Ukraine’s Yaakov Bleich Resigns from Conference of European Rabbis after Investigation (from the 2019 Archives)

Bleich is on the cover of this week’s Ami Magazine. They have a penchant for publicizing lowlifes like Weberman and the child molesting and kidnapping cult, Lev Tahor. Bleich is timely as a rabbi in the Ukraine. But he is not the only rabbi there and he does have the problem of multiple allegations of sexual assault against boys, girls and women as revealed here in 2019. Since this post in 2019, Bleich lost all his positions with the World Jewish Congress where he used to be a VP. Yerachmiel Lopin

Chaim Shaulson‘s Hebrew language blog, In the World of Haredim (בעולמם של חרידים) posted (6/1/19)

Rabbi [Yaakov] Bleich [Chief Rabbi of the Ukraine] resigned from the Conference of European Rabbis after Dayan [Menachem] Gelley [Av Beth Din of the London Beth Din of the United Synagogue] went to  America and examined the suspicions against him[Bleich].

This report is consistent with the facts I know. The recent resignation follows his earlier removal from the Conference’s website which I reported on March 31, 2019. Before his removal he held a number of important positions at the CER including membership on their Executive Council and their Presidium.

I read this resignation as a face-saving move by Bleich to avoid public expulsion. Though, of course, I expect Bleich to offer a different explanation. In my opinion, the public interest would have been better served if there had been a public statement of his removal and the reasons.

37 thoughts on “Ukraine’s Yaakov Bleich Resigns from Conference of European Rabbis after Investigation (from the 2019 Archives)

  1. “I read this resignation as a face-saving move by Bleich to avoid public expulsion. Though, of course, I expect Bleich to offer a different explanation. In my opinion, the public interest would have been better served if there had been a public statement of his removal and the reasons.”

    Agreed. Sex offenders will generally plea bargain rather than go to court and have their violent tendencies made known to the world. Here, Bleich obviously made a silent agreement with Bais Din: resign in order to avoid public exposure.

    And, as you mentioned, this silence on the part of BD means Bleich is free to sow his own fabrication of a story in the community.

    Victim needs would have been much better served by a trial and the subsequent public exposure.

  2. הרב בלייך התפטר מועד רבני אירופה לאחר שהדיין גלאיי הגיע במיוחד לאמריקה ובדק את החשדות נגדו

    Ukraine’s Yaakov Bleich Resigns from Conference of European Rabbis after Investigation (from the 2019 Archives)

    2

    Bleich is on the cover of this week’s Ami Magazine. They have a penchant for publicizing lowlifes like Weberman and the child molesting and kidnapping cult, Lev Tahor. Bleich is timely as a rabbi in the Ukraine. But he is not the only rabbi there and he does have the problem of multiple allegations of sexual assault against boys, girls and women as revealed here in 2019. Since this post in 2019, Bleich lost all his positions with the World Jewish Congress where he used to be a VP. Yerachmiel Lopin

    Chaim Shaulson ‘s Hebrew language blog, In the World of Haredim (בעולמם של חרידים) posted (6/1/19)

    Rabbi [Yaakov] Bleich [Chief Rabbi of the Ukraine] resigned from the Conference of European Rabbis after Dayan [Menachem] Gelley [Av Beth Din of the London Beth Din of the United Synagogue] went to America and examined the suspicions against him[Bleich].

    This report is consistent with the facts I know. The recent resignation follows his earlier removal from the Conference’s website which I reported on March 31, 2019. Before his removal he held a number of important positions at the CER including membership on their Executive Council and their Presidium.

    I read this resignation as a face-saving move by Bleich to avoid public expulsion. Though, of course, I expect Bleich to offer a different explanation. In my opinion, the public interest would have been better served if there had been a public statement of his removal and the reasons.

    Agreed. Sex offenders will generally plea bargain rather than go to court and have their violent tendencies made known to the world. Here, Bleich obviously made a silent agreement with Bais Din: resign in order to avoid public exposure.

    And, as you mentioned, this silence on the part of BD means Bleich is free to sow his own fabrication of a story in the community.

    Victim needs would have been much better served by a trial and the subsequent public exposure.

