Yair Hoffman’s Absurd Defense of Lipa Margulies

I call the recently deceased Rabbi Lipa Margulies a Rasha because he knowingly kept on child molesting Rabbi Yehuda Kolko as a teacher at his Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Flatbush (see here and here)

Rabbi Yair Hoffman wrote an obituary for Margulies in Vos Iz Neias, the NY based Haredi news website: “HaGaon HaRav Chananya Yom Tov Lipa Margulies ob”m Passes Away.”

It includes this gem: “Not everything, however, was perfect or ideal.  The Avos themselves had, at times, made what appear to be miscalculations that could have chas v’shalom jeopardized the future continuity of Klal Yisroel.  Avrohom Avinu had to be told to listen to the wise advice of Sara Imeinu in ensuring that Yishmael not be kept around Yitzchok Avinu… Sometimes, other Gedolim perceive the true depth of such dangers – whereas others do not.  Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l had argued with Rabbi Margulis on such a matter.” 

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A Rasha Was Buried Today in the Satmar Cemetery

Rabbi Lipa (Leopold) Margulies died and Yeshiva World News ran the headline: “Petira of HaRav Chanaya Yom Tov Lipa Margulies ZT”L” 

Normally, like any decent Jew I don’t believe in saying bad things about a niftar on the day of his levaya and kevurah. After all, even a man hanged by beis din is not left out unburied. But nowhere does it say that we call that man a tzadik. If we start calling criminals tzadikim, the kovod of real tzadikim is cheapened. 

Some will say, but wasn’t he a marbitz torah? Didn’t his Yeshiva Torah Temimah provide a fine chinuch for many children from Flatbush and beyond. And yes, for some it did. But for others it was a torture chamber. The torturer was Rabbi Yehuda Kolko and the chamber master who allowed it was Lipa Margulies.

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Schools Should Stop Laying Responsibility on Kids for Preventing and Reporting Abuse. And They should Tell the Truth about It

This is how to message parents in the aftermath of Walder’s exposure. Notice how they don’t place the burden on kids to prevent abuse. It was written by a UK school in consultation with drawing on posted advisories by Migdal Emunah, the UK advocacy group and service group for victims of abuse and their families.

We Shouldn’t Bury the Cover Up Scandal Just Because Walder Is Dead and Denounced

We know of over 20 survivors of Walder’s decades-long rampage of rape. With all the secrecy that surrounds abuse, that means there are probably hundreds of victims. There is no way it could have gone on for so long with so many victims without many others helping to suppress the truth. Even allowing for those survivors who never told anyone else, there will have been plenty of others who went to rabbonim, dayanim, therapists, relatives, and friends. The reporters at Haaretz were not the first to discover this scandal. They were just the first to publicly expose it. Calling Walder a rasha and removing his books does nothing to solve the problem of the cover up. 

About twenty years ago the Orhthodox Union (OU) was also hit with a newspaper (The NY Jewish Week) revealing serial sex abuse by Rabbi Boruch Lanner a leader in their NCSY youth movement. They responded by commissioning an outside investigation. They then released enough of the report to confirm that Lanner abused many children and that many complaints by victims were ignored by the leadership of NCSY. Some heads rolled. Not enough was revealed and not enough heads rolled. But still, this was a dramatic step forward for a frum organization. Nothing resembling this in the slightest is happening in the Haredi world. 

As sure as the sun rises in the east, we can all be sure that all the brouhaha and denunciations of Walder as a rasha will not cost anyone their position for covering up his abuse, though some may pay a price for inept PR execution.  And that means leaders can go on covering up with impunity. The only change is that they now know that if Haaretz catches wind of a scandal they have to make the offender walk the plank while the enablers can cruise on happily to yet another cover up. 

Evaluating the RCA Livecast Q&A on Child Sex Abuse in Response to the Walder Scandal

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) should be commended for convening the panel “Jewish Community in Crisis: Responding to the Walder Abuse Case.” It happened Monday evening (1/3/22) As the organization with the most orthodox rabbis in America this was an opportunity to educate their members and the laity of their congregations. 

The leaders of the organization, President Benyamin Blau and Exec VP Rabbi Mark Dratch are well  informed about the issue of sex abuse. Before becoming EVP, R. Dratch formed an organization, JSafe, which offered consultation to organizations on the issue. His website was a font of useful material informed by state of the art knowledge from criminology, education, psychology and an extensive review of the rabbinic literature. It laid to rest the many absurd claims that halachah prevents using the police and courts to deal with abusers or that the prohibition on loshon horah precludes talking about abusers. I am sorry he has taken that site down. It had a depth of detail that has not since been duplicated elsewhere, at least not altogether in one site. Rabbi Binyamin Blau (not to be confused with his father, Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani at Yeshiva University) is also someone with a good personal track record on dealing with issues of abuse.

But the fly in the ointment was their invited guest, Dr. Norman Blumenthal, a psychologist who directs Trauma, Bereavement and Crisis Intervention at OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services. Ohel has a long sordid history of abuse in its facilities and kowtowing to its largely haredi constituency and funders with their retrograde positions on abuse. They are quite rightly the defendant in multiple lawsuits about child sex abuse and their negligent conduct. . 

Rabbis Blau and Dratch asked the right questions and offered the right answers. But Blumenthal, oiy! Among his many bad takes there are the following

  • Focusing on kids being the ones who could prevent abuse rather than focusing on the larger context of communal policy.
  • Discussing steps to take in response to the Walder scandal without even thinking to mention removing his books (Something with R. Dratch had to fill in).
  • Focusing on molesting as being sexual in the mind of a child rather than assault. Again, R. Dratch had to make the point.
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