IBD Discarded in New Bid to Save the Meisels Seminaries

Earlier today the Failed Messiah and Daas Torah blogs posted a declaration by five Yeshiva Heads announcing that the Meisels seminaries are safe places for students. Some people are trumpeting this as an endorsement by the Moetzes (Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America) and a potential game changer. As I will explain below, this letter will have little effect.

Rosh Yeshiva Letter saying sems of Meisels are Kosher 8-28-14 Kotler Perlow Schechter Feldman and LevinNOT A MOETZES POSITION: It is not on Moetzes letterhead because half of the ten members of the Moetzes did not sign including Rabbis Shmuel Kaminetzky (Rosh Yeshiva Philadelphia), Dovid Feinstein (Rosh Yeshiva Tiferes Jerusalem), Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld (Mattesdorfer Rav), and Chacham Yosef Harari-Raful (Yeshivat Ateret Torah). Instead it is on a page without letterhead signed by Aryeh Malkiel Kotler (RY BMG), Avrohom Chaim Levin (RY Telz-Chicago), Aharon Feldman (RY NIRC-Baltimore), Yaakov Perlow (Novominsker Rebbe), and Aaron Schechter (RY Chaim Berlin). Though Rabbi Perlow is the Rosh Moetzes, he did not sign with this title here, because he is not acting in that capacity.

RABBI LEVIN’S CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: I am planning to post tomorrow, at length, about the deep negius (conflicts of interest) of some of the key players, especially Rabbi Levin who was a long-time chavrusah (study partner) of Elazar Meisels, the father of Elimelech Meisels. In fact that is exactly why he originally recused himself from being on the Beis Din (rabbinical court) panel for this case even though he was a member of Chicago “Special Beis Din” for sex abuse since its founding over 13 years ago.

“ISRAELI BEIS DIN” OF SHAFRAN ET AL IS IGNORED: The statement completely bypasses any mention of the controversial Israeli Beis Din of Rabbis Shafran, Malinowitz and Gartner that I dismissed in the past as merely “3 Israeli Rabbis (3IRs). That is also the sentiment of the signers of the new “safety declaration.” Instead they declare the seminaries are now under the supervision of a Committee of Rabbis (tachat hapikuach shel vaad rabbanim gedolei torah, hagaonim..) (not a Beis Din) Moshe Hillel Hirsch (RY Slabodka-Bnei Brak),  Yehoshua Eichenstein, and Asher Weiss. Thus there is now only one recognized Beis Din left standing. No one else is even claiming to be a Beis Din. According to the statement, this committee will “Stand guard and establish suitable regulations if needed” (sheymadu al hamishmar veyisderu takanot haraooyot im yesh tzorech).

SEMINARIES TO BE RUN BY WOMAN: a female “spiritual principal” (מנהלת רוחני), who is not named, will run the four seminaries. They are only speaking of the overall head, but if this is a bid to address the problem of male abusers it would make sense for the individual principals to also be women. This would reassure prospective customers. It also allows the management to fire Rabbis Meir Kahane and Dovid Simon (the number two under Meisels in Pninim) without admitting any culpability on their part.

Incidentally, the Rosh yeshiva letter sets a new standard for un-accountability by daas Torah.  By not mentioning the name of the “spiritual principal” the letter asks the parents to accept the daas Torah of the Roshei Yeshiva that she is wonderful since without a name they have no way of finding out anything about her.

NO BAN ON OTHER SEMINARIES COMPETING FOR STUDENTS: Unlike the IBD this statement takes no position on whether other seminaries can compete for students. Since they are not functioning as a Beis Din they cannot issue any rulings about unfair competition (hasogas gevul). There is also no statement or position on whether parents are entitled to refunds. Nor is there any attack on the lawsuit against the seminary for refunds.

NO CALL ON TOURO OR HTC TO RE-ACCREDIT:  Unlike the IBD, this letter does not call on Touro or HTC to re-accredit the seminaries. Over the last week the rabbis who signed the letter also pressed the colleges but they rejected the pressure. Gedolim do not like being publicly defied so they made no mention of it in the letter. This means that any parent sending their daughters loses all US government aid and loans and loses a serious head start on credits towards an Associates or B.A. degree.

NO MENTION OF MR. YAAKOV YARMUSH: There are no claims that Meisels has relinquished control nor that Yarmush has taken effective control. Unlike the IBD they are not saying that purported control by Yarmush solves anything. Instead they are trying to shift attention to new administration and a new supervising committe of rabbis. I believe they will shortly announce yet another new owner. It would not do to dis Yarmush in the meantime because it would undercut their claims of safety until they can announce a new owner.

 CHICAGO’S SPECIAL BEIS DIN (CBD) IS STANDING FIRM: I have received reports from people who have spoken to the members of the CBD. All of them are staying the course, advising against attending until they are convinced that all staff guilty of enabling Meisels are removed. Touro and HTC will abide by the rulings of the CBD. Naturally the CBD is unhappy about the letter by the roshei yeshiva, but they are staying the course.

STAY TUNED: For more postings  over the next few days on conflicts of interest and the likely path for the seminaries controlled by Meisels (including a Chaim Berlin-backed takeover).



68 thoughts on “IBD Discarded in New Bid to Save the Meisels Seminaries

      • There is a Yehoshua Eichenstein who is another known posek in Chicago. Why is there this bizarre reverse sexism where one automatically assumes or wants others to just accept that a female, by definition, is a safe or safer option?

