This quote of the day comes from Simone Biles, gold-medal olympic winner and one of hundreds of athlete victims of sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar. She is speaking about the USA Gymnastics, the group responsible for the training of top level gymnasts, mostly teens, and their deliberate cover up of Nassar’s sexual abuse. Continue reading
On Friday, July 19, 2019
Last week the President of the Young Israel of Phoenix, David Zuckerman wrote to his congregants about Rabbi Ari Mandel:
For reasons he does not wish to disclose publicly, he will no longer serve as the Rabbi of YIP. Continue reading
To our shame, Israel is a molester haven. A prime example is Malka Leifer who fled Australia in 2008 on one day’s notice when she knew that the police were closing in on her. It is eleven years later, over 50 court hearings later, and yet the extradition process drags on.
Dassi Erlich is one of the survivors of Leifer’s sexual abuse of the girls in the Adaas school in Melbourne where Leifer was the principal. She persists in her struggle to bring Leifer to justice back in Australia. Dassi just posted an updated timeline of her long, frustrating search for justice on FaceBook of the 11 years since Leifer fled Australia and the 56 court hearings in Israel with resolution closer but definitely not there yet.
Thanks to the brave persistence of Dassi, her sisters, and their many supporters, Leifer will probably be delivered up for justice to Australian authorities. But no child molesting criminal should be able to evade justice so long.
Below, in all its excruciating and absurd detail, is the full timeline of the corrupt Israeli handling of the case.
TIMELINE of JUSTICE DELAYED
- 2000 – Malka Leifer arrives in Australia.
- 2008 – Leifer leaves Australia after allegations of sexual abuse with her students. Tickets are paid by Adass School board members.
- 2011 – 3 Police statements are given to police totalling 74 charges of child sexual abuse including rape.
- Aug 14 – Leifer arrested.
The guest post that follows by Asher Lovy is a response to the debate about whether Rabbi Shmuel Tal truly repented of his egregious manipulation of woman he was counseling to get her to divorce her husband so Tal could marry her. A beit din declared he could retain his position heading a yeshiva because he did repent. I posted about the episode (and included a statement by Rabbi Yosef Blau). Subsequently there were also posts by Rabbi Blau in the Times of Israel and by Hannah Katsman on her blog, A Mother in Israel. All of us utterly dispute the claim that he repented.
Asher Lovy is the Director of Community Organizing at Zaakah, and an activist who played an important role in securing in some legislative victories involving child abuse in New York State.
Let’s Talk about Policy Instead of Whether Rabbi Shmuel Tal Did Teshuva
by Asher Lovy
I respect Rabbi Blau and appreciate his his article, Rabbi Shmuel Tal’s Authority is Intact; Everybody Should Be Asking, Why? But, I feel like the discussion around this issue has been allowed to veer into the morass of our particular religio-communal-cultural discourse around sexual impropriety, and that we’ve lost objective focus of this issue.
Last week, Rabbi Elli Fischer wrote a post that generated an intense discussion. In that post he said that he felt the beis din was correct in not stripping him of his position because he could understand the possible frame of mind in which Shmuel Tal did this to that woman, and that since nothing else otherwise incriminating was found on his computer, and we don’t have a long record of Tal doing things like this, the conditions set by the beis din that Tal could no longer counsel women or claim to have Ruach Hakodesh, while still maintaining his position as rosh yeshiva, were fair. (Note- Rabbi Fischer has since removed his article from public viewing on FaceBook after a lot of online criticism).
To me this whole discussion is missing the point. It’s not relevant whether or not he did teshuva. It’s not relevant whether or not stuff was found on his computer. We need to start looking at these cases not as individual cases to be adjudicated individually, but as broad matters of institutional best practice. Continue reading
Rabbi Shmuel Tal had a scam. As head of Torat HaChaim yeshiva as well as several other religious institutions in the central Israeli town of Yad Binyamin he went around claiming ruach hakodesh (Divine or prophetic inspiration). Tal counseled a young married woman to get a divorce from her husband in order to marry him. Tal claimed he knew through ruach hakodesh that Yifat, his wife, would die shortly. He also claimed to know through ruach hakodesh that he was the reincarnation of King David and she was the reincarnation of Batsheba.
The woman got the divorce but the quite healthy wife didn’t die on the predicted date. Tal now tried to get his wife, Yifat, to agree to him taking this woman as a second wife but she refused this polygamous offer. So Tal ignored the woman.
Realizing she had been taken, she remarried her husband. They both sued R. Tal for damages and got a hefty award (500,000 Shekels/$140,000) and Tal made a first partial payment toward the total. Based on that settlement, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu ruled that Tal had repented and could continue leading his yeshiva and other institutions. This all happened about 4 years ago and the public was left in the dark about this shady, manipulative, cultic, marriage-wrecking rabbi. (See Times of Israel for many more details).
It also turns out that Shmuel Tal saw himself more like King Solomon than David in his pursuit of multiple wives. According to the Times of Israel:
A former student of Tal’s by the name of Joe Axelrod posted on Facebook that the Torat HaChaim rabbi had tried to convince his wife — using the “holy spirit” — to divorce him in order for them to marry and have a child together who would go on to become the messiah.
There are allegations that Tal tried variations of this ploy on several other women.
Besides being a manipulative sleaze, Tal is also a deadbeat. Tal made an initial payment and then stopped. That played a role in R. Eliyahu going public in May (5/29/19) about the scandal and calling on Tal to resign all his rabbinical positions.
But cultist manipulators like Tal don’t surrender just because they have been exposed. They attack, defend, and rally their troops. So as the issue was to be arbitrated by a beit din, according to Kipa (6/11/19), Tal dismissed his Rosh Kollel, a Rabbi Cohen, who also called on Tal to resign and was, it seemed testifying, or going to testify, to outside rabbonim. This firing of course scared the heck out of others in the small community which Tal dominates.
Rabbi Asher Weiss was brought in to arbitrate. Rabbi Weiss is a highly respected posek in both the Haredi and religious Zionist camps. Weiss started out by ruling that pending a final ruling Tal could continue in his positions since the complaints never involved allegations of physical contact with the woman and Tal was great scholar whose yeshiva promulgated and disseminated torah through its students.
However, Weiss was soon forced to recuse himself from the case because he had previously been honored by Tal’s yeshiva to give guest lectures and had personally praised Tal.
So Weiss did the old hat trick of recusing himself but retaining control. He assigned the case to three rabbonim operating under the auspices of his beit din organization. The three were Rabbis Michel Bleicher, Tzvi Gartner (of the Meisels Beit Din travesty), and Ovadiah Yosef Toledano. They issued a ruling under the “נשיאות” (leadership/authority) of Rabbi Asher Weiss.
The gist of the ruling summarized on the Arutz Sheva newsite was that Rabbi Tal could continue to serve as Rosh Yeshiva of Torat Hayyim, but he would not be able to provide counseling on “family matters.” He was also admonished not to base halachic rulings on ruach hakodesh but there was no challenging his claim of ruach hakodesh except in the context of his dealings with this woman.
Rabbi Tal, according to Arutz Sheva regarded the ruling as a total vindication against slander, reached in spite of pressure by honest rabbis. There was singing and dancing in his community and not a hint of regret.
RABBI BLAU CRITICIZES THE RULING
Rabbi Yosef Blau, Mashgiach Ruchani (spiritual advisor) at Yeshiva University’s rabbinical seminary is a long time anti-abuse activist and one familiar with all too many instances of rabbinical misconduct. He finds the ruling of the beit din absurd. In an email to me (7/5/19), which he asked me to post online, he wrote: Continue reading
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
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].