Four Victims of Yisroel Bodkins Were Known According to Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald

Bodkins Letter by AC Levin on Torah Umesorah letterhead to Yisroel Janowski Yeshiva Elementary School MiamiTorah Umesorah’s Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin wrote a letter proclaiming the innocence of fired Miami yeshiva teacher R. Yisroel Bodkins. Levin made a big deal of the fact that one accuser was not able to get a prosecution decision from an out-of-state unit, beholden to the scandal-plagued Camp Dora Golding.

However in due course Torah Umesorah was aware of three other accusers according to askan Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald. He was brought into the case to produce a private settlement.

Yisroel Bodkins

Yisroel Bodkins

His compromise involved Bodkins agreeing to never work again as a teacher in a regular yeshiva. He was instead allowed to work as a tutor. I know it sounds crazy but that was the deal. Everyone was also pledged to silence.

I confirmed Ronnie Greenwald’s awareness of 3 other credible accusations when I emailed him about it on April 14, 2015, shortly before he spoke at a Jewish Community Watch (JCW) event in Monsey. I specifically asked: “Do you agree with R. Avrohom Chaim Levin’s letter about Bodkins to R. Janowski?”

He wrote back the next day (April 15): “i did call rabbi avraham chaim levine regarding his letter. he was not aware, however, that there were 3 others that made the same claims, and at that time only knew of one person.”

Ronnie is a tactful man who has negotiated at the highest level. In fact he participated in negotiations with the Soviet government for the release of Prisoner of Zion, Natan Sharansky. Reading between the lines it is clear that he was convinced that there were a total of four victims alleging abuse by Bodkins, but he was letting a “godol,” R. AC Levin, off the hook by saying that R. Levin only found out about it after he sent out his letter.

Mr. Eli Verschleiser, founder of the anti-abuse education program, Magenu,  is much more emphatic. In a private communication he informed me that he got involved as a concerned Jew and privately paid for an investigation. His own contact with heart-broken mothers and the results of his privately funded investigation disturbed him. He is convinced that Bodkins is a very sick man who will always be dangerous and should never again be allowed anywhere near children. He is disappointed that in spite of his efforts, Bodkins was protected to the extent of being allowed to continue as a tutor.

Avrohom Chaim LevinRabbi Levin owes an apology to the victim whose claims he disparaged in his letter. Dovid Hamelech and Yehuda Hatzadik admitted they were wrong and our tradition honors their honest admission. But alas, as we know, being daas torah means never having to say you’re sorry.

This scandalous aspect of the cover up is one of the reasons I feel it especially important to correct the record and publicize Bodkin’s molesting record. It is a matter of justice and a matter of protecting those who use him as a tutor or group leader. He must not be given any opportunity to groom new victims. He now also works with seniors but that gives him respectability and access to kids passing through Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro’s North Miami beach synagogue.

Meyer SeewaldThe Ad Kan blog bravely led the way in putting Bodkins up on its Wall of Shame. Ad Kan weathered a lawsuit and won. At this point there is no realistic possibility of another suit. I publicized Ad Kan’s success a year ago. I have since learned that the court forced Bodkins (or more likely his backers) to pay Ad Kan’s legal costs.

A year ago I urged Jewish Community Watch to add Bodkins to its Wall of Shame. JCW has a special responsibility having raised this case at a Miami event. JCW exec, Meyer Seewald, without naming Bodkins referred to him unmistakebly to his audience when he said

Bodkins Kol Koreh Defending himThere was a case in the community…of three boys…[where a young person came forward]… so this won’t happen to other children. This young man was tormented by people in this community… How can 18 rabbis write a letter without speaking to this young man and the two other boys.

He was of course speaking of the well known letter signed by 18 rabbis defending Bodkins which was widely distributed (see image at right).

JCW leaders Meyer Seewald and Eli Nash repeatedly assure victims ‘come to us and we will have your back and will fight your abusers.’

They owe that much and more to the first victim to come forward publicly and to speak about bodkins at a JCW event.

A year has passed since Ad Kan’s legal victory. Now it is time for JCW to do for this victim and other Bodkins victims what it did so well for Sima Yarmush, the victim in LA whose story they championed. Her abuser, Sholom Levitansky, was never named at the event but he was put on their wall of shame. It is time for JCW to do the same for public hazard Yisroel Bodkins.

