Last night, the seminaries owned by Elimelech Meisels emailed announcements that they were sold to Mr. Yankie Yarmush (see text at bottom of post). Yankie’s wife works for Meisels at one of his seminaries and Yankie and Eli are old buddies who live near each other in Har Nof, Jerusalem. A number of informed insiders believe this is a sham sale and Yarmush is fronting for Meisels who will maintain control and eventually return.
Speaking of miscreants in Har Nof, Meisels, who lives on 42 Shaulson Street, got a new neighbor, disgraced former American rabbi, Dovid Weinberger whose mail address is
lives at 12 Shaulson Street. I shudder at the thought of those two teaming up to conduct private classes for young women.
The objective of this “sale” is to overcome the Chicago Beis Din’s ban on attending these seminaries because of Meisel’s history of unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature with his students. Thus far, Chicago has not accepted this sale as sufficient proof that the seminary is now safe for students, probably because they believe the sale is a sham. They may also feel other steps need to be taken such as firing staff who enabled Meisels in his abuse by turning a blind eye or rebuffing student complaints. Finally, they are pushing for financial compensation to Meisels’ victims out of the proceeds of any sale. If Chicago lifted the ban, the letter would have included this fact.
- A ban on other seminaries trying to recruit away students from the Meisels/Yarmush seminaries. (but nothing prevents the normal competition among seminaries for students choosing to move on their own).
- A prohibition on defaming and slandering these seminaries (though it does not ban speaking badly of Meisels himself). (Moreover, the definition of slander depends on one’s understanding of the truth and of the need to protect others from harm).
- An advisory not to listen to those who were not authorized or failed to listen to the facts. (It is not clear whether this last point can be applied to the Chicago Beis Din which has US jurisdiction on ruling on attendance at the seminaries by US students and most certainly conducted a thorough investigation. I believe it was worded to mislead the public while still be being technically accurate).
I believe the war between Chicago and Israel has just escalated and it will be a contest of wills. Chicago will win as long as Hebrew Theological College (HTC) and Touro continue to suspend the accreditation needed for students to get US government financial aid and the rabbis in Chicago are not intimidated. However. some parents who plunked down unrefundable deposits may acquiesce, especially if they are not eligible for much US government financial aid. On the American side this pits two members of the Moetzes (Council of Torah Sages – Agudath Israel of America) against each other. R. Aaron Feldman (Ner Israel- Baltimore is supporting Israel and R. Chaim Levin of Telz-Chicago is a member of the Chicago Special Beis Din (though he did not sit on this case).
In the meantime, the actual terms of the sale have not been disclosed, something which leaves many of us skeptical. For example, it is not clear who will be the new board of directors and officers, the period over which the sale will be carried out, or whether the entitity(s) are incorporated as private organizations or not-for-profits. The latter makes sense for all sorts of tax advantages. If so, it would be illegal to sell their assets to benefit a private individual. (I will have more to say in a future post about how this arrangment may well be a blatant violation of civil law and dina dimalchusa dina and yet is a common practice in the Haredi world.)
From: pninim seminary american office <email@example.com>
Sent: Thu, Jul 24, 2014 11:47 pm
Subject: IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM PNINIM PRINCIPALS
July 24, 2014
Dear Incoming Parents and Students,
We are pleased to inform you that Pninim Seminary is now under new ownership. The Bais Din of Ha Rav Mendel Shafran, shlita, has just finalized the total transfer of the seminary. Rabbi Elimelech Meisels is completely unaffiliated in any aspect to any of the seminaries. This includes financial aspects.
Mr. Yankie Yarmush of Har Nof has assumed the mantle of ownership. We will iyh send you a more detailed letter in the next few days. In addition, an official letter from the Bais Din of Harav Shafran, Shlita, explaining and supporting the sale will be sent to you as well.
Parents are once again encouraged to call Rabbi Simon, Pninim’s new principal, with any questions. In addition we are offering another option which may give you greater clarity. Rabbi Burstyn, a veteran principal in Bais Yaakov of Los Angeles, was approached by the Chicago Bais Din regarding Pninim and the other seminaries.
He has been involved in the proceedings throughout and has detailed information regarding the matter. Rabbi Burstyn has offered to be available to speak to parents who wish to call him.
His number is 323-653-4100 (home) and 323-938-3231 (school).
We look forward to a wonderful year together iyh . We will keep you posted with both the Bais Din letter and a more detailed letter from our seminary very shortly.
Have a wonderful Shabbos.
Rabbi Boruch D. Simon Mrs Baila Lehman
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