        • To be fair most adults, male or female, are heterosexual. thus there are far fewer women who will be sexually attracted to seminary students than men. However, that does not necessarily mean they will be nice people or skilled educators.

        • Yerachmiel – I could not reply to your post so I’m responding here.
          First – I was not specifically referring to women as sexual predators. I mean that women abuse their power as well in lofty positions and they can be bullies, they can be verbally and physically abusive or they can simply be negligent of their students needs and safety as well. They can also turn a blind eye if a student was hurt outside their jurisdiction (school or seminary) and simply make the student feel unsafe within their walls because those responsible for them did nothing about the outside factor. There are MANY ways a female is no more trustworthy in that position than a man. It is ignorant to assume, especially in regards to the Meisels case where the issue is not JUST the predator himself but ALSO those who knew and did nothing, that to just replace the male head will result in an overall safer seminary environment for girls.

          There are 2 YEHOSHUA Eichensteins in Chicago .. they are cousins .. so I assume this one is related as it may be a family name.

          • I agree that women per se do not make for a safe seminary. It just reduced the likelihood that the individual will be a sexual predator. Unfortunately everyone is fixated on sexual abuse to the exclusion of a much bigger question: is it a safe and educational environment. Safety is a minimum, but students are entitled to much more for their $20k/year.

    • Rav Asher Weiss is a world renowned talmid chacham, darshan, posek, etc. he has a wonderful reputation as an ohev yisrael and is a very clever person.

      Rav Y Eichenstein is a famous Rosh Yesiva in Israel. He actually has two yeshivos- Yad Aharon and Mishkan [I think] Asher. His father was the Chief Rabbi of St Louis and his f-i-l was the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. I believe he has a cousin in Chicago by the sane name. he is an extremely close confidante of Rav Shteinman.

      • If correct rabbi Yehushua Eichenstein is a first cousin of rabbi Perlow’s wife ( and Rabbi Meiselman’s wife as well). He has two cousins with shules in Chicago. Rabbi Asher Weiss is a recognized posek. Neither has expertise on women’s education or abuse.”

        If correct, negius is raring its ugly head again because R. Eichenstein would have an interest in not hurting his cousin and her husband.

        Can’t these guys avoid negius in high profile public cases?

  1. Is it safe to assume, that Hagaon R’ David Feinstein is against/doesn’t approve of this letter ? In my most humble opinion, (no disrespect to anyone else), R’ Dovid Feinstien is Daas Torah in 2014.

    1. Not every Godol has the time to look into every issue. Many American Gedolim did look into the issue and signed on to this letter supporting the IBD and the seminaries.

    2. Notably, none of the major American Chareidi Gedolim have taken up the CBDs side. The American Gedolim that have taken a position are supporting the IBD.

    3. Being a former chavrusa of a litigants father does not equate to negius.

    4. The parents and girls will be going to the seminary and no longer seeking a refund – especially considering that they will now realize they won’t have any grounds to break their agreement that the deposit is non-refundable. There may be a very small number of girl who’ll pull out and lose their money but even they will have a difficult time getting into any other seminary as now the other seminaries not only have the original beis din order against poaching girls from these four seminaries but other seminaries will also be confronted with the fact that the American Gedolim are backing up the four seminaries. Furthermore, a week before the school year starts almost everyone is full. There isn’t room for these girls to go elsewhere. It’s either one of these four seminaries they registered for or stay home and get a job or something. Not so good for shidduchim, y’know, to stay home.

    5. The US court case and appeals will drag out for years. Most of the parents who registered and deposited $20,000 aren’t even part of the court case in the first place. Even in the unlikely event there was a judgement for a refund after years of appeals and even in the more unlikely event the US judgement was enforceable in Israel and even if there were funds at that time to pay it out, we are talking years down the road after all appeals, enforcement actions, cross-jurisdiction international formalities, etc.

    6. Meanwhile being unable to afford paying a second tuition the only choice the girls have are to go to these four seminaries they registered at or sit at home and get a job. Jobs don’t brush up a shidduch resume too well especially with no seminary year.

      1. Exactly half of the moetzes signed on. You can be sure the other half was approached and they refused. Of course they have the time for the hottest controversy in the Haredi world in years. However, there are many more gedolim than the members of the Moetzes and some members of the Moetzes are not gedolim, merely heads of large yeshivas who are on for political reasons. Ask around Lakewood. Malkiel Kotler is not considered a major league talmid chacham.But he inherited the largest kollel so he has to be on the moetzes. Notably missing American Yeshivish Gedolim are R. Meir Stern, head of the Kollel in Passaic who was invited onto the Moetzes and refused; R. Elya Ber Wachtfogel (RY S. Fallsburg Kollel) who is considered the true worthy successor to R. Aaron Kotler, not Malkiel; R. Shlomo Miller (Rosh Kollel Toronto) and highly respected figure among the learners in Lakewood; and several others. With the passing R. Elya Svei, the Moetzes stopped being accepted as the most important collection of gedolim.
      2. By not opposing the CBD or the Touro & HTC position on accreditation, those who did not sign indeed tacitly supported Chicago.
      3. Nobody is closer to a talmid chacham than his chavrusah during his formative yeshiva years. More than his wife even in terms of hours per day. There are also several marriage connections between AC Levin and employees in the seminaries which I will detail in the coming days. Wishing away negius is like wishing away magnetic attractions. They are forces that are there and they exert a pull.
      4. Now you entering wishful thinking. Everyone will be happy, blah, blah, blah. yes, some will go there because of no choice. But being coerced is not the same as yashrus. Holding parents deposits ransom is attrocious.

