Deciphering the Latest Joint Rabbinical Court Ruling on the Meisels Seminaries Scandal

Elimelech Meisels speaking poster brooklyn Jan 11 2014 cropped andwatermarked and captionedThe enlarged joint beis din issued a ruling on the Meisels seminaries which was posted on the Daas Torah blog on 3/11/15 with the misleading title, “Joint Beis Din – Israeli and Chicago – issues psak regarding former Meisels seminaries that all is well and that no one needed to be fired!

I ask my readers to forgive me for taking six days to respond. But a travesty of this magnitude deserves a full fledged report and rejoinder, not just a nasty swipe.

Further below is a full translation of the entire document posted on Daas Torah. But, first some observations and cautions.

Eidensohn’s claims notwithstanding, the ruling criticizes some staff and did some fancy footwork to exonerate others. Mrs. Hindy Ullman was a tough one to exonerate because the Beis Din received evidence she was directly told of an abused student and she dismissed it out of hand characterizing the student as not credible.

Hindy Ullman

Hindy Ullman

Ullman also offered up the absurd defense that she, the employee, forced Meisels to leave the seminaries. The Beis Din wrote:

It is clear that once it became known, the administration acted quickly, with determination, and with great efficiency to investigate what occurred. This led to the removal of the offender/abuser from the physical environment (by immediately sending him abroad) and from continuing in the field of education).

We are led to believe that the employee, Mrs. Ullman, had this much power over her boss, Meisels.

Ullman was stripped by the Beis Din of some of her roles and put under supervision for a year and half. It is possible that the intent is to have her resign while not declaring that she was fired.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, Principal Chedvas Bais Yaakov

Rabbi Meir Kahane, Principal Chedvas Bais Yaakov

In discussing her and Rabbi Meir Kahane they also state they are limiting the consequences because they “suffered embarrassment.” There is no basis in Jewish law or logic for denying culpability because the enabler is embarrassed, especially not when they are embarrassed to have been found out.

Meir Kahane wrote an outrageous letter to students all but promising them they would bring the messiah if they did not talk about the Meisels scandal. I detailed this travesty in my post, Kahane’s Folly.

Shulamis Soloff Principal Keser ChayaMrs. Shulamis Soloff is the Principal of Keser Chaya. Before that she was the house mother for Pninim, the seminary where Meisels was Principal. The dorm had a 10 p.m. curfew at which time everyone was supposed to be checked in. Soloff was often there till midnight and beyond. Meisels brought students back and forth well past midnight into the wee hours of the morning. They were known as coffee dates but actually were often drives to secluded parking spots in hi “California van” with its California plates. Once parked, he talked, groomed, groped, and worse.

used by Meisels in Jerusalem on his van

used by Meisels in Jerusalem on his van

The Beit Din heard testimony about all this and how she witnessed these comings and goings and was repeatedly urged to confront obvious violations of din yichud (the rule against unrelated men and women being together in private). Instead of acknowledging this testimony and then trying to rebut it, the ruling circumvented these inconvenient facts by only talking about what happened in Keser Chaya.

Principal of Pninim as of Aug 2014

Principal of Pninim as of Aug 2014

They did something similar for Rabbi Boruch Dovid Simon, now the Principal of Pninim. He was let off the hook because he wasn’t the principal at the time (“Adjudicating this case is superfluous. This is because the administrator at the time of these acts was the offender/abuser himself [Elimelech Meisels]. The current administration was promoted from among the staff as a result of the offender/abuser’s resigning/firing.”)

The ruling conveniently ignored the fact that Simon was part of that administration under the then-Principal and arch-abuser, Elimelech Meisels. They ignored testimony by Michal Ben Baruch (aka TruthSeeker) that she approached Simon about Meisels’ misconduct. Simon said he couldn’t do anything now but he expected to eventually become principal and then he would stop these goings on. After the Beis Din accepted Mrs. Ullman’s claim that she could force her boss to leave, why didn’t they expect as much of Simon?

The ruling does not mention any evidence the court heard about other staff who ignored evidence of Meisels abuse.

This ruling never acknowledged the suffering of the students who were assaulted nor did it apologize to them. The majority of the court was less concerned about comforting the victims or punishing the culprits than with keeping the business intact.

Since the cat was already out of the bag they had to make a show of thoughtfully evaluating the evidence. They had to contend that Elimelech Meisels, like Lee Harvey Oswald, was a lone shooter and none of the other staff could have known, should have known, or did know, let alone admit that many on the staff tried to cover up his abuse, once victims, parents and onlookers complained to them. This ruling is a shameful exhibit of staff and judges who “have eyes, but do not see, have ears but do not listen.”

Avrohom Chaim LevinApart from those of the judges, only one name appears in the ruling. It is not Meisels, Soloff, Ullman, Simon or Kahane. It is Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin. Levin is nogeiah bidavar (has a conflict of interest); he is a close, close friend of Elimelech Meisels’ father. They were chavrusot (study partners) for years, back when they were students in Telshe (Cleveland). That is why he recused himself from the original deliberations of the Chicago Special Beis Din and his place was taken by Rabbi Zev Cohen who was ordinarily the administrator/corresponding secretary of that court. Levin is flattered with flowery quotes. (E.g., “to the Rosh Yeshiva it is said: “Days onto the days of the king may you add, etc.”[Psalms/Tehillim 61:7]). This is the same Rabbi Levin who wrote letters defending Rabbi Yisroel Bodkins from allegations of molesting yeshiva boys, but turned tail rather than be deposed in court proceedings and face prosecution for perjury. Levin was the rav with the chutzpah to criticize a ruling by the Chicago Beis Din when he recused himself because of a conflict of interest.

This ruling does not even claim that Meisels is truly and finally severed from control of the seminaries. Back in September, 2014, one of the dayanim, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, wrote, “In a July 30 conference call, Rabbis Tzvi Gartner and Chaim Malinowitz stated to the Beis Din [in Chicago] that the publicly-reported purchase of the seminaries was subject to as-yet unfulfilled contingencies.” The present ruling continues to hedge when it states, “The situation today is that the amuta and all the institutions under its umbrella are being transferred.” It is written in the present tense. I am sure they would have used the past tense if it had already been accomplished. They concede as much when they write, “Practically, the issues have been drawn out and have yet to come to a resolution. The beis din is convinced that the situation will be resolved in the best way possible, and is giving it more time.”

Dissenting opinions cartoonThis ruling defies the usual norms for an orthodox rabbinical court ruling by stating that five of the seven members will be issuing dissenting opinions {See footnote 5}. Conventionally, a rabbinical court accepts the majority decision and all sign without dissenting. The dissenting opinions are not included and it is not even clear if they have been written.

At times the ruling states “See explanations for more on this,” but then those explanations are nowhere to be found in the document. It is not clear if these explanations have been written yet or whether they will ever be shared. It even transpires that their previous ruling had an undisclosed set of additional notes which they allude to when they write about Rabbi Boruch Dovid Simon and refer to “note 7 of the partial psak din.” It is impossible to know if these missing explanations indeed bolster the claims in the ruling, or are convenient places to hide yet more of the embarrassing complications they are trying to gloss over.

Many of my readers have started consoling me for losing after putting up a good fight. I don’t see it that way. I think of Mordechai telling Esther, “If you hold your peace at this time, then relief and deliverance will arise to the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish” (Esther 4:14).

In Australia the failings of orthodox leadership were revealed by the Royal Commission and several rabbis involved in cover ups were forced to resign.

In the US, Jewish women in seminaries get more protection from the US Department of Education which enforces the Title IX provision that campuses must do their part to prevent sexual harassment and violence. Because of Title IX, Touro College will not restore accreditation to these seminaries until Meisels is truly severed, other staff are fired or demoted, and there is clear evidence that the institution truly grasps its failures and has changed. This Beis Din ruling falls well short of Title IX requirements. The US Department of Education has its flaws. But then grownups understand that Esther was compromised as well. But she is our heroine because she was not afraid to challenge an all-powerful king who had already discarded Queen Vashti during an alcoholic binge.

All seven rabbis on this Beis Din are learned, very learned. Mordechai was learned. estherNothing in the Torah suggests that Esther was learned. But she had a gut, a heart, and a spine. She grasped the character and foibles of the wicked and figured out how to void their force. She was successful because she was willing to risk her job, even her life. She took heed when she was warned that if she dodged her job, she and her father’s house would perish.

The day will come when orthodox institutions are safe. The only question is who will make them safe and who will perish, which institutions will reform themselves and which ones will shuttered by criminal prosecutions, civil lawsuits, and declining enrollment.

Translation of the Ruling

  • Below is a translation of the full text posted on the Daas Torah site. All bolding in the translation is consistent with the original except for section heading bolding which I added for the benefit of the reader.
  • Meisels is repeatedly described as the pogeiah. In modern Hebrew it means abuser (which in this context means sexual abuser), however in rabbinic Hebrew it can cover a broader set of offensive conduct. To allow for this ambiguity, which may have been intended, it is translated as “abuser/offender.”
  • Some information is clearly implicit. For example, from the context it is clear that the pogeiah is Elimelech Meisels or the principal of Keser Chaya is Mrs. Hindy Ullman. I have added such information, inclosing it in brackets (e.g., [Meisels].
  • All footnotes were in the original. However, my blogging software does not allow superscripts so I emphasized the numbers by embedding them in curlicues (e.g., {see footnote 1}).
  • All links in the ruling were inserted by me to help the reader. It should not be assumed that the Beis Din would agree with the content referenced by the links.

The eve before Wednesday, 5 Adar, 5775 (March 10, 2015)

The Expanded Beis Din With These Rabbis

  • Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz
  • Rabbi Shmuel Feurst
  • Rabbi Yisroel Zev Hacohen Cohen- These three [above] are from Chicago, USA henceforth [referred to as] the Chicago Beis Din [aka CBD]
  • Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hacohen Shafran
  • Rabbi Chaim Zev ben R. Avrohom Aharon Halevi Malinowitz
  • Rabbi Tzvi Gartner- These three [above] are from Eretz Yisroel [Israel] henceforth [referred to as] the Eretz Yisroel Beis Din [aka IBD]
  • Rabbi Eliyahu Brudney from Brooklyn, New York

We sat as an expanded beis din (rabbinical court) to judge the issue of the seminaries: Pninim, Chedvas Beis Yaakov, Binas Beis Yaakov, and Keser Chaya – henceforth referred to as “the seminaries”. This psak din (ruling) is the continuation of the partial psak din that was rendered on Monday, 9 Kislev 5775 (December 1, 2014), and these [two rulings] should be understood as a unit.

