More Abuse and Cover-Ups Surrounding Meir Pogrow Revealed By His Younger Brother, Yehuda

This morning’s (7/4/16) Times of Israel has a post, “A plea from the brother and victim of a predator” by Yehuda Pogrow. Born approximately nine years after Meir, Yehuda reports:

I identify with my brother’s victims, because I was – perhaps – his first. He first abused me approximately 30 years ago… Over a period of roughly 10 years, he subjected me to severe physical, verbal and emotional abuse. He is short, but he was strong. He would lift me above his head, my whole body parallel to the floor, just let go, and walk away as I crashed to the floor.

I was 17 the last time my brother physically abused me. I had finally grown strong enough to defend myself. He chased me and tried to hit me, but I deflected him. When I thought he had quit trying to hurt me, I dropped my guard. He then stared me in the eyes with a gruesome expression. My arms were at my sides when he punched me, breaking my nose and giving me a concussion. The next day he told me – gleefully — that he broke my nose intentionally. He also explained that I deserved it, because I did not spend enough time studying Torah during my time off from Yeshiva.

Yehuda also provides some evidence that Meir Pogrow’s previous employers should have taken action to blackball Meir in the orthodox educational arena because of his cultish and sexually improper talk with students. For example, at the Yeshiva University- Los Angeles (YULA) high school, one woman says “I do clearly remember discussing my discomfort about him to another teacher, possibly the principal after a discussion that he instigated about masturbation” and “I clearly remember no one taking us seriously.”

Yehuda also reports:

Numerous Michlalah alumnae I met during my time as a student at Queens College in New York told me that my brother was verbally abusive, and that he fostered a cult-like mentality. His groupies were known as “Pogs.”

meir Pogrow img 2

Rabbi Meir Pogrow

Yehuda goes to the heart of the problem, a culture of cover-ups, or even open tolerance of abuse, including physical abuse, in many Haredi institutions. He feels that victims need to band together and reach a critical mass demanding reforms. But before that, there needs to be an honest accounting of the past. He writes:

The Michlalah administration should issue a public statement to confirm that it never received any complaints of abuse of any form perpetrated by my brother. If Michlalah cannot make such a statement, it should publicly provide a detailed accounting of how it acted on all complaints against my brother.

Full Disclosure: I consulted with Yehuda in developing his post and offered advice on facts and writing style. But the contents and final wording are completely Yehuda’s choices.

UPDATE: In spite of my intial assistance to Yehuda I am now (7/18/16) convinced that survivors should not contact him for support in any way, shape or form. See: When Anti-Abuse Activists Are Wrong

For other Frum Follies posts on Meir Pogrow, click here.

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35 thoughts on “More Abuse and Cover-Ups Surrounding Meir Pogrow Revealed By His Younger Brother, Yehuda

  1. Incredibly sad, but incredibly brave, Yehuda. You are helping so many and it can’t be easy. All the best to you.

  2. Boy, was this a powerful article!!!! Something none of us must ignore – that he says the abuse in the Orthodox community is as bad as it is in the Catholic Church! I did wonder when he discussed his older brother, a pedophile and abuser, where were his parents? But, then I thought, maybe they were part of the problem, or wouldn’t believe the author, or were abusers themselves, who knows. I also want to say that years ago I mentioned this problem to a cousin who is ultra-Orthdox (but not Hassidic), but she said that sexual abuse happens only in the Hassidic community. OY. It is always The Other Guy. This also reminds me of the problem of Domestic Violence in the Jewish Community; in one workshop, an Orthodox woman told me she told me she had told her Rabbi about her husband’s abuse, and that the Rabbi ignored her. It was horrible.

