Five Families Sue Meisels, Yarmush and Rabbi Gartner Demanding Refunds and Alleging Fraud

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

A lawsuit was filed in a US federal court on Monday August 4th by five families who registered their daughters to attend the post-HS, Jerusalem-based, ultra-orthodox but non-Hassidic seminaries operated at the time by Elimelech Meisels. Meisels has since confessed to sexually abusing students to a Chicago rabbinical court (aka, Special Beis Din, Chicago Beis Din, or CBD).

The parents of the prospective students paid hefty deposits and tuition toward the 2014-2015 tuition of over $21,500. The CBD revealed the abuse and recommended not sending students to these seminaries in a ruling released on July 10. The CBD subsequently declared on July 30th:

We stand by our July 10 statement that we do not recommend prospective students attend these seminaries, and also note, based on evidence including testimony by victims and staff and admissions by Elimelech Meisels, our conclusion that certain senior staff members failed in their responsibilities toward students.

The CBD issued that statement because an Israeli Beit Din (IBD) attempted to whitewash the seminaries and declare they were sold, Meisels was out, all the other staff were good and no other seminary was allowed to accept students who were registered with Meisels.

The lawsuit states:

From approximately 2004 until the present date, defendant Elimelech Meisels engaged in a fraudulent and unlawful scheme to induce Orthodox Jewish parents from across the United States to send their daughters to various seminaries in Israel that he controlled under the guise of educational and spiritual development,” the complaint states. “In truth, defendant Meisels’ true aim was to fraudulently and unlawfully take thousands of dollars from each of these parents and to induce these girls, by telephone, mail, wire and other means, to travel thousands of miles outside the United States and away from their parents for the purpose of sexually assaulting these vulnerable young girls……

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

Defendant Meisels, like many other sexual predators, preyed on the vulnerable. He did this by developing mentor-mentee relationships with girls and exploiting these relationships to lure the girls into late night coffee meetings and other private settings and then sexually assaulted them.

Once the sexual assaults were complete, upon information and belief, defendant Meisels would intimidate his victims by telling them that no one would believe that a rabbi and author with his reputation would have done such a thing.

…Meisels would threaten his victims that if they shared their story with anyone, he would draw on his vast contacts within the Shidduch system to ruin their reputations and ensure that no viable candidate would want to take their hand in marriage.

It was widely known within the administrative staff of the seminaries that defendant Meisels was regularly taking students to late night private meetings – a fact itself that is forbidden and known as ‘yichud’ according to the Orthodox Jewish law and tradition. However, certain still unknown co-conspirators within the seminaries were also aware that defendant Meisels was sexually assaulting the girls and assisted defendant Meisels by actively and passively concealing the assaults.

Here are some noteworthy aspects of the suit:

  • It alleges that one of the co conspirators in blocking refunds is a member of the IBD, Rabbi Tzvi Gartner, who supposedly controls the funds.
  • The plaintiffs ask to be certified as a class action suit in which case they would be acting on behalf of all other similarly situated parents, except those who explicitly declined to participate.
  • They are claiming the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering conspiracy as defined under the US RICO law. If the RICO allegation is accepted by the court, plaintiffs are entitled to treble (triple) damages and the defendant has to pay the attorney fees. For just these defendants alone the assessment could easily run into close to a half a million dollars. I have been in touch with a few other prospective defendants who may well join.

My advice to parents with daughters registered in any of these seminaries for 2014-2015

Many of you are worried about whether you can get your money back and whether your daughter can get into another seminary. Many are worried that if your daughter sits out a year it will slow their entry into the marriage market. I urge you to remember that the safety of your daughter is paramount. A seminary which has not yet admitted it enabled abuse is staffed with people who cannot be entrusted with your daughter’s protection.

There are many factors at play which may force these seminaries into bankruptcy before their academic year is over. They will have to pay legal defense fees, even if they prevail. They also face lawsuits from sex abuse victims, where settlements can run into the hundreds of thousands or millions. I am very confident one or more suits will be filed in the coming weeks. Finally, even if they largely fill up this year, they are entering the critical recruitment season which starts in September. I highly doubt they will come even close to getting enough students for 2015-2016 to stay alive. If the seminaries go bankrupt the public will regard it as confirmation that they deserved to go down (rightly or wrongly, that is how people think). In that case, your daughters will be stuck with the stigma of having gone to a problematic group of seminaries. Even if you are willing to surrender their safety to the allure of shidduchim, DON’T! It won’t even be good for shidduchim.

If you withdraw, I encourage you to consider joining this or other lawsuits to get your deposit back and maybe even get much more than your deposit. I have heard rumblings of other attorneys considering entering the arena including some firms with outstanding track records. I will keep readers advised of other options as I become aware of them. You can make your decision to withdraw now and select your law firm later.

A full copy of the lawsuit can be downloaded .

See also latest post by Rabbi Harry Maryles on his blog Emes Ve-Emunah, Four Seminaries and Two Rabbinic Courts. He makes some compelling arguments for not sending students to those seminaries and for not accepting the assurances of the IBD that these seminaries are hunky dory. They are not and Rabbi Malinowitz has a bad history of protecting sex abusers.

David Morris has written an excellent synopsis of the essential traits of the lawsuit focusing on it legal logic and translating some of the jargon into English. check it out on Morris’ blog, Tzedek-Tzedek.

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106 thoughts on “Five Families Sue Meisels, Yarmush and Rabbi Gartner Demanding Refunds and Alleging Fraud

  1. As I have said before, one can argue whether or not the IBD acted in good faith with regard to trying to keep things intact, but they committed a terrible avla by having no compassion for hard working average yidden by trying to force them to stay in the seminaries and not offering them the opportunity to get their money back…not to mention the directive to other seminaries not to take in these students. A horrible display of misplaced priorities…a case of having compassion on the perpetrators and not caring one bit for the innocent parents. Shameful.

    Well, they tried to bully the parents and did not care about potential huge monetary losses…so this is kind of fitting.

  2. I am sorry this is way beyond the pale of fairness and emess to these seminaries .we all know these allegations are false .the seminaries did not accept monies for this purpose and to drag yarmish and others into this mix is horrible .I am so shocked at this story as its a unbelievable chillul hashem .cant we have the two bdien work this out without making this worse by dragging it into courts!!!