In this part of the psak din, we address the question of the responsibility of the administrators in what occurred:

  • Did they know anything at the time of the events or should they have known?
  • Included in this is the issue of the general atmosphere in the seminaries; was there an atmosphere of frivolity that invited abuse? Did they contribute knowingly or unknowingly to the creation of such an atmosphere? Or/and did they fail in creating a proper atmosphere?
  • Similarly, when incidents became known regarding the previous year, did the administrators act properly in the relevant spheres?

Our deliberations led to the following Psak Din (Ruling)

A. Keser Chaya Seminary [Mrs. Shulamis Soloff]: No complaint of unacceptable or prohibited action against the offender/abuser [Elimelech Meisels] was received with regard to this seminary. While there were complaints of inappropriate, improper, and abnormal behavior (the type described in the Reasons of the psak din of Rav M.M. HaKohen Shafran, from here on to be referred to as briefly as “Reasons”), the administrators dealt with those incidents immediately, with efficiency and expertise. We decisively say: there was not and is not any reason in the world to raise questions regarding this wonderful; seminary or its administration. This decision should repair any mistaken impression that could confuse others created in the past.

B. Pninim Seminary [Rabbi Boruch Dovid Simon]: Adjudicating this case is superfluous. This is because the administrator at the time of these acts was the offender/abuser himself [Elimelech Meisels]. The current administration was promoted from among the staff as a result of the offender/abuser’s resigning/firing.

As such, one cannot complain about the current administration because of the acts of the previous administration – run by the offender/abuser – and they bear no responsibility, even administratively, for his [Meisel’s] actions.

It should also be noted what was written in note 7 of the partial psak din: “The beis din was deeply impressed from the staff of the seminaries, their dedication and concern, their outlook and fear of God, and their being fit to educate bnos yisroel (Jewish daughters) in Torah and fear of heaven and to establish faithful homes in Israel.” These words that were said generally are certainly applicable to the [current] administration of Pninim Seminary.

C. Chedvas Beis Yaakov Seminary [Rabbi Meir Kahane]: Here, we also received no complaints about unacceptable or forbidden behavior by the offender/abuser, only inappropriate, and abnormal behavior, (the type of behavior described in the “Reasons” document.) But, unlike the situation in Keser Chaya, a complaint and claim was placed against them as if the administrator’s response was too conciliatory and inadequate, and perhaps even worse (for details, see the “Reasons” document.)

Also, an email was shown to us that was sent from the administrator about the incident. The email was sent to a group of former students, after the incident blew up and became publicized. It was claimed that this email was at worst an attempt to hide or obscure things (cover-up in English), and at best, insensitive to the situation of the victims.

And so, after careful examination and after pitting the administrator against the witness who testified about the abnormal behavior of the attacker and the inappropriate response of the administrator, we reached the following decision: We heard the explanation of the administrator. Although it would appear that his response cannot be characterized as wise or insightful, but from there to placing a stain and suspicion on a dedicated administrator whose reputation precedes him—who could suggest such a thing?! We will leave it at that.

Regarding the email: the administrator explained his pure intentions – giving strength and encouragement, in what was meant to be a closed forum, to former students who were bewildered and confused about the magnitude of the incident and the public reaction to it. According to him, the initiative for this came from students who asked him for words of encouragement on the topic.

Again, one can debate the judgment of the administrator and his timing. Similarly, he should have known there are no secrets; things said—and certainly written—in a closed forum with many participants are susceptible to being leaked. But in the end, there was no attempt here to hide or obfuscate the facts or be insensitive to the victims.

As such, and taking into account the fact that the administrator expressed before us his true regret for the words that he penned, which might not have been proper, and taking into account his great suffering and the publicizing of him in a bad light recently, we establish that he has already had his just deserts, and there is no further reason to doubt or question—God forbid!—his good name and fitness for educating the young women to Torah and knowledge.

D. Binas Beis Yaakov Seminary [Mrs. Hindy Ullman]: here the issue is more complex, and we will go in order.

1. Did the administration know in real time what was going on under their auspices: The beis din is convinced that until the day the story became known towards the end of last year, the seminary’s administration knew nothing about the offender/abuser’s actions. All the “proofs” submitted before the beis din suggesting they knew this or the other detail, can only be considered speculative and imagination. They do not conform with the reality on the ground, or with the personality of the administration.

2. The administration’s response when the incident became known: The chain of events is detailed extensively in the “Reasons” document. It is clear that once it became known, the administration acted quickly, with determination, and with great efficiency to investigate what occurred. This led to the removal of the offender/abuser from the physical environment (by immediately sending him abroad) and from continuing in the field of education – for these actions the administration is worthy of great praise. {see footnote 1}

3. Regarding the behavior of the administration toward the parents of the victim, and to witness “5”: see the “Reasons” document, and the matter is clear.

4. Regarding the question of the general atmosphere in this seminary, if it was an atmosphere of frivolity, inviting such incidents: the answer is a decisive no. See “Reasons” for more on this at length.

5. Regarding the question of whether the administration should have known sooner what was going on under their auspices: here we are perplexed, and we will go into more detail in order to explain.

As stated in the partial psak din and in the “Reasons,” the offender/abuser himself is not a part of these proceedings. Further, many of those who were meant to know what was going on in the seminary at the time have refused to testify before the beis din. Despite that, the picture that has emerged thus far (based mainly on the written admission of the offender/abuser and supported by a number of testimonies) is as such:

We are talking about incidents that occurred during the schools years of 5770-5774 [Fall ’09- Summer ‘14]. Incidents before that period are not known. The incidents happened in the first years of Pninim, and from 5772 (the year Binas Beis Yaakov opened) and on, specifically in Binas. {see footnote 2} We are talking about a handful of incidents each year. {See footnote 3}

After going through the material before us, it is difficult to shake the feeling that there were red flags and troubling signs, and the administration should have known and sensed what was going on under its own nose. {See Footnote 4} Indeed, it is difficult to establish that with certainty, and even if you say it is true, how can we know and decide if it was at the level of negligence or near negligence, or less than that – but to leave it at nothing is impossible.

On the other hand, one must take into account the great suffering by the administration in recent months with the publication putting them in a bad light, along with their praiseworthy response once the matter became known, as described in section 2.

Therefore it seems that we must make do with the continuation of the arrangements that were agreed upon by the administration in Kislev of this year. According to [these arrangements], some of the positions and responsibility will be transferred temporarily to another party. As well, supervision and guidance by Mrs. Birnbaum will be increased. These arrangements will be in effect until the start of the school year of 5777 [Fall 2016].

E. In part 2, paragraph 1 of the partial psak din it is written: first, and foremost, the beis din Eretz Yisroel dealt with the removal of the offender/abuser and his family from all administrative positions in the seminaries, and brought about their being removed from the amuta [Israeli not-for-profit corporation], and the transferring of responsibility to other people. The situation today is that the amuta and all the institutions under its umbrella are being transferred to the faithful hands of a group of Haredi activists who are bnei torah, who will be completely subservient to the instructions of the expanded beis din, and above them the great rabbis and teachers, the elders of the roshei yeshivos of the USA.

Practically, the issues have been drawn out and have yet to come to a resolution. The beis din is convinced that the situation will be resolved in the best way possible, and is giving it more time, until July 1, 2015. The beis din will continue to follow developments and if necessary will sit again on this issue.

F.  As a side note on the matter: it is no secret that over the entire period of the case the battei din (Eretz Yisroel and Chicago) acted separately. If we did act jointly, this is as a result of the efforts of three people who wish to remain anonymous, from Chicago, who have worked tirelessly for the success of the unification, and under the authority of Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin, Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe Yeshiva-Chicago and member of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudah [Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America], they should be blessed from heaven with all good. And to the Rosh Yeshiva it is said: “Days onto the days of the king may you add, etc.”[Psalms/Tehillim 61:7], and together we should merit to greet the righteous redeemer, speedily in our day, amen. (Footnote 5)

We came to sign on the eve before Wednesday, 20 Adar, 5775 (March 10, 2015) {See footnote 5}

  • Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz
  • Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hacohen Shafran- (I published my view as part of the minority opinion, and here I join my voice to that of the majority with regards to the practical outcome.)
  • Rabbi Shmuel Feurst
  • Rabbi Chaim Zev ben R. Avrohom Aharon Halevi Malinowitz (My opinion, in the full sense of the word, is like that of R. Shafran, and my view is also like that of the minority, but here I sign to join with the majority as it regards halacha and the practical outcome.)
  • Rabbi Yisroel Zev Hacohen Cohen
  • Rabbi Tzvi Gartner
  • Rabbi Eliyahu Brudney

Footnotes:

  1. It should be stressed a document was presented to the beis din seemingly proving that at least one member of the beis din knew about the actions of the administration while it was happening.
  2. [redacted to protect identity of victims and to comply with court order barring publicizing their identities by name or other unique information]
  3. And so the rumors of tens of victims each year have no basis or foundation in reality
  4. Though, in reality, she didn’t know
  5. The minority view, of Rabbis Schwartz, Feurst and Cohen – on one side, and Rabbis Shafran and Malinowitz and the other side, as well as the explanations of the majority, will be publicized separately.

Hat Tip to those who helped in translating the ruling and revising the translations.

Advertisements

76 thoughts on “Deciphering the Latest Joint Rabbinical Court Ruling on the Meisels Seminaries Scandal

  1. YL,
    A lot of dissapointment, however…Is essence it is one of the few times where a bais din has had the guts to finally believe the accusers, since the issue of Meisels guilt has not been debated at all. They have also leveld some amount of blame on the staff members and even demoted one of them. As much as this is a laughable consequence, nevertheless it is a first in many ways, and hopefully signifies a change in attitude when it comes to abuse.

