Soliciting Questions for a Meisels/Seminaries FAQ

FAQThis drama is not likely to end soon. I find myself answering the same questions over and over in response to comments. Oftentimes other commentators and I duplicate each others efforts. So it makes sense to have post exclusively devoted to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

This post is not a FAQ. In fact, i am only soliciting questions. A good question is brief, very brief and to the point. I will only approve or leave up comments that either suggest questions or offer brief answers suitable for the FAQ format. I will periodically put posts with answers (crediting commenters who wrote them or contributed to them). Roughly speaking, 50 words is the limit for a good answer. I will produce a separate master listing of the FAQs if the number should grow.

Thank you for your contributions.

Remember the rules:

1. Questions should be no longer than a sentence and should be simple and direct.

2. Answers should  be 50 words or less.

3. Avoid debating each other. Just offer better alternatives if you can.



52 thoughts on “Soliciting Questions for a Meisels/Seminaries FAQ

  1. 1: Did Meisels sign the document from May 19th detailing the steps that the CBD felt needed to be taken?
    2: If yes, what changed in July that caused the CBD to feel that those conditions were insufficient going forward, leading them to notify the public?

    • 1- I have not been able to confirm that he did.

      2- Clearly, as of July 10th when the Chicago BD went public, almost two months had passed since it specified its conditions and he was still not in compliance, still retaining control of the seminaries and with no evidence of internal steps to identify enablers and those who covered up. That the IBD/3IRs sprang into play to declare everthing was OK after no action till then convinced Chicago that the IBD/3IRs were not reliable partners in rooting out the problems they knew about with other staff.

      Then the the IBD/3IRs announced a transfer to Yankie Yarmush. But the IBD/3IRs have never ever clarified their proof to Chicago nor have they even named the new directors or specified anything about who held the accounts. I completely agree with Chicago. At this point it has no basis for trusting the IBD/3IRs.

  2. is there any proof that the IBD was appointed by the CBD? what was the nature of that appointment?
    how does this affect the CBD’s ability to weigh in on the sems?

    • The “proof” is a shtar beirurin purported to have been signed in the presence of one of the CBD Rabbis, with R’ Aharon Feldman as a “pro forma” representative of the victims. The validity of this “shtar beirurin,” lacking a real tove’a and not actually signed by the CBD, has been rehashed ad nausea here and on Daas Torah.

  3. Thank you for starting FAQ. I personaly feel like I am full of only questions and no answers!

    1.What if he really is innocent? How do we know we arent blowing things out of proportion?
    2. Whats wrong with sending to the seminaries if Meisels is gone?
    3. How would a staff member of peninim have known that something was going on?
    4. Wich seminaries shouldnt be sent to? Should a seminary be considered dangerous becuase Meisels gave them money?
    5. What happens to all the girls who would have benefited from Meisels seminaries?
    6. Whats the deal with all the batei dinim?
    7. What happened to listening to gedolim?
    8. There is so much out there how do we know what to belive? What is fact and what is fiction? How do we know who to believe? Maybe this blog is written by a sworn enemy of Meisels.. How do we know? Or a religion hater?
    9. Is blogging really going to help the situation?
    10. Where can we find the other side of the story?
    11. Will this confusione ever be cleared up? Will any of the questions be answered?
    12. Why is this occupying a lot more time and effort on your blog then other scandals?
    Thank you in advance!

    • I or others will compose answers in order of priority for the needs of the reading public.

      In short, you are asking why don’t I agree with Daniel Eidensohn’s frenetic defense of the IBD/3IRs and his attacks on the CBD. Your questions would be more interesting if they reflected a careful reading of both sides. For example, Q # 1 would be more useful if it acknowledged the available evidence of guilt, even by the IBD/3IRs. etc.

      Instead of asking me why i am spending so much time on this case, why not ask: “Why has this case consumed so much attention on so many blogs, especially on Frum Follies and on RDE’s Daas Torah?”

      You might want to aim for more balance instead of slyly insinuating things if you want your questions to be taken seriously. Yours is a laundry list of the absurd, the unbalanced and the mis-stated. Try paring it down and taking yourself and the readers seriously.