  3. Curious to know if Rabbi Akiva Tendler was originally opposed to Bleich’s presence in his shul which could explain why Bleich then either joined or was at the very least sympathetic to a mutiny to attempt to have Rabbi Tendler forced out of the shul? Or did Rabbi Tendler only turn on Bleich after the mutiny? Rabbi Tendler has been a long time assistant rabbi at Rabbi Kokis’s shul. Although Kokis fought Leib Tropper, there is at least 1 molester who Kokis has been protecting.

    • Bleich was banned from Rav Kokis’ shul because of verified information that Bleich is a serial molester of children, a fact confirmed in a hearing held by Dayan Gelley of the London Beis Din and Rav Yosef Blau, Mashgiach Ruchani of Yitzchok Elchanan Seminary(YU). Rather than respond to the allegations, Bleich resigned from the Conference of European Rabbis. R. Tendler initiated the process of exposing Bleich and getting him banned from the shul. And of course Bleich played a role in moving R. Tendler from asst rabbi to an auxiliary role in the shul where he still works.

  4. There have been additional molesters at Kokis’s shul like Zev Zitrenbaum who lives in the neighborhood when not incarcerated, and Yosef Mishli. Not clear if Bobover Benzion Banash also sometimes davens there. Even Chaim Schwartz who covers up for molesters at the Queens Vaad, grew up in Kokis’s shul. Labish Becker who is part of the Agudah’s executive cover up machinery has davened by Kokis since day one.

    One molester that Kokis is definitely protecting is a teenage girl who has publicly molested other girls. She is daughter of a macher who gives money to the shul.

    When Bleich & anyone else is too hot for Kokis to handle, they end up a few blocks away by the Skohl Rebbe who doesn’t seem to have ever met a scoundrel whom he doesn’t defend.

  5. It is unreal that Bleich is raising millions for Ukraine relief – who knows how much will go to his pocket. How can a proven molester like this be allowed to do this??? Especially after Walder- have we not learned anything???

    • That’s the question. I posted Bleich’s Ukranian fundraiser on FB and made a donation.
      Took it down after reading about Bleich. Now, want my donation back so as to make sure the Ukrainians get the money … not Bleich for his “sick” needs.
      The bigger question is: Why are there so many Orthodox perverts? It’s time for all the yeshivas to consider Sex Ed. classes led by experienced professionals.

      • Thank you. Yes sex ed is needed. But in Bleich’s case the other problem is that Jewish organizations that know about his conduct do not go public. Here are some Jewish organizations that will not deal with Bleich because of his sex abuse but also will not publicly state as much: Conference of European Rabbis, London Beth Din, World Jewish Congress, Agudath Israel of America, OU, Yankie Horowitz, and several shuls in his neighborhood in Monsey, Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky, the late Novominsker Rebbe, and the Stolin chasidus.

      • Sex ed in the yeshivas will not stop abuse. The problem is the community itself: no one, including the rabbonim, want to step up to the plate.

        • Yes, unfortunately our children attended Bezalel Hebrew Academy in Lakewood for 2 yrs. where the principal, a known molester who’d been fired from a prior position in Queens, was abusive and having an adulterous affair with the president of the sisterhood. It took 2 years of ongoing abuse in addition to the years of therapy those girls from Queens needed, to fire him. His wife divorced him, but he is still on board with the OU and writes Divrei Torah for the Jewish Press!
          It more than a ‘shonda’ to have every major Jewish organization posting this much needed fundraiser for the Ukrainian people without vetting the source. I took it down from my FB and posted a warning instead.
          When Jews, known for our philanthropy, must first vett rabbis and fundraising sites for legitimacy, it speaks of whom really
          are.

          • In the secular world – both gentile and Jewish – kids receive sex ed at school beginning in the fourth (girls) and fifth (boys) grades. The kids learn about good/bad touch, their developing bodies, and how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

            Yet, the sexual abuse of children is just as rampant in the secular world as it is in the frum world. So, please do not make the mistake of believing that sex ed in the yeshiva velt will change anything.

            What does make a difference? First, adults who watch for signs of abuse in schools, clubs, families – everywhere children go. Second, parents, teachers, principals, and other adults in power over children who LISTEN and BELIEVE the child when the child reports abuse.