    • But in reading the ambiguities it will be possible for Meisels to come back in a few years. Moreover, they should have either finally secured the severance of his connection to the seminaries or laid it on much thicker and not said the sems are safe. How can they be when he still has a connection to people who worked there, knew what they did and yet give him cover by lying and denying any knowledge.

      It is not nothing but it is very little and so much less than what Chicago started with 9 months ago.

      • The disappointment in the CBD is overwhelming.
        Now, that they have
        shown us their “stuff”, they should be disbanded. They serve no purpose as a {special) Beit Din. None.
        I wonder if in their heart of hearts any of them feel even a wee bit of embarrassment?

        • I am sure they are distressed. Their hearts were (and probably still are) in the right place. They accomplished a ton including getting the accreditation suspended. But in the end they gave into pressure.

          I do agree that this episode shows how even the best of the orthodox battei din on abuse just cannot overcome the internal pressures enough to reliably deliver. I suspose they can deliver when the offender is an individual schmendrik. But we need institutional accountability.

      • Hypothetically speaking, of course, if Chicago came to the conclusion that much (no, not all) of the allegations were false or at least unproven should they have insisted that much of the staff be sacrificed just to make sure that an example is made for the future, despite the lack of evidence?

        • Hypotethically, if you are right, Chicago would not have felt a need to write a dissent. Hypothetically, Chicago would publicly urge Touro to reinstate accreditation. Hypothetically, the BD would have used a milder word than poegiah to avoid ambiguity. Hypothetically, why would Chicago have voted to harm Ullman if she underreacted to a mere hug. etc. This was a hard fought compromise.

          • While we’re talking hypothetically, what if Ullman felt that she was facing hanging judges and refused to cooperate. And what if she was told that if she did not cooperate they would destroy her. And what if — still hypothetically — the exchange was recorded and that recording exists?

            • Hanging judges. They were so meikil that they could make Conservative rabbis seem like machmirim.

              Naive Mrs. Ullman?- You do know she is the daughter of the toen from hell, Shmuel Fried, a man who strikes terror in the hearts of capable dayanim. She had the best advice of any of them and the backing of the toughest toen in the business (and one of the best paid). And a toen ready to defend an accused molester, Chaim Halpern in Golders Green, London.

              No, sir. Mrs. Ullman is a tragic victim of inconvenient facts that even this BD desparate to kasher the seminaries, nevertheless condemned in spite of enough pilpul to spin the head of a quality litvak mipalpel.

              Please, that is an amusing theory. Please come up with something better. You have tapes, she has tapes, they would be leaking through the tool, Eidensohn, quicker than a meshulach can whip a tzetel in your face during davening and with more velocity and shmutz than my sewer pipe I had to replace.

              Please, you are amusing, but even if you are going to give us conspiracy theories, give us one that works.

  2. So the Winston Churchill here has to be the VP of Touro College who has to hold firm on the accreditation issue?

  3. This is some nonsense, is what it is. Did they hear any expert testimony or consult with outside experts on the nature of such cases before dismissing what they call “rumors?” Nonsense.

  4. I wrote the following on the previous post, and these are still my thoughts and feelings about this case.

    This is truly sickening. If this is what Torah produces, if a Beis Din comprised of some of the biggest Rabbanim in the USA cannot even measure up to the pinky toe of the shadow of justice dispensed by Penn State – a secular college – then what in the world are the Rabbanim good for, and what good is their Torah, their yeshivos, their learning, their halachos, or their battei dinim? These are the interpreters of Torah? These are the decisors of halachah and of Hashem’s will? These men, these rabbanim who claim to represent Torah are nothing but pawns and puppets, putty in the hands of those with the most prestige, the most money or the most familial pressure to bend their will. If these are the same men we trust with our halachic shailos, with “Daas Torah,” with advice and family guidance, we would be better off following our G-d given conscience and G-d given minds than consulting “Daas Torah.” Because any moron with eyes in his head knows blatant injustice when he sees it. If Torah and batei din cannot dispense even a fraction of the justice, honesty or humility which Penn State was able to muster up, if Torah and batei din cannot stand up for and are unwilling to protect the weakest and most vulnerable of our society, especially when victims build up the courage to come forward and blow the whistle on the big, the powerful, the connected and the most “choshuv” in society, then tell me why we consider it “great” and “important” to have all this Torah learning going on? If this is the product of all that Torah learning, if this is the halachic interpretation of Torah, if this is the justice of the highest Torah court on this case, and if these men and the injustice they serve is representative of Torah, then what in the world is the point?

    And where, may I ask, are the “Gedolim”? Surely they have been informed of such an important case and have been asked by those under them to weigh in with their guidance. They are silent. The “Gedolim” are silent. Shtika K’hodaya.

  5. Let’s not forget that this tepid, timid, disingenuous statement may well have an effect on the pending civil litigation as well. This could contribute to increased pressure on the plaintiffs to drop the suit or to settle quickly and easily. And with the record sealed, the truth will that much easier to obscure in Orthodox discourse.

    And since the rabbis of this joint tribunal surely knew that as well as I do, that’s one more aspect of their moral responsibility for doing what they did.

    • In all likelihood, the civil suit will be settled with a non-disclosure agreement. So now we are left with the most important rabbinical voices self-sabatoging their credibility and undermining the complainants.

      • Am I understanding you correctly? If they believe that they had been overly hasty in stating that all four seminaries were not safe after Meisels left, does that mean that they are “self-sabotaging their credibility”?

        • You are not understanding. You are deliberately misunderstanding.

          Question for your. How could the IBD have declared the seminaries were no longer under the control of the poegiah (pervert assailant) Meisels and now say they are still in the process of transferring it. Why need and promise another transfer if the last one was good.

          Also, they long ago declared all is good and the menchanchim were the greatest thing since sliced challah. So why are they reprimanding Ullman and putting her on probation?

          What do you think is the reason the CBD members are going to write a dissenting opinion. Do you think it will be a recommendation for Meisels to teach girls?

          BTW, do you think Meisels is seeing the same therapist as Dovid Weinberger or Avrohom Mondrowitz?

      • Exactly right. More than anything else, the crooks thrive on darkness. By giving them another cloak to hide behind, the well-meaning rabbis have ensured that they’ll lie and cheat another day. And in the process, the rabbis have weakened themselves and exposed their procedures to (justified) public ridicule. A very sobering bottom line.

        And also a wake-up call for anyone who didn’t get the message before. The rabbis cannot or will not govern the rabbinate. The yeshivas cannot or will not police the yeshivas.

  6. After this beis din circus, why would anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse go to rabbis for advice or assistance? Why would anyone ever again use the “Special Beis Din” in Chicago meant to deal with sexual issues? Why would anyone ever believe that a Beis Din could do anything other than loudly declare “We are God’s holy judges!”? If this is God’s justice, if this is Torah’s justice, if this circus, this farce and this push to defend rabbis no matter their transgressions and to abandon victims in the name of the “greater good” (which is code for other rabbis’ reputations and jobs), then who needs all this “holiness”?

    The hamon am (greater public) should know that it will only be the hamon am that will force the rabbanim to change their corrupt ways. Only by storming the castle will the very wealthy and powerful “gedolim” give up their wealth and power. This theocratic rule we are under is only as strong as we allow it to be. It will only be as a group that we can take our religion back from those who claim to own it and to speak in God’s name. Until then they will keep us poor with their high tuitions and keep us distracted and busy with social pressure to have large families like they do, to keep ever more chumras and barely a breather between yomim tovim. They have become Paroh and we have become slaves. Anyone who gets in the way is destroyed and considered collateral damage. The system may work for you today, but if someone in your family is hurt by the system, whether your own child or grandchild, you will wonder why you went along with it all these years, and why you looked away at the anguish and pain inflicted upon others in the name of the system.

    • Sorry to be a downer, but the only solution I see is to encourage unattached adults to get the hell out. And I think this process has already started for many……

      • Much easier said than done. Most adults are attached and have children by the time they are able to develop the ability to think critically. And most are raised to be dependent upon the community for survival. Add to that the shunning, social and familial rejection of those who choose differently and there is no mass exit by anyone other than teenagers who think they are invincible. And many of those teens go scurrying back home once they realize that they don’t have the tools for survival in the outside world.

        • i agree why would any one that was abused go to the rabbis. It is sad. BUT why not go to the authorities. POLICE. I know and understand the pressures and the issues. But it seems that we need to start supporting the abused that go to the police…. and maybe then maybe, we will start seeing a change.
          leaving a religion just because the rabbis are no good makes no sense. The torah is emes maybe some of the followers arent!

          • Can you articulate clearly why you think leaving a religion just because the rabbis are no good makes no sense? As Seriously? pointed out, even if you believe the Torah is emes, it has always been the rabbis interpreting it for us. And if they’re corrupt, then what? I’m not trying to be provocative here, I really want to know what you think.

            • my short answer is:
              are all rabbis corrupt? I know of a few that are not, and are not scared to stand up for the truth.

            • Absolutely not. There are rabbis of great integrity. There are even some with the courage of their convictions who will publicly state what they believe and suffer any resultant hostility from their colleagues. However there are not many. Depending on the size of one’s community there may not be any.

  7. Originally the CBD definitively told us about the major aveiros committed by EM. And about the total obliviousness [at best] of the staff. All of a sudden they’re OK. Kahane is good. Simon is good. Hindy is good. Who believes this? NO ONE should send his daughter to any of these schools. Let new schools open. Those teachers who are totally innocent will get jobs. And how could anyone ever think that Kahane is a good role model?

    Again: PARENTS – DO NOT SEND YOUR DAUGHTERS TO THESE SCHOOLS. [Disclaimer: I am not associated with any girl’s seminaries. I used to be over a dozen years ago.] DON’T SEND THEM. Stand up for justice.