    • In answer to one and ten and 8, he confessed there is no other side. In answer to 2, and 3: they knew he was not complying with hilchos yichud.

      In answer to your last question. It is because of the ongoing tuition deposit dispute. That these seminaries that failed in there duties until now would refuse to return the deposits is chutzpa beyond belief.

  4. I actually have not spent much time reading Daniel Eidensohns blog. I am just confused and unsure what to believe. I am looking for clarity and an understanding of what really happened and what I am supposed to think.
    Is there even evidence of guilt? I dont know. My questions are “uninteresting” because I am totally ignorant. I dont know much, and that is why I am asking those questions. So that I will understand and get rid of my ignorance of the whole situation.

    • Your claims of ignorance may be true, but they are an ignorance clearly informed by reading RDE’s blogs at length and not bothering to read the other side. I find the claim of ignorance disingenuous in light of the totality and tone of your questions. Really?

  5. 1. When did the CBD originally contact the IBD and for what?
    2. What was the reason and purpose Rav Feldman got involved and why did he leave?
    3.Is the IBD using eidensohns blog to trash the CBD and if so, why?
    4. The bottom line, are girls going to the seminary or did some back out, and how many ?
    PS I fully respect both batei dinim, and I can only assume there was some major miscommunication between the two. One should not take my questions in any other way.

    • The CBD did not contact the IBD at first. They had an ongoing investigation going back for months. Around May of 2014 they concluded their investigation enough to write out conditions for Meisels which Eidensohn and I posted. These conditions included Meisels completely removing himself from any contact with potential victims, entering therapy, reporting to some party (undesignated) regularly, and completely removing himself from any direct or indirect involvement in “decision making” for the seminaries still at that point under his control.

      At that point there was no IBD/3IRs. Rabbi Cohen of CBD discussed the case with others at a periodic Torah Umesora meeting in May 2014. Rabbi Feldman offered to help deal with the issues on the Israeli end. R. Feldman had lived in Israel for ~25 years before coming to NIRC/Baltimore in ~2000. At this point the trail gets muddy about who RAF approached and how the IBD/3IRs were assembled, what authorization they had, etc. What is clear is that at some point between the initial contact and July 10th the relationship broke down to the point we are now at.

      My best guess is that the relationshp was already strained by Malinowitz’s lies about R. Cohen and their failure to force Meisels to completely divest himself of any control of the seminaries, and the failure of the 3IRs/IBD to deal with those seminary staff who enabled the abuse. Perhaps, the CBD thought that issuing their ruling about attending would give the 3IRs/CBD the leverage to finally force Meisels to comply. But then the 3IRs/IBD responded by saying the seminaries were great apart from 1 unnamed person who was no longer there and the parents should all stick to their fall enrollment plans. At that point all further collaboration became impossible.

      At least about 10% of potential attendees are not going even though most have either not gotten refunds or not found other seminary placements. I suspect many more would switch enrollments if they could both get refunds and find alternative seminary slots.

        • I do not. However, neither a beis din nor a court needs the consent of the affected parties for the ruling to be binding. In secular courts there is an appeal option, though the ruling is binding pending appeal (unless the court “stays” it). Beis din does not have appeals. Yep, that is how the system works.

  6. Deleted for trolling. Identical misleading question were asked and answered. Also deliberately named individuals with no apparent purpose other than using this site to harass them. Banned from further commenting.

    This sort of commenting keeps popping up under new names while i play a game of whack a mole. It seems to have some commonalities with traits of some behind the scenes efforts of trolls in the service of the seminaries, especially Chedvas Bais Yaakov run by Meir Kahane. Like many aspects of the conduct of the IBD/3IRs, and the thrust of R. Eidensohn’s screeds, the thrust is confusing what is not that complicated a story. In short Chicago is focused on protecting prospective students by locating the enablers and the cover-up artists; the IBD/3IRs are intent on protecting the business and the jobs.

    I will not play these games. To save my time and the quality of discussion, I will be deleting such further efforts with no more notice and with less patience. It is no mitzvah to indulge mischief.