    • Emes,

      I am a parent stuck. We for sure will not even think of sending. Thanks to the psak, my daughter can’t go to Israel. Even if I scrounge up another bunch of money, no other seminary will take her. They will go bankrupt. Very few people would consider sending if they had a choice.

        • From the complaint:

          104. These injuries included intense anguish over the prospect of their
          daughters being left without a seminary to attend and thereby irreparably harming
          their prospects at marriage within the Shidduch system as more fully alleged above.

          67. On July 24, 25, and 29, 2014, upon information and belief, Defendant
          Gartner and unnamed co-conspirators had a meetings in Israel about how to best cover
          up the fraudulent and unlawful scheme alleged herein and continue to deprive the
          Class plaintiffs of their money by perpetuating the illusion that Defendant Meisels is no
          longer affiliated with The Seminaries.

          68. The meetings of July 24 and 25, 2014, resulted in what Defendant Gartner
          and his co-conspirators represented was a religious ban on any Class Plaintiffs from
          leaving The Seminaries and attending alternative seminaries. This was delivered to the
          Class Plaintiffs via email on July 25, 2014 with a cover letter signed by co-conspirators
          Boruch Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman.

          69. The meetings of July 24, 25, and 29, 2014 collectively resulted in a letter
          being delivered on July 30, 2014, via email by Defendant Slanger, Defendant Meisels, or
          another co-conspirator from an email address penseminary@gmail.com on behalf of
          unnamed co-conspirators Boruch Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman to the Class plaintiffs
          claiming that an unnamed co-conspirator Bleemy Birnbaum would now overseeing The
          Seminaries. This was intentionally misleading and/or false because Defendant Meisels
          still controls The Seminaries.

        • The other seminaries are not accepting girls from the Meisels seminaries either because they simply don’t have any room left, or out of deference to the Israel Beis Din which said that other seminaries shouldn’t try to market themselves to the girls from the Meisels seminaries.

      • They ALL have a CHOICE. Every parent can choose to put their daughter’s safety and future before $8,000. If your daughter called and told you that she is being held hostage and the kidnappers want $8,000, would you pay that to ensure her safety? OF COURSE YOU WOULD!! Any parent that claims they “have no choice” is lying to you and to themselves. The correct choice is to put your daughter’s LIFE before $8,000. Even if you think it may impact her shidduchim – is it worth risking her SAFETY for Shidduchim? And as Yerachmiel pointed out – it may actually affect her Shidduchim in a NEGATIVE way to go to one of those 4 seminaries this year. You’d even be “better off safe than sorry” in that regard.

        Additionally, any parent that says that Shidduchim is more important than their daughter’s safety or than $8,000 and sends their daughter to the Seminary on that basis – is in effect saying that they have ZERO Bitachon that Hashem will take care of the Shidduchim of their daughter if they do the right thing, put protection of their daughter first, and don’t send them to the Seminary.

        And especially now that it seems that their money will get refunded – it’s a no brainer. Parents that send their daughters at this point need their heads examined. I wouldn’t let a son of mine date a girl whose parents sent her to one of those 4 seminaries this coming year – simply out of fear that the parents are stark raving mad and don’t care about their daughter’s safety, or care more about $8,000 than their daughter’s safety, or are willing to gamble with their daughter’s safety for the sake of shidduchim. It’s pathetic in the extreme.

        • Seriously, great point and well said! You are spot on about letting a son date a girl who went to one of those seminaries this coming year! Any parents who would send this year after the scandal has come out including involvement and cover up by staff would for sure be crossed off my list!

  3. I am sorry but bringing R gartner and mr yarmish in this case is unfair and wrong and just puts a bad spin upon what could have been something good

    • from complaint:

      56. In order to circumvent the ruling of the Chicago Bais Din, which was
      binding on Defendant Meisels and has preclusive effect, Defendant Meisels agreed with
      Defendant Yarmish that they would conduct a sham “sale” of The Seminaries where
      Defendant Yarmish would claim that he now owned The Seminaries and would claim
      to the Class plaintiffs that these institutions were safe for their daughters. The
      conspirators hoped that this scheme would force Class plaintiffs into leaving their
      daughters in The Seminaries even though that they were not safe because the
      conspirators would withhold their tuition deposits.

      57. Between approximately July 14, 2014, and July 30, 2014, Defendant
      Yarmish, Defendant Slanger, Defendant Gartner, and other still unidentified co-
      conspirators then engaged in a flurry of written correspondence and telephone calls
      with the Class plaintiffs to try to convince them that The Seminaries were under new
      ownership and were now safe. The sought to draw on Defendant Gartner’s status as a
      rabbi in Israel and the status of two other unnamed co-conspirators to perpetuate their
      fraud and assure the Class plaintiffs that The Seminaries are safe.

      58. During this same time period, when Class plaintiffs situated in the United
      States called Defendant Yarmish in Israel and asked him for refunds, he told them that
      the money was not in his control but in the control of Defendant Gartner. But when
      Class plaintiffs requested refunds from Defendant Gartner, he claimed he had no
      control over their money and it could only be refunded through action by an
      unspecified religious court in Israel.

      59. In one conference call that took place with the Class plaintiffs on July 28,
      2014, Defendants Meisels, Yarmish, and Slanger had Defendant Gartner vouch to the
      Class plaintiffs that The Seminaries were sold to Yarmish. No documents or actual
      proof to this effect was ever provided to the Class plaintiffs.

      60. In fact, The Seminaries were never sold to Defendant Yarmish and could
      never be lawfully sold to Defendant Yarmish based on their corporate non-profit
      statuses. Defendant Meisels continues to control the Seminaries through Defendants
      Yarmish, Gartner, and unnamed co-conspirators. Pleading in the alternative, any sale of
      The Seminaries was a sham and control of The Seminaries was transferred from
      Defendant Meisels to Defendant Yarmish and other unnamed co-conspirators in name
      only.