    • JewinJerusalem, I think that’s pretty much where the whole thing is ending off. Yes, you’ll have a few morons without any sense focus on what allegedly wasn’t PROVEN in this case, versus the many allegations of misconduct, both on the part of Meisels and on the part of the teachers. But for the most part, the people over here in the real world know that they’ll never consider a Meisels sem. Moreover, many are now questioning whether or not seminary is a valuable use of precious resources.

      But I think that it would really be kafui tov not to at least acknowledge that a once-major player in the seminary world, having had all the maalos of yichus, wealth, and Torah all in one place, has been taken out, and will never be in chinuch again. Yes, he might still fool a few people, and maybe get back in, but because of all of this coverage he’ll never be a major player. Never. Notice that even the people who claimed it was “just a hug” now have to contend with the name “Pogeah”. Even their defenses have shifted from “just a hug” to “we’re not talking about Meisels anymore”. Effectively, Meisels has been taken out of the game.

      So, given certain limitations, it’s reasonable to be happy. On the other hand, I feel deeply for the pain of someone like Seriously? and Sheri who basically say that it’s not worth being frum if this is the best the rabbonim can do. I have no easy answers because as far as I’m concerned, Torah is emes, regardless if many people don’t live it properly. In addition, I have found a community of honest, ehrlich people and rabbonim who actually practice what they preach. If anyone either goes OTD or even thinks about it, the burden is squarely on the Pogeah, and not on the CBD who did everything they could to set things straight.

      Finally, the CBD can still be consulted as to their personal opinions. Despite idiots like Eidensohn who claim that the CBD had a miraculous conversion and now see the case in strange and new ways, a simple phone call will verify otherwise.

      • Torah is halachah. Piskei din determine halachah. If piskei din cannot be trusted, as was displayed with the circus demonstrated in this case due to this obviously corrupted and at best compromised beis din in which social pressure of “chashuv” people weighed more than justice, then how can you say that Torah is “Emes”? If you want to say, “Well, rabbis are only human, give them a break.” Okay, they’re only human, but THEY are the ones who CREATE Halachah. And don’t tell me it’s not “created” by rabbanim. There was no halachic determination in this case until the rabbanim came out with a Psak Din. This Psak Din CREATED the halachah in this case. It is unjust, it is pathetic, it is man made injustice, and it is HALACHAH. Every halachah we have that is not in Chumash was determined by MEN. Karaim believed ONLY in Torah Sh’bich’sav, and that there was no need for Rabbanim. We believe that there was a Torah She’be’al Peh, and that the RABBANIM are the ones who determine what that is. If rabbanim are corrupt, the whole process of determining Torah She’ba’al Peh is corrupt, and our whole belief system is based on corrupt and at best faulty men who have always been influenced by social pressures, money, prestige, honor and power. Either way, it’s not “Emes” – it’s determined by faulty and too often compromised men. Do you honestly believe that this is the first beis din in our history that compromised justice for the sake of the prestige and power of the one being accused of wrongdoing? We have generations of these kinds of disputes which were documented, rabbanim excommunicating other rabbanim. Toras Emes?

        For those so inclined, look into the history of the Zohar and Rabbi Moshe DeLeon. Look into how 150-200 years ago those who spoke out against the whole Arizal movement and the whole prestige given to the Zohar were excommunicated. Rabbanim who showed in detail how corrupt it was and how it wasn’t only not based on Torah but based on Avodah Zarah, how they were marginalized and attacked and put into cherem because the honor and power of important rabbanim was at stake and because people couldn’t handle the truth. People do not want their boats rocked. And they cannot handle the truth. They aren’t interested if there is a guy drilling a hole under his own seat in the boat, as long is it’s not their own seat that is getting wet. But it swallows the whole boat, which is Torah and mesorah, and it’s sinking fast.

        Sheker ain lo raglayim. When the whole thing is a house of cards, it collapses. Do you honestly believe that every kid who goes OTD just wants to watch movies on Shabbos? They can’t stomach the absolute hypocrisy that the adults are immune to and have learned to just shrug off, or deny, or wear blinders in order to not see it.

        THE RULING OF THIS BEIS DIN IS UTTER HYPOCRACY AND A SLAP IN THE FACE OF JUSTICE. If Torah will not defend victims of rabbinic sexual misconduct, then “Toras Emes” is many times worse than Penn State – a secular college which punished the abuser, pulled honors away from the abuser’s protectors, apologized to victims, and made restitution to victims. And Penn State does not claim to have a monopoly on Hashem’s will or “Emes” or is based on a Mesorah from Har Sinai. But Torah sweeps it all under the rug. Why should I have a need for Torah when Penn State can punish injustice while Toras Emes cannot. Not only can’t it, it is not evening willing to, and instead covers up for abusers and attacks victims. Toras Emes has never ever even publically admitted that there is injustice which needs to be punished!

        A man-made house of corruption and a house of cards is not worthy of being called Hashem’s will, or Kodesh, or Emes. Nor is it worthy of being followed by ethical and moral people. If you want to call this apikorsus, go right ahead, and while you’re at it, tell your kids why what I’m saying is not true. Because you can choose to bury your head in the sand as long as you like, but I guarantee you that your children and grandchildren will smell the blatant lies and hypocrisy miles away, and they are more likely than I ever will be to go off the derech.

  8. What must happen is that the seminaries will shut down. Does anyone know what the enrollment is for next year? There is absolutely no excuse for any girl to go there next year. What advisors – names please- at US High Schools – are advising girls to attend Meisel seminaries?
    As I understand it, they don’t have accreditation. New schools opened.
    Why in the world would anyone go to those schools with the cloud hanging over them?
    Imagine how differently this would have turned out if the police got involved? There would be criminal cases (and expensive criminal lawyers) and real consequences.

  9. wow, alot of emotion here!
    People getting the “hell” out of Judaism???? Obviously, this type of thing is upsetting, but it is quite immature for adults to make statements like these.

    If you believe in G-D and his torah, no reason to leave….the world is an imperfect place, we all have bechira including the Rabbonim. Of course, it is difficult when Rabbis act improperly as they are the very transmitters of the Oral Law which is integral to orthodoxy but as mature people we still need to be logical and realize that opting out is foolish and childish. It may feel good to vent on a blog….but totally useless other than to get instant gratification/pat-on-the-back from other hysterical people.

    As to the issues of the case, none of us totally know. The best description we have is from Truth Seeker, and even she never thought that there was more going on other than inappropriate compliments, rides, etc. While it may feel great to shout out on this blog that Meisels has done so much wrong….rape, etc., we do not know. Many of you will ask , what’s the difference, he does not belong in education and should have been stopped?

    There is a huge difference and you all know it. Imagine someone getting arrested for pick-pocketing and then the judge puts on his record that he killed three people. I think you would cry out over the injustice. Same here!

    When seeking justice, we must be just.

    The bigger question which this blog owner has not been able to provide us with an answer is what happened?

    Did the CBD realize they made and error regarding the whole affair and perhaps exaggerate the claims regarding Meisels and staff complicity? Did they get caught up in the rush to convict? Or did the CBD allow itself to be intimidated into retracting much of their earlier opinion?

    You all would like to believe the latter, but have you even considered the former choice or will you not consider it because it may interfere with your already formed opinions which you will not budge from?

    You can not believe that the CBD would change its mind so you create a scenario in which the CBD was harrassed into consenting with the broader Bais Din’s opinion, much different than their own psak. The CBD are big boys and would surely be able to withstand any such intimidation efforts which lead to the conclusion that they may have just changed their opinion. They now may have an opinion that they arrived at, but does not sit well with the blog land.

    IS this a possibility that you would all consider?

    BTW, I believe that Meisels did alot of bad things and probably did more than just talking. I also believe that there were some administrators who are guilty, however, the blog land paints a picture of a conspiracy in which hundreds of girls went to the administration and were rebuffed time after time, when in reality it may have been one or two girls over 10 years who actually spoke to the administration. Should they be reprimanded? Yes. Apologize? Yes. Suspended or fired? Depends on the facts. Should Kahane whose letter was absolutely sickening be fired? Not sure. At the very least, he should write a letter of apology to the entire student body. I am not a pro Meisels person at all, however, we need to be honest with ourselves.

    Taking the honest approach is a difficult choice, but it will serve all of us a lot better if we make this choice.instead of resorting to half-truths, rumors, innuendos and emotional venting.

    • I have said in the past that I believe the CBD was pressured and made a mistake in trusting the joint process. Moreover, I made it clear that I did not see an exoneration of staff as much as a mixed verdict with a lot fumfering and hedging. The Joint BD was not explicitly focused on Meisels. Their limited footnotes leave his crimes ambiguous but they only took testimony from a few of the many victims who spoke to Chicago. Most witnesses were not willing to trust the joint BD in light of the antics of the IBD, especially Malinowitz. I will also be posting about some egregious irregularities in their proceedings that hobbled witnesses.

    • You seem to believe that the CBD invented claims that came out of thin air. Of course, this is pure baloney. They took testimony from many young women, all of whom experienced some type of abuse/grooming/favoritism/yichud with Meisels. Even the IBD agreed to the term “pogeah”. Stop with the comparrison to pickpocketing. For the record, not one single member of the CBD retracts their previous statements regarding Meisels. Only fools like Eidensohn have been putting that silly argument forward. Don’t belive me? A single phone call will verify this.

    • Why do you think opting out is illogical, foolish, and childish? I understand if you think opting out is just plain wrong, based on your worldview. But childish? There are many Jews who don’t follow, or don’t believe in, rabbinic Judaism who are mature adults. Some were raised in observant homes. They have looked into the arguments pro and con, and after rational consideration, have chosen con. And even without the rational consideration, even if their conclusion is all based on emotion, can you really not understand how a mature adult can feel such a sense of betrayal from his/her leaders that they no longer want to be associated with these people? Wouldn’t you admire a Muslim who feels such a sense of betrayal by their radical leaders that they want to dissociate themselves from radical Islam?

    • Composing a just response to this comment involves me in something of a quandary. Taking the writer at his word — and I have no reason not to — I must conclude that he is sincerely indignant over the misdeeds of Meisels and the enabling, to say the least, of members of the staff of the affected seminaries. He also is prepared to acknowledge that rabbis have acted “improperly,” and that this is “upsetting.”