    Yerachmiel Lopin

  7. True, but I am sure that you are also aware that documents with conditions like that are sometimes prepared during the course of negotiations, and then modified one way or another. Is there any way of knowing if this list of conditions was a final ruling or one several suggestions in terms of resolving the mess?

    • Sources who spoke to the a member of the Chicago Beis Din were told the version leaked by Eidensohn was indeed the final version. I have no idea of any earlier versions existed or whether and how they may have differed, or whether any earlier drafts which may have existed had the approval of the Beis Din as a whole. So I cannot entertain any further questions about an hypothetically different earlier versions. Put simply, the leaked version is it as far as I know.

  8. 1. We have heard that other seminaries have been forbidden to accept girls from these 4 schools. Is this correct? And if so, is the ruling being obeyed?

    2. What is the status of TI’s relationship with these schools?

    3. Comment: We are extremely uncomfortable with theses seminaries. At this point, we are strongly considering keeping our daughter home for the year, and sending her next year.

      1. Technically, they are only forbidden by the IBD/3IRs from actively competing to take away accepted students. In fact this ruling was issued without any arbitration agreement between the only overt competitor, Nachlas. Thus this is a ruling, like others issued by the IBD/IRs that lacks real halachic justification. However, many seminaries have been intimidated, unlike Nachlas, into not actively seeking students. Others have avoided accepting. others have been quietly accepting them. If you are approaching others, i would not emphasize the CBD ruling. Instead just focus on the sense that alternative x is in your judgment a better option at this point. They will understand of course but it will help them avoid the indelicate matter of seeming to be in defiance.

      2. TI (of CHicago’s Hebrew Theological College) and Touro College have suspeneded their accreditation of the 4 seminaries. All indications are that they will stay suspended until the Chicago Special Beis Din advises them to lift the suspension. Hence no credits or US government aid through TI or Touro.

      3. I have discussed the refunds lawsuit with some attorneys. It will probably succeed sometime during the coming year. obviously the defendants will try to delay and to get it dismissed on summary judgment just by legal briefs. But that will almost definitely fail. At that point the legal process will include discovery and depositions of defendants and other relevant witnesses. The material which would be revealed and become public would be devastating to the reputations of all four defendants. so they will doubtlessly settle, probably for the full amounts of the tuition payments and related fees pluse the lawyer fees for the defendants. In short, if you join the suit, you will probably get all your money back within a year and probably sooner. However, do not count on it being certified as a class action. That is iffy until the attorney has 20-40 plaintiffs.

      • YL: i assume your post about a class action had a typo, and that you meant the attorney needs 20-40 plaintiffs to get the case to be a class-action lawsuit

      • Regarding the lawsuit and refunds of deposits:

        Meisels & Co are businessmen. They surely consulted with their attorneys to weigh the pros and cons of returning the deposits to parents requesting refunds, and I would be extremely surprised if Meisels & Co didn’t take into consideration a group of parents initiating a class action suit for refunds. I would guess that Meisels & Co did a cost-benefit analysis. Similar to how major corporations unethically decide that it is worth paying for the lawsuit claims of the probable X number of deaths resulting from the fault in their product, because a recall of their product would cost significantly more than X, I would venture to guess that Meisels & Co did the same type of calculation. This is a businessman who ran 4 extremely lucrative businesses. He may be a sexual predator, but that doesn’t make him stupid. Not only that, he knew about this scandal many months ago and I would guess he already put his financial wheels into motion long before the CBD put out their letter.

        I believe that Meisels & Co will loot and bankrupt the Seminaries before refunds are able to be returned to parents.

        By not returning deposits to parents who requested refunds, Meisels has shown himself to be a Dirty Rotten Scoundrel. If he were a mentch, he would have offered refunds immediately to any parents who requested them. Meisels could have slightly redeemed his current reputation as a menuval by returning deposits to parents. But he and his business partners, whether ghost partners, family or friends, are instead putting up a fight to the last dollar. My guess would be that Meisels knows his gig is up, and that he has to take what he can get before “retiring” for a few years from being in the public eye of having/running seminary businesses. But with all the money at stake, he may very well milk those Seminaries for every last dime, using relatives, friends, or whatever other ways he can to loot the dying businesses dry. No doubt he already did all the research to figure out how to do this while flying under the corruption radar. He may have already begun the process beginning back when the CBD was doing their investigations. I would guess money has been or will be laundered through friends and relatives, or the businesses of friends and relatives, who would be more than willing to make some easy money by receiving “consulting fees” or other payments for (contrived) services rendered to his seminaries.

