As NY Police were getting ready to arrest Rabbi Gershon Kranczer for allegedly molesting several of his female relatives he got tipped off and flew the coop to Israel according to the Daily News. This happened in December of 2010. Nine years later he was finally arrested in Israel on Jan 7, 2020 according to the Forward. For the moment, he is being held in Israel on charges of entering on a tourist visa and overstaying under the radar, seeking neither immigrant aliya status nor permanent residency status. Thus he is not a citizen and can be deported without an extradition process. Though all Jews are entitled to immigration under the Law of Return it always had an exception for dangerous criminals.
There is a regular flow of sexual miscreants from the diaspora to Israel. At the moment, the high profile news story is Malka Leifer in her fifth year of dodging a proper Australian extradition request through a series of fraudulent claims of mental illness and with the assistance of the head of the health ministry, Yaakov Litzman.
Before that there was Avrohom Mondrowitz, the rapist of more boys than any other known Haredi criminal, whose extradition request was delayed for years. He eventually got the Israeli High Court to reject a US extradition request because they took too long. He is regularly seen out and about in Jerusalem. There are so many others as well that I wrote about in Be a Light unto the Nations, Not a Molester Haven.
At least Leifer’s survivors are backed by the Australian government that has vigorously pursued the case. At the other end of the Kranczer case is the office of the Kings County District Attorney (aka Brooklyn DA) which has a long shady history of coddling Haredi criminals because of the large block vote of Haredim.
This brings me to a question about some gaps in the quest for Kranczer. He flew the coop in 2010. But according to the Forward, the Brooklyn DA requested Kranczer’s extradition in 2012. Why wait over a year? And do we know that this is accurate since the info comes from an unnamed source. Meanwhile, the Israeli Justice Ministry’s official statement says they have been searching for Kranczer since 2015. That leaves us with a three year gap between when the US supposedly sought extradition and Israel began searching. And that supposes the Israeli search was vigorous over the period from 2015 to 2020.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo should appoint an independent investigator to find out whether there was an unjustified delay on the US side. Some might complain this is antisemitic targeting of a Jewish case at a moment of rising antisemitism targeting orthodox Jews. But the worst sort of antisemitism in my book is allowing Jewish children to be sexually abused with impunity.
The Israeli government also ought to conduct an inquiry into the long delay on their side. Surely Israel with its superb intelligence capabilities can do better.
Alas I hold out no hope of either investigation. Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio both court the Haredi vote. To its disgrace, most Haredi leadership is more interested in protecting its adults than its children. Prime Minister Netanyahu just appointed Yaakov Litzman to continue heading the Health Ministry even with his pending indictment for obstructing justice in the Leifer case. And most Israeli Knesset coalitions depend on the votes of the party headed by Litzman.
I am glad that Kranczer will probably soon be in the custody of the US criminal justice system. But we are still owed answers and we darn well better carefully scrutinize the conduct of the Brooklyn DA as this case goes forward.
The most damning gap consists of the three months between his flight and when he resigned from heading his yeshiva Tehila L’Dovid. One has to ask, why a father with the financial burden of 14 children and no other apparent sources of income would suddenly resign his job. The most probable conjecture is that he was forced to by local leadership, probably rabbinic leadership, after they found out about his sexual abuse of relatives, If so, that means for three months he was left free to continue to molest. It means his escape would not have happened if those who knew had reported him to the police. It means they cared more about the children in his school than the children in his family. Or perhaps they didn’t even care about the children, just the image of the school. It means we once again witnessed the Frum world emulating the Catholic Church in covering up and tolerating abuse as long as reputations were protected.
So we are also owed answers for the gap inside the frum world between when his abuse was first discovered outside his family till he fled, because the police finally found out, no thanks to those who knew enough to force him out of his school. I could prattle on about how Agudah or a rabbinical group in Flatbush should investigate. But that definitely won’t happen. And were it to happen we would probably have the culprits whitewashing themselves.