Cleveland Rabbis: ‘Don’t Give Akiva Meir Hersh Access to Children’

Just this last Saturday (8/18/18) an announcement was read out in a number of Cleveland’s orthodox synagogues on behalf of their rabbinical association warning members to beware of Akiva Meir Hersh as a potential child sexual abuser. They used vaguer language but the message was clear. The message was promulgated on behalf of the Vaad HaRabbonim of Cleveland, the orthodox rabbinical council. It is not clear if all synagogues in the council spread the message, but three different sources tell me it was definitely read out in most of them or posted on bulletin boards.

In 2014-201515, Hersh was advertising himself through local circulars, YouTube,  and Vimeo as the proprietor of Chai Life Coaching, a torah based coaching/counseling service based on Torah principles. It is not clear if he is still in that business, or was even before the Saturday announcement. The website listed in his advertising, ChaiLifeCoaching.com is no longer active.

There is also a Yelp listing with an address is in Dallas, TX, The blurb states

Chai Life Coaching provides services to individuals and families who seek to improve their lives.

We believe people can, with G-d’s help,  transcend their limitations.
We help by teaching people effective strategies that align with Torah principles to support the change they desire.

Chai Life Coaching sessions bring focused learning and accountability to the areas of your life that need it the most. Our process starts with coach and client getting clarity on what results you​ want and then together, we take an honest assessment of where you are now and what resources you have and need to get you to your goal.

Common issues addressed through Life Coaching: addictions, unwanted habits, career issues, parenting struggles, learning disabilities/ADHD, abuse, phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, relationships, life direction/goals, bullying.

History

Established in 2014.

Chai Life Coaching was founded by Akiva Meir Hersh to fulfill the need for quality Life Coaching for adults and children in the Jewish community of Dallas.

Chai Life Coaching serves Jews of all backgrounds, shapes, colors and sizes.

Meet the Business Owner

Akiva Meir H.

Akiva Meir H.

Business Owner

Akiva Meir is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and has been in the coaching field with a focus on
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) for thirty years.

His early training began with Jacqui Lee Schiff (of Transactional Analysis fame), Dr. Richard Bandler, Robert Dilts, and David Gordon. He went on to train with other NLP greats such as Steve Andreas, Dr. Stephen Gilligan (one of Milton Erickson’s most famous students), Dr. John Grinder and others.

Below is the full text in the written announcement which appeared in at least some shuls, typically removed not long after sabbath was over.

This tactic of coordinated shul announcement with minimal written trail is not new, though also not used very often in dealing with predators in the orthodox community. It was used in the Five Towns of Queens and Nassau in 2014 to denounce Rabbi Dovid Weinberger. It was effective and he is no longer active in the rabbinate.

Below I have also provided a picture of the announcement on one shul’s bulletin board.

Vaad HaRabonim of Cleveland

August 13, 2018

As Rabbonim in the community, we have a responsibility to protect all our members.

We therefore must share with you that we have recently learned that Mr Akiva Meir Hersh, 3762 Bainbridge Road, Cleveland Heights, is alleged to have engaged in inappropriate behavior with young men under the age of thirteen.

We have also learned that police reports have been filed detailing his activities.

We understand that he is attempting to create a Boy Scout troop. We are concerned that this is a potentially unhealthy and dangerous situation.

We alert you to our concerns and warn you not to let young children be in his care.

Signed,
Vaad HaRabbonim of Cleveland

 

Akiva Hersh Cleveland letter 8-18-18

Hat Tips to the anonymous sources who alerted me to the story and the one who snapped the pic of the announcement and shared it with me. Peeps, keep the tips coming in.

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12 thoughts on “Cleveland Rabbis: ‘Don’t Give Akiva Meir Hersh Access to Children’

  1. Because there are absolutely ZERO signatures on this letter it and no police report numbers posted this letter appears to be fraudulent. It is a crime to post such notices anywhere.

    If there truly are police reports, where are the police report numbers and where are the signatures?! There is a FOIL Act. It’s Federal Law. Please post the police report numbers and the police reports online if this is true, if not, please delete this post!