            • How do you know sex abuse is just as rampant in the secular world. No doubt it happens everywhere, but nobody knows at what rate it happens in the frum world because the leadership will not allow any scientific research into it?

              All the things you talk about have value, but only if abusers who are detected are then put out of commission. Haredi leadership regularly knows of cases and either does nothing or gives the offender a talking to and buys into claims of teshuvah. At best they are fired but nobody warns another institution about hiring the guy. And criminal investigation and prosecution… forget about it. Only in the rarest of rare cases does the leadership do anything.

              So imagine a child who does report the abuse, of parents who listen and the kid keeps seeing the menuval getting aliyot, sometimes being the honoree at a dinner, or keeping their job or getting another respectable job. If the kid is smart, and most kids are, if abused again by the same person or someone else they may feel, why even go to the trouble of reporting it.

              The other reason for sex education is because kids have sexual feelings. They are built into our bodies for good reasons if used the right way. But an uneducated kid being molested may well have the offender catering to those feelings at the same time they gratify their own desires. This is incredibly confusing and guilt inducing for the kid who is utterly ignorant of anything except vague, unverbalized, unprocessed sensation. There are models of sex education for orthodox children that acknowledge the feelings while educating about the hashkafah of the right and wrong way to deal with those feelings.

              We are not Catholics who think the path to holiness requires denying sexuality.

            • You are so right. Without getting into personal history here, I will say that parents use to side with the teacher and now are hopefully open to hearing their children’s voices.

          • At the time of the incident, we wrote to Rebetzin Yungreis who said to call Torah Umesorah and take him to the Beis Din. Upon hearing all, Torah Umesorah asked us one threatening question, “Do you intend to have your children marry within the Orthodox community.?” We were advised to drop the suit ASAP. And that it how the Orthodox Community dealt with it. That’s the tip of the ice-berg.

  6. First, know that I was sexually abused by a relative as a child. He was never confronted, justice was never done. Also, I have a brother who spent six years in prison for having a long-term penetrative sexual relationship with a minor family member; he now practices counseling illegally and, despite my efforts to get the licensing board and others to act, they have not. They will wait for another victim to come forward before acting. So, please do not give me this, “How do you think it feels” stuff. I know how it feels.

    Second, please do not take my words literally regarding the rate of sexual abuse. No one, not even professional researchers, know the true level abuse in the world, let alone every community. You know that. So cease the literalism. We are speaking informally.

    Third, if you want sex education in yeshivas so kids, teens, will understand their bodies better, just say so. But do not mistakenly believe that this education will stop sexual abuse in the yeshivas. Is that not what we were talking about? Stopping sexual abuse? That was the topic I was addressing.

    Last, I will reiterate my words, which are merely a restatement of what I learned from learned professional psych researchers when I was in graduate school studying psych research, including at NASA:
    (1) Adults need to act responsibly and watch for signs of sexual abuse in every environment children inhabit; and
    (2) When a child (or teen or adult, for that matter) tells a parent or other responsible adult about sexual abuse, that victim must be believed and supported.

    Researchers have proven again and again that these are the two most important things. They lead to children being saved. And they lead to the long-term sanity of the child because the child learns, right off the bat, that by telling his or her parents he will be protected and justice will be done. Or at least justice will be seriously attempted. Child victims surrounded by adult family members who act in such a fashion have been shown to, generally, grow up without PTSD while child victims who do not are the ones who grow up to experience life long major depression, PTSD, suicidality, etc.

    Of course the Evil Ones, the perpetrators, must be confronted and justice done. Of course. I never meant to imply otherwise.

    You are preaching to the choir.

    • Ben,
      I hear what you are saying regarding the ineffectiveness of Sex Ed. in Yeshivas. As a graduate of a modern orthodox yeshiva high school, I can say, there was no sex ed. It was quite different in the 60’s when parents still believed the teacher was always right and to be most respected.

      But even now, the responsibility to educate your child as to knowing what should be acceptable or unacceptable with regard to her/his body must fall upon the parent or guardian. Educate and be attentive and open to accepting that your child, especially a young child, wouldn’t make up a story that may be most uncomfortable, embarrassing or frightening to share for some. You must develop a relationship with your child where they feel comfortable in being open. That may be the best protection.