      61. Defendant Meisels’ continued control of The Seminaries through his
      conspirator co-defendants Yarmish and Gartner is exhibited in the numerous false
      statements these defendants made to Class Plaintiffs located in various cities within the
      United States, including New York, Baltimore, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

      62. Defendant Gartner and his unnamed co-conspirators represented in a
      letter to the Class Plaintiffs, delivered to them by Defendant Slanger via email in early
      to mid July of 2014, that Defendant Gartner and his co-conspirators had the “legal
      power to implement necessary changes and arrangements” within the seminary. This
      correspondence included a further false claim that Defendant Meisels was removed
      “from any position and connection to the seminaries.”

      63. In an email dated July 21, 2014 from penseminary@gmail.com, unnamed
      co-conspirator and seminary administrators Boruch Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman
      falsely reaffirmed to Class Plaintiffs that Defendant Gartner and his co-conspirators
      were now in full financial control of The Seminaries. Defendant Gartner signed a
      document to this effect on July 25, 2014.

      64. However, from a telephone number 054-841-5877 in Israel between July
      21, 2014 through July 30, 2014, Defendant Gartner was repeatedly asked by Class
      Plaintiffs to return their tuition deposits but Defendant Gartner claimed that Class
      Plaintiffs needed to speak with Defendant Yarmish for his approval of the return of
      their funds. In a classic game of three-card monte, Defendant Yarmish then stated in
      phone calls with these same Class Plaintiffs that they needed to speak with Defendant
      Gartner and his co-conspirators if they wanted refunds.

      65. All the while, Defendant Gartner, his unnamed co-consirators, Defendant
      Yarmish, Defendant Meisels, and co-conspirator and seminary administrators Boruch
      Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman were in regular communication about how to
      perpetuate this fraud and cover-up. The footprints of these meetings and
      communications are displayed in a July 21, 2014 email to Class Plaintiffs from co-
      conspirator and seminary administrators Boruch Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman where
      they state, “we received a message from the involved parties [referring to Defendant
      Gartner and his co-conspirators] that a lot of progress has already been made.”

      66. On July 24, 2014, at the direction of Defendants Meisels, Gartner, and their
      unnamed co-conspirators, seminary administrator co-conspirators Boruch Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman falsely told Class Plaintiffs via email that Defendant Yarmish “has
      assumed the mantle of ownership.”

      67. On July 24, 25, and 29, 2014, upon information and belief, Defendant
      Gartner and unnamed co-conspirators had a meetings in Israel about how to best cover
      up the fraudulent and unlawful scheme alleged herein and continue to deprive the
      Class plaintiffs of their money by perpetuating the illusion that Defendant Meisels is no
      longer affiliated with The Seminaries.

      68. The meetings of July 24 and 25, 2014, resulted in what Defendant Gartner
      and his co-conspirators represented was a religious ban on any Class Plaintiffs from
      leaving The Seminaries and attending alternative seminaries. This was delivered to the
      Class Plaintiffs via email on July 25, 2014 with a cover letter signed by co-conspirators
      Boruch Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman.

      69. The meetings of July 24, 25, and 29, 2014 collectively resulted in a letter
      being delivered on July 30, 2014, via email by Defendant Slanger, Defendant Meisels, or
      another co-conspirator from an email address penseminary@gmail.com on behalf of
      unnamed co-conspirators Boruch Dovid Simon and Beila Lehman to the Class plaintiffs
      claiming that an unnamed co-conspirator Bleemy Birnbaum would now overseeing The
      Seminaries. This was intentionally misleading and/or false because Defendant Meisels
      still controls The Seminaries.

    • So why don’t they just refund the parents money?? They knew they were getting into a very messy situation when they “bought” the seminaries.

  4. the IBD tried to throw its weight around under the Daas Torah doctrine. Abuse of power. Total disregard for the hamon am.

    emes – they got what they deserved and the chillul hasehm is theirs

    Had they treated parents with respect and consideration instead of like dogs, this would not have occurred.

    • Exactly.

      And they will not apologize for any of it either. “Gedolim” never apologize. It would mean that their “Daas Torah” is fallible, or is just their opinion. And they are afraid if they apologize everyone will realize that and nobody will ask them anything anymore, which will cause them to lose their power. Can’t have that happen. No, “Daas Torah” is never wrong – it’s just that you, with your puny little mind not sharpened by years of “Daas Torah” learning, you just don’t understand how it’s right! [End sarcasm]

      No apology from the Israel Beis Din will be forthcoming. Not for their tremendous Chillul Hashem, not for bullying parents, not for putting the interests of an institution over the interests of young women, not for any of the unsubstantiated claims they made which had nothing to do with halachah or psak din, not for corrupting the process of a Beis Din, not for misuing a Beis Di, and not for abusing their power.

  5. The psak doesn’t allow it. IBD said that no other schools can take them or solicit them. The language might be unclear, but in practice no one seems to be taking them. We have called Meor, who said that Peninim is fine. Other parents called other places and got the same response. The other seminaries are abiding by this.

    • No the IBD said no other school can solicit them … not that the parents cant seek another school. Most likely it is due to full enrollment already .. although many times girls leave during the early part of the year and another spot somewhere can possibly open up. Of course it also depends on hashkafa of seminary one is looking for, some seminaries would feel no requirement to abide by a scandalous seminary BD edict and would gladly take the kid.

  6. On the other hand, some of the stuff in the lawsuit is bunk.

    From the lawsuit
    …Approximately 2004 until the present date, defendant Elimelech Meisels engaged in a fraudulent and unlawful scheme to induce Orthodox Jewish parents from across the United States to send their daughters to various seminaries in Israel that he controlled under the guise of educational and spiritual development,” the complaint states. “In truth, defendant Meisels’ true aim was to fraudulently and unlawfully take thousands of dollars from each of these parents and to induce these girls, by telephone, mail, wire and other means, to travel thousands of miles outside the United States and away from their parents for the purpose of sexually assaulting these vulnerable young girls.”

    Let’s face it…This was not a grand fraudulent scheme by Meisels to steal people’s money. It was not his “aim” to engage in a fraud. He simply could not control himself and committed terrible acts… end of story

    But for the class action to have any chance of success, they need to embellish and create a scenario with legs…about some scheme that went on for years. Trust me, Meisels did not attend to steal money. He probably truly wanted to educate and make profit…but he messed up. Let’s deal with that and the loss of tuition this year because of the IBD…but not exaggerate about a scheme that has been going on since 2004. This was not a Ponzi scheme for crying out loud.

