Rabbis in South Monsey Asked to Take Steps to Protect Women and Girls from Bleich

Yesterday (6/6/19) an anonymous emailer writing on behalf of “Local South Monsey Area Women” sent a message to the rabbis and rebbetzins of four shuls and one minyan within a short walking distance of Rabbi Yaakov Bleich’s South Monsey (Airmont) residence asking why steps aren’t being taken to keep him out of all their shuls in light of serious allegations that he poses a danger to women.

They also addressed their message to the Executive Director of Agudath Israel of America (Agudah) Rabbi Leibish Becker who lives in the neighborhood. Finally they also emailed the Israeli muckraking blogger, Chaim Shaulson. All the addressees were in the “To” field and I have verified that all the email addresses were accurate and thus presumably reached the addressees.

Rabbi Yaakov Bleich is Chief Rabbi of Ukraine. But for some years now he has spent a lot of his time in the US, in recent years, living in Monsey. However, with the mounting clouds of scandal he has been spending more time in the Ukraine and has dramatically upped the visibility of his time in Kiev through Tweets, WhatsAp and other social media activity of him and his family, especially his daughters.

The message bases its allegations in part on the fact that the Conference of European Rabbis has forced his resignation as reported in an Israeli blog and on this blog. This happened in the aftermath of their investigation of allegations of sexual assault. Additionally, the letter references information about allegations moving inside their own networks and states: “Women talk, and I am sure you understand that the women feel very insecure knowing that the Rabbanim are not doing anything more to protect us.”

The email includes these pointed challenges to the rabbis: Continue reading

Bleich Resigns from Conference of European Rabbis after Investigation

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].

Continue reading

Englewood’s Ahavath Torah Announces Suspension and further Inquiry About R. Shlomo Hyman

As I reported last week, the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey announced the dismissal of long-time teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Hyman. According to their letter,

it was determined that Rabbi Hyman’s conduct had been neither acceptable nor consistent with how a rebbe in our Yeshiva should interact with students. In consultation with counsel and halachic advisors, the leadership of the Yeshiva has terminated his employment and has determined that no further action is necessary at this time.

This was a shock to the Bergen County MO community since Hyman had worked in the school for 31 years and most people had a very favorable impression of him as a teacher and mensch. Some felt otherwise. But almost everyone agreed that the school letter was frustrating in its vagueness. My read of the letter was that it implied sexual misconduct but allowed for all sorts of other readings.

Left in the lurch was Congregation Ahavath Torah of Englewood where Hyman was also the Youth Rabbi. Though they did not officially announce it, they suspended him in February around the same time the yeshiva suspended him. Now they were faced with making a final decision, but the yeshiva was not willing to share the law firm report on which the yeshiva based its decision.

The congregation has now decided to continue the suspension and conduct their own inquiry (unless the school relents and shares the report from the law firm). In a letter sent to congregants (full text below) on Thursday, May 23, 2019, they wrote, Continue reading

Monsey Rabbis Restore Hashgachah to Vendor of Treyf Chickens (Satire)

Twelve years ago Moshe Finkel was caught selling treyf chickens as kosher.  It was truly a calamity. The community was thrown into turmoil, massive kashering and a torrent of explanations ranging from loshon horah to short skirts. Some rabbonim called for public fasts. He was kicked out of Monsey.

But now a panel of distinguished rabbis declared his teshuva is complete and he can return to selling chickens.

Some were surprised by the ruling of Rav Nistar Chelm. But his reasoning was solid and backed up by other rabbonim. Continue reading

Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey Announces Dismissal of R. Shlomo Hyman for “Unacceptable” Conduct

{UPDATE (5/23/19)- See https://frumfollies.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/englewoods-ahavath-torah-announces-suspension-and-further-inquiry-about-r-shlomo-hyman/}

An email (see full text below) was sent on Wednesday (5/15/19) to the parents of a large Bergen County k-8 modern orthodox school, the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. It reports the dismissal of  Rabbi Shlomo Hyman for unacceptable conduct without any specifics. Based on reports from my sources, it involved sexual misconduct with girls. Continue reading

Anti-Vax Rabbi Handler Also Played Defense for Weingarten, Convicted of Raping His Daughter

This post comes from my February, 2010 archives where it appeared with the title, “Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, Why Are You Defending Yisroel Moshe Weingarten?” Weingarten in the article was serving a 30 year sentence based on his repeated rape of his teen daughter. Weissmandl is a prominent rabbi who was involved with many other Hasidic rabbis in supporting his appeals and insisting on his innocence. The popular Zev Brenner radio show ran an episode on the Weingarten case and Weissmandl chose Rabbi William/Hillel Handler to appear on the show defending Weingarten.

I have been doing a lot of research on Yisroel Moshe Weingarten (YMW). Every time I find something it leads to something else. I have learned about more boys and girls he is alleged to have molested. This week I spoke to people who alleged that he  raped Jewish and gentile girls. I discovered this by asking a few questions and listening to sad stories. I am not a genius; I do not have an army of investigators; I don’t have access to the files of the FBI and the Mossad. I have not bribed anyone to get information.

Some of the rabbis who signed the kol koreh (proclamation)defending Yisroel Moshe knew things that should have made them pause long and hard. One of the more prominent signers of the pidyon shvuyim (prisoner redemption) kol koreh in the summer of 2009 was Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, Nitra Rav-Monsey, the youngest son of Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov (Michoel Ber) Weissmandl, ztz”l.

It gives me no pleasure to criticize Menachem Weissmandl for conduct that dishonors the name of his great father. Continue reading