        He knew a lawsuit was coming. If he did not returning parents’ deposits until now, he is certainly not going to allow the legal troubles to get in the way of his keeping as much of the money as he can. I would guess that he will sooner close the Seminaries mid-year due to insolvency, than give up on 1.5 million dollars (deposit of $6,000 x 250 students). He may have figured that the legal fees will cost less than whatever the deposits were. The fact that there are 3IR (3 Israeli Rabbanim) willing to back Meisels & Co’s business plans, putting the interests of a wealthy business before the money of the hamon am – hardworking middle income frum families – is deplorable to say the least. Zu Torah?

        And what is the lesson being taught to the girls, students both present and past? That Money (with a capital M) comes before ethics, morals and mentchlichkeit. Fine chinuch. Indeed.

        • As you know, I have no trouble believing Meisels is dishonest and devious. But I question your analysis on two grounds.

          1- Until the moment that Chicago lowered the boom and issued a public statement he had no way of knowing that would happen. There was no precedent for such action. He thought he could play the same game as almost every other menuval of stalling and faking it. He also thought he could hide behind the Israel rabbis backing him and had only a few weeks to a month’s notice of the impending lawsuit.

          2- When a suit is filed and won, plaintiffs can search for moves intended to evade financial viability and act against those related defendants. Since this is a RICO suit alleging such misconduct, discovery will address those issues. I think most of those involved do not want to undergo the scrutiny of discovery, depositions, exposure of their financial dealings etc. I believe that even if he wants to soldier on, his partners will pressure him to settle. Because a RICO suit includes tripple damages and attorney’s fees, the cost of chasing down the money will in the end be borne by the defendants as individuals, not just the corporate entity. So I think, unless he brilliantly improvised money laundering so everyone is clear, someone will crack and force the settlement.

          If he gets hit with a very high bill, the nice large houses in har nof owned by him and Yarmish will end up being sold to pay the bill.

          3- The thing that could liquidate all his assets would be large judgments in civil lawsuits for sex abuse, especially if his insurance policies were inadequate or they exclude his sort of conduct. I believe one or more such suits is on its way.

        • “…and had only a few weeks to a month’s notice of the impending lawsuit.”

          A few weeks to a month is more than enough time to play a lot of underhanded shenanigans that would keep those devious transactions below the radar.

          Additionally, after the CBD letter came out, I would guess Meisels also quickly put into place the moving around of his personal assets, be it into protected corporate entities with his wife’s name on it, brother or sister’s name on it or whatever other games people play.

          Unfortunately, the scoundrels know how to get away with a lot. Rubashkin gave a few hundred thousand dollars to non-profit tzedakah organizations WHILE the company couldn’t pay it’s bills, a couple of months before it’s bankruptcy. Are you going to tell me that those contributions were altruistic and not a way to move a few hundred thousand dollars out of the company by giving it to “Heimish mosdos” where people could, for a fee, help him get the money out and give it back to him under the table? These train wrecks happen in slo-mo (slow motion) and con men have hands that are quicker than the eye, and they know all the tricks.

          If Meisels & Co are so likely to settle down the line, then why would they stall? Why wouldn’t they settle immediately if not sooner? Stalling would accomplish nothing other than accruing more legal fees. This is why I think they are up to no good.

          And even if the books are opened, who is to say that his brothers and sisters-in-law, sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, cousins, children and friends, didn’t all work for the Seminaries, putting in overtime, and weren’t deserving of the “salaries” or “independent contractor” payments they received? Who is to say that his friends’ businesses who billed his Seminaries for services, aren’t legitimate business expenses?

          I very much would like the parents to all receive the refunds of their deposits and the payment of their attorney’s fees. But I don’t trust that Meisels is going to allow it to happen. It would cost him a lot less in legal fees (which could be tens of thousands of dollars) to settle immediately after the school year begins, than to stall and wait a few months. It is because of that that I’m thinking that the reason he is stalling is in order to slowly drain the Seminaries of any remaining cash (and that he already previously moved all his personal assets, immediately after the CBD ruling).