      5. Don’t bet on the court case taking years. Once discovery gets approved, it will mean depositions under oath, subpoenas of CBD documents including his texts and emails, financial records of seminary and it will threaten not just meisels but Yarmush and R. Gartner. They will fold like a bad hand of cards and settle rather than get publicly humiliated and still lose down the road. estimate of time to court ordered discovery is ~6 months. Estimated time to settlement is ~6 months + 5 business days.

      6. Going to a seminary known for a pervert running it also doesn’t help a shidduch resume. The real problems is the recruitment season for next year starts when BY schools open soon. It ends before the end of the calendar year. If CBD does not back down and there is no accreditation, parents wont sign up, other sems will expand, and this will be the last sad year of the sems controlled by Meisels. Finis!

      Oh, also on the horizon– criminal charges against meisels and civil suits for damages from sex abuse against Meisels and the seminaries and culpable enabling staff.

      • 1.I find it disgusting you are discrediting half the moetzes since the other half did not sign 2.when was the last time R meir stern signed anything 3.the gedolim do not have all the time in the world to look into every case that comes their way contrary to popular belief they are very busy people
        4.the IBD has been saying the whole time they put people in charge og over seeing the sems, which were these three rabonim you just did not know that. But that does not mean its a new BD and it does mean they are taking the side of the IBD
        5.Being so its not a whole new psak just taking on the IBD psak so they do not have to reiterate everything IBD like who its sold to etc.

          1. Lay off on the “disgusting” adjective to replace argumentation. aiylu v’aiylu. There is nothing wrong with rabbis disagreeing with each other. The entire talmud is full of disagreements. I just stated the obvious truth that there were disagreements.

          2. Indeed, R. Meir Stern is reluctant to sign most kol korehs. However, my point is that the Moetzes is not at all necessarily representative of the true who’s who of the most formidable talmidei chachamim in the U.S. R. Elya Ber Wachtfogel and R. Shlomo Miller are not reluctant to sign kol korehs and they were doubtlessly solicited and passed.

          3. huh!

          4. There are distinct references to all sorts of changes in oversight and shift to female leadership. You are clueless about rabbinical politics and messaging if you think they merely forgot to mention the IBD. Sorry if your ox is gored. If you doubt me, call up R. Aharon Feldman or one of the other signers as ask them. Clearly you are invested in seeing the 3IRs continue to have a role. But that is not to be.

          5. If IBD was still on the scene each would have written “ani maskim” to the Beis Din of R. Shafran. Not a single mention is a mega-slight. These are not accidents.

        • responding to your response there was no reply option.I actually did speak to the novominsker, and he basically told me they agree with the IBD but in the letter they wanted to be as least argumentative as possible with the CBD to not alienate the Chicago community so all they wrote was the final outcome and that the seminaries are safe.

        1. Anyone who didn’t sign, didn’t take a position. Period. If they had the opposite view they could have signed a counter-letter supporting the CBD. They did not do so. A lack of signature means a lack of position. End of story.
        2. Repeat. Anyone who didn’t sign, didn’t take a position. Period. If they had the opposite view they could have signed a counter-letter supporting the CBD. They did not do so. A lack of signature means a lack of position. End of story.

        3. Disagree. It is a son not the former chavrusa himself. Furthermore and more importantly, the father was a chavrusa to Meisels. Meisels is no longer associated with the seminary. The letter is about the seminary and not about Meisels. Hence certainly no negius.

        4. Only a small percentage of this coming years parents (whose daughters never even yet attended the seminaries) signed up for the lawsuit. Five sets of parents I recall. Out of many many more parents of enrolled girls who are NOT party to the lawsuit. It is 100% yashrus to hold the parents to their signed committment and legally binding agreement they made that the tuition and deposit is non-refundable. It is not yashrus to demand a refund a couple weeks before school starts when all girls are already registered in one seminary or another and they could never replace the girls pulling out. Even had their been no issue at all. That is precisely why the tuition was agreed to be non-refundable. Agreements are agreements and binding. And very fair and logical.

        5. The seminaries will NOT settle. The case and appeals will drag on for years. To turn this into a RICO case (rather than a civil case) is extremely weak and is likely to be dismissed without trial. If it does go to trial the claims are baseless and the small number of parents party to the lawsuit will lose in court. After years of litigating.

        6. Meisels is gone. By next year, with almost all the enrollees having attended this year, the whole thing will have blown over. These seminaries will probably reduce tuition next year giving parents a big incentive to save a whole lot of money. Seminaries are highly profitable and they have a ton of room to lower tuition. That is a tremendous incentive when you are saving $6,0000 compared to the competing seminaries.

        Meisels is out. There is no authoritative information indicating he did anything criminal to the adult students. Even if he did, he is out already. The seminaries are based in Israel. Jurisdiction is in Israel. Go ahead and file suit in Israel. The American courts don’t have jurisdiction and couldn’t garnish payment or assets from out of the country anyways.

        • You can say “End story” like a weak Kollel guy trying to intimidate a younger bochur who knows more. But that is not the end or even the beginning. Your version is so larded with errors that I cannot devote the time to restate every truth.

          but re #3. R. Avrohom Chaim Levin was the chavrusah of Eli Meisels father. Eli himself also went to Telz. but that was not my main point.

