How Meisels Recruited — Guest Post

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

The blogger “Many Tears Ago” posted Escaping Peninim which she has graciously allowed me to re-post. Many have questioned whether Meisels was also using his recruitment to further his abuse of girls as alleged in the RICO component of the court filings by parents seeking the return of their tuition deposits. Read this and decide for yourselves. I have heard similar stories about other students during the recruitment process.

Escaping Peninim

This is the story of a gorgeous Bais Yaakov girl who got accepted to Peninim seminary.

Oh, but then she got accepted to a seminary with a far better reputation. So she notified Rabbi Meisels of Peninim that she would not be attending. And he blew up! He called her school, her parents, her aunts, uncles, neighbors, and family Rabbonim attempting to convince them that Peninim was the best seminary for her in the hopes that they would reach out to her. When that did not work, he threatened her and her family that she would never get married. He threatened her younger sister’s chances of getting into seminary and getting shidduchim.

Obviously, this just turned off the family and the girl even more. The girl went to the other seminary and pushed this unpleasant incident out of her mind.

Fast forward to this summer when the news broke about Meisels sexually abusing students in Peninim and his other 3 seminaries and this girl’s family heard the news… they remembered how Meisels insisted she come to Peninim and would not let her go. At the time, it seemed very strange. No one could explain it. Now, it made sense. All the pieces fit together. He accepted her to his seminary because he thought she was “good prey” and when she didn’t come, he could not handle losing a girl he almost had his hands on.

This is the sick mind of Meisels, the man running the seminaries that so many of our girls have been going to for years. The man trusted with the lives of girls at 4 seminaries for a full year, living overseas from their parents. A very sick twisted mind indeed.
If you or anyone you know had a similar experience or was abused by Meisels, I am willing to share your story on my blog anonymously. Please email me at *manytearsago@gmail.com.


*The above email address is part of the message by the blogger, “Many Tears Ago.” To contact Yerachmiel Lopin, the blogger of Frum Follies, go to the instructions on the upper right of this page.

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50 thoughts on “How Meisels Recruited — Guest Post

  1. I cant believe he actually went to those lengths to get you into his seminary. Now that I think about, how does he know a potential student well enough (just from an interview) to know how you will benefit from his seminary?
    I was in pninim many years ago, and towards the end of the year i started getting very close to him. I get home, and my friend who is still there tells me that she heard that he wants me to come back for shana bet. Of course, being on the “israel high”, I wanted to go but my parents refused. He even said that he would speak to them personally and try to persuade them to cough up another couple thousand $. Turns out I didnt end up going. Now that I see whats happening, Im glad i didnt fall for it

    • Every yeshiva and Seminary that has a shana bet program encourages its students to attend, and even calls the parents of the students to try to get them to agree. As such, I wouldn’t read too much into his attempts to get you to return.

  2. Anyone who would prey on naive young ladies thousands of miles from home, AND seek to get certain girls into one of his seminaries for vile purposes, is a rasha m’rusha, a menuval, and most likely a sociopath.
    Other than that, he is a fine rav

  3. Yerachmiel- I nomally highly enjoy your posts…but this one I did not at all.

    I’m sorry. But in in short- this “post” (or whatever it is) sounds like it was written in a very amateur and angry way. You know how I feel about Meisles and this whole thing…I feel very strongly.

    But this is ridiculous. For many reasons.

    I’ll explain more later.

    • TruthSeeker, I disagree. I think this post was a very important one.

      You wrote this comment publically, not to Yerachmiel’s email address. So, why don’t you explain what it is about this post you think is ridiculous?

      In terms of the writer being angry – wouldn’t you be angry to find out that you were unknowingly pursued by a sexual predator who was masked and hiding in Rabbi’s clothing and that you were this close to being a victim?

      • Seriously- you’re right. I made the comment public.

        For the sake of educating everyone, I may post the response I gave to YL.

        Please understand that there are a number of things to take into consideration here.

        Hopefully will post more soon explaining..