    • Actually the fraud started when he advertised a frum seminary knowing he wasnt delivering it. Had he said I will try to sleep with some of your daughters, he wouldn’t have gotten any students but he would have been honest. Now, however, he promised what he knew he wasn’t delivering. Had the parent knew when they enrolled what they know now they would not have enrolled. At a minimum, he withheld the information. However, it is worse, he selectively recruited girls in which he was especially interested because of their looks. He offered some of them larger scholarships than what was offered to others.

      • ok this is really going over the top with imaginary accusations. Yes, he messed up, but i know for a fact, Meisels was not involved in any of the interviews of the prospective students for Binas or Keser. I know many that were not accepted in Binas & Keser and when the parent asked Meisels to interfere , he said he could not since the Principals of these seminaries were the ones in charge of that aspect. I dont know about Pnenim .

        • Do you know that others were also involved or that Meisels was not. Moreover, when Meisels travelled it would have been foolish for him not to promote all four seminaries. Are you saying that it is OK if he was only exploiting interviews with Peninim applicants?

  7. well done, pkaintiffs! I wish you the best success!!!

    Is it allowed, under halacha, to withhold downpayments under such circustances? Is this what the israeli beith din ruled? “Seminaries are safe” = no refunds?

    • It was an ordinary contract probably correct under halacha and civil law with clauses about when and whether deposits are refundable. I do not know if the the IBD is merely saying that the contract, as written remains enforceable or they are forbidding even those refunds that parents can still get otherwise. That is a good question. It would be great if someone could post the standard contract here, after blocking out their own name.

  8. soso

    exactly.

    they said it is safe….no other seminaries can solicit the students. that is a very nice way of saying, “do not even think of asking for a refund because IBD paskened that there is nothing wrong with the schools and you have no right to leave.”

  9. How did the Psak work out for the IBD? One of their rabbis is named in the complaint. A revolt with the well respected Chicago Bais Din. A RICO/Class action suit that will likely result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal fees. There will likely be splashy news accounts in the mainstream media.

    • and these are just lawsuits by parents demanding refunds. We have not yet seen the lawsuits by victims of abuse who number in the dozens according to Chicago sources but some believe number in the hundreds. I am very sure there will be such lawsuits. They will go for $100k to over a million, each. several such judgments will bankrupt the seminaries like similar lawsuits bankrupted entire big city Catholic Archdioceses.

  10. Can someone please answer how one of Meisel’s seminaries is a plaintiff in the lawsuit while the other three seminaries are defendants.

    • It isn’t, as I answered on another thread. Someone making a report of the case made a mistake. Download the complaint using the link YL provided above.

  11. Ok, at this point, I would like to hear from the Meisels defenders? WHERE ARE YOU?? Are you going to come out and admit that he’s a monster yet? How does it feel knowing that he duped you, or maybe worse, that you perhaps helped to enable him?

    I bring this up because on the Daas Torah blog, the IBD defenders are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to somehow make this lawsuit proof of CBD’s corruption when it’s exactly the opposite.

    The following was clear earlier and I’m sure if I sift through the thousands of comments, I would find where I wrote it: The main reason the IBD kashered the sems was to prevent refunds. That was it. Even if, for the sake of argument, that the IBD wanted to deal with the safety issues later, they nevertheless created a reason for the sems to DENY refunds.

    Now, it is clear that those like Rabbi Eidensohn and others who keep asking people for proof that that some staff were at least negligent in ignoring the “late night rides” and other special attention, that this was a widespread phenomenon.

    Now, I also realize why members of the CBD were so distressed over this entire episode. The IBD was fighting them even as they had one goal only, which was to have safe sems. This angers me so much, I don’t even know what to say.

    But I relish the opportunity to see what a Meisels defender would say. Let’s hear what you have to say.

    • im not really understanding what you see here more about meisels guilt or innocence. also the case is not about him at all rather about refunds.

      • Please reread carefully. It is a suit for refunds because of Meisles guilt, the misrepresnation when they paid and the evasions when they tried to get a refund by directly applying.

        • Does this mean that parents who sent their daughters to those seminaries years ago can also get money back based on false advertising, or is this only for the girls registered for 2014-2015?

        • I understood that but I dont see him any more guilty just because five parents are trying to sue him and couple of other people

      • From the complaint:

        THE SEXUAL ASSAULTS

        44. This, it turned out, was a big fraud. It was all part of a scheme whereby
        Defendant Meisels and his co-conspirators would induce young girls to travel
        thousands of miles away from home under the guise of Jewish education only to
        forcibly engage them in various sexual acts and take their money in the process.

        45. Defendant Meisels, like many other sexual predators, preyed on the
        vulnerable. He did this by developing mentor-mentee relationships with girls and
        exploiting these relationships to lure the girls into late night coffee meetings and other
        private settings and then sexually assaulted them.

        46. Once the sexual assaults were complete, upon information and belief,
        Defendant Meisels would intimidate his victims by telling them that no one would
        believe that a rabbi and author with his reputation would have done such a thing.
         
        47. Moreover, upon information and belief, Defendant Meisels would
        threaten his victims that if they shared their story with anyone, he would draw on his
        vast contacts within the Shidduch system to ruin their reputations and ensure that no
        viable candidate would want to take their hand in marriage.

        48. It was widely known within the administrative staff of The Seminaries
        that Defendant Meisels was regularly taking students to late night private meetings – a
        fact itself that is forbidden and known as “yichud” according to the Orthodox Jewish
        law and tradition. However, certain still unknown co-conspirators within the
        Seminaries were also aware that Defendant Meisels was sexually assaulting the girls
        and assisted Defendant Meisels by actively and passively concealing the assaults. These
        co-conspirators continue to cover up Defendant Meisel’s sexual assaults and fraud by
        failing to report the assaults to the authorities.

        THE SEXUAL ASSAULTS ARE REVEALED

        49. The scheme of Defendant Meisels and his co-conspirators began to
        crumble when unnamed victims brought Defendant Meisels’ sexual assaults to the
        attention of a distinguished Jewish religious court in Chicago (“Chicago Bais Din”).

