Be a Light unto the Nations, Not a Molester Haven

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Rapist Mondrowitz

The Torah calls on us to be a “light unto the nations.” But Israel is an escape destination for diaspora molesters. They come from the US, the UK, Holland, and Australia. They come on last minute flights as cops are closing in. They come on visitor visas and they come as planned olim under the Law of Return. Most of them get the welcome mat.

Mighty Israel can defeat neighbors. Stealthy Israel can assassinate enemies. Brainy Israel can desalinate oceans. Avenging Israel can bring Nazis to justice. But when faced with the justice cries of molested Jewish children, Shimshon Hagibor (Samson the mighty) turns into Shimshon the Nebbish, a hapless, bureaucratically obtuse gaggle of keystone cops.

How could Malka Leifer, a serial child molester facing 74 charges of child sexual abuse in Australia, still be dodging Australia’s 2013 extradition request by faking mental illness?

The answer is negligence if not worse. Leifer showed up for mandated evaluations impersonating a sack of potatoes schlepped in by attendants who claimed she was dependent on them for the most elementary activities of daily life. Nobody thought to check out her actual life where she carried on just fine, first in Bnai Brak and then the West Bank settlement community of Emanuel. Her neighbors saw an active community member, not an incapacitated invalid. There was even photographic evidence of her participation in the May 2017 Lag B’Omer celebrations in Meron.

Malka Leifer on shopping outing

Leifer Goes Shopping

Meanwhile, the extradition court and prosecutors kept allowing her defense to claim she was unable to appear for extradition hearings because of her illness.

When the palace paladins kept failing, salvation came from outside. The anti-abuse, not-for-profit, Jewish Community Watch, hired private investigators to video her public activities during Chanukah 2017. They caught her shopping, doing laundry and spending hours on the phone while pacing on her balcony.  When this was presented to government officials, they finally got off their tuchis, conducted their own similar investigation, and charged her with obstruction of justice, fabricating evidence, and impersonation. This will likely culminate in her extradition.

But why wasn’t the government ever concerned enough to consider this possibility early on? Leifer’s victims could have been spared the anguish, and justice could have been spared the mockery.

Now the government owes Leifer’s victims fastracking of the judicial and extradition process. That is the least they can do by way of amends. But there is more.

They could establish a sex offender registry, so residents can know which of their neighbors were convicted in Israel or abroad, instead of having to depend on blogs, Tweets and Google.

Israel could enforce its basic law and deny entry to persons who constitute a public danger.

scales of justice and childIsrael could succeed in carrying out arrests of folks for whom extradition requests were made, such as Gershon Kranczer and his blind son, Asher, who avoided arrest in NY in 2010 on charges of raping several female relatives by hopping a flight to Israel. How hard can it be to find a Haredi duo where one is blind? If the Brooklyn DA is not pursuing extradition, they could publicize the lapse to up the pressure in the US.

It is time for Israel to be a light unto the nations, a defender of children, instead of a blight on the Jewish world as a haven for molesters.

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An Open Letter to the Beth Tfiloh Board of Trustees

Signatures are being solicited for this open letter asking Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School of Baltimore to bring in an independent investigator to look into their handling of sexual abuse allegations about Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky and Dr. Jonathan Lasson and implementing any findings regarding policy and dismissals of culpable personnel.
The signers commit to withholding support (e.g., $)  until its demands are met.
The core group that organized this letter are Beth Tfiloh alumni but they welcome the signatures of anyone who is or was part of the Beth Tfiloh community.
Dear Beth Tfiloh Board of Trustees,
We, the undersigned members of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School community, are deeply disappointed by the discovery of Beth Tfiloh’s apparent failure to promptly address allegations of abuse perpetrated by Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky. We are also highly concerned by its recent employment of Dr. Jonathan Lasson, an individual formally sanctioned for inappropriate professional behavior. Finally, we are distressed by what appears to be Beth Tfiloh’s failure to take accountability or to identify a plan of preventative action in its response.

Continue reading

Ramaz Yeshiva Fires History Teacher Dr. Ari Sclar and Conducts Investigation

Last week (1-22-18) the Ramaz Upper School Head, Rabbi Shlomo Stochel, notified the community that Dr. Ari Sclar was no longer employed as a history teacher “due to a serious violation of Ramaz’s standards of conduct.” (see letter below)

This Manhattan Upper East Side modern orthodox school is employing the law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP to conduct an investigation. This is the same firm the Orthodox Union (OU) hired to investigate physical and sexual abuse by Rabbi Baruch Lanner in their youth program, the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY).

The letter does not state Sclar’s particular infraction of “standards of conduct.” But schools fire people all the time without notifications stating reasons or hiring outside investigators. So I would surmise this is probably about abuse of some sort.

Dr. Sclar is adjunct faculty at Hunter College and completed a dissertation on the success of “Jews in Basketball.”

The school’s letter asks people to contact Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. However, if you are aware of criminal conduct I would strongly urge you to instead contact the police and child protective services.

If you were harmed by Sclar and think you may have grounds for a lawsuit against Sclar or an institution that employed him, get your own private lawyer to talk to the the investigators or RAMAZ. The firm hired by RAMAZ is obliged to protect the legal and financial interests of RAMAZ, not potential victims.  Continue reading

Should Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Trust Rabbi K and Should Parents Trust Beth Tfiloh

In Scotland a jury can return a verdict of guilty, innocent or not proven. This goes back to 18th century and it was also called the bastard verdict. Maryland uses a similar system for allegations of child abuse. At the end of an investigation, the report can conclude that action is indicated (e.g. removing a child from a home or a teacher from a job), ruled out or unsubstantiated.

Ruled out is a clean bill of health. Unsubstantiated is not! The name of the alleged offender is retained in a database so schools and child care centers can check on individuals when making employment decisions. This brings me to Rabbi Shmuel (Stephen) Krawatsky, known to kids as Rabbi K who at different times was classified as indicated or unsubstantiated by the child protective services agency of Frederick County, Maryland.

Rabbi K is a very friendly popular guy with younger kids. He is a 6th grade teacher at Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore and a youth leader at Suburban Orthodox synagogue in the Baltimore area. Since these allegations he no longer works at the Shoresh day camp in Frederick County or in the Orthodox Union’s Yachad youth program. For months he was also suspended by the Beth Tfiloh though it was done without any official announcement. Continue reading

There is an Epidemic of Assaults on the Intellectually Disabled

People who are Intellectually disabled are sexually assaulted at seven times the rate of others according to a survey of this population aged 12 and older. Yet they rarely report it and rarely get justice. These numbers are underestimates because of surveys do not cover people in institutions or group homes who are some of the most vulnerable. Continue reading

Williamsburg has lead poisoning levels higher than Flint, MI

lead-poisoning-blog-imageCenters for Disease Control data based on testing blood levels were obtained by the Reuters news service. According to Haaretz, Williamsburg had some of the highest levels in the country.

Lead poisoning is especially harmful to the mental development of younger children, something of special concern in Hasidic Williamsburg with its many young children. Continue reading