  9. What were the students and staff told when Meisels left the seminary before the end of the semester?

  10. As i understand, right now the imminent danger is the staff that covered up (i think there is reason to believe the sale a sham and that meisels will make a comeback but that’s in the future not an immediate problem) not having been removed.
    1. Which seminary is this staff employed in? All 4?
    2. Why don’t we know their names?

    • 1-Pninim, where Meisels was principal and spent most of his time is on everyone’s list. Chedvas Bais Yaakov is on my list. I don’t know which other seminaries are on the list of the CBD or others. There has never been a proper investigation so who knows?

      2-You don’t know their names for the same reason gov’t investigations in progress do not ordinarily announce the suspects. This is both to protect the innocent, and not to enable the guilty to go to work intimidating their accusers. Chicago has not gotten access to investigate though it has plenty of allegations as they indicated in their communication. The IBD/3IRs never spoke to a single accuser. According to Rabbi Aharon Feldman, Malinowitz lied to him and misled him into believing that he, Malinowitz tried to find out the accusations. Chicago has no grounds for trusting a liar, Malinowitz, to be part of a Beis Din investigating enabling and cover-ups when he already, dishonestly contrived a finding that everyone is clear and good and the greatest thing since sliced white bread. Precisely because of the IBD/3IRs there is neither the ability to identify the enablers/concealers nor the ability to clear others.

      • As someone who knows Rabbi Malinowitz many years, I can accept (I did not say agree with, I said ‘accept’) many negative descriptions some have used against him. “Lying” is not one of them. He will stand up to his principles, no matter how unpopular they are, and no matter how obnoxious it makes him seem to some people, but he won’t lie. I doubt that even David Morris would call him a ‘liar’. Yes, that implication did seem to come out of RAF’s letter, but why don’t you ask RAF if he considers Rabbi Malinowitz a liar? It’s not clear proof, but RAF’s son-in-law was at the Malinowitz wedding last week (with a bracha). If his father-in-law held ill will towards Rabbi Malinowitz, it would be quite easy for him to find some excuse not to come.
        If your whole reason for calling him a liar is that letter, you really should check if a) that in fact was the meaning and b) that RAF still feels that way. Otherwise you are motzi shem ra. You can question his competence, you can question the facts he is dealing with, but you cannot call him a liar.

        • The conclusion is inescapable that Malinowitz in his reply made it clear he felt RAF accused him of lying. Now the question is whether R. Cohen lied or Malinowitz or RAF. There is no 4th option. So who do you choose?

          • You write:
            “The conclusion is inescapable that Malinowitz in his reply made it clear he felt RAF accused him of lying. Now the question is whether R. Cohen lied or Malinowitz or RAF. There is no 4th option. So who do you choose?”
            The fourth, fifth and sixth option is that one of these respectable Rabbis misunderstood each other. Besides, this is not a game in which you have to choose, nor is it a multiple choice test. I know that Rabbi Malinowitz is emphatically not a liar. I don’t know exactly what happened. Neither do you. If you want to state the facts and bring that letter, you can choose to do that. You can also choose to call Rabbi Malinowitz a liar. But that is the wrong side of the choice that this week’s parsha presents

            • Allright. Let’s state facts. Rabbi Aharon wrote Malinowitz saying that while M claimed he sought information about the cover up allegations from R. Zev Cohen, Cohen denied ever having been asked, and RAF wrote somthing to the effect “I refuse to believe R. Zev Cohen lied.”

              Malinowitz replied, shouldn’t I be given the same benefit of the doubt.

              From what I hear of subsequent RAF private expressions, he does not feel that way.

              I understand your wish not to see Malinowitz as a liar. If so you are not exempting someone from the accusation, you are just shifting the target.

              Why the desparate attempt to find a misunderstanding. These are all incredibly smart rabbonim. Frankly I find it easier to believe we are dealing with a lie than with incompetent miscommunication.