          Re parent’s rights: the parents were deceived at the moment of transaction when they were promised safety by MenuvalMeisels. Their contract was also premised on the accreditation status of the sems which was stated in the sem’s literature. So the contract was broken. Hence two reasons for them to be entitled to their money back.

          You seem to have compassion only for the teachers and the seminary profiteers, not for the abuse victims or the parents. You lack any sense of yashrus. I can see why you are so identified with the IBD/3IRs and their utter lack of yashrus.

        • It was not yashrus, it was stealing. We did not feel safe and with the credits being pulled, it is not what we signed up for. The psak should have been that they are safe for those who wish to go. People can get their money back and go elsewhere because of the extraordinary circumstances. If we would’ve had this option from the start, we might’ve considered staying, who knows. It is questionable if the seminaries where right or wrong. However, there is no question that the parents did absolutely wrong to be treated this way. And yes, I am a parent (although that is questioned on the Daat Torah blog and Lopin knows who I am). We were turned down by a few places specifically because they didn’t want to start up. Meor and Ateret comes to mind, forgot the others. We finally gave up and signed up our daughter at a program local. By the way, they will be squeeing as much money out of these girls as possible this year. Ask any parent at Keser Chaya what already happened with the phones.

        • DB @1:46 AM:
          Specifically, but not limited to your point #5: (re the amt. of time for the Rico case to settle).::

          While past performance should not be relied upon to predict future performance (no, i’m not running a mutual fund), I would like to point out, l’tsayen, that Yerachmiel Lopin’s calls have been eerily correct, and prescient. If you followed the entire BKLYN DA Charles Joseph Hynes debacle, you would have the flavor of his abilities to make uncanny calls. If you haven’t I suggest you read the most recent summary. If YL was an attorney, his success rate would be off the charts. As it is, no one can light a candle to his prescient calls. Sorry DB, your knowledge and predictions are limp.

          Only time will tell, and don’t forget that past performance should not be relied upon to predict future yields…

        • @YL/@Meir The contract was not broken by the seminary. The fact that Touro/HTC stopped giving credits is an external factor not controlled by the seminaries nor are the credits given by them. At the time the girls enrolled it was true and factual that Touro and HTC awarded college credits for the seminary. If they later changed that the seminaries are not responsible for outside changes. All they did in the literature was advise what was true at the time: That Touro and HTC accept the seminaries for college credits.

          Secondly, if anyone disagrees with the above analysis, they are individually able to open a Beis Din case against the seminary demanding a refund. THAT is their only recourse for a refund. The seminaries believe they are in the right in not being liable to return the non-refundable payment, as agreed to by the parents. Reasonable people can disagree. If the parents and the seminaries have a financial disagreement on the deposit/refund issue a beis din case can resolve it.

          @chashdan YL does not claim to be a lawyer or an expert on lawsuits. A civil RICO lawsuit is the wrong venue fir this type of claim. It is highly likely to be thrown out of court and it will have to be refiled as a simple civil suit. The entire legal process with appeals and everything will drag on for years at least. The seminaries won’t settle. And if they did, the settlement would come at the tail end of the legal process, after years of delays, when both parties are exhausted and unsure of the outcome so they’ll settle for a few shekels. In the meantime the parents will be out of the money and only have the choice to send the girls to the seminaries, pay a double tuition in the small likelihood they can even get into another seminary if it has space and is one of the very few accepting girls from these serminaries this year. Otherwise the girl wont have any seminary at all. Most parents are reasonable people and will simply send the girls to the seminaries now that Meisels is gone. This is proven by the fact of how few parents agreed to participate on the absurd RICO suit.

          • Students are withdrawing. Pninim shan bet was shut down. I hear projected enrollment is down from ~300 to ~260. That was as of a week ago. However, with no refunds being offered others who are withdrawing are just not informing the seminaries. So actually enrollment could be a little less or a lot less.

        • DB, you are wrong again. The loss of accreditation by the M. seminaries was not a random external event, like an earthquake, an act of god. It was due to specific actions, behavior at the seminaries in question. Perhaps an oftsala’oochus parent could make a case, that once M. left, the sems lost their accreditation. In any case, this was not a a random external event. Parent were relying on M to remain in charge, with all of his power and charisma, and his sudden abrupt departure, caused the B’D to declare them assur, and the accreditating agencies to withdraw accreditation. That loss is tantamount to a huge financial loss. Not only no US govt financial support, but no college credit. That is a truckload of money lost. I would go for triple damages, but, alas, I am not a lawyer. Just my gutfeel. Caveat reader, my last comment, MIGHT VERY WELL be tongue in cheek, but then, again, it might not????

        • Having known one of the primary members of the “Meisels” camp personally, I am fairly confident that DB is posting dictated material — I recognize the style.

  2. Yawn.

    I’ve dealt with two of the five hand can attest to their proficiency at turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to CSA.

    Wake me when they get Reb Dovid shlit”a to sign.

  3. the time has come for the outing of the details regarding the sexual misconduct by Eli “a hug is just a hug” Meisels. Without that, the merry go round will continue, and he will be able to carry on his life saying he just gave a few girls some hugs. The CBD (forget the IBD, theyre hopeless) must stop standing on ceremony and put the dark details out there-not in a lurid fashion or for the FM/UOJ-nicks to get their kicks, but so we can put an end to the whitewashing.