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7 thoughts on “Four Victims of Yisroel Bodkins Were Known According to Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald

  1. JCW has a vetting procedure and a board that reviews cases. Its appreciated that you brought attention to this, however, you are unfamiliar with the internal processes and procedures, including that a unanimous vote be made in order to post someone on the wall. In the event a vote is not unanimous, the results aren’t being leaked to the public for a determination of the voting process…that would be a blood bath of unprofessional and agenda-driven decisions. Please respect the process.

    If you believe someone belongs on a wall and outed as a perpetrator, please set it up on a webpage or your own blog.

    Hopefully, JCW will never be driven by threats, coercion, bribery, or mob-driven public perception.

    • Benny, Thank you for the first substantive response I got other than a PM rant by Meyer Seewald a few days ago, months after I first raised this issue.

      I applaud your statement, “Hopefully, JCW will never be driven by threats, coercion, bribery, or mob-driven public perception.” But mah inyan shmitah eitzel har sinai. Why the heck is that your response to my posting. In what conceivable world except a paranoid den, would you misconstrue my posting as in any way resembling, threats, coercion, bribery or mob driven perception. I laid a out a logical case for including Bodkins on the Wall of Shame.

      I fear you are confusing me with a member of JCW who regularly threatens others including survivors and fellow anti-abuse advocates.

      Benny, we have had a long relationship as colleagues and I respect the great work you have done. In turn I know you appreciated some posts I did on cases of concern to you like Mendy Tevel. But please, just take my position as a disagreement; don’t use it to rationalize paranoia or even worse the thuggish threats of an out of control person within JCW. Please clean your own house before projecting those traits onto others. i have avoided speaking about these matters publicly, but i will not have that charge thrown at me just because i posted some reasoned disagreement.

      Rest assured i will never be driven by “threats, coercion, bribery.” But any attempts to do that to me or others will steel me for pushing back. Colleagues do not bully each other.

    • Benny-

      First of all, why the “secret votes?” Lack of transparency and secrecy causes so much of the problems of sexual abuse and the community’s failure to address it. If nothing else, the anonymity of the voting process, gives the impression (true or not) that the individuals on the “Vaad” are afraid to stand by their votes. In other words, somebody is namelessly deciding that Bodkins gets a free pass. Is it a relative of his? A friend?

      At the very least, Yerachmiel and the community should be apprised of the reason that somebody voted to allow a child molester they know about to have access to children without warning the children’s parents. Is it too much to ask for us to know which part of the “vetting process” stood in the way of children’s being protected from this rodef by JCW?

      PS- It was a terrible chutzpa for you to imply that Yerachmiel is bullying you. You KNOW as well as anyone, that he is ehrlich and simply trying to help the community. That includes, at times, disagreeing with colleagues and friends, and on a matter of importance, even doing so publicly.

      Please apologize.

      • The Halacha is that in the a Bais Din they may not disclose how each individual dayan ruled. To disclose this is considered Rechilus. (Just see how you are offended by Benny’s words, when all he did was state his position, the way he sees it. That’s just a small sample of the fiery machlokes that could erupt when the opinions of dayanim are brought to the pubic at large.) The only reason to disclose such a thing would be because there is a lack of trust in the system so it would be second guessed. In our times, unfortunately it is well founded not to blindly trust a Dayan. But ideally it shouldn’t be disclosed and if a Bais Din wants to set things up correctly and they claim to follow correct due process, then for them to disclose this would be synonymous to declaring they are not to be trusted.

        • to be clear, I did not say that JCW was not to be trusted. I publicly advanced my arguments for why Bodkins seemed like a perfect candidate for the JCW Wall of Shame. It should be possible for colleagues to disagree without either side screaming lèse-majesté.

          Once both parties sign binding arbitration agreements (shtarei berurin), a Beis Din has exclusive jurisdiction. But JCW is not the exclusive activist organization or publicizer of miscreants. Nor is it a formal beis din. While I do not have a formal wall of shame, I have the functional equivalent because I periodically post about culprits and was doing so several years before JCW even existed starting back in 2009 with Shmuel Borger who is now on other walls of shame.

          Hence I am not sure why you are invoking beis din protocol. I do not think it is pertinent to this situation.

          • Yerachmiel, I agree with you in this and my intention was not otherwise. I was just responding to Justice Brandeis and my words were in that context.

  2. bodkins was protected by rabbi matxz who lied according to rabbi avraham levine by telling him there nwas only one victim of bodkins not 4
    yet no one has called out rabbi matz from aguda for his helping a pervert

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