              Bear in mind, RAF did not enter this with a disposition against the IBD. He still favors a way to kasher the seminaries and keep them open. His bid to have a joint beis din is his way of having the flaws of the first rounds of the IBD superseded by a legtimate process of a joint beis din. CBD refuses to believe it is a misunderstanding. Precisely because they believe Malinowitz is untrustworthy they do not want to be compromised by a joint beis din of which he is part.

        • “Calling someone a liar” is a misnomer and is irrelevant. Almost every mature adult has lied in their lifetime. Some people lie once or twice in their entire lifetimes. Some people lie every hour of the day. Would you call them both “A Liar”? Who cares what you call them. What matters is the issue at hand. If someone outright lied to Rav Aaron Feldman, or lied by omission or was misleading in their statements, the bottom line is that they lied. This could be the first or thousandth time that person lied in their life, it makes no difference. Nobody is calling anyone names. We are discussing what a person DID in a certain instance. And the fact that you have never witnessed that person lie, does not mean that he didn’t do so in this specific instance. Furthermore, do you really think that someone of Rav Aaron Feldman’s stature, if he theoretically held ill will towards someone, would be so petty as to announce his ill will to his extended family as well as instruct them to punish a person he is upset at? Don’t even answer that. It’s a rhetorical question.

  11. My family is being advised by our rav that p’ninim is safe and acceptable to send our daughter to. By an answer of yes or no replies, are others comfortable sending their daughters?

    • The Chazon Ish once said, iirc, ‘most bad psak is not because rabbonim don’t know halacha; it is because they don’t pay enough attention to the metzius (details/facts/situations).’

      I would hope your rabbi directly spoke to the Chicago Beis Din before he reached his conclusion. If not he is guilty of rabbinical malpractice. I would want to ask my rabbi how he reached his conclusion and why he was ruling against a position of the only American Beis Din to rule and a Beis Din that no other American rabbi of any stature or communal leadership has rejected. If he says he is following the Israeli Beis Din, you are entitled to an explanation of why he rejects the Chicago position without looking into it. As an honest rabbi he should be eager to explain how he reached his conclusion.

      • YL: We have trusted our rav with every major life decision (and many smaller ones), and he has never led down the wrong path yet. We trust that his decisions are both informed and pure.

        My question was to get an idea of what the landscape for the seminary will look like next year. That is, will my daughter be there with three other girls, or is the majority of the school still going?

        • No one knows for sure. I am reasonably sure that attendance will be down by 10% but perhaps by significantly more though I doubt it will be nearly empty. The combined blackmail of no refunds unless you sue and difficulty getting admissions next year have many parents giving in reluctantly. The lost students will probably be some of the best, coming from families willing to stand on principle who are more confident about their daughter’s future or students very attractive to other seminaries.

          There will be three big problems hanging over seminaries this coming year.
          1-financial- given the economics of a seminary, like a hotel, it is the last ten percent that is most profitable. Let us say the first 80% cover overhead and unavoidable per student costs. the last 20% pay for the extras that make a difference. I have no idea if the operators will suffer a loss to keep up the old standards.
          2-the impact of declining enrollments for future years. the recruitment for the 2015-2016 academic year starts as soon as high schools open. On this next round, the toll of the scandals will be much worse. Nobody will be locked in because they can’t get refunds. No other school will be inhibited from recruiting. Anticipating this, many of the other seminaries will expand or new ones will be opened to take up the slack. Given a free choice many parents will pass on the Meisel/Yarmish seminaries, Either because they are convinced the Chicago Beis Din is right or because they are worrying about what others will think about the seminaries on the shidduch market. In all liklihood the seminaries’ applicant pool will be so reduced that they will not be able to open in 2015-2016. Anticipating that possibility will be another reason otherwise receptive parents and students will pass on these seminaries.

          2a-The seminaries will be further buffeted by anticipated lawsuits via Beis Din or civil courts for damages arising from the multiple instances of sex abuse. In similar situations, wealthy Catholic dioceses have gone bankrupt. I am directly aware of some such lawsuits in the wings and I anticipate more.

          The anticipated financial shortfalls will spill over into the coming academic year with all sorts of budget cuts adversely affecting the seminaries. Moreover, the most untainted staff, especially the best who are hot commodities on the job market will probably jump ship. Morale will be poor.

