them too? Really? What happens if they don’t? What would be their consequence? Do they even have any consequences and what are they? Please anyone tell me.

    Ask your reader, what are the consequence if one does not listen to their Rabbi psuk? What happens if the psuk gets ignored? What is the Rabbi going to do about it, in real life? Anyone?

    Truth be told, It takes the threat of criminal prosecution in order to have these Rabbi’s do anything more then be an empty threat. That is the reality folks, that is the warning that therapist should be giving to people, not “use your seckel”!

    To say to the victim/victims family, that they should use their sackel, is almost like putting the blame on the victim. “well, they didn’t use good judgement, therefore, if they did, they wouldn’t have been victimized?”. That argument clearly and obviously is ridiculous and irresponsible.

    Unfortunately, every once relies on good judgement of the community Rabbi’s to force out the bad Rabbi’s and report them to the police. Yea right. What happens is the abuser obviously ignores the leadership Rabbi’s warning of consequence and unfortunately for the victims, it ends there.
    Anything more would be wishful thinking and continued abuse (either pursue criminal and civil prosecution, or rely on the Rabbi giving his thoughts to who?

    Without strong Rabbinical leadership, the Rabbi’s have no worry on consequence, but the victim will get great hell and trauma ahead of them, does!

    Diane Polonsky

See Commenting policy ( )

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s