The Munkatcher Rebbe Goes to Bat for Charity Thief Willie Rapfogel

Munkatcher Rebbe and Charles Joe Hynes Text: When a Jew is arrested, to whom do you go? On left: With Jewish leaders who act on behalf of the Jewish community. On Right: He helped us, he helps us, and he will help us some more Vote for Charles Hynes for District Attorney, strong-fair, 6 Tishrei, Tuesday Sept. 10

Munkatcher Rebbe and Charles Joe Hynes
Text: When a Jew is arrested, to whom do you go?
On left: With Jewish leaders who act on behalf of the Jewish community.
On Right: He helped us, he helps us, and he will help us some more
Vote for Charles Hynes for District Attorney, strong-fair, 6 Tishrei, Tuesday Sept. 10

The Munkatcher Rebbe (Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Rabinowitz) is the anti-mesirah (snitching) apostle of Boro Park. Where others are content to counsel this practice in private, he goes public thundering about those who commit mesirah and have the chutzpah to think it is a mitzvah (good deed). He declared that this is one of the major problems facing Jews in America. A week after that sermon he declared that G-d would take revenge on snitches and they would come to no good end.

You know the Rebbe is up to no good when he writes “I make clear my commitment and the obligation of all to respect the laws of this country.”

The occasion for this letter was a plea for mercy on William (Willie) Rapfogel who participated in a scheme which stole nine million dollars while being paid over $410,000 a year to lead the Metropolitan New York Council on Jewish Poverty. A rabbi is supposed to be gravely offended by those who steal charity dollars which belong to the poor.

But the Rebbe, who is thick as thieves with other beneficiaries of Met Council grants, cares more about the money they got than the theft. So he wrote all about Willie’s good deeds (as if he was working for free). But the really elegant part of the letter was the closer.

William rapfogel sheldon silver

William Rapfogel and Sheldon Silver

Now Willie finds himself in the midst of the most awful nightmare that could beset such a figure – not only the loss of credibility and the loss of his very good name, but being arraigned in a Court of Law, facing possible incarceration.

The Talmud states that a person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters into him and I believe such a spirit wreaked havoc with William Rapfogel’s sense of proportion. However, as he confronted what has happened, as well as the shame that he has brought not only on himself but on his beloved wife and family – his remorse is palpable. It is not easy to see tears welling up in the eyes of grown man who has had such success and is now so broken.

Dershowitz w Munkatcher

Munkatch Rebbe working on defense of Hasidic child molesters with attorney Alan Dershowitz

I got to hand it to the Rebbe. He knows how to pull off a tear jerker. It sounds good until you deconstruct it. Once you do, you get to appreciate how the Rebbe can work so hard to defend every last Jewish crook, child molester and rapist. It is highfalutin rhetoric about the suffering of the criminal with nary a whisper of concern for the victims. The crime is trivialized as “folly” as if was the product of a bad day or mood. The tragedy is not his crime or his victims, but his pathetically reduced status and his fear of incarceration.

People often ask how orthodox leaders can shield molesters from the police and allow them to abuse more children. After reading this plea, the answer should be obvious.

PS I thank City & State for securing copies of these letters through Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests and follow-up. They also did excellent reporting on the unseemly aspects of this prosecution and the undue influence of powerful allies of Rapfogel, Sheldon Silver and others. The other letter writers are a virtual who’s who of the NYC political elite and Jewish leadership. See here, here, and here.

Update: One of my readers reminded me that the Munkatcher Rebbe’s girls school, Bais Fruma was spotlighted in a US Senate hearing for Pell Grant fraud. So much for his claim, “I make clear my commitment and the obligation of all to respect the laws of this country.”Munkatch Rapfogel Letter p 1 of 2

Munkatch Rapfogel Letter p 2 of 2

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6 thoughts on “The Munkatcher Rebbe Goes to Bat for Charity Thief Willie Rapfogel

  1. Well, there you have it. The perspective that matters is the perspective of the elite, the bosses, those on top. The mere victims — including the putative beneficiaries of the money this particular boss stole — are not to be considered. Their suffering is hidden by Rapfogel’s because his status eclipses theirs.

