Demonstrate Against Agudah’s Protection of Child Molesters this Sunday at 3pm

I urge all my readers to become part of this demonstration in front of the Midwood home of the Exec VP of Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah), Dovid Zweibel.

Agudah discourages reporting of child molesters by misrepresenting halacha to claim one must consult with a rabbi. Most Agudah rabbis then either rule against reporting or discourage it for non-halachic reasons

Agudah, together with the Catholic Church, has blocked New York State legislation to strengthen prosecution of molesters as criminals and to force them and their protectors to pay for the damage they cause. For the 9th year in a row, they have blocked attempts to reform the NYS  Statute of Limitations. Why? Because they want to avoid embarrassment and avoid paying for the damage caused by tolerating and covering up for molesters.

Agudah just does not care that much about the horrors inflicted on our children. Oh, they shrei gevalt that it is terrible. But not terrible enough to act. At the end of the day they care more about the finances of mosdos than about children. Incredibly they are not even ashamed to admit as much. The Novominsker Rebbe, openly said that changing the laws will destroy mosdos torah.

This won’t change till they are shamed into changing. Survivors and activists have spent many hours trying inside persuasion. Es toigt gornisht.

If you want safety for children in the orthodox world, join the demonstration.

Where: 1146 east 9th St (between K & L), Brooklyn, NY 11230

When: Sunday June 25, 3pm

Please contribute to the costs of posters and publicity for this and similar future