  4. “A very sick twisted mind indeed.”
    Look who’s talking!! You hear one simple story, and then you “know” that it’s because she’s “beautiful” (where’s your tznius?)!! That is the prime example of a twisted mind just out there to get and say what you want!!!

    • Feivish – What part of “Guest Post” don’t you understand? Yerachmiel did not write this, a post-seminary girl wrote it.

      And as she herself said, she couldn’t understand why Meisels was calling her family’s rabbanim, aunts, uncles, neighbors, school principals and using threats JUST to get her to come to his seminary instead of her going to another seminary. Having the confidence to know that she was a beautiful Bais Yaakov girl, and now seeing all that Meisels has been found guilty of and admitted to, it all makes sense to her.

      • What a ridiculous post. Every principal works hard to get the best students for their school. This young lady may have been particularly bright, or a leader, maybe even a unique role model that would contribute significantly to the energy of the school. Ridiculous. This has gone too far.

        • Let us just say his motives were innocent, why the the threats to shidduchim. Let us just say he was such a gangster about threats to shidduchim, even if you think he was not motivated by sexual considerations, this gives you an idea of how he got other girls never to report him.

          • I don’t believe the shiduch threat in this accounting is accurate, It’s not a smart thing to say to incoming students or their parents or Rabanim or principals. It doesn’t win people over and would be counterproductive when trying to recruit. If in fact this entire story has legitimacy, I think the shiduch threat was thrown in for added drama. It worked.

            Blogmaster’s message to Cool as a cucumber: you are now on your third name. Sockpuppeting is a violation of the commenting policy. Any further violations and you will be banned from further commenting. Yerachmiel Lopin

            • Wow! You are bochain clayos. You are insisting he would never do it because a reasonable person would never risk his reputation. But then a rational, successful seminary operator wouldn’t have pursued multiple sexual liaisons which have turned out to be “counterproductive.” We are dealing with some mixture of lust and arrogance. Nechemya Weberman (now serving a sentence of several decades) also played the shidduch threat card, quite successfully for years, till one young woman finally brought him down in a criminal trial for sexual assault. With guys, Weberman would threaten to tell people that they were regularly caught in homosexual acts.

      • Come on! This is a bit silly. Any institution which relies on its students to give its reputation will fight tooth and nail to stop someone (with a good name presumably) from going somewhere else. I personally find it unpleasant, but there is absolutely no indication that his motives were as you say.
        Yerachmiel I expected better from you. Your doing yourself a disservice

    • Comment deleted to avert an unproductive use of Nazi analogies. We can defy the predictions of Godwin’s Law.

      “Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies)[1][2] is an Internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1″ [2][3]—​ that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.”

      “For example, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.[8] “

      • As my mention of the Holocaust was tohighlight the aabsurdity of No Da’as and No Torah’s comparison to blood libels, I believe my comment should have been allowed.

        • The solution to inflated rhetoric is not escalation even by indirect reference. The solution, which avoids mutual escalation, is to criticize he usage by pointing out that it is exaggerated and inappropriate. I believe RDE has shot himself in the foot by the blood libel analogy. Why let him off the hook by being charged with the same thing.

          In years of watching flame wars, I have never seen a reasoned outcome to mutual rhetorical escalation. When it happens, most readers are turned off and stop attending to commenting exchanges. I believe we are all responsible not just for the soundness of our thinking, but for maintaining collective settings conducive to productive exchanges.

          One of the problems of the Haredi world is censorship of honest debates. For some participants this is a rare forum where healthy exchanges are possible. I am intent on preserving the civility necessary for that to flourish.

  5. Listen, while it is possible that he had nefarious plans in mind, this is all a load of conjecture. The student herself writes that she was accepted into a seminary with a far better reputation. Anyone who knows the competitive nature of the seminary world would understand that this alone would be enough of a reason for Meisels to pursue her, so as to bolster the reputation of his school by having a student that could have gone to “fill in the blank.” When I was choosing a Yeshiva in Israel 20 years ago, my parents were getting phone calls from all sorts of people trying to get them to send me to their institutions. This does not mean that some Rabbis had me on their radar for sexual adventures, it just means that recruiting for any of these types of places is brutal, and a few successes or failures can mean the difference of a good or bad year for a school, which has tremendous implications for their next year of recruiting going forward, and so forth.