    • “the wolf” at 11:53 PM:
      IMHO, your suggestion is totally without merit, M’s behavior, his abuse of female students, whatever their ages, is not something to be argued on a public blog. The details are unnecessary, and we are not holding a public opinion contest. Hopefully, some of the victims will press criminal charges, and from what I understand, in E”Y, a Rabbi molesting a student of any age is a criminal act. Perhaps will be slightly harder to make the case in US, for those victims over 18, but I would guess that there might have been 17 year olds, that being said, with enough victims stepping forward (as was the case at Yeshiva Univ and it’s high schools) and there is support in numbers, both psychologically and in making a solid criminal case, i have no doubt that this minuval, sooner or later, preferably sooner, will be indicted in E”Y and/or in US for criminal assault/rape. Bookmark this comment. Please. Bookmark my prediction. Probably will not happen overnight, and please do not forget that Pninim of America or whatever the name was/is registered as a tax exempt institution in the USA. So there is the added kicker of financial fraud. This is getting really really pikanti. This er minuval is going down down down. And if he thinks that he will “relocate” low key to some US orthodox community where they have never heard of him, and take up some of his old games, or new ones, it aint going to happen. There are sufficient people who will follow his every move. That is it. Now, it is a waiting game.
      Wolf, your need to know, will just have to wait, we are not taking a vote on FF nor on DT, based on just how much of the 99% of dvarim assuring he did. It is irrelevant. Forget about it…..M may not wish to forget about it, he may worry about which of the girls will have the gumption to step up to the plate and join a criminal suit. He won’t know until the proverbial hits the fan.

  4. Since the Chicago Special Beis Din holds the key to accreditation, the question is whether they can work with this new panel. The “IBD” destroyed their own credibility by announcing the seminaries were safe before investigating staff participation and without announcing what they intended to do in the way of protocols and oversight. They must have thought the CSBD would go along, but the CSBD declined to sacrifice their own credibility by announcing their confidence in an apparent whitewash.

    This new panel neither claims to be a beit din, nor is it committed to the IBD’s position that six weeks ago (when no one had left except, presumably, Meisels) everything was fine. I don’t see why the CSBD can’t send a confidential message to the panel saying they had heard credible testimony that staff members X, Y and Z had been complicit, and the Israeli oversight panel can have them replaced. The IBD would call that a “lynching” since the decision would have been made without giving the suspected staff members an opportunity to face their accusers and defend themselves. Nevertheless, as it concerns the moral character of those supervising seminary girls, a subjective determination based on reputation may be acceptable. Certainly in the secular world, few non-union employees are owed anything like “due process.”

    That done, once the panel can report that Meisels has truly and permanently been ousted from control — and has examined the documents effecting that result — and that reasonable protocols have been put in place, the CSBD should be satisfied.

  5. Meir Katz, a parent who has commented on the DT blog has it right — he is entitled to a refund for no other reason than the fact that his daughter cannot receive college credits from these seminaries. That alone –apart from everything else — is enough of a change in circumstances to warrant a p’sak or a lifnim mishuras hadin conclusion that the seminaries should return his deposit. Yet even more so, it is unfortunate that neither the IBD nor the gedolim signing this latest piece cannot understand that a parent is not compelled to trust their judgment on the safety of the seminaries when it comes to the parent’s responsibility for his or her own child. That as a kal vachomer justifies a “ruling” by the IBD and the gedolim that while in their opinion the seminaries are safe they can respect a parent’s decision not to take any chance and at the same time have the seminaries “do the right thing” by returning the parents’ money.

    • It is my understanding — correct me, YL, or anyone — that HTC merely suspended its accreditation of the seminaries, so that accreditation could be granted if the CSBD were satisfied that the seminaries are now safe and rescinded its psak. If that does not happen, or some deadline has passed that prevents it, parents who expected their daughters would receive college credit will not be getting what they paid for and should be given refunds on demand.

    • Eidensohn imagines the CBD controls the Chicago Tribune and timed the story to appear just as the five roshei yeshiva issued their statement. He also reports on and supports Mr. Art Bader who wrote the Tribune to complain that Meisels is irrelevant to the story since he resigned months ago.

      I submitted the following comment to Eidensohn’s post which he approved in moderation:

      It would be nice if either of us could control whether and when the media covered an issue, and when they chose to publish their stories. But the reality is that it is very hard for the CBD or anyone else to control their timetables. I had very little control. I was interviewed by Mr. Grossman for about 2-3 hours over 2 long sessions and recontacted a few times for other details including the spelling of kollel. Nevertheless to my chagrin I did not merit a mention in the article. c’est la vie of a blogger.

      Even the reporter, Ron Grossman did not control the timing. According to my email notes, I was first aware he was interviewing people for this story on August 8. Not long after I was interviewed and it was ready for publication by Sunday August 17 but it was a long piece which the editors felt would hold so they were going to squeeze it in on a slower day. As Mr. Grossman explained to me, a colleague of his wrote a great Christmas story one year and it appeared a whole year later.

      From your point of view, Rabbi Eidensohn, there was no good time. So why attach a conspiracy theory to the exact timing, especially since the Chicago Tribune was timing their article poorly. By the time it was published, the story was out of date with the letter signed by the five roshei yeshiva.

      It is asserted in the letter by Art Bader that Mr. Meisels was out of the seminaries for several months. Can you prove that. The seminaries themselves put out two different letters which contradicted each other by a month about the date that Meisels resigned. But there is no proof either of those dates are accurate. Mr. Bader or Rabbi Eidensohn, can you actually give us the date on which he resigned. Otherwise I don’t see why you fault reporter Grossman for not knowing such a fact.