        50. The Chicago Bais Din is comprised of widely accepted scholars in Jewish
        law and leaders within the Orthodox Jewish community in the United States. One
        member of the Chicago Bais Din, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz is the chief rabbinical
        authority and figure of the Rabbinical Council of America, which is a body with
        representatives of Orthodox rabbis across the United States. He is also the chief
        rabbinical authority of the Chicago Rabbinical Council. The other members of the
        Chicago Bais Din are Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, the chief rabbinical authority at Agudath
        Israel of Illinois, and Rabbi Zev Cohen, the rabbi at the largest Orthodox Jewish
        synagogue in Chicago.

        51. Defendant Meisels consented to the jurisdiction of the Chicago Bais Din by
        signing an arbitration agreement agreeing to appear before the Chicago Bais Din and
        agreeing to be bound by its rulings.

        52. As part of the Chicago Bais Din’s judicial process, it received testimony
        from various victims, from Defendant Meisels, and reviewed documentary evidence.

        53. On July 10, 2014, the Chicago Bais Din issued a ruling stating:
        Based on the testimony and documents received by the Bais Din,
        including testimony by the claimants and by Elimelech Meisels, the Bais
        Din believes that students in these seminaries are at risk of harm and it
        does not recommend that prospective students attend these seminaries
        at this time.

        54. News of this decision sent shockwaves to the prospective parent bodies of
        The Seminaries. These parents had already paid the The Seminaries thousands of
        dollars toward tuition for the 2014-2015 academic year only to learn that The Seminaries
        were a front for Defendant Meisels’ sexual exploits and gratification.

        55. Additionally, Hebrew Theological College and Tuoro College suspended
        their relationships with The Seminaries, which meant that a student attending The
        Seminaries could no longer receive collage credit for her attendance at American
        institutions of higher education.

        • JW – Copying and pasting huge sections of the lawsuit takes up a lot of space here. Please have mercy on our fingers and our time! Instead of copying and pasting, can you please link to the lawsuit and specify what pages you want us to read? Then, those who have not already read it can go there and read it, and the rest of us who have read it, can move quickly to the next comment. Thank you.

        • I don’t believe anyone knows the truth about Meisels. He has not had a trial yet. The bloggers accepted the allegations as truth right at the beginning and things spiraled out of control from there. The exact amount of reports is not clear. Officially there were only 2 reports. The rest magically appeared from unknown sources who still are yet to be publicly identified by the Chicage BD (don’t forget they WOULD NOT PROVIDE REPORTS OF THE VICTIMS), unfortunately there is not much of a case with 2 allegations, so the allegations had to be to be inflated with exaggerations and lies AS IS CLEAR FROM THE FANTASY RIDDEN LAW SUIT claiming that Meisels was bringing girls to Israel with the intention of behaving with them inappropriately. Ridiculous. 2 unconfirmed allegations is a very different picture. Even what he admitted is unknown. The way the picture seems, it wouldn’t shock me if he admitted to histaklus then,it was inflated by those wanting to eventually sue claiming that he admitted to touch (keep in mind that the letter from the Chicago BD said the allegations were touch, and because of his admittance, they felt the schools are unsafe. Who said he admitted to exact allegation!). The bloggers then made him into a serial rapist. Face it, no one knows the truth. Castles are being built in the sky. And its a real shame.

          • It is a real shame you created a castle of doubt by stringing together all sorts of individual doubts which have been repeatedly addressed and you do not focus on the specifics. Let us start with point 1. where you say, “He [Meisels] has not had a trial yet.” Actually, Meisels had his trial. He signed an arbitration agreement to confront the allegations against him in the Chicago Beis Din. They listened to both sides and found him guilty of sexual abuse of his students. The Israeli Beis Din accepts that conclusion as reported by Rabbi Feldman in his second letter posted not here but on the Daas Torah blog.

            You say only two victims as if this is baseball where you need three strikes to be out. So let me understand: if a rebbe was caught feeding ham sanwiches to two students would you be here defending his keeping his job because you only know for sure it was two students? Just asking?

    • Go to daas Torah blog where he is busy defending the ibd as best as he can. I guess if you call yourself daas Torah , you can’t make a mistake and you must defend yourself at all costs.

      • Go to daas Torah blog for an intelligent take in the matter instead of this forum which sound like a bunch of over dramatic high school girls.

        BTW, where in R Feldman’s letter did it say he admitted to sexual abuse?? All it says is that he admitted. It very well can be as I have heard that a very needy girl initiated a hug. Was that inappropriate? Yes . but sexual abuse? Not at all.

        Stop exaggerating and imagining and let’s go by the facts.

        • You are alone in your view.

          The CBD used the language “…unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature” it did not refer to a single allegation it referred to multiple allegations.
          https://frumfollies.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/elimelech-meisels-notice-by-chicago-beit-din.jpg?w=555&h=416

          The owner of the Daas Torah blog states:
          http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2014/07/beis-din-decides-seminary-owner-meisels.html
          Daas Torah Mod • 25 days ago:
          Why do you think that every misdeed – especially of sexual crimes needs to be covered up – as if it never happened. How are people going to protect themselves from these crimes “that never happen”? Meisels still constitutes a problem and it is important that people are aware that he is not to be trusted.

          Moreover the public complaint reflects the following (all not denied by the CBD):

          (Excerpts)

          45. Defendant Meisels, like many other sexual predators, preyed on the
          vulnerable. He did this by developing mentor-mentee relationships with girls and
          exploiting these relationships to lure the girls into late night coffee meetings and other
          private settings and then sexually assaulted them.

          46. Once the sexual assaults were complete, upon information and belief,
          Defendant Meisels would intimidate his victims by telling them that no one would
          believe that a rabbi and author with his reputation would have done such a thing.

          47. Moreover, upon information and belief, Defendant Meisels would
          threaten his victims that if they shared their story with anyone, he would draw on his
          vast contacts within the Shidduch system to ruin their reputations and ensure that no
          viable candidate would want to take their hand in marriage.

          49. The scheme of Defendant Meisels and his co-conspirators began to
          crumble when unnamed victims brought Defendant Meisels’ sexual assaults to the
          attention of a distinguished Jewish religious court in Chicago (“Chicago Bais Din”).

          51. Defendant Meisels consented to the jurisdiction of the Chicago Bais Din by
          signing an arbitration agreement agreeing to appear before the Chicago Bais Din and
          agreeing to be bound by its rulings.

