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 The website listed in his advertising, ChaiLifeCoaching.com is no longer active.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.
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 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.
Vaad HaRabbonim of Cleveland
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.