      • Although I disagree with you regarding responding/not responding to the Eidenut Brothers I give you credit for ppatience.

        How many times can you stand reading the lies, half truths and twisted kogic of those two flakes?

        Hopefully now people will understand that nothing they write about anything should be taken seriously. They will follow CM to the ends of the earth (they will probably even believe there ARE ends of the earth if CM said so) because they can hang their support for ma’agnim on his ‘halachic’ opinions.

        Can we start a fund to pay for some therapy for two of them? They need some serious help with their Mommy issues. Put me down for the first time hundred bucks. Curing them could save klal yisroel much agmas nephesh.

      • This has now been added to DT story, “Seminary Scandal: A shamefully inaccurate account published by the Chicago Tribune”:

        =========This followup clarification was sent to the Tribune by Mr. Bader======
        I serve on the board of an organization that offers educational scholarships that is subsidizing tuitions for underprivileged girls going to these schools (among others) and my daughter has numerous friends who are going/were intending to go to seminaries impacted by this case.
        This involvement had brought me to follow the story from the time it first broke with a letter issued by a Chicago Beis Din on July 10. I am also a friend of one of the Rabbis on the Beis Din in Israel, which, as that July 10 letter made clear, was the Rabbinic authority on the case from that point onward.
        Numerous blogs in the community have been pontificating on the issue, but some facts remain clear, including that
        Meisels had been removed from any direct involvement with educational matters and was barred from entering the schools or interacting with students
        that the Israeli Beis Din NEVER in any way vindicated Meisels [in fact, they never directly addressed any issues involving him at all, because of his removal, it was irrelevant]
        and that – by the time the July 25 letter — the schools were under completely new ownership and had agreed that the Israeli Beis Din was completely empowered to institute policy and staff changes at the schools as they see fit.
        This being the case, some of the assertions made in the article regarding the stand of that Rabbinic Court are blatant lies, while others are misleading and defamatory half-truths.
        Furthermore, the July 25 ruling from the Israeli Beis Din does not state, as your “reporter” claims, “that ‘it is absolutely forbidden’ for other seminaries to offer Meisels’ prospective students the opportunity ‘to switch to their institutions.’”
        What it does say (in #4) is that “No other seminary (existing or newly established) may reach out in any way – directly or indirectly – to students who had been accepted…” It essentially forbids predatory recruitment.
        I am attaching the July 25 ruling below so you can have an independent translator verify what I wrote here. I am also posting the text on af email sent by one of the schools on July 24. Both of these are available online, by doing a search.
        Mr. Grossman essentially wrote a PR piece for those who are suing the schools, defaming a prominent Beis Din in the process. It is shameful that The Tribune has allowed this to remain on your site as-is.

        • Mr. Bader has a point. Grossman didn’t accurately quote the main positions of the CBD and IBD, because he failed to mention that there is no disagreement between them that (a) Meisels was guilty of (at least) sexual impropriety, and (b) Meisels will not be teaching or actively involved with the seminaries. I also read the article as giving the impression that the IBD is defending Meisels, and that Meisels is still in charge of the seminaries.

          • Actually, there is no public statement by the Israeli Beis Din that Meisels is guilty of anything. They merely said an unnamed man who was a subject of concern was removed. Thus his rehabilitation and return is not precluded by the IBD position. Moreover, they are absurdly saying the seminaries were always kosher. If so why was someone no longer there. Granted, Meisels’s reputation has taken a beating, but he is still a potential player. Others in his situation have wormed their way back in.

  6. Looks more like a rosh hashana greeting card than anything like a psak…

    Shmua shamanu = we did not verify anything by ourselves…
    The information content of this letter is next to zero…

    • I could have my little one draw a nice jar of honey for the outside. Then we can enclose a SASE to The Eidenson Brothers Mental Health Therapy Fund, c/o Chaim Malinowitz.

  7. so lets see rabbi ahron shecter who reb moishe called to din torah and we all know what reb moishe said about him, rabbi kotler is he the one who told dodelsson to go to the ny post he had all the time for that fight, were is rabbi soloman on all this he refused to sign as well,
    beside what is the first line say we heard news from eretz yisroel from who they heard? you mean that never spoke to anybody in America?

  8. There were poskim who paskened that frum girls cannot go to the Israeli army (“yehareg v’al ya’avor”) due to concerns about tznius and the possibility of being molested.

    The chances of such an event happening in Sheirut Leumi is very low, yet our poskim do not wish to take a chance.

    Mah nishtana ha’matzav ha’zeh? In this case it is almost certainly the case that hundreds of frum girls were at risk by willful neglect or sheer incompetence — yet we are supposed to trust a hechsher from rabbonim who will not be present and who will rely on feedback from teachers and principals with vested interests.

    I’d be scared to send my daughter to a seminary where dozens of girls were molested, and I suspect every father would, even more so than Sheirut Leumi.

  9. The solution? What solution, there is no problem. That’s exactly the problem.
    Girl Seminaries must be run and staffed completely by women in consultation with Daas Torah. No men on staff. Men may come on occasion to give a lecture. The men are not to be a sounding board for any of the girls.

    • Why would it be any different than the high schools? They all have male principals. They all have male teachers. That is why some of them chose the job to begin with!