  3. Yehuda, I applaud you and I’m saddened by the fact that so many in our communities are clueless that this goes on and angry if they do know, yet they keep quiet. Who is to blame? Our equivelant of Catholic leadership – the rabbinic leadership all over the world. I am SICKENED by our LACK OF RABBINIC LEADERSHIP who remain silent, who are not shouting from the rooftops to protect our children from the sick people who they KNOW are sexual, physical, psychological deviant abusers. The COVER UP by “rabbinic leadership” is how the perpatrators get a free pass. It is this lack of rabbinic and community leadership with their foolish, incompetent, ignorant, backwards thinking, and fear to take any action to protect past and present victims, that has created victim havoc. These so called leaders who are part of an underworld society of turning a blind eye and allow perpetrators to play musical chairs; leaving one job to sit in a chair in a different state or country; abusing and creating new helpless victims who’s lives will never be the same again.
    The rabbi’s have created a society of very desperate and confused victims and (their supportive) families who suffer in many ways; emotionally, psychologically, physically and more. The silenced victims suffer from PTSD, anxiety, physical illnesses, negative personal behaviors, anger, intimacy problems. Families that were once vivacious, close and loving break apart.
    The poor victims who are either not believed, too afraid to tell or who have latent memories and not believed, are desperately breathless. They suffer a pain that is so painfully deep, a pain that perhaps only other victims can understand to its fullest. This feeling of desperation should be so simple to be eleviated yet in reality is a most complex and sticky web.
    The victim is desperate to tell the world; “PLEASE HEAR ME, PLEASE LISTEN TO ME, PLEASE BELIEVE ME. THE PERSON WHO THE RABBI’S & MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY IS HONORING ARE COVERING THE ILLS OF A VERY SICK PERPETR AND SHOULD NOT BE PROTECTED, YOU ARE CAUSING DAMAGE AND YOU ARE REVICTIMIZING ALL OF THIS PERPETRATORS VICTIMS”!
    To blame as well is the law of the land, the DA’s, the judges, etc., whom some are crooked and allow the “perpetrator pass” as well; whether it’s for monetary reasons, or votes. The entire system is a mess.
    YES the orthodox community – both insular and non-insular, are now the Catholic Church.
    Kudos Yehuda, this is a battle that no one ever thought they’d have to fight.

    • Yehuda, I read your entire article and wanted to add my voice to those who are applauding your courage.

      Please understand that just as it took you as long as it has to go public with your story, it is far from simple and at times impossible for other victims to publicize their stories and have the strength to go up against those who are powerful in the community, rabbanim, askanim, and other protectors of abusers. Abusers are often wise and pick on those who they know are not as strong as they are, or those who have too much to lose by fighting back.

      Still and all, every act of courage such as yours gives strength to the cause, and brings hope to victims who still are not able to raise their voice as you have.

      • Yehuda, please forgive me, but I’m not sure if your request to discuss was to me or to the above supportive comment written by Seriously? ☺️

        • I found your comment to be quite supportive. But even if you did not intend to be supportive , I welcome support from – and conversation with – supporters and “disagreers” alike. Or am I misunderstanding what you have written here?

          • Hi Yehuda, I am a HUGE supporter of you and praise your bravery and would be honored to help out. My comment above was not clear, and I apologies. I was not sure if you were asking me to email you or the person who’s name is “seriously”. I’m sorry if you thought I wasn’t a supporter, I am in full and complete support of you and the the organization you are starting. Just wanted to know if I should email you. Please let me know! Thanks

  4. I am sorry for what you endured, Yehuda. What did your parents say or do when Meir broke your nose? Or lifted you and threw you down? At the time of the abuse did you tell anyone? If so, did they not believe you? If you were treated at a hospital (or even private doctor’s office) for your broken nose they were mandated to report abuse/suspected abuse to the Authorities. Too many people think it is a ‘shonda’ (shame) to report such atrocities to the Authorities. I am glad you are taking action to combat this problem. Sociopaths, perverts, predators, or whatever other labels used to describe them, are sick. They may go into remission with therapy but are never cured. They have a high rate of recidivism. The harm they inflict on their victims is beyond belief and hopefully with therapy those victims can recover from the trauma, survive and thrive. Hatzlacha on your journey of trying to rid the community of the scourge of these predators. Education is the answer: Firstly, parents need to educate their children to respect their bodies and to tell them immediately when someone says or does anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Secondly, they need to be taken seriously and report immediately to the Police. Thirdly, when a teacher/counselor/administrator or any other adult is accused of any sort of abuse, the school needs to investigate and not try to cover up. When they hire staff they need to do thorough background checks which should include psychological testing as part of a pre-employment physical along with checking references. An Asifa is needed to combat the problem of abuse be it physical, sexual, verbal, or mental no matter where the incident takes place (home, school, camp) We have had enough lip service; time to act is now. Rabbanim, Chassidishe Rebbes, educators, together with mental health professionals and law enforcement have to join forces in acknowledging the problem exists and establish protocols to deal with it. Thank you for your courage in sharing your own painful situation. May you have complete and swift healing.

    • In the case of Bais Mikroh, everyone in Monsey knew Bodenheimer’s reputation for viciously beating kids. This was not a problem of a secret. It was a problem of the community accepting that it is alright.

      • I would venture to guess that Bodenheimer did not raise a hand to the children of the very wealthy or the very powerful.

      • The hitting of children in Bais Mikroh was stopped eventually. But yes, everyone knew. But hitting kids is very different from abuse and especially sexual abuse. Until relatively recently corporal punishment was the norm in all schools Jewish and non-Jewish. I don’t think it is fair to equate people’s knowledge of hitting with people knowing there was abuse.