    • Please don’t tell me that every yeshiva recruits by threatening to destroy shidduchim of anyone who goes elsewhere. By equating Meisels’ recruiting methods with everyone else’s you are implying that every yehiva is run by gangsters and extortionists.

  6. K here goes…for whoever is interested in what I have to say/ have the patience to read all this, here is why I am not in love with this recent post:

    1) it was written in a terrible terrible way. Yerachmiel- you yourself are a highly objective/intelligent/ factual person and you know that it takes just those three things in order for ppl to take things seriously on a blog. Go back and read what this girl wrote. From the very first sentence it sounds amateur and UNRELIABLE. Being a reliable source myself (I hope you see me as that), I want to tell you that there were many many girls with crushes on Meisles who MADE UP in their heads that he hit on them (when he rlly was just being charming and trying to simply get everyone to like him…but it was not in a sex predator way to get to them. Altho yes, it certainly was part of his scheme to create competition). I cannot begin to tell you how girls would literally make up in their imaginations fantasies abt him when rlly he had ZERO interest. But you know already that I was clearly aware of the girls/staff members he WAS interested in and I highly suspected and opened my mouth big time etc. I am trying to say that this “gorgeous seminary girl” might not have been so gorgeous and she simply saw herself as that and is now almost confidently claiming that she would have been a victim of Meisles if she had gone. I know very very pretty girls in pninim but Meisles almost nvr spoke to them simply bc looks was not everything he sought. And now comes this girl saying “she was gorgeous and he wanted her”. Not. True. Again, I cannot begin to tell you how many girls giggled in his midst and would make up in their minds that “omg he is giving me so much unwanted attention. He obviously likes me.”

    2) I am not doubting Meisles getting upset that she didn’t come. But honestly, I wonder if she exaggerated all the things he had done. The entire post seemed very emotional and unreliable. No one here to back her statement up. We see only one expert from an anonymous girl none if us have heard from (I know I myself am anonymous, but I have posted plenty of personal info in that way hopefully ppl will see me as real and reliable). I mean, the girl didn’t even GO to pninim in the end. Nothing happened to her. All the post was about was “well she COULD have been a victim.” But she wasn’t. She had nothing to do with the school. Ever.

    3) like I said, not doubting Meisles got upset that she didn’t come. BUT. I know for a FACT that this was typical of Meisles to do when he truly felt a girl belonged in pninim to grow there. I know from a very specific experience. He once was telling me how distraught and upset he was that this girl he interviewed didn’t end up going to pninim. He tried very much to get her to come. She was NOT ATTrACTIVE in the least bit. That claim is objective. Trust me. The girl was truly (probably to some) even considered unattractive. And by knowing this girl personality a bit, she would have never been chosen as a victim of Meisles. Meisles reacted badly when he truly felt a girl belonged in pninim to grow. Period.

    I guess the post bothered me a lot bc I know how stupid and self-centered and guy-hungry seminary girls can be by claiming a rabbi went out of his way to seek their attention when it wasn’t TRUE. I like posts that sound RELIABLE and not angry and subjective. This was simply the opposite of all those things.

    I am not saying that he didn’t threaten her shidduch perspectives. But it sounds like this was fabricated. I’m not saying it was. I’m saying it SOUNDS like it was.

    Again, everyone knows that I am certainly NOT a Meisles fan. The extreme opposite.

    But.

    YL, to take this random post from a random girl and give it the honor for an actual post on FF.

    In short tho, I feel the post was weak and should not have been posted. If you had wanted to possibly convince others or “show them proof” with an account, this (in my strong opinion) was NOT the post to put on your blog.

    If you wanted to post something on recruitment grooming process (a good and important topic, of course!) it should have been well explained, more sophisticatedly written and sounded more reliable (amongst many other things).

    To be truthful, I’m afraid it might actually taint some of the reliable feelings ppl feel towards you an your blog.