      I did not have that safe space.

      • First, the MO day schools where I live now have sex ed beginning in fifth grade. The program parallels that of the secular school system. But their kids still get abused.

        My point still stands: Sex Ed will not stop sex abuse of children. Neither will the free exchange of information between parent and child. I am not saying these things should not happen in a healthy family. What I AM saying, again, is don’t get the idea that sex ed at any level will stop child sexual abuse.

        Perps choose child victims because they are vulnerable and powerless. Even those children who know about “good/bad touch” – or even the specifics of sexual intimacy – are not able to stop molestations from occurring. Sometimes, this is because the abuse ‘feels good’ and so they do not recognize the abuse for what it is until too late. Sometimes the abuse is presented as a game, and they play the game thinking it fun, again not recognizing the abuse for what it is until too late. Other times, the abuse does scare them but they freeze out of fear and do not fight it. And, in most cases, once the child has figured out that this was ‘bad touch’ and they need to tell, they are either too frightened (because the perp has threatened their life) or too ashamed (because they wrongly believe the act to have been their fault) to tell their parents. And then, you have the children who dissociate, who are so troubled by what happened, that they ‘forget’ what happened; they cannot tell at all.

        I was molested by my grandfather. One brother was sexually abused by another brother. One brother raped and even went to prison for the rape of his step daughter. A boy I know who attended an MO school – where he had sex ed! – was sexually abused. I know kids from yeshivish homes with proper sex education who were abused. Kids from BT homes with proper sex education who were abused. And what about all of the Catholic kids? I can go on and on and on. We all attended schools with excellent sex ex programs. We all had homes where we could talk to our parents about these things. But we were still abused.

        Sadly, sex ed does not stop sex abuse.

        So, you want sex ed in schools and homes? Fine. Do it. But please do not think it will stop the sexual abuse of our children. Setting up such a program and then thinking, “Good! We fixed the problem!” is just another road to disaster.

        • No one step will stop sex abuse. Each of them reduces the likelihood of it happening or continuing. As I said, reduces, not stops.

          Even all combined will not stop sex abuse from happening but will often lead to earlier detection and thus stopping it from happening again by that abuser or to that victim.

          • Where are your stats regarding sex ed reducing the sexual abuse of children? I’m a retired teacher but I have never even heard such a thing.

            By the time the child is old enough to understand, to truly contemplate the possibilities, the abuse has already occurred. And even kids who know but experience it anyhow almost never tell until adulthood!!!!

            The grass is not greener on the other side. The secular world does not have this problem nailed down.

            The Catholic schools are now, strangely enough, doing the best job at preventing abuse: the parents and staff now have their eyes wide open; people watch for signs; no adult is ever allowed to be alone with a child; every single room – including private offices – have a window in the door; every adult is screened. etc. THOSE ARE THE TYPES OF ACTIONS THAT STOP SEXUAL ABUSE.

            Vigilance is the key. One must make sure older kids and adults do not have an opportunity to abuse children. And then, if abuse occurs, one must be proactive about getting the perp out of the school – and permanently.

            • I’m repeating myself because it seems that no one is listening.

              I actively save the lives of kids at risk, even to the point of inserting my body between a child and someone with a butcher knife. I am now in law school so to provide pro bono representation for survivors of Orthodox child abuse.

              In other words, I am out there actually fighting the fight. I know what is going on because I am involved in it day in and day out. Why don’t you listen?

        • Ben,
          Thank you. Your shared experience, knowledge and understanding of this horrible situation would probably make for a much better approach to achieving significant results. Perhaps a video where those who have been through this nightmare discuss their experiences and what to do.

          Something must be done, because when the perpetrator is a respected figure of authority, the child or abused teen is faced with the real fear that their voice would be mocked and silenced… I know.

          • “Something must be done, because when the perpetrator is a respected figure of authority, the child or abused teen is faced with the real fear that their voice would be mocked and silenced… I know.”

            Yes, exactly right!

            I am sorry you experienced such abuse.