    On Thu, 23 Aug 2018, 2:07 am FRUM FOLLIES by Yerachmiel Lopin, wrote:

    > Yerachmiel Lopin posted: “Just this last Saturday (8/18/18) an > announcement was read out in a number of Cleveland’s orthodox synagogues on > behalf of their rabbinical association warning members to beware of Akiva > Meir Hersh as a potential child sexual abuser. They used vaguer lang” >

    • Get off your high horse. I stated clearly that this announcement was read out in a number of shuls. That is a fact. I have confirmed that through 4 different sources involved in the orthodox community in Cleveland. I have confirmed that the posted letter is consistent with the verbal announcements. It is news that this announcement was made. I am accurately reporting those facts. That this happened is news. If Akiva Meir Hersh wishes to sue these rabbis for defaming him, that is his prerogative. Though he would be foolish to do that if the allegations are true. Either way, what I reported about the rabbis announcement would be true. At this point, I am not able to confirm the allegations made by the vaad. However, based on my 9 years of experience blogging about CSA in the orthodox community, I am willing to bet they are true. I say this because in my experience the problem is not rabbis too quick to allege but rather, in 95+% of the cases they are too reluctant to follow up.

      • you know, he has a point.
        was the letter itself vetted with the cleveland va’ad?
        IS there a cleveland va’ad?
        why wouldn’t they have stationery with an address and phone?
        were you duped?

        • I have confirmed that this text was read out in multiple shuls from 4 different Cleveland sources including some whose truthfulness and judgment I can vouch for based on long connections with them.
          i have confirmed from well informed and trustworthy sources that this was a decision of the Vaad.
          You are right that this was not vaad stationary. but the typed up text was never intended to be shared with the community, just to be read out loud on Shabbos (when it would not be recorded). This is a common enough strategy in a number of frum communities when they don’t want something spread except by word of mouth.

          Hence, the person entrusted with the final draft may not have had vaad stationary or cared about that since it was just a text for reading. Clearly, one of the rabbis (or his assistant) either did not understand the idea of not leaving a written trail or decided, the heck with it , I want the text out there. Or maybe they figured that if it went up over shabbos and was removed soon enough afterward, it would not be circulated in written form. But clearly, some time passed after the end of shabbos before it was removed. And I am guessing, that cell phones come out right after shabbos, often being retrieved from parked cars at the shul. Cell phone addicts after shabbos are like smokers. As soon as the havdalah candle goes out, the cigarettes are lit and the screens turned on.

        • Of course there is a group of concerned rabbis!! Call it whatever. Individuals need to be responsible whether they are a congrational rabbi or not.

          • “call it whatever…” is NOT a legal name of a respected cleveland va’ad or beth din. there may be in fact a hundred concerned rabbis, nay, a thousand, who feel as we do (and i am a devotee of the issues in frum follies and i hold by yerachmiel lopin) but accuracy … counts!

            • I am missing whether you feel accuracy was lost. I assert based on information from sources and public statements in most (if not all Cleveland orthodox synagogues) that the Vaad Harabonim of Cleveland embraced the position re Akiva Hersh that I posted. As I explained in a number of my replies to comments, the lack of the letterhead and signatures does not mean this is not the official position of the vaad.

            • it’s simple yashrus, and i’m NOT contravening your feelings about who is protecting whom, and why, or why not.
              you (or I ) canNOT say :”the cleveland va’ad said…”or, “the cleveland beis din said:…” IF they did NOT sign a letter which backs that up! what the laity takes for granted is NOT the issue, the issue is absolute emes if we are saying something beshem omro.

            • You are hocking a chinig and ignoring my previous replies.

              Pirkei Avot (6:6) assumes a spoken source (omro), not a written source, when it calls for crediting him. Multiple rabbonim stood in their shuls on shabbos and declared a position in the name of the Vaad. Are you suddenly saying torah shebaal peh is not to be accepted?

              Please do not abuse this commenting space by repeating the same question which has been answered. If you are not satisfied with the answer, don’t worry. All readers already know that from your comment. If you insist on abusing this space by trolling, I will block you from commenting.

  2. Why does the article say “vaguer language was used?” If there is documentation and verification to prove that Akiva Meir Hersh did what he is alleged to have done, then stronger wording is necessary. You don’t beat around the bush in these kinds of situations. It is imperative that the community joins forces to keep everyone safe. What would it take for the members of the Vaad and other responsible adults to follow up on this case or that of any other predator?

    • I agree that the communication should have been as specific and strong as possible while protecting the privacy of the alleged victims and not interfering with the criminal justice process. There is also a justifiable concern with avoiding liability. But I don’t think liability aversion was the top motive. Instead, I think the typical rabbinical approach, even when they are proactive, is to limit themselves to the minimum amount of controversy compatible with their protection goal. Knowing the orthodox community, that approrach works with most laity because they realize how extraordinary it is for their rabbis even to say this much. Unfortunately it leaves some space for defenders to use the vagueness to challenge the rabbis’ claims.

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