      I don’t want to challenge the good will of someone who is ready to make such concessions. Yet I find the same writer making statements that, in my view, are both profoundly unfair and potentially quite dangerous. How best to respond? I think the only reasonable course is to explain what I find wrong with the author’s arguments as directly and as honestly as I can, trusting that a sincere critique won’t be unfair to someone whose heart is the right place. So here it is.

      The author advances two sorts of apologetics, which (as I will explain a bit later) operate in complementary fashion. First, he argues that because we don’t know all the facts of the case against the seminary officials, and because we can’t be certain what caused the joint beth din to issue the waffling decision it did, we can’t say that its conclusions were wrong. Maybe the staff covered up for a rapist, but on the other hand maybe it didn’t: the only public account we have of Meisels’ behavior refers to mere “inappropriate compliments, rides, etc.” (That “etc.” might conceivably cover a lot of ground, but I’ll let other people explore that point, if they choose.) As for the beth din, we can’t know what went on behind the scenes; perhaps the Chicago judges “realize[d] they made an[] error regarding the whole affair” after, at first, being “caught up in the rush to convict.” True, it’s also possible that the tribunal was pressured or cajoled into backing away from its initially firm position, but the writer questions that hypothesis on the grounds that the Chicago rabbis “are big boys and would surely be able to withstand any such intimidation efforts.”

      While making these points, the writer also attacks those on this blog who have declared, in their anger at the rabbis’ tepid handling of the allegations, that they are (or that others should be) “getting the ‘hell’ out of Judaism.” I use the word “attack” advisedly here, since the writer’s characterization of these comments is notably harsh: he calls them “immature,” “foolish and childish,” “totally useless,” the product of “hysterical people,” and so on. He considers his own position, by contrast, that of an “adult”: “If you believe in [God] and his torah, no reason to leave….the world is an imperfect place, we all have bechira [choice] including the Rabbonim” [ellipsis in original]. In other words, if rabbis have done wrong, that is of no moral consequence to other Orthodox Jews; what matters is that “you believe in God and his torah,” a position that automatically requires you (unlike the conduct of rabbinic authorities) to remain a part of the Orthodox community.

      Now the first thing that strikes me about these propositions is that they are all false. It isn’t necessary to know “all the facts” in order to assess the logic of the tribunal’s recent declaration: one need only compare the rabbis’ conclusions with their own statements of the evidence, particularly in their earlier public declarations. (I will not elaborate on this point, since Yerachmiel and others have already done an admirable job of it. I will only say that the comparison, to my mind, leaves the rabbis with very little to stand on.) Similarly, it’s no defense of the rabbis to suggest reasons other than extrinsic pressure for their decision – on the contrary, claiming the rabbis “changed their minds” in the absence of coercion makes their position worse, not better, once it is granted (as the writer appears to do) that what they wrote cannot be defended on the merits.

      As for the writer’s ridicule of those prepared to abandon Orthodoxy, I cannot see that it is illogical, let alone “immature,” to abandon a faction – religious or otherwise – when its leading exemplars are exposed as frauds or, at best, as cowards. In fact, I suspect the author himself would agree with me – so long as the faction in question was not his own. Would he use similar language to condemn, say, Communists who left the Party after Stalin’s purges? I doubt it, and on that point I’d readily agree with him. But why should Orthodox Judaism enjoy a uniquely tolerant standard? It seems to me the opposite is true: religious identity should imply at least as much responsibility for the moral conduct of the leadership as one’s membership in a political party. But if I’m right, that ought to mean that when an Orthodox Jews strongly disapproves of what leading rabbis have done (in the name of the religion) on an issue of unquestioned significance, and that Jew is NOT prepared to desert the religious party as a result, he deserves to be asked, “Well, then, what ARE you doing?” – a question on which this writer is conspicuously silent.

      In fact, considering his reluctance to resolve any of the doubts or ambiguities he claims to find in the evidence, the one thing on which the writer is willing to take a position – that the Chicago rabbis couldn’t possibly have been pressured, because they “are big boys and would surely be able to withstand any such intimidation efforts” – stands out as a remarkably poor choice. Does he know these men? How can he be certain they weren’t pressured? What has he seen in their public pronouncements that justifies his use of the word “surely,” where others see mostly equivocation and evasiveness? Could it be that this writer is unwilling to question the free choice of the Chicago rabbis because to do so would undermine his conviction that all the choices of loyal Orthodox Jews (those like himself) are the product of “bechira,” that is, that they are all freely made?

      I said before that the writer’s two sets of apologetics – both of them untenable, as I’ve tried to show – are meant to be complementary. Let me explain what I meant. The people ready to “get the hell out of Judaism,” the writer implies, are the same ones who are rushing to judgment against the seminary staff and the Chicago rabbis without knowing all the facts. To put it another way: just as it is convenient for people who are unhappy with Orthodoxy to seize on an excuse to abandon the religion, it is convenient for the same people to conclude a great injustice has occurred on the basis of incomplete or dubious evidence. Linking these two points, as the writer does, poses a subtle but unmistakable challenge to the doubters’ good faith. As he puts it:

      “While it may feel great to shout out on this blog that Meisels has done so much wrong….rape, etc., we do not know….

      “You all would like to believe [that the Chicago rabbis were intimidated into retracting much of their earlier opinion], but have you even considered the former choice or will you not consider it because it may interfere with your already formed opinions which you will not budge from?”

      Here and elsewhere in his post, the writer mixes and matches his two sets of rationalizations, using both to patronize the angry critics he distrusts. It makes them “feel great,” he sneers, to blame Meisels and the rabbis; “to vent on a blog” gives them “instant gratification”; and the same desire for quick and easy comfort is doubtless behind their desire to “opt out” of Judaism, a choice the writer labels “foolish and childish.” People who react like that are probably less than sincere; in any event, they cannot be taken seriously.

      I have to say that this seems to me deeply unfair – almost calumnious. The posters who have expressed the deepest bitterness about Orthodoxy have also stressed their long experience with it and, in Sheri’s case at least, have also underscored the pain of feeling entangled by personal and family ties in a religion that has repaid sacrifice, not with sustenance or consolation, but with betrayal. People who share such things deserve much better than condescension – and that is particularly true for someone who identifies himself with the religious leadership whose dishonesty has so deeply wounded them. What is the writer’s defense of the rabbis? Or, lacking such a defense, what does he offer the critics in exchange for their continuing allegiance to such manifestly inadequate “leaders”? The Kotsker Rebbe is supposed to have dismissed a grieving widow with the words, “Only the one with the cruelty to rob you of your husband can give you the strength to bear the loss.” Compared with such brutal candor – and those were the words of a deep believer – this writer’s “the world is an imperfect place, we all have [choice]” and sometimes rabbis choose wrong, etc., is mere twaddle.

      Apart from being unfair to the critics, such comments also miss the point. No one, not even the most starry-eyed Orthodox true believer, ever imagined that Orthodox rabbis are literally incapable of making choices – that they are impelled to do right in exactly the same way that water runs downhill, or that magnets attract iron filings. The discovery that rabbis can do the wrong thing – that they have, in fact, done massively wrong things on many occasions – is a moral problem, not a theological one. The critics don’t need to be reminded that rabbis are human and capable of error; we all know that much. What the critics are looking for is a fitting moral response to bad leadership. And if you don’t believe that deserting Orthodoxy is the right sort of response, then I ask you – no, I beg you by all that’s holy – offer them some sort of alternative. Or, if you can’t do even that much, then for heaven’s sake DON’T stand over them in patronizing bewilderment, huffing and puffing as if you couldn’t figure out what all the fuss is about. Because if that’s all you can do, as a representative of the religion that has already disappointed them so painfully, I can assure you that your approach is counterproductive: you’re giving those critics one more reason to clear out. A religion that can’t respond to their dilemma is no religion at all. And if rationalizing criminal cover-ups is the shortest path to heaven, as this writer seems prepared to grant (or at least not to deny), then quite a few of us may prefer a different destination.

      There is one issue in respect of which the writer might have developed a legitimate point. That is the question of exactly what is meant by “opting out.” Unfortunately, he has not clarified the issue any more than the posters he criticizes, so this is not the place to investigate it. It seems sufficient to say that the writer has not given any of the critics (or anyone else) a convincing reason not to “opt out,” however that phrase should be understood. That doesn’t prove that no good reason could be found. But I’m afraid the writer’s free-and-easy handling of the question does not match the seriousness of the questions that have been raised here.

      I wrote earlier that this author’s approach is potentially dangerous, and I hope it’s now obvious what I meant. It’s dangerous, first, because it masks behind what looks like a sober appraisal of the evidence a rather cruel personal attack on people who deserve much better – while giving the attacker a convenient alibi. And it’s dangerous, on another level, because while presenting itself as a defense of Orthodoxy it actually provides an excellent illustration of some of Orthodox culture’s most significant shortcomings. Mind you, I don’t claim certainty about religious truth, so I’m not criticizing the writer’s approach as something bad for Orthodoxy. But a purported defense of the faith – whatever faith – that confuses apathy with maturity and fails to see a moral challenge in a cover-up of allegedly serious crimes by prominent and respected clergy is a body blow to any real religious conviction. No one who values such convictions should cheapen them in such a way – about that much, at least, I do feel sure.

      (I apologize once again for the long post — a writer’s weakness, I suppose.)

      • Michael, thank you for this excellent post.

        For the record, a member of my immediate family was personally hurt by rabbinic sexual misconduct. It is life altering. All of us who grew up frum always planned and wanted to remain so. Why would anyone want to leave? But when rabbanim hurt you and deeply wrong you, and other rabbanim defend those rabbanim who wronged you, it shakes your trust to the core and turns what once was your safe place and your trusted family, into a war zone, a minefield full of enemy gunfire. Not only does an experience like that challenge your trust in rabbanim, but it challenges your trust in the faithfulness and truth of the whole of frumkeit for which rabbanim are the ultimate spokespeople and ultimate deciders. Furthermore, if this is the most “perfect” system which Hashem could come up with, well, I’m not ashamed to point out that the emperor is naked and the system is sorely lacking. Frankly, it stinks. There are no checks and balances, there is no counterbalance to authority, there is no transparency, there are no appeals available for faulty adjudication, and there is absolutely no way to prevent corruption or to have a verdict nullified due to proven corruption. The list of faults to this supposedly perfect God-given system can go on and on.

