Language matters. For some time now the Meisels controversy has been understood by many as a disagreement between a rabbinical court (Beis Din) in Israel and a court in Chicago. The shorthand is the Chicago Beis Din (CBD) versus the Israeli Beis Din (IBD) or just Chicago versus Israel.
Chicago does indeed have a Beis Din as that term is understood in Jewish law. The CBD under its formal name, the “Special Beis Din” specialized in abuse for over 14 years and is a beis din kavuah (permanent/ongoing court) recognized by all factions in Chicago’s orthodox community from moderns to the Haredim. It investigated sex abuse allegations against Meisels at length, secured the services of investigators, authenticated electronic messages, heard testimony from victims and the accused, and delivered its conclusions: the seminaries are not safe because of Meisels’ history of misconduct and the staff who ignored, enabled, or covered it up.
The IBD doesn’t even deserve to call itself a Beis Din. It is just three rabbis. An ad hoc conglomeration of three rabbis cannot call itself a Beis Din just because its members are learned. A Beis Din has to have a plaintiff. For all of their hollering through their apparent spokesman, R. Eidensohn, they have all but admitted that they have no plaintiff. Not a single abuse victim agreed to entrust their claims to this rump group. Nor did the victims ever authorize anyone else to act on their behalf with this trio. This is painfully clear from the IBD’s internal correspondence and reports of their proceedings. Thus the correct term for them is the 3IRs (3 Israeli Rabbis). Shamefully, the 3IRs have misrepresented themselves as a Beis Din in order to throw dirt into the judicial efforts of Chicago to protect students.
The only apparent function of the 3IRs is to protect a business and its jobs. The 3IRs keep concealing the details, proclaiming everything safe and saying “trust us.” Not once have they ever uttered a word of condemning abuse. Not once have they offered a word of compassion to victims or anxious students and parents. They are hell bent on owning customers by blocking them from getting refunds. They should be assailed with the admonition of the Elijah the Prophet, “haratzachtah vigam yorashta,” will you murder (students by sexually abusing them) and also inherit (their tuition).”
The 3IRs are not a Beis din. They are a business protection scam.
Israel has its share of convicted politicians including an orthodox ex-president convicted of rape. Chicago has had more than its share of crooked politicians and gangsters. But it also has its untouchables. I applaud Chicago for standing its ground and not acquiescing to the shenanigans of the 3 Israeli Rabbis.
UPDATE 8/15/14 – Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn delivered a broad ranging attack on me titled: “Seminary Scandal: CBD’s spokesman Frum Follies attacks the IBD as not being a real beis din.” He is upset that I delegitimized his favored “Beis Din” in Israel. and he goes on an all out attack on me. He is particularly hung up on the status war and disrespect to his favorites.