            It will sound rather cavalier and pretentious, but I am in law school studying with the sole intention of providing as many pro bono services to survivors of Orthodox childhood sexual abuse as possible. I will sound the alarm and fight as many rabbonim and yeshivas as necessary to help bring this situation under control.

            Someone must do this work. We know the rabbonim are cowards and will not. It seems we must fight the perps in the courts.

            • Ben,
              Yasher Koach to you. It is a major undertaking in going to law school so as to “DO SOMETHING” about it, and speaks of your inner strength, B”H, in not only refusing to be a victim, but in choosing the best weaponry to fight these sickos who are destroying lives.

            • Thank you, Dorene.

              I apologize for my intensity regarding this topic. I once pulled a rapist off a screaming woman, and on another occasion saved a little 6 y/o girl. This sort of exposure can make one rather intense about the topic.

            • Dear Ben,
              As we fast on Purim to reverse the decries of ‘rashas’,
              we join hearts with special prayers for those victims of abuse from within.
              You do not have to apologize to me.
              I understand on a personal level,
              though this is not the space I feel comfortable in sharing my story.
              Wishing you a productive fast and a Happy, Healthy Purim!

            • FYI –
              An Ohio rabbi’s misconduct involved a child. No one told his …https://jewishjournal.org › 2022/03/22 › an-ohio-rabbis…
              3 hours ago — A screenshot from a video of Rabbi Jon Adland officiating the installation of his successor Rabbi David Komerofsky at Temple Israel in …

            • Dear Ben,
              Watching Netflix’s, “One of Us” and they mentioned, WALL OF SHAME. Not only are some abusers listed, but if/when you click on the name, you can get a detailed history of the case, how it was/is being handled. One of the positive changes listed is in the understanding and way the YU, OU and others now say they must instead respond. (see Baruch Lanner’s posting). But the shocking admission of one of the Lakewood rabbaim as to the threat of losing your place in Olam Habah by going first to the police, is enough to scare the innocent, uneducated, unaware, ignorant, sheltered, frightened victim of abuse as he/she weighs out having already lost so much else; the security, trust, joys and innocence of childhood … Hashem’s most precious Gift of Life.

            • Dorene, I followed your Wall of Shame link to Baruch Lanner and found the Forward article about YU Willig’s ‘apology.’ It was too little, too late, but it was something. And, you are right, it did give a sense of their thinking once upon a time. At least the YU rabbonim are changing for the better, very slowly but surely.

  7. I have yet to see or hear from any accuser of abuse who is making a claim against Bleich. Molesters always leave a trail of victims. They don’t stop with only one, or several. Their sickness causes many victims. So there are plenty who will speak up. So far, this appears to be a witch hunt and based on a financial argument over the buildings in Kiev in an attempt to get Bleich to walk away. I still believe in due process and innocent until proven guilty. Classic loshon hora destroys a person, their reputation, their livelihood. Need to make sure that when this done, it is for good cause.

    • Walder had 22 victims who spoke to a beis din and probably hundreds of others who have not come forward publicly. Until enough came forward to allow Haaretz to publish without fear of being sued in Israel where the law (like in the UK) places a heavy burden on the publisher, nothing was known publicly. So the fact that only a few survivors are speaking to reporters but aren’t ready to allow their story to be used, does not mean they and many others don’t exist.

      Now let’s talk about his property dispute with Stolin Chasidus. Stolin knew about his abuse long before the property dispute in 2018. In fact decades earlier he was in beis din about such conduct. Remember he came to Ukraine in 1989 on behalf of Stolin and with their financial support. This was 29 years before the dispute. I have no sympathy for Stolin having their property stolen by Bleich because they should have removed him decades earlier. But these allegations don’t come from Stolin. They come from survivors. The Conference of European Rabbis and the World Jewish Congress don’t care about property disputes from a Chasidus that is not in their ranks.

    • No, there are not “plenty” of victims who will speak up, not ever. It is too dangerous to speak up, whether inside or outside the community, for many reasons.

      This is one reason a child molester will, on average, rape or molest some 130-140 (I don’t remember the exact stat) DIFFERENT children before being caught the first time.

      If we want victims to speak up, we need to create an environment where they can do so safely.

      Been there, done that.

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