    I do not mean to criticize you publicly on the blog- but I felt I needed to post this just to get some info out there for others. Again, thank you for all of your dedicated work on the Meisles Scandal. I’m still cheering for FrumFollies, nonetheless.

    -TruthSeeker

      • I agree with Rational Faith. The poster would not have qualified for a Nobel Prize in Literature. What a picayune trifle to seize upon. Either this was a very legitimate post, re someone (we really do not know re whom), or the poster is a fake. I doubt that YL should have accepted this for publication unless he had basis for believing that she was not a phoney. TruthSeeker, you are extremely articulate, way way beyond your years, “my goodness” you once wrote. Maturity is seen in all of your writings. but even you, after your first few posts, had a change of heart. The residual respect you had for him got swallowed up in reality. As it should have been. In the beginning you were somewhat ambivalent re Meisels. You know this, your friend who you read your posts to, told you that you sounded like a abuse victim or some such thing. . (this is a compliment, i read most of what you write). I think you are overreacting to this post, perhaps because you hate drama. perhaps because you were totally turned off by the “gorgeous” adjective. Do we actually know that this is a first person account? I missed a day here or there, did the poster ever come out and say that it was her story????? Did i miss that?
        In summary, the behavior of M. in calling i elu relatives, teachers, and threatening re shidduchim portrays a very sick man. And furthermore, since all of that stuff had already been said about him. one might question why this young lady, felt the need to write her post. Different reporter, different style. Her style offended you. Certainly not as badly as M’s behavior. You have been a source of tremendous information on this blog, i just hope that you can refrain from telling others, “let’s move on”, you are not the blog owner. A bit of tzniyut please. And I pray you do not take offense. You have been a wealth of information here, and appreciated by everybody, afilu those who l’hatchila questioned your motivations.

        • once again people. this is not written as a first person account. It is written by the sister of the young woman whose story involved Meisels’ recruitment efforts.

        • Chashdan- I don’t agree with all you said just now, but that’s alright.

          I never claimed this was 100% fake. It might very well be true. I just would have never assigned it a post on FF.

          Thank you for your post. Every word (which I agree or disagree with) is appreciated.

          – Truth

        • I don’t want to waste ppls precious time, but I just needed to comment on your “tznius” claim of me.

          How on earth did my post make me come off as “un-tznius”? This just came off as a bit of a sexist remark, in my opinion. I had requested for ppl to “move on” from my post which aposed Yerachmiel. Not HIS post. I simply did not want the focus to be on me alone, bc I humbly do not feel my opinion is worth lingering on. So I did it out of respect for YL. Not to “take charge of the blog”.

          It is hard not to take the tznius comment offensively. But I will try my best lol.

          K thanks again for your response either way.

    • I have no trouble being criticized. Well to be honest it hurts a bit. But that is par for course when participating in open, honest exchanges. I don’t want people sparing my feelings if it curtails productive open debate. I believe in accountability and my blog is the better because I have learned from my critics.

      I would not have put up the story if I did not hear similar stories from two community rabbonim or mechanchim, neither from Chicago, who reported their own encounters with these recruitment patterns and suspicious patterns of high pressure sales as it affected girls they knew personally. In both cases the rabbis factually stated the girls were very beautiful. I have no reason to assume those rabbis were misjudging attractiveness. As a rule, haredi rabbis avoid commenting on that sort of thing (unless perhaps they are hawking a shidduch). Both also had specific vulnerabilities that were known to Meisels. In both cases the pattern disturbed the rabbis at the time. Only in retrospect did they come to suspect that there was a sexual motive.

      Meisels may have enjoyed the atmosphere of competition by girls for his attention and the anxieties provoked in others by beautiful competitors. In fact I would say that Meisels was playing two games at once. He was subliminally putting all girls in competition with each other for his attention and favor where the beauty contest was part of the game. This injected a sexualized dimension into public events where there was no overt sexual component. This made it easier for him to truthfully say, “I know what you want.” These students were inadequately educated to appreciate their own sexual feelings which he was stoking in public but in a deniable manner.

      this is all a long way of saying that plenty of girls he never hit on could nevertheless have been recruited or manipulated to make his seductions easier and his assaults harder to resist.