    In my view, such a hierarchical approach to morality isn’t just a recipe for abuse cover-ups. It is an essential element of a culture of abuse. And that culture — not a “spirit of folly,” not “temptations” or “appetites,” not “secular influence” or a passing aberration or some inexplicable glitch inside a community of sages and philanthropists — is the real enemy we face. And will — until we change it.

  2. I hope you look into how those who wrote letters are interconnected. Normally I am inclined to say this is how the Jewish community gets things done. But here the money was given to the poor. A letter of support means that the connection of the writer to Rapfogel outweighs their moral disgust at his stealing from the poor, and is in and of itself a prima facie case for suspicion . Please follow up…this is a big deal.

  3. What disgust? There is not an iota of disagreement, let alone disgust, for the crime of stealing tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to go to the Jewish poor.

    To bring up the Holocaust in this letter is what disgusts me the most — as a child of survivors.

    For shame!

  4. “Kindly allow me to make a plea for William Rapfogel on behalf of needy families in the Boro Park and Williamsburg and so many others who needed and still need his help.” After the pitifully orphaned murderer of his parents, this line takes the chutzpah prize. Beneficiaries of tzedakah funds need an embezzler like a hole in the head — and the good Rebbe has one just the right size.

  5. Here, from City and State, is the complete list of the people who wrote letters on behalf of Rapfogel. The letters can be downloaded from the link below.

    To anyone who knows personally any of the letter writers: I would like to suggest that you download the letters written by people you know, read the letters, and then contact the letter writers with your reaction.

    Source
    http://www.cityandstateny.com/2/the-william-rapfogel-letters.html#.VRvwheFnCPU

    Batya Moskowitz
    Bernard Hoenig
    Betty Cohen
    Brad Silver
    Bruce Ratner
    Chaim Leibtag
    Charles G. Moerdler
    Chung C. Seto
    Cynthia Zalisky
    Donna Simony
    Dov B. Elias
    Dov Hikind
    Dr. Gerald From
    Eli Cohen
    Eli Shapiro
    George Artz
    Harold Jacobs
    Harrison J. Goldin
    Hendy Gross
    Herbert Berman
    Howard Friedman
    Isaac Stern
    Israel J. Glaser
    Isreal Junger 
    Jack C. Bendheim
    Jeffrey Gdanski
    Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld
    John Lo Cicero
    Joni A. Yoswein
    Josh Mehlman
    Julius Berman
    Leah and Naftali Solomon
    Leon Haller
    Lewis A. Fidler
    Libby Schwartz
    Malcolm Hoenlein
    Mark M. Appel
    Mitchell L. Moss
    Moshe M. Rosenbaum
    Naftali Miller
    Nathan Sklar
    Norman A. Dawidowicz
    Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg
    Rabbi Avrohom Halpern
    Rabbi Avrohom Hecht
    Rabbi Azriel Siff
    Rabbi David Niederman
    Rabbi Haskel Lookstein
    Rabbi Joseph Potasnik
    Rabbi Menachem Genack
    Rabbi M. Hoffman
    Rabbi Michael S. Miller
    Rabbi Moshe Wiener
    Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Rabinowitz
    Rabbi Raphael B. Butler
    Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz
    Rabbi Steven Weil
    Rabbi Yaakov Bender
    Rabbi Yehiel Kalish
    Rabbi Yeruchim Silber
    Rhonda Barad
    Richard Stone
    Ruth Lichtenstein
    Sara Silberman
    Sharon Fuchs
    Shmuel Miller
    Simon Pelman
    Suri Silberstein
    
  6. So one alleged thief goes to bat for a convicted criminal. It’s not in the least bit surprising. They’re part of the same crime family.

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