    • I don’t think these questions are fair to ask of someone for whom sharing his story took 30 years of building up the strength and courage to do so. If Yehuda would have wanted to share more details, surely he would have. And if he has more to tell, he will offer it without questions from strangers on a blog. Public questions such as these do not seem to be coming from a place of caring, unless you know the person personally. I am sure you meant no offence, but please, next time, think more than twice before asking questions of a survivor who just publicized his story for the very first time. Surely our unequivocal support is what Yehuda needs now, without the plying of questions to feed the curious.

      • NOT FOR SERIOUSLY, THIS TIME,
        Albeit i hugely respect (her?) posting,

        Re comments by Esther an et al, Doris, Jaffe
        and well others, I’m tired.
        (literally, and figurativly).
        I have never posted clearly online about abuse,
        the strength it takes,
        well:
        the menuval is dead around 32 years,
        and i never posted. specifically.
        and i never told anyone until my 20’s figure it out,.
        OMG, back then i must have been guilty
        i mean how did i let that happen,
        And furthermore, once you let it happen and do not report? then by definition you are complicit???

        1956??? approx. well once you do not report, then clearly you are complicit, otherwise?? you would have rushed to report, frankly, i cannot imagine a positive response from maternal.
        i can not even imagine telling anyone, 1956 approx. I did not really understand how could this be, , he is, but the how could he?
        total confusion disconnect,

        wouldst that that were the most abusive thing that i can remember.
        other very close relatives well, for own narcissistic reasons forced me into very very unethical positions and back then,
        well yell and scream and protest, but back then kids were afraid of their parents, n lol.

        who ever heard of protesting or , well, i had no advocates, no ombudsman, (ie. no grandparents, no one).

        Resilience can only go so far,
        nothing is ever erased from the brain,
        at some point, there is the kash she shavar et gav hagamal.
        and one never knows, could be a very very unloving progeny, anything.
        but nothing is ever erased from the brain

        hey read epigenetics Dr. Rachel Yehuda, interesting stuff,
        agav, while alluding here and there i have never posted this crap before.
        so this is sort of coming out of the closet albeit i use anon,
        When the kash she shavar et gav hagamal occurs,
        totally unrelated, the pain is so overwhelming that, well not sure,
        not Fayge, chas v’shalom but there is no solution, life is life,

        • Chashdan, thank you for sharing your story here. I am so sorry for all that you went through. It is difficult to talk about publically, even anonymously, about having been abused. You are very brave, and you are a true survivor. You lived with your scars for many decades, and throughout most of those years society did not have an awareness as to the extremely destructive emotional effect which sexual abuse has on a child throughout their life. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Doris, Thank you for your support. I choose to pass on providing more details around events I discussed in my article. My apologies before I continue about not giving you a longer response. For now I will say that I have to disagree with the emphasis you place on the importance around education and an “asifa.” Nothing wrong with some education, but as I stated in my article, it doesn’t touch the root of the problem. I repeat my (paraphrased) call stated in the article: there must be a full-throttled effort at rooting out corruption. That is the only meaningful step 1. Part of step 1, as I stated in the article, is that the Rabbonim have lost their credibility and are not in a place to take the lead in rooting out the corruption. It is now the laymen’s duty to lead that effort. Rabbonim with pristine records are to be solicited for their expertise in assisting the effort, but the effort is led by people outside the system. I therefore say, no asifa. Unless such an “asifa” is led by non-rabbonim, but still, not a big fan of an asifa – action to get this done. Now.

  5. Yehudah I am so pleased that you are making this public. Abusers must not get away with their abuse because they will never stop. Your brother is a bully and a manipulator and needs some kind of consequence for what he has done to you and anybody else. Keep the line open and let’s take action. I have had enough of people treating other people like dirt just because it makes them feel good

  6. To go so public against a brother is indeed extremely brave and unique and he should have all the blessings to succeed in healing.
    My question (in general and not to yehuda) is if there is a connection to the physical and verbal abuse being discussed in this article and the alleged sexual abuse that he is accused of? Even inappropriate talk, as bad as it is and needs to be dealt with, is not on the same level and CSA or having a physical relationship with a student who might technically be an adult.

    • The issue is not degrees of badness. The issue is that from early on he was abusive and inappropriate sexually. The clues were visible in various settings yet he was allowed to move on, build up a following, and expand the scope of his abuse. I have yet more instances of abuse by him early on that were ignored that I will be posting in the coming weeks.

  7. I am fortunate enough to have various daughters at different ages from age 20 downwards, to whom this topic is very relevant.

    I am looking for an article which presents a first hand account of the grooming aspect of the abuse, which I can share with, or use extracts from, with my daughters (each as appropriate), as I feel this would be really useful in any discussion with them.

    Can anyone point me in the direction of such an article or articles, if they exist ?

    Thank you in advance.

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