      Perhaps the author was wrong to believe her sister would have been targeted sexually. But it was reasonable for her to fear that possibility.

      TruthSeeker,

      You are evaluating the sister’s perceptions from the point of view of someone who actually observed the hothouse atmosphere of peninim. You may be wrong in assuming that this prospective student (let alone her observing sister) were embroiled in that game. The fact that she rejected the overtures suggests she might have been immune to Meisels’ charm.

      Because we do not have full videos of Meisels’ interactions, we need to rely on verbal descriptions of various aspects of his conduct. For all of the questions you raise, I feel this sort of report is part of aseembling a composite picture to help educate and sensitize the community to Pied Pipers like Meisels.

      That is why I put up this post. I strongly suspect we will find more confirmation of this pattern as the story continues to unfold.

      • Completely agree with everything you’ve said.

        Like said before, in short, I feel a post on “Meisles grooming since interviews” is very helpful.

        But I think this was majorly the wrong thing to post to stand for that topic.

        You’ve been an inspiration to me personally in many ways. Please don’t stop making the world a better place with FrumFollies and in any other way.

    • A. The post was clearly labelled as “comment” and personal ( of course subjective) opinion of the girl writing. B. Intelligent reading of it leads to major point of posting this: shidduch threats ! C. You say (twice) that you know Meisels believed: a girl belonged there ” to grow there “. Luckily for us, you left out “grow” in what way. This requires a major psychological treatise on Meisel’s approach to what young women/girls learning in seminary and entrusted to their staff actually means and also ignores all his financial interests in having students enrolled.
      sad sad and triple sad.

      • Sara- I know it was posted as a guest/personal comment.

        Again, I cannot stress this enough- I do not think this was worthy of an individual post on FF. I feel the topic is imperative, but the post weak.

        That is all.

    • Your casting doubt upon the author’s claims is rooted solely in baseless speculation and perhaps something even worse, God forbid. Do you believe it is healthy that you think you have an idea of what type of girl Meisels was “into” as his preferred prey? Is it healthy that you are even speculating about that? Do you think it is a reasonable situation that when a young woman claims she was threatened, you disbelieve her claim because she was described as gorgeous and you are attempting to judge whether she would truly be fit for Meisel’s affections or not? (forget about the fact that you don’t even know the girl, but even if you actually knew her. As an outsider, I sense something very wrong with this situation and perhaps it has to do with how this predator conditioned his followers and students to think about him).

      I will now state a hypothetical: If someone is a cult figure who manipulates others into situations to commit abuse and assault on them, wouldn’t said person be very interested in building up their public persona in the eyes of other people, including those he does not abuse? Wouldn’t said person be very interested in convincing others of his pure, golden motives about those whom he supposedly felt could really benefit from his institution and teaching? Doesn’t every cult figure promote the idea that no other teacher or leader will suffice aside from him?

      I think you need to reevaluate (or perhaps forget) everything you think you knew about this man. It sounds like he impressed upon you what a tragedy it is that someone forgoes his teachings. But that does not make it so. And does not make it sincere concern about another person even if you thought it was at the time and were genuinely convinced of it at the time.

      Being selected as prey in the crosshairs of a predator, which may be what happened in this case, is not an achievement. The guest post certainly doesn’t characterize it that way. Lastly, your claim that “nothing happened to her.” is blatantly false if we assume the account to be true. According to the account, he threatened her and her family that he would use his connections to prevent her from getting married, etc. That is not “nothing” and you are in no place to judge that as nothing.

  7. TruthSeeker,
    You do have valid points.
    Alot of people that have gone to Pninim and have become familiar with this case, naturally are saying ‘oh i knew it all along’, and stuff like that.
    Obviously, alot of people are sickened by what happened and are now thinking back to anything Rabbi Meisels ever did and wondering if it could have been part of his creepy perverted plan all along. You cant necessarily blame these ppl for thinking that way, its just part of the reaction.

    • Who said I am blaming? 😉

      Of course, it is a natural reaction to look back and say “I knew it”.