          52. As part of the Chicago Bais Din’s judicial process, it received testimony
          from various victims, from Defendant Meisels, and reviewed documentary evidence.

          53. On July 10, 2014, the Chicago Bais Din issued a ruling stating:
          Based on the testimony and documents received by the Bais Din,
          including testimony by the claimants and by Elimelech Meisels, the Bais
          Din believes that students in these seminaries are at risk of harm and it
          does not recommend that prospective students attend these seminaries
          at this time.

  12. Response from a different Five Families: Genovese, Bonano, Gambino, Lucchese, Colombo
    No offense to your daughters, but no refund–it’s strictly business.

  13. Response from another Five Families: Corleone, Barzini, Tattaglia, Stracci, Cuneo
    I’ll make him an offer for the seminaries he can’t refuse.

  14. Yerachmiel Lopin, Yerachmiel Lopin,
    Who did I mess around with that you treat me so disrespectfully? You say,give a refund–money,
    but you don’t offer me friendship, you don’t ask with respect
    Instead you post on your blog and ask me to close down, lose money, on my seminary girls’ year
    You don’t even think to call me Rabbi.

  15. Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn posted the information about the lawsuit on his blog, Daas Torah. http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2014/08/seminary-scandal-now-federal-class.html

    The information was factual but most of the comments were by rabid haters of the Chicago Beis Din. so I just posted the comment below, which is awaiting moderation.

    I see some hostile reactions to the lawsuit which miss some essential points.

    1. Some complain that it is arcois (resorting to civil courts rather than religious courts). Actually the complainants, tried to get refunds based on a ruling by the Chicago Beis din. The seminaries refused and it is alleged also gave them a deceptive run-around. I am going to guess that there are quite a few rabbonim who would use that as a basis to give them a heter arcois since many American rabbonim feel the control of this case for US residents lies with the Chicago Beis Din.

    2. Some comments are confusing the issue of refunds with abuse allegations. The suit at its core is about the deception in their original contract arrangement. The parents paid money for what they were promised was an accredited program where they could expect that the staff promoted torah values. However, the suit alleges they were lied to by Meisels who knew perfectly well that he was busy engaging in acts that made him a choteh umachti and harmed the health and emunah of many of his numerous victims (which the CBD now says numbers in the dozens and I suspect numbers in the hundreds). Thus, even if you say the seminaries are now good and no staff enabled abuse they were nevertheless not what they were represented to be at the time of the sale. In effect the suit argues in civil terminology that it was a mekach taus, a mistaken purchase committment by parents they would not have undertaken if they had not been decieved by Meisels when he was recruiting and by the literature.

    3. Most of the other features grow out of the above underlying allegation.

    I ask all of you, even those utterly convinced that the IBD is right about how wonderful the present staff is: can you not admit that the parents would not have signed on if they knew the truth about Meisels. A mekach taus is void and the purchaser is entitled to a refund.

    • Don’t get so worked up, it seems r eidensohn blocks a lot of comments that don’t support him. I have commented several times recently respectfully and civilly disagreeing with him and surprise! he blocked them.

      • I am not worked up. He usually approves my comments. It is too soon to see if he will aprove it or not He has not approved any in the last six hours. He works in batches and it can take up to a day. I just consider it useful to keep a record of these things.

        • YL- I meant that jokingly. Don’t worry i didn’t think u were worked up. I was just pointing out that r eidensohn lets through some of the most virulent disgraceful lashon hara… unless it doesn’t support him.

          • He is very biased indeed in his censoring policy. Furthermore, he loves to treat commentators with unparalleled arrogance, but when they respond in kind, he blocks them. On the other hand, if you want to get through, you should never forget the “Rabbi” and “Daas Torah”, because he is very sensitive to flattery.

      • Meisels lovers are allowed to suggest that the victims are hysterical high school girls, and therefore falsely accusing him, but some posters here are blocked from responding to such outrageous attacks on the victims. One can get free speech on Algemeiner, The Jewish Week, but FF is holier than thou, more worried about allowing the attackers freedom of speech, than allowing responses to such. outrqageous attacks, discrediting the victims.

    • Just curious….

      Have you ever learned Choshen Mishpat in your life? Do you realized how complicated it is? Did you ever learn a K’tzos or a Teshuvas Chasam Sofer before? I didn’t think so.

      So why do you pretend you know everything or even anything? How do you voice your opinion about things you do not know anything about? Or maybe have you fooled yourself to think you do understand? Maybe you learned Choshen Mishpat from a blog somewhere. The same place you learned the halachos of lashon haroh?!?

      • I am smart enough to know what I don’t know and I know enough to check with those who do, and make sure I understand what they are saying before i write. That has a lot to do with the quality of this blog in this and many other areas. I have never claimed to be a dayan or a great lamdan. But I am not such an am haaretz that I cannot discern and learn from those who do know.

        I am sorry but you feel like those that the Mishnah Avot (4:7) was warning about who use torah as a spade. Some do it for money and others do it for the ego thing of shlugging others up in machlokes. That is not my interest. But there is great value in making things clear and bringing out the truth. Working with others that is what I try to do. I am sure I fail at times. But I am not such an anav that I will make believe I don’t also succeed.

        I think you resent that about me.

      • Classic Yeshivishe bittul. The same people who buy it also happen to be big fans of bashing the CBD with outrageous claims. It’s funny that you feel that bashing others somehow means you’re winning an argument.

        Many times I have pointed out how correct the CBD is, only to receive responses that attack the CBD, rather than to prove that the other side is correct.

        Recent posts of the Daas Torah blog, even by the owner there demonstrate the same thing, where he accuses people of not knowing what they’re talking about. Trust me when I tell you that such reasoning might work in Eretz Yisroel, but it doesn’t score any points anywhere else. It only makes you look like an ignorant boor. Try making a point next time.

      • I just went back to look at your comment and i am amazed at the obnoxious chutzpah. You are a spoiled yeshivish boy (even if a man in age).

        You write:
        “Have you ever learned Choshen Mishpat in your life? Do you realized how complicated it is? Did you ever learn a K’tzos or a Teshuvas Chasam Sofer before? I didn’t think so. So why do you pretend you know everything or even anything?”