        The bottom line is that when “Toras Emes” is used to hurt people in the name of frumkeit, those who witness Torah, rabbanus and it’s power turned into a tool to deeply hurt human beings, with other rabbanim, Torah leaders, who stand by and do nothing at best, or defend it and attack the victims at worst, will cause them to wonder why they are continuing to go along with and continuing to live in such an immoral and unethical system which purports to be holy. The Nevi’im described Hashem’s disgust with korbanos while there is no justice, and said that Hashem wanted justice before any korban. If Hashem can’t stomach the injustice, why is there any question as to why someone who sees the large scale of injustice that goes on in frumkeit, being perpetuated and supported by the rabbanim time and time again in regard to every case of sexual abuse, wants to “get the hell out”? Even Hashem wanted to “get the hell out” and eventually He did with the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, twice over. If frumkeit itself has gone off the derech, if it’s leaders and rabbanim continue to go off the derech, why should we stay and continue to support, sacrifice for and belong to such a morally corrupt system which claims to be holy but is the furthest from it?

        • I hear you. I actually quote one of those “disgusted” prophetic passages in my book. All Orthodox Jews hear these denunciations regularly — they’re read out loud on significant days of the religious year — and I often wonder what other people make of them. True, we don’t offer animal sacrifices today, but if you substitute, say, black hats, strict kashruth and singing aloud your Talmud in a crowded study hall for the sacrifices mentioned in those burning reproofs by Isaiah and Jeremiah, you’ve got a pretty accurate and devastating attack on conventional piety — in the name of God.

          I don’t intend to put words in your mouth, but abuse victims have taught me an additional reason for the rift between them and rest of the religious community. And it’s one that should be shouted from the rooftops. The truth is that abuse victims, and those who care about them, don’t have to leave the community: the community effectively writes them out, whatever they do. Every time an Orthodox rabbi or publicist suggests that abuse victims are attacking “the community,” every time a flyer goes around like the one in Williamsburg that said “the entire community is sitting on that defendant’s bench” with Weberman, the victims are being told, implicitly, that THEY are NOT part of “the community.” Perpetrators are; those who cover up for them are; those who slander the victims are; those who might lose their jobs if they had to face the justice they deserve – all of them are part of the Orthodox world. But the language used by that world reveals that the victims of abuse, and those who value THEIR perspective, just aren’t counted. And if the community doesn’t count them as members, why should they?

          When Frankfurter called me “a longtime agitator against the Orthodox community” in Ami, I wasn’t bothered by the insult – who would lose sleep over an insult from Frankfurter? But it did trouble me to realize that some of the Orthodox Jews I’ve tried to support, if they read those words, would know once again how little they count for in the minds of Orthodox publicists, and by extension in the Orthodox world itself. Frankfurter knows that I’ve tried to bring Orthodox child molesters to justice: that makes me an enemy of “the Orthodox community”; that the victims in those cases were also Orthodox Jews, that they appreciated what I’ve tried to do, that they were and are far more numerous than their assailants (who presumably resent my efforts) – none of that makes me a friend of the same “Orthodox community,” though by the logic of Frankfurter’s position I really ought to get more merits than demerits. Why don’t I? The only possible conclusion, and one that abuse victims have no difficulty reaching, is that they don’t belong to the community – so what’s done for them isn’t a community service at all, whereas the rights, interests and needs of serial child molesters still matter, because (of course) the abusers DO belong. I mean – we’re all one people, aren’t we?

          This is a point I argue in the book, and I think it’s important to bear in mind whenever Orthodox voices scold abuse victims (or their supporters) who “leave” Orthodoxy. Let’s not forget who gave the first real push. Or why. Otherwise the whole discussion is flawed.

        • Hi, Seriously?, I just wanted to express to you how sorry I am for what happened to your family member, and to you by extension. I don’t know what would do, or how I would react, if this happened to me or a member of my family.

          • Thank you Sheri. What you would do is struggle with faith in the leaders who mistreated someone you care about, suspect all leaders going forward, and suspect alternative motives to what they claim to represent.

    • Lower but not clear how low. Only they know, and if it is low, it is not in their interest to disclose it. They have consolidated into one building. some knowledgeable sources say Binas (Mrs. Ullman’s) will be closed next year. It solves the problem of firing her without admitting they fired her. However, I do not have definitive confirmation about the closure of Binas. this year they closed Pninim shanah bet (for a net loss of 20-35 students).

  10. Tell me is Rabbi Feurst now saying all is right with these schools and parents may send their daughters there or will he be issuing a dissent?

    • The three dayanim of the CBD committed themselves to issuing a dissent. When, whether and what remains to be seen. My own hunch is that will definitely issue it and it will end up entering the blogosphere.

  11. TO SHERI

    Here is what I believe. You are saying that the Torah can be corrupted. If you do believe in a G-d that created the world, took us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah…than that G-D must have created a system that despite it being subject to “bad” Rabbis, still obligates us all to keep the Torah today just as it did back then.G-D knows and knew at Sinai that there are bad Rabbis. I doubt that G-D would create a system which he foresaw one day would create a torah totally corrupted of its real meaning. Even if we say that G-D knew that it would be totally corrupted by the rogue Rabbis of all the generations, He still told us to keep it….(now if you do not believe that G-d gave us the torah, that would be different, but apparently you do, but you just feel that it can be or has been corrupted and may not be something we should listen to)

    We need to differentiate: mistakes that became part of our “torah” based on a wrong decision or interpretation that the Rabbis made and which became law…should not present a problem. That is the system that G-D set up….man must be a part of it even if it means an occasional error thought there are many built in safeguards in the system which keeps its integrity at an extremely high level. By the way, the standard to become part of out Chachmei Mesorah was extremely high. Rogue Rabbis did not stand a chance at making it to that level. By chachmei hamesorah I mean tannaim amoriam. etc. Since then, those recognized as being part of the mesorah are the leaders recognized by all, the truly great ones. There were many Rabbis in the last thousand years but few who have been able to “interpret” the torah.

    Today, we have many Rabbis who may think they are part of the mesorah but who are not and whose words are not binding upon anyone and who will never go down in history as being part of the chain of qualified Rabbis whose Torah interpretations have become part of the torah. In previous generations, these rogue Rabbis did not get too far. In the modern era, the rogue Rabbis appear to have more power because every “Rov” is supposedly “Daas Torah” and it is quite easy to become a Rov or a member of the Agudah. It is frustrating, but at the end of the day, are they changing the Torah at all? Definitely not. It is frustrating because they appear to wield much influence and they do cause damage….but they are not changing the Torah based on their corrupt interpretations. The Torah remains the same unaffected by these pretenders.

    You need to put aside the reality that there are some leaders/Rabbonim who are doing some very bad things and recognize that they are not our chachmei hamesorah and have no power to change the torah, though they are quite hurtful and even harmful to many people.

    Once you accept that the torah is the same torah (within the general rule that we follow the majority and mistakes can/may have crept in) and not corrupted by rogue Rabbis, then it is not logical to throw out the torah because of these Rabbis

    • So which rabbis of our present generation would you consider to be chachmei hamesorah? And why is it that they remain silent when corrupt practices and verdicts are publicized?

  12. Rabbi yerachmiel lopin keep up your good holy job it’s time to bring down molestation, it’s time to bring down all pedophiles,,all abusers all child killer’s,,all child sex offenders,,keep up your holy work,,( mordechai,,j,,)

  13. YL – Please enlighten us if you can –

    Why is Daniel Eidenson Obsessed with Defending Molesters?

    Anything more to it than him protecting fellow twisted halachah twisting misogynist Chaim Malinowitz? Some traumatic abuse by his mother? (Considering his brother’s even greater hatred for of all things female, my layman’s bet is on the source of both or their problems being early childhood trauma retarding their emotional development to the point that any hint of subjugation to anyone or anything female threatens their fragile and poorly developed sense of masculinity.)

    • Daniel Eidensohn is not hostile to young girls. He has done some good work advocating for sexually abused children, both boys and girls. But over a certain age he loses sympathy with them when it comes to either sexual abuse or divorce. It would seem he and his brother are divorced and seemingly, not amiably. Perhaps some court or beis din judged them harshly. He also deserves credit for his sustained advocacy for Beth Alexander in Vienna.

      But nothing has brought out the craziness in him like the Meisels story. He and Malinowitz are old allies on the question of the rights of wives when it comes to divorce. For whatever reason, he has gone full tilt Malinowitz in this case. Perhaps he has a hard time when it comes to women who are not minors claiming they were abused and manipulated. But even there he is inconsistent because he did not defend Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, a rabbi drummed out of the business for using his rabbinic role to sexually exploit adult women.

      ‘Tis strange. Ask him. He is the PhD in psychology, not me.

  14. To sheri and e/o else who is using corruption as a reasoning to disprove the validity of torah:

    it is written in the neviim that in the generation before mashiach there will be so much corruption, rabinical and otherwhise, that we as a nation will have no one to turn to other than god. Thus it seems that orthordox corruption proves the validity of the torah,(if you believe in god and torah mishamayim)…‎‏ ‏i will try to find the source and post it…

    • There were other times, described at length in the Torah itself, where the leaders were corrupt, very corrupt. The words of prophets in the Torah were way more harsh about kings and priests than anything written here about some leaders. The Torah does not repudiate itself by reporting these things. But it most definitely repudiated whole generations of leaders. It seemed to say that choosing righteousness required disobeying corrupt leaders.

      In such times it does not work to tell a wavering believer, “Don’t judge the Torah by your rabbis.” Observing halachic Judaism requires a community and rabbis dominate life in Haredi communities. There are no easy ways to retreat into a shell and ignore or bypass the authority of problematic rabbis. Some observers have retreated to inside their heads. But that is alienating, frustrating and ultimately not sustainable, not for most people.