          3-Hanging over this difficult economic environment will be the scandal. Since the seminaries are being protected by the hechsher of the IBD/3IRs there will be utter denial or very circumspect, artificially limited acknowledgement. Expect Rabbi Kahane’s speech to be the template for others. By now many of the students will know of the scandal, and expect more to come out. Most students at these seminaries have some form of Internet access and they will be following the developments. Even if they avoid the blogs, the story will be in the mass media. I am certain that outlets way more influential than the JTA and the Forward will be covering it based on inquiries I have received by major media. Students will be caught in the tension between the official hechsher and the reality out there. This will seriously undermine the climate.

          In answer to your question, there may be enough bodies, but I doubt the environment will beresource-rich with stable staffing, trusting communication, and confidence about the future.

        • I just spoke to Rabbi kahane of Chedvas. Chedvas is down 1 or 2 girls. The other 3 schools are down a bit more, but nothing catastrophic.

          • Those parents who are despairing of getting their money back might just not communicate that one of their daughters is not coming. If they are shopping for other seminaries they might just keep their options open till the last moment.

            The staff at the seminaries are inclined to put out optimistic messages. It is like being a manager worried about a run on the bank. Once it starts it snowballs. So there is every motive in the world to minimize reports of defections and withdrawals.

            I am not saying that those numbers are consciously a misrepresentation. I am just saying there are grounds to be suspicious.

        • I would guess that all the seminaries WANT people to think that everyone is going. There is security in numbers, even if it is false security. Just because a lot of people are doing something, doesn’t mean it is safe or smart. But I would imagine that the seminaries want people to think that “everyone is going” so that there isn’t a mass psychological run for the exit. It remains to be seen how many parents will actually put their daughters on planes, entrusting their children’s safety and care to people who for years put their jobs before the safety of girls in their care.

    • His reason was based on feedback from other rabbonim, and r”y. Also, he feels that the school will be under a microscope, and therefore extremely safe, and this school was otherwise well suited for our daughter. He is fearful that if we force her to wait a year or attend a different seminary, she may suffer far more than attending P’ninim.

      • I have heard of similar ruling by a Rosh Yeshiva. In that case he ruled that it is OK for this coming year if parents have no other options for financial reasons or because they cannot get admission anywhere else. However, this RY forbade applying or attending for the next year, 2015-2016. Clearly it is a bidieved psak (best available solution, after the fact). I am inclined to believe the bit about the microscope is a rationalization (either to justify the ruling or to reduce parental anxiety). Otherwise he would believe the same about future years.

        If I was given this ruling I would ask, “Are you saying I or others should apply to enroll for the 2015-2016 year, a decision that is coming up soon?” If the answer is “no,” I would wonder about the inconsistency.

        The Chicago position, which has not been publicly challenged by any American posek or organization, is that the seminaries have to be suspect as unsafe and the monies can be legitimately gotten back through legal action either through the existing lawsuit or others, and that if no other seminary slot is available, it is better to make alternative plans.

        Put simply, Chicago is giving priority to safety while others are focusing on shidduchim, or sqeamishness / doubts about the lawsuit option.

        • Re: shidduchim, I would question the parents’ judgment about sending their daughter to a school that the CBD still feels is a risk. To me, it says a lot about the type of house a girl comes from and the parenting she received.

        • I don’t see how parents – sending their daughters to Meisels seminaries enhance shidduch prospects. As a shadchen myself – I can’t imagine how going to a seminary where the menahel was misbehaving with girls and the hanhala – like Eyov – kept quiet enhances a girls shidduch prospects!
          it strains all credulity that parents lack judgement to that extent. Lose the deposit for the time being and understand that a lot has yet to surface and the schools can totally shut down.

  12. Questions:
    1. What specific misconduct did Meisels admit to before the CBD?
    2. Did the CBD’s delay in enforcing their conditions and issuing their statement that the seminaries were unsafe enable Meisels to collect some, or most, of the deposits he is now refusing to return? It appears the seminaries’ promotional materials listed Meisels as faculty and, of course, made no mention of the accusations or the conditions imposed by the CBD.

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