        Amazing; You ask a question and answer it with complete ignorance of the truth about me. And you answer it incorrectly. What I love about the teshuvos of the Chasam Sofer (of whom I am an eynekel) is the clarity he brings to every psak, which is why so many people read his S&Ts 200 hundred years later.

        My question to you, which I will not, unlike you, presume to answer, grows out of what the chazon Ish said, iirc: ‘Most bad psak is not because rabbonim don’t know the halacha; it is because they don’t pay enough attention to the metzios (particulars/ facts and the actual context).’ How much do you understand about how competent battei din dealing with abuse investigate the facts. For example how much do they have to understand about how others can enable sex abuse with young adult women? How much do they have to know about working with professional experts in investigating? How much must they understand about how witnesses who are abused are best interviewed?

        Please, in the future, don’t presume and don’t brag about what you mos recently are proud to have gone through, as if some particular curriculum you mastered makes you a maven on this issue. Even if it does, show your stuff by your reason.

        In general, people who brag about what they read impress me less than peope who show they can clearly communicate and apply it to a particular question under discussion.

        You are welcome to disagree, but if you really know so much, show it how your reason, not by giving us your bibliography.

    • I also added on:
      Re arcois: 1. mekach taus
      2. This is not going to goyish court for judgment just for collection.
      3. I have heard of rabbonim totally apart from Chicago giving a heter.

    • it would not be a mekach taus if meisels were out which he is and the seminaries were safe. Also it is arkyus since the CBD told the IBD to decide this matter as seen by the shtar berurin posted on daas torah blog also seen were measures IBD was doing talking to professionals etc. so once a BD paskend one thing to then bring it secular courts is for sure wrong according to all poskim

      • The mekach (purchase transaction) is at the point of agreement, when they signed onto the seminary. Because the seminaries were misrepresented at that point it was a mekach taus (mistaken purchase), a purchase agreement that is instantly void because the conditions were not met. If there was no purchase in january, you cannot suddenly say a purchase agreement happens in August if the seminaries are repaired. (BTW, I do not believe they are repaired, but for argument’s sake let’s make believe they are). The agreement and the deposits were obtained under false pretenses.

        If you steal $10K from me, the fact that you offer me a genuine $10k car later is besides the point. I never bought and I have no obligation to buy it. I can rightly insist on getting my $10K back.

        Every one of the parents who thought it was a kosher seminary when they signed on is entitled to their money back.

        Many poskim hold that a collection of an established debt through a secular court is not arcois. Additionally, since the seminaries with the help of an improperly constituted beis din are making it impossible for parents to get their money back, there are grounds for rabbonim to issue a heter arcois.

        I will concede one exception. If a parent really knew the truth about Meisels and his enabling staff and did not care it was not a void transaction. But obviously those who want their money back do care.

        • Edited by YL- You are repeating several points you have said before as if they haven’t been responded to. If you don’t like the reasoning of the responses, please explain why. But please don’t hock. Yerachmiel Lopin

          • i did explain the explain the reason i did not like your answer. First of all their tayna for it to be a mekach taus is that right now they are not safe which is not true. Also you are calling the IBD a improperly constituted beis din which is not true being that you youself saw the shtar berurin. Also this is not a question of a debt but rather if there was a good sale to begin with which is a halachik shaila of a mekach taus this can not be decided by secular courts especially after IBD decided the question you cant then take it to other courts

            • 1. For the last time, a mekach taus is void immediately. It did not happen. there was no binding transaction because of the deception. The deposit was not the required fulfillment of accepting the admission and thus the money Additionally, Chicago has ruled not to send new kids there because of the percieved danger. But the mekach taus argument could stand even if the seminaries were actually finally a 100% safe.

              2. for the last time, the posted shtar berurin is signed by R. Feldman, Mr. Meisels and the principals working with him. There are no signatures by the Chicago BD. Please do not repeat that argument without noting that it was not signed by any member off the Chicago BD. I will delete all such comments unless you acknowledge those facts.

              3. Please do not repeat that the IBD has control rather than Chicago without acknowledging the counter arguments. Stop hocking by repeating arguments which already got responses as if no one answered you.

              In the interests of advancing the discussion and the quality of discussion, I will delete all such future comments. Say something new or come up with a new reply to something we said or a new criticism of existing arguments.

              You cannot win the argument just by being louder or more repetitive.

      • Mekach toas also on lack of college credits. Mekach toas on sending to a place in complete turmoil (even if it is under a microscope). M. was the main reason we were sending by daughter was so impressed with him. Without that she might have picked a different place. Mekach toas again.

  16. that’s true I tried to comment on daas torah and comment was blocked I guess for the same reason disagreeing with his daas .

  17. Mr. Lopin, I posted this question on an earlier thread, but have not seen an answer. I am truly puzzled at this missing piece of the puzzle.

    I don’t understand why anyone (especially the Israeli Beis Din) thinks that these non-profit 501(c)3 seminaries can be sold in order for the girls “to be safe.” There’s no possible way for it to be done legally.

    “No one person or group of people can own a nonprofit organization. You don’t see nonprofit shares traded on stock exchanges, and any equity in a nonprofit organization belongs to the organization itself, not to the board of directors or the staff. Nonprofit assets can be sold, but the proceeds of the sale must benefit the organization, not private parties.

    If you start a nonprofit and decide at some point in the future that you don’t want to do it anymore, you have to walk away from it and leave the running of the organization to someone else. Or, if the time has come to close the doors for good, any assets the organization owns must be distributed to other nonprofits fulfilling a similar mission.

    When nonprofit managers and consultants talk about “ownership” of a nonprofit organization, they’re using the word metaphorically to make the point that board members, staff, clients, and the community have a stake in the organization’s future success and its ability to provide needed programs.” http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-nonprofit-ownership.html

    Mr. Meisels could not have “owned” these seminaries (since they were registered as non-profits) or legally made a profit from them; he would only have been allowed to collect a salary as their administrator/principal/fund-raiser. It would not have been legal for him or his family to receive any monies from the “profits” generated, aside from salaries and remuneration for documented business expenses.

    Therefore, he cannot “transfer ownership.” Someone else could be hired by the board of the non-profit to take over his responsibilities, but that person too would only be allowed to collect a salary and reimbursement for expenses. No one takes over a non-profit to get rich. Another non-profit can take over this non-profit. But there is no earthly reason why a businessman (such as Mr. Yarmish) would want the headache of assuming the responsibility of running a non-profit that is riddled with scandal and subject to potential civil and perhaps criminal lawsuits and a thorough auditing of their books.