      • Not a direct response, but more anecdote. I spoke to a friend whose daughter was being interviewed for a diff. seminary this year (not one of these 4). The male principal closed the door to the room. On the other hand, I spoke to a someone who had serious issues when she was entering high school. The male principal told her, I will take care of all of your problems. However, he would have a female staffer follow up on any real issues and he never had any direct conversations of substance with her. His office was completely glass as well. All this being said, in my opinion, if 2 candidates are sort of equal they should chose the female candidate for this. However if the male is far superior and properly vetted I can see exceptions being made.

  10. RE: Shiduchim; Why does it make a difference which Sem the girl went to or if she attended sem a all. To be a responsible אשת חיל with a Torah hashkofah, do they require Sem? [It’s should be set up only for prospective teachers]. Perhaps this may also solve the shiduch crisis?

    • There has been a debate for a while about seminaries, and whether they are good for the Jews, or bad for the Jews. They are very expensive. The girls come back on a high. Many blame the “shidduch crisis” squarely on the seminaries. They say it brings unrealistic expectations to the girls, and limits who they are willing to date. There are anyways too few guys to go around. Too few learning guys. The guys are “not good enough”, for the expectations of all these “tzadekeses”.

      Perhaps a girl with a kesuba with 200 zekukin kesef, is more important than all these lofty, holy seminaries. Perhaps.

  11. Why did the seminaries and their proxies work so hard to get this letter? Were they not confident enough in the IBD and DT to help people see the light. Couldn’t they just rely on parents reading DT and seeing the great words of wisdom that pours forth from the PHD?
    Why did they need the new “Mechaneches” and new group of Rabbis to oversee everything? Don’t they have confidence that the staff saw nothing, knew nothing and “it was just a hug”?
    Well for those parents who weren’t convinced untill now, you will be pleased to know the the 5 American Rabbis are very pleased with the great institutions of EM now under the leadership of a yet to be named owner and yet to be named principal. Good Luck. (Show me a child or grandchild of one of these rabbis that will be attending to those sems)

    • Yup, one of the g’dolim has to offer up a sa’ir l’azazel to give credibility to the m seminaries. Shall we take bets, who will blink first, or who will be most financially b’negius????

  12. The name of the new female principal is being kept a military secret for a reason.
    Dai Lachkimah Biremeeza.

  13. The new mechaneches’s name is Sargeant Schultz. I zee nuting, I hear nuting, I know nuting.

    Yavol Herr Moetzes!

    (No disrespect to Herr Larrytzes and Herr Curlytzes intended.)

  14. YL and others,

    I think we need to be careful here. DT’S position at first blush has been validated. He is winning the PR war. Why? Because most people will look at this exactly the way DT is presenting it…which is CBD gave over jurisdiction to IBD and when IBD did not do exactly what the CBD wanted them to do, the CBD went into a jealous rage and decided to try and shut the seminaries down to spite the IBD. So most people are viewing this as the CBD trying to be controlling and making a big deal out of nothing…after all, Meisels is not there anymore (let’s assume that the sale is legit.).

    The fact that 5 big guns on the Moetzes including a senior member of the very bais din who ruled that the seminaries are unsafe and R Feldman who was perceived as having been on the CBD’s side till now signed this letter is going to be seen by almost everyone as meaning that they jumped ship and now side with the IBD lending credence to the story line that the CBD is corrupt.

    I do not think that the way to combat this is to say that this letter does not support the IBD because, in truth, it does. In fact as one commenter wrote, this independent 3 Rabbi oversight committee and the new mechaneches had already been spoken about by the the IBD (or perhaps just on DT) well before this letter came out. So it is probably correct to state that this letter was an endorsement of the IBD without explicitly stating such…they said exactly what the IBD has been saying…they are safe, there is no management/oversight and new mechaneches. The fact that they did not get into ownership is not relevant or that they did not get into refunds/accreditation is also not relevant as they wanted to stay clear of the more controversial topics.

    So DT’s claim that this statement is a validation of the IBD is in fact correct and I think you and others will be wasting precious time, energy and goodwill trying to prove that the statement is in fact a repudiation of the IBD. This is not a good strategy and will be seen as a “sore loser” tactic.

    I think the better strategy and one that is no doubt 100% true is that the Rabbonim who signed on the letter along with the IBD suffer from the same illness…one which the CBD thankfully has not been infected with. In fact, I would venture to say that most of klal yisroel suffers from this malady.

    The sickness is that when one of ours, especially a mechanech, commits a sexual sin/crime against either minors or seminary students, it needs to be hushed up. While in past years, before the blogosphere began to uncover many such cases, it meant totally denying that it ever happened, today this strategy has evolved to taking only the most basic steps and doing nothing more. In this case, most of us can proudly say, “We did what we had to. We got rid of the molester.” And dare anyone say that they should do more, they accuse them of being vindictive, hate-filled corrupted people which is eerily similar to the same threats/blacklisting/bad mouthing that the establishment used to employ in order to get the victims to shut up. But that was then and this is now. Going after victims is no longer acceptable, so we have found a much more refined way to intimidate people. Go after anyone demanding real change and make them look like they are just out for revenge or that they want to close seminaries and destroy people’s livelihoods.