      This is a growing crisis for the Haredi world, one acknowledged by the head of the Moetzes some years ago. However, he never followed up with meaningful action.

      • Vayehi biyimai shfot hashoftim – And it occurred in the days in which the judges were judged.

        Hinai yomim bo’im…..

    • As my teenagers say, “Wait, waaaat?”. Are you really saying that rabbinic and lay corruption in the Orthodox Jewish community proves that God exists and the Torah is true? Calling all Frum Skeptics to jump in here. Wait, I’m a Neviah and I predict that there will be much corruption in the Jewish community in the next 20 years. When I’m proven right, you will have to admit that I have Nevuah, and I will be charging $200 an hour for a session with me, just like Aydel Miller and her blei gissin…..Can’t wait to quit my boring job and start the fortune telling business.

  15. YL-you seem to be saying that it is logical to stop believing in god and his torah because of societal corruption. I fail to understand such a reaction as logical. I see one who gives up on torah because of sex abuse and corruption as having an understandble emotional reaction, not a logical one. I fail to see how corruptions proves that the torah isn’t valid. Lehefach, it proves the concept of free will evan in leaders, and proves the neviim. The previous time periods filled with corruption where always followed by punishment from god (shoftim, melachim, churban 1, churban 2), but the fact that it existed and exists doesnt disprove anything. The reaction that you seem to be encouraging sounds like the otd child I know who decided that there can’t be a god because his parents abused him: a sad, emotional, but not a rational explanation.

    • You are misrepresenting me. I am stating that faced with corruption by leadership one is deeply challenged. The reality is that all sorts of things can happen. Some will quit, others will just shut up and yet others will hang in there on Torah but fight their leadership who betrays the Torah. Michael Lesher was more eloquent in saying there is a profound practical and moral challenge when leaders are hypocrites. Something has to give. Like Michael I admire those who hold onto their beliefs and are therefore willing to suffer consequences of fighting those who betray them, however powerful and learned.

      By and large I stay out of these arguments because this blog is primarily about fighting sexual abuse whether the victims/survivors stay frum or go OTD or were OTD when they were abused. No child should be abused, whether frum or not, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or atheist. No one should get away with abusing whether a layman or a revered rabbi, a priest or a football coach. No one in authority should enable abuse by looking the other way or protecting an abuser. This is true as a value of both Torah and civil law.

      It is a fact that those harmed by abuse lose trust in the abusers and those protecting them. It is accepted that significant proportion of at-risk kids were abused.

    • You are contradicting a meme of the torah world, that its leaders inspire Torah lives by their example. If that is true, then corrupt leadership is bound to have the opposite effect. The world has some odd individualists who march to their own drummer and are not affected in their beliefs by the conduct of others espousing their beliefs. But that is not how most people think and behave.

    • Would it be logical for a Muslim to give up on Islam because the Imams are encouraging slaughter of innocent civilians? Would it be logical for a Communist under Stalin’s regime to defect because of starvation and and execution of large swathes of the population? I would understand if you say you FEEL the Torah is true, and that you FEEL it would be wrong to leave the Torah lifestyle, and I might agree with you, based on my FEELINGS of emotional connectness to the religion and the God I was raised with. I understand how threatened you feel when somebody speaks as I do, as I am threatening myself when I do so. However, anybody who looks into these issues in depth and who is honest with themselves will quickly understand that religion and faith are based on emotion, not logic. I believe the operative words here might be emunah pshutah, which is in essence diametrically opposed to rationality and logic.

      • In expressing sympathy with you and your position, Sheri, I want to complicate my own just a bit.

        I appreciate Yerachmiel’s praise – I hope I’ve earned it. But for myself, I’m really not prepared to say that it’s always admirable to cling to religious belief, no matter how flawed the details of the doctrines and its exemplars turn out to be. That approach, in the end, fails to distinguish between the stalwart and the fanatic. Yes, one can always hold on to the sort of moral beauty that provided one’s first attraction to a religious tradition. And the tradition itself can still speak a meaningful language even while much of it is sullied with corruption and exploited for bigotry or superstition. But beliefs need to be shaped by reality, and I don’t think I’d be proud of myself if I still held the same ideas about Judaism I did when, whether I realized the fact or not, I knew very little about it. If my beliefs hadn’t evolved at all over those years, what would all my study amount to? — to say nothing of experience?

        I think Orthodox Jews, however well-meaning, go the wrong way when they try to rationalize the same old conventional beliefs in the face of stronger and stronger challenges. I’m sure this sort of thing – which I hear all the time – is offered sincerely, so I hope I won’t give offense by saying that it leaves me unimpressed. If you try to preserve a faith that doesn’t grow as your mind grows, one of two things is likely to happen: either the faith will simply snap one day; or you’ll find yourself ignoring or minimizing the challenges you can’t overcome. And once the latter happens, once your operative convictions and your mind (or conscience) part company, both you and your religion are in an unenviable state.

        That’s why even the phrasing of an idea like “getting out” of Judaism is, to my mind, a little misleading. A religion shouldn’t be a fixed location – an unmoving box that you either stay in or move out of. If you keep growing and keep learning, it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll outgrow what you once believed, and if your religion is dear to you you’ll presumably do your best to bring it along with you. I know there are plenty of people who think phrases like “belief in God and Torah,” “Torah from Sinai,” “acceptance of the yoke of Heaven,” “faith in the Tradition,” and so on, have meanings that are perfectly intelligible and unchanging. All I can say is that this has never been true for me. In fact, it seems to me that if we don’t want a religion peopled entirely by children – or by adults who are the equivalent – we had better acknowledge the limits of our knowledge and the inevitability of change.

        I know this isn’t just an intellectual problem; it can be a moral one too. And here I don’t think it’s enough to “hold on” or “hold out,” to borrow a phrase from someone else on this blog. If you remain loyal to religious practices and participate in religious institutions – and if you don’t want to bear the stain of complicity – it seems to me you have to speak up about what you can’t tolerate. Which is why I’ve been trying to write honestly, in my book (and other things I’m working on), on this blog, etc. Maybe it’s too little and a lot too late. If so, I can at least try to prevent other people from suffering the consequences of my own inadequate forthrightness.

        And I hope I’m not irritating you with some 11th-hour complications to this discussion. I’m not fast off the mark, that’s all.

        • Two small points- I never had a chance to be attracted to the moral beauty you speak of, because I was born with the religion and it was pretty much rammed down my throat. For me, phrases like “getting out” or “opting out” are perfectly logical- the religion I was born into has always been a fixed entity. This escape is simply a process inside my head, I have changed very little in my outward religious observance, and I don’t intend to.

          • Both points well taken. I guess we’re both trying to do much the same thing. For me, the biggest conundrum isn’t dealing with my own “escape” but addressing what I feel is my responsibility as someone associated with the larger group to which my religious observance and affiliation connect me.

            And for what it’s worth, whether other people adopt (or keep) Jewish tradition isn’t a priority of mine. I’m much more interested in what people DO with their convictions, what sort of effect they have on others.

  16. so you are saying you do not really believe in torah misinai. if that is the case, then it makes perfect sense that your emotions would chase you out of a religion in which you never accepted any of its fundamental principles of faith. if you do accept torah misinai, then none of the current events should push you out. yes, your emotional response might be to leave but then you rational belief would hopefully persevere. at the end of the day, it should be mind over emotion. that is why we are humans. it is difficult, but taking the emotional way out, is just an excuse…maybe a good one, but still an excuse

    As to Islam, if their belief system tells them that their religion is truth, than even if the Imams are destroying their religion and going against their god, the only sane choice would be to stay in. after all, if someone believes, horrible actions even by the leaders should not sway his belief in the god he believes in not in the law that god gave him.

    • Okay, obviously we will disagree about whether it makes sense to leave the religion solely because of the corruption of its member and leaders. “Don’t judge Judaism by the Jews” simply doesn’t work for me. Just to be clear, I didn’t NEVER accept Toras Moshe Misinai. Actually, I accepted it until the past few months. And I have every emotional reason in the world to want to continue accepting it, because it was and is my life, and I’m not willing to change my life and hurt my loved ones. However, I always believed that following the Torah was a recipe for being a good, honest, decent person who would be true and good and righteous in business dealings and in protecting the weak and vulnerable. So in that sense, my faith took a big hit when I heard about Rubashkin, for example. It took an even bigger hit when I heard about the Kolko/Magulies/Scheinberg triad of thuggery, and when I read an article in Mishpacha Magazine praising Margulies. (I guess I’m more understanding when they lionize Scheinberg because he was a godol hador, very hard to take in that he was also a thug and a shill for Kolko and Margo). Now I see the pervasive inability of the leadership and the community to execute even a minmum of righteous behavior, and many community members are downright apathetic to issues of righteousness and protection of the vulnerable.
      Now I have to issue a trigger warning, because this will make you mad. As a result of my shaken faith, I started doing a bit of thinking and reading about the very essence of that faith. And every single Aish Hatorah “proof” that I once believed in went up in a puff of smoke. So to me, the path of logic and rationality lies in denying Toras Moshe Misinai, and it is simple emotional ties and habit that keep me within the fold. And, whatever you may think, I am in the fold and I keep mitzvos scrupulously.(Actually going a little less crazy preparing for Pesach, but I think most rabbonim would be okay with my present less than OCD approach). So I am actually looking for excuses to STAY, not for excuses to LEAVE. So, tell me about your chachmei hamesorah, leave a name and number or something. I want to find out why this chochom, or chachomim, can’t do or say anything much about SA in the Orthodox Jewish world. I want to believe that Torah makes you good. Where are the good guys?
      Sorry for going on so long, but I am horrified by your second paragraph. You are now excusing every terrorist, Faschist, Nazi, KKK member, Crusader, and member of the Inquisition, saying that as long as they are following their leaders, and as long as their leaders claim to be following God’s word, then of course they should continue this nefarious behavior. Perhaps you think the world should go back to Medieval times?It was the Enlightenment, when people questioned their Godly authority figures, that brought us modernity, and the very ability to practice our own religion unhindered. I expect better from humanity than unquestioned belief in leaders who purport to be speaking for God, especially when those leaders call for violence and murder in the name of their religion, but also when those leaders neglect to make any effort at protecting the weak and vulnerable.