    Mr. Lopin, am I missing something here? I’ve heard mention that there’s a lawyer, Gottesman, who has been trying to arrange for the “sale”. A lawyer would surely know that it can’t be done. Now that there’s a Federal lawsuit pending, they’re going to audit the books. That may lead to more indictments than anyone bargained for when this whole disaster was exposed.

    • As I understand it — which is not well understood — there is a US NFP corporation, but the seminaries themselves may be Israeli entities of some kind, or perhaps separate compartments in Meisels’ wallet — “proprietorships,” if you will, rather than corporations. Maybe not even separate compartments, just “E. Meisels d/b/a Sems A,B,C and D”? Does Meisels or the US NFP own trademark rights in the Seminaries’ names? Copyrights in their promotional and educational materials? Who or what leases the buildings, and from whom? Who is deemed to own the “goodwill” or what used to be the “goodwill,” of the seminaries? I don’t think anyone has clarified this so far, or wanted to. Your point is well taken, and any BD passing on the validity of a transfer needs to look over the documentation — if it exists — with both US and Israeli lawyers and/or accountants to make sure it understands what is going on. The IBD seems to accept that if Meisels isn’t physically present on the premises, everything is fine, he has no leverage or control over anybody, no one will lose his/her job for talking or testifying, but it seems obvious to me that Meisels is the last person anyone should trust.

    • this might be a reason why the rico complaint could ruin those seminaries, even if none of the actual complaints come through…

  18. Humm… Aym Habayis in a seminary doesn’t wonder that one of her girls is AWOL at 3:00 am.
    Probably went to the Kosel for netz or sleepwalking somewhere. Maybe Sgt. Schultz should be in charge of security there.

  19. I just know its אסור to go to court u need 1st to go to jewish bies din
    and the biggest חילול השם is that bies did of chicago is letting people go to court……

    • Actually, a rav can give a psak. It does not require a Beis din. And it can been any competent rav, not just Chicago.

      Since you say that only a beis din can approve going to secular court, can you provide sources while also honestly pointing out the counter-sources.

  20. The simple reason it’s a מקח טעות is because, when they originally signed up, probably one of the reasons was because of the principle himself . Obviously ,people ,girls liked how he ran it ,not knowing the truth.he won’t be there,and who says the new person will know how to run it. Who,says,,under such controversy and cloud ,a school can give hashkafos of frumkeit when the head honcho is out for such reasons. Can a school really influence children under such circumstances? Will the topic of the year be this scandal? Can they guarantee they will finish the year? It’s clearly not what people signed up. The least they can do is offer a full refund to whomever will want, otherwise, they will be embroiled in this lawsuit, and the longer they postpone, the worse it will get.
    PS for those who are blocked from eidensohn blog,welcome to,the club.

    • Feel free to copy your comments and the time submitted and to past them here. Of course to be fair, don’t claim you were blocked because a few hours passed. Makes sure that a fair number of other comments by others were let through after the time you submitted.

      • It’s not just a claim, when I try to post I get this message, “We are unable to post your comment because you have been blocked by Daas Torah. ”
        The fact is ,he is so wrong on this case, that he can’t take criticism on what he writes, so in order that he won’t even see the criticism , he blocks you, that way, he himself won’t see your comments.
        Some of his claims so far which are so ridiculous which he won’t let me point out,
        1.This lawsuit is a blood libel.
        2.claims, this is a fictional story.
        3. “I do blame the victims”.
        4. Calls the people and beis din that are trying to get back their money, ” no rational human being would go”
        5. Calls someone else that questioned him, ” You are so biased against the chareidi community” ,simply because he disagrees with him.
        He has ruined his own name but making ridiculous claims and blocking people who criticize . If he can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. At this point, writing under what people can construe as true daas Torah, he is making a terrible CH with his views.
        Most of the time, in the last few scandals, there were just a few posters who agreed with him, the rest either were banned or didn’t bother to argue with someone so,irrational.

  21. Dass Torah,blames the victims, won”t let me post a rebuttal.
    I do blame the victims because it is obvious that this RICO suit is not a legitimate or helpful approach to the problem..
    My answer to him, he should get a new job instead of posting naurishkeit.

  22. More bad news? Look at the Masa website http://www.masaisrael.org/ Any program that I can think of is listed except 3. Any guesses? Masa is a program from the Israeli govt and the Jewish agency that supports students coming to Israel. Almost anyone can get a grant if they haven’t been there before recently in another program. Grants are up to $3,700, which goes to the school.

  23. In the meantime, in Har Nof, there is a lock down on speaking about this. Not even whispered conversations. Why, you ask? Because everyone there is related to someone employed at a Meisels Seminary. Nekoodah.

    • Kind of does sound like the mafia and organized crime. Everyone looks away to protect their jobs or their family’s jobs.

      The judge in the Madoff case didn’t buy the excuse of those who worked there of “I was only following orders, I didn’t know that I was helping perpetuate such a big fraud.”

      You can’t look away while someone is drilling a hole under someone else’s seat on the boat and think that you, too, wont go down when the boat sinks.

      More importantly, it’s a D’oraiysa – “Lo sa’amode al daam rei’echa.”

      To the teachers, staff and administrators that looked away and didn’t act – you were part of one of the biggest and most disgusting Chillulei Hashem our generation has ever seen.

      It should be a lesson to each one of us that every voice is important, starting with our own. It is possible that all that would have been needed would have been ONE whistleblower, and the whole thing would have very possibly snowballed to a halt, as it did now.

  24. New Yorkers may recall the Poly Prep abuse case that was settled in 2012 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly_Prep#Abuse_claims). The case, which involved RICO claims, has SOME similarities with the Meisels seminaries case (also many significant differences, including that the sexual perpetrator was merely a staff member). Judge Block disallowed most of the RICO claims that were put forward, but permitted some that arose through Poly Prep’s ‘reputation management’. I found Judge Block’s analysis of the elements of RICO claims quite clarifying. His memorandum is here: https://www.nyed.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions/9cv4586mo8282012.pdf

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