      But I beg of ppl to please be objective.

  8. Even if Meisels had no untoward intentions toward this girl when trying to recruit her, his tactics were still totally out of line and tell something about his character. Namely about his oversize ego, feelings of entitlement to act in an inappropriate manner, and lack of boundaries.

  9. One more comment-

    I said that from the first sentence it seemed emotional and unreliable.

    I should have really said “from the title itself it seemed emotional and unreliable”.

    “Escape from Pninim?” That sounds like the name of a novel or saga of some sort.

    The girl did not even GO to pninim. This also makes her seem just very dramatic for no reason.

    Okay. Sorry, I do not feel like I/we should heavily focus on this. I think I’ve said what I wanted to say. Let’s move on to topics which deserve more attention and pondering..

    • Sounds like you haven’t gotten completely past the need to defend your alma mater. Natural enough, but that does not justify your attempts to question another person’s feelings upon realization that she or her sister had come uncomfortably close to being a Weasel Measel victim.

      • Rational Faith- I think this is the first time we disagree on something.

        I have been respectful and calm while explaining my opinion on this post. I am in no way trying to convince ppl of how I feel.

        Your biting remarks are not appreciated. Please watch how you word things.

        • TruthSeeker and Rational Faith,

          I think you have both effectively presented your differing views. Further exchanges are not advancing your positions nor are they likely to change anyone else’s. But the back and forth may wear out readers. I suggest you two call a truce.

  10. She and her story are only an “Ed Achod” and is not even believed in a jewish court of law, but you get such glee and nachas to find another piece of Shmutz on a jew, oy what do you gain from this constant stories, your no tzadik… your the biggest sinner with this Loshon Hora I don’t know whats awaiting you??

  11. if you want a totally different story look at daas torah blog its a complete 180 its truly amazing
    and yes this entire article is pretty lame to say the least

    • If you want a totally different take on reality read No Da’as and No Torah. Up is down, white is black, abusers are victims and victims are abusers.

      The Eidenson Brothers are the embodiment of people for who torah is sam hamaves. Krum does not began to describe them.

      They are angry at CBD for not bowing to Chaim Malinowitz because Malinowitz has championed the cause of the loser husbands who enjoy torturing their estranged wives, just ad the Eidenson Boys have come to the defense of the same creeps. Truthfully, they just sound angry, especially at the fairer half of the human race.

      Dysfunctional losers love these guys. I’ve never met a normal man who has any use for them or their stuff mixing blog.

  12. Just read the document of the CBDs conditions that Meisles must follow…so embarrassing..

    I must say, even tho I suspected strongly/disrespected his inappropriate behavior ever since seminary, once in a while this whole thing hits me real hard.

    He was a super-star. Literally.

    And now being spoken to and treated like a child.

    I think all the things the CBD outlined were more than extremely appropriate and necessary. Good for them for putting such strict boundaries on Meisles.

    (Altho I don’t see his signature on the document..)

  13. A few more things-

    I hope ppl do not get the feeling that Pninim was some sort of “prison” where the atmosphere and sole purpose was to “sex-traffic” girls. Chas v’shalom.

    I want to remind everyone that I went there and it was an outstanding place. Words cannot begin to describe how I felt about my seminary year there (and many of my friends can say the same). Girls from BJJ would want to walk into our night shiurim bc they claimed our classes were so much better and inspirational. Pninim is a *very* special place and I hope no one out there looks at it as some sort of “prison” (ref- “escape from pninim” title).

    – To add to the Meisles-grooming talk, I wanna say that one time I asked him “why can’t u just teach a class or two and just leave? Why do u need to engage in such personal ways with the girls if u know it is causing them to look at u in non-tzniusdik ways? Just so your job, teach, run the seminary, and go home.”

    He told me that if it weren’t for the line of girls out the door waiting to talk to him abt their problems, he wouldn’t be able to stand running a seminary. He’d nvr be able to simply give over a shiur to teach material. The real adrenaline came from the personal contact with the girls. He truly wanted to help ppl (Altho we all know that this turned into a very twisted kind of desire to help ppl).

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