      • So something like the Holocaust, where pure, holy Jewish children were murdered in their millions doesn’t cause you to question Judaism/Torah, but corrupt leaders do?? Human beings have always been weak, fallible & driven by self interest and will always be. It takes an extraordinary person to do otherwise, no matter how exemplary his yichus, gemora kup or “shteller.”
        Maybe I see it as simple because I am privelaged to be a child of a survivor- someone who lost his while family in the gas chambers of Auschwitz as a teenager. He was the greatest ” yoreh shamayim” I’ve ever met. For me it cuts through all this ‘navel gazing’- if he could live through the unimaginable hell he lived through, and emerge loving H”kbh and Torah as much as he did, I have no questions…

        • It’s actually a sign of how strong the religious brainwashing is that people don’t routinely question and reject God over tragedies including the Holocaust. Initially I was, like so many others, afraid to question, but with time I no longer feel any guilt about being a nonbeliever. The only guilt I feel is for having subjected my children to an Orthodox upbringing.

          OTOH, I don’t feel any need to tell others not to believe. If religion brings you comfort and emotional succor, who am I to tell you it’s bad, as long as you treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve, and don’t defend wrongdoers? Religion is personal, and frankly, some people do need religion to address their emotional needs.

        • Point taken. However, I fail to understand exactly how the Holocaust itself proves the Torah is true and God exists. I am happy to hear that your father’s faith carried him through those horrors, and I’m sure your faith is a great comfort to you. However, many people have drawn the exact opposite conclusions from the Holocaust. It seems as if you’re saying, based on my logic, that I should’ve lost my faith sooner, as soon as I learned about the Holocaust. Maybe so, but I guess I gave God a pass, since His ways are unfathomable and it is not possible to understand His reasons. But when so many people who profess to represent God behave in unGodly ways, I feel as a human being that I do have the right to be critical and to wish to distance myself from such people. But you do have a point, maybe I should have lost my faith sooner, but I did so badly want to believe, because in so many ways the faith is so very comforting.

  17. Why is this turning into people’s personal belief debate. This a discussion about CSA and how to stop it and call it out for what it is.

  18. sheri,
    out of curiousity, what part of judism is no longer rational now that u’ve started thinking: gods existance, divinity of torah , torah shebal peh??? or is it just that you had i expected more out of the leadership-and the fact that in your eyes they failed is enough to disprove it all??(evan though free will is one of the most basic tennets of judism) if a patient doesn’t listen to his doctor, how does that disprove the doctor? i’m not trying to bash only to understand-i’ve met many who have left judism for understandble emotional reasons. You seem to be saying that you left because a rational examination that was only triggered by the upsetting resent evants. I’m intrigued…

    • So sad- this really is getting away from the purpose of this blog, but your last sentence sort of sums it up. I can only answer your question with another question: Why do you believe in all of the above? A little rule of thumb I’ve recently learned: extraordinary claims require an extraordinary level of evidence. Read up a bit, as I have done, and then decide if that extraordinary level of evidence exists. Be careful- circular reasoning doesn’t count, e.g., Toras Moshe Misinai is true because it says in the Torah that TMS is true. That said, even without believing in TMS, I would would be more okay with maintaining my religious observance if I wasn’t so embarrassed to be part of a pedophile protecting community (among many other problems with the community and its leadership). In your analogy, as far as I’m concerned, the doctors are all witch doctors and the patients are better off not listening to them, or at least evaluating their advice very carefully before following through.

    • You could bite the bullet and print out the post and comments for easier reading …. 🙂 I don’t see this exchange as merely, or primarily, a personal conversation that belongs in a coffee shop, but as part of a communal conversation within Orthodox Judaism that reverberates beyond Orthodoxy. In any case, I prefer this kind of searching discussion between thoughtful people to the rapid-fire exchange of fixed positions that one too often finds on blogs.

      • Kevin in Chicago,
        I like your idea. it is rare, i think for ‘us’ to get so deeply immersed into the ramifications of the rabbanim and emunah, but, i think that, Ha’ikar, . and CSA. but here we are, and many still engaged. Ha’ikar re the rabbanim, and , hey, please, everyone, no matter from where you come, please watch the videos being put out by JCW on abuse, on CSA abuse. as deep as it can get. No organization has

        • This is the link for the video of Sima Yarmush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wffN3mYWCCw&feature=youtu.be

          An article about it: http://www.jewishjournal.com/los_angeles/article/a_restless_pursuit_of_sexual_abusers

          and an additional note by Sima which she posted on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/simayarmush/posts/10152691378776254?pnref=story

          First and foremost, thank you all for your kind words and support. It means so much to me. Every day, I pray for a better and safer tomorrow, and with your support, we are shining a light on a very important issue.

          I would like to address those attempting to defend the way the rabbis handled the situation, particularly Rabbi Nochem Kaplan, Director of the Merkos Office of Education.

          The fact is that sometime after my abuser left S. Monica, he arrived in Palm Springs and lived there for some time before moving on to North Hollywood. It was also brought to our attention recently that he visited Oxnard. In each of these communities, he posed a threat to our children.

          The fact is that four prominent rabbis mentioned in the video, and my abuser’s immediate family, were aware that he is an abuser and that he abused more than just a few girls.

          I ask – Did the four rabbis on my Halachic Advisory Board notify these respective communities where he was living that he posed a danger?

          In particular, being that my abuser attended local Chabad Houses, did the Chabad rabbi notify his colleagues? Did the Chabad rabbi or his colleagues, assuming he notified them, notify their respective communities?

          I am sure that if you asked anyone in those communities, they would have very much liked to know the danger lurking around them.

          I know the answers to these questions. Rabbis of the respective communities where my abuser lived were not notified, and as a result, the respective communities had no idea why this man from a prominent Chabad family suddenly showed up to live in their midst.

          Please ask around, and I’m sure you will arrive at the same answers I have. Reach out to members of the respective communities and ask them if they were aware, and Shluchim, ask your respective colleagues if they had any idea why this man showed up at their doorstep.

          And if any of the four rabbis on my Halachic Advisory Board respond that they were unaware of where my abuser was living, well for one, that does not reflect the truth; but let’s assume that’s correct for a moment, how does that reconcile with the rabbis “handling” everything, and ensuring that he is indeed not an ongoing threat to those around him? And if you say he’s been to therapy, it is known that you can’t cure a molester; the recidivism rate is extremely high.

          At this point one is likely to ask, well, if the rabbis didn’t do anything, why didn’t we, my family, notify the respective communities at the time?

          Well, we were warned that the Halachic Advisory Board would not support us if we tell people the truth. We were instructed to tell people that he was leaving for personal reasons. We learned the hard way what that meant: not to have support, when we tried to tell our own community. As I mentioned in my speech, it was very difficult, and we were met with extreme resistance. Many didn’t believe us. It was our word against a prominent Chabad family, my abuser’s family. We were called liars many times. We faced so much resistance in our own community that we felt we definitely didn’t stand a chance in another community. We wish we were able to do more, and it caused me and my family great pain throughout the years knowing that we didn’t have the power to help protect others.

          And to those asking why I didn’t go to the police, please watch my speech (again). I addressed it there but would like to add the following for the sake of clarity:

          We had two main goals at the time: letting the world know of danger and keeping my identity private.

          I had my whole life ahead of me, and if the public knew at the time, I am certain that I would not be the same person I am today.

          Back then, there was no reason not to believe that the rabbis would not do what’s right by letting the public know about the danger, while protecting my anonymity. We believed, at the time, that the rabbis would let the communities know to be aware and careful in order to protect the public. Unfortunately, this turned out to be false.

          If we went to the police back then, the public would know, but I would not have my anonymity.

          At the time, going to the rabbis seemed to be the best way to accomplish both goals. We now know otherwise, and it’s shameful.

          It is also worth noting that ten years ago, we did not have the outspoken support of prominent rabbis who now say it’s halachically permissible to go to the police in instances of sexual abuse.

          I want to make it very clear that I never met or spoke with anyone from the LAPD. Furthermore, the rabbis never urged me to go to the police. The lack of support we received when we told our community is proof that they did not want the story shared, to the police or otherwise.

          Please share this post to ensure that we don’t lose sight of this particularly important issue which needs to be addressed, promptly, and on which we must shed more light. Focusing on tangential points is simply a distraction by those trying to deflect, defend, and further cover-up a wrong.

          Thank you again for all the incredible support.

          • First of all I totally empathize with Sima. I hope she can put this behind her.
            But I do have some criticism. I’ll start with her parents. Kiruv does not allow yichud and associating with the other sex. Her parents were wrong. Next: Sima heavily criticizes the Rabbis. I certainly don’t understand them, but they also have their reasons. Maybe they felt Sima’s story wasn’t fully credible. I don’t know. I do know that Sima’s attitude makes us lose all our trust in Rabbis. From there it is a slippery slope to not listening to them for anything. I think the attitude of the Chabad rabbis was the worst. They protected their own.

            • You write: “Sima heavily criticizes the Rabbis. I certainly don’t understand them, but they also have their reasons. Maybe they felt Sima’s story wasn’t fully credible. I don’t know.”

              Their most common reason is avoiding scandal and protecting buddies. To understand this behavior, which is not atypical, you just have to come to grips with the fact that most rabbis Haredi rabbis care less about child safety than adult reputations.

              You worry “From there it is a slippery slope to not listening to them for anything.” Well not anything involving abuse and clearly one cannot trust a rabbi who violates lo saamod.

              They appeared to believe her reports because they claimed to have gotten Sholom Levitansky into therapy.

  19. Thanks, Kevin in Chicago. I’m so flattered to be lumped into the same category as Michael Lesher, and to be called a thoughtful person.

See Commenting policy ( http://wp.me/pFbfD-Kk )

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s