    In this case, yes, they did remove Meisels and perhaps the sale to Yarmush is legit. Those points need not be argued. Here are the key points:

    How can the IBD declare the schools safe without first:
    a. requiring that the principals of the schools apologize in writing
    b. requiring that the schools arrange for a meeting/teleconference with parents to discuss what happened and delineate the exact steps taken to prevent future such occurrences
    c. providing the option for parents to pull out and receive a full refund
    d. establishing a therapy fund, to be added on to tuition, for any student victimized by Meisels
    e. establishing a safe and confidential way for victims to tell their story to a board of qualified professionals who can determine whether the victims is telling the truth and then report back to the IBD using anonymous names.
    f. at the very least state the name of Meisels in their psak
    g assessing the staff members before issuing the psak
    h do a full investigation through a third party
    i requiring Rabbi Kahane to retract his disgusting letter
    j requiring new ownership/mechaneches/the three Rabbi oversight committee to agree to all of the above

    To recap, the fact that the IBD, DT, the hamon am, the Five Rabbis and most of klal yisroel might agree with the IBD does not mean much. The situation was handled in a manner designed to create the least interruption to the smooth running of the schools as possible and to ensure that “innocent” bystanders such as teachers/employees do not lose their parnassah. This is a shortsighted/narrow view and is silly in its belief that 10 years of misconduct is wiped away by simply removing Meisels. A lot more should have and can still be done. The only reason for not taking these important steps is because most of us are still in the whitewash mode discussed above….we have evolved…very slowly to where today after all the cases we have heard over the past ten years we no longer have the outright gall to discard the victims and their stories rather our cover up has taken a more subtle form – one in which we minimize the damage as much as possible

  15. The man to interview is Rabbi Fuerst. Why did Rabbi Levin sign this and go against Rabbi Fuerst? The latter is the man charedim go to for a psak, I think he is the closest of the 3 on the bais din to Telse…This confict, this patch in panim, is the juicy part and should be developed.
    There hasn’t been this much excitement south of Devon Av. since the Hindu sheitlech episode.
    Exciting stuff

    • If there weren’t real souls and lives of b’not yisrael at stake here, this would be an entertaining soap opera. Alas, l’da’avoni harav, there is sakanot nefashot. lives in the balance…

  16. Yerachmiel –
    I don’t understand why these five rabbonim who signed the letter made the choice to go up against a psak by the CBD. Why?
    I am truly perplexed.
    I anticipate you bringing clarity and understanding to the issue.

  17. Yerachmiel, iashar koach, you are brave in exposing these rotten apples that are ruining our communities from within. And also anybody who for whatever reason is trying to protect them.

    To “DB” and “Don’t believe”, and all the people indirectly defending Meissels and blindly going with IBD, etc. What are you waiting for, for your own daughters to be sexually abused, to take action? For your granddaughters to be sexually abused? Wake up! Stop playing the “dutiful” and the “loyal good boy/girl” when this is happening! What will it take for you to empathize with dozens (perhaps hundreds?) of girls who are emotionally and psychologically ruined for life, because a “well known rabbi and tolmid chochom” (!!) abused them?

    Meisels and the others deserve punishment. The tricks of “he resigned”, “seminars are safe”, “now a woman is in charge” are sickening, as well as the repressive attempt to say “the gedolim said it’s over and that’s it”. It’s disturbing to see the attempts to cover it all up -instead of fulfilling the mitzva of seeking justice.

    Stop putting the “system” above people, for G-d’s sake! Don’t become desensitized. Don’t wait until it happens to you. This whole politics game is corrupting the entire chareidi world at an institutional level, and it keeps happening because of “blindly obedient” people who no matter what, keep defending the establishment. More and more, we are being run by heartless, materialistic people who don’t give a damn about the Yids they are leading, and are increasingly being able to abuse them at unimaginable levels.

    Where is honor? In Japan, the accused serial sexual offender would have committed suicide and jump from the sem building. In Am Israel, he is enjoying protection from the very establishment that should investigate, judge and punish him, and Meisels goes free, denying the whole thing saying “it was just a few hugs”. What a lack of busha! And then the newly enrolled parents are not even getting their money back for their 2015 tuitions! And there are people responding to this blog who still have the chutzpa to threaten that the girls “have no option”, and that staying at home will ruin their shiduch resume. Well, that’s exactly what Meisels was telling them when abusing them late at night: shut up, or I’ll ruin your shidduch.
    Let me tell you: at least if they stay at home, you can make sure that they will arrive kosher (physically, mentally and emotionally) to their chatuna!

    Don’t you have daughters? C’mon, why is it necessary to explain the obvious…

    This may sound as heresy, but I reflect on it more and more: what is it wrong in yeshivos’ education that produces such extreme problems? (A sexual abuser among our sem leaders??? Not so long ago, that was the exclusive domain of the catholic church)
    My guess is that the dagesh in yeshivos is exclusively on intellectual development (“How many blatts do you know?”). Unfortunately, you don’t become a good Jew ONLY by having encyclopedic volumes in your head. It takes heart, spirit development. That seems to be lost. That’s how a monster like Meisels can be grown from within. How a person who spent all his life in yeshivos ends up doing such a thing? To become a “leader”, he simply needed to be a “tolmid chochom”, learn to deliver nice and charismatic drashas and develop good connections…
    We need to review the educational programs of yeshivos, to make sure we are not developing “mind-oriented-only” people, and that people with a true heart and spirit are put to lead our young children. Not intellectual criminals and perverted abusers, or their cowardly friends that shut up when seeing all this perversion. How sickening to see how far are these people willing to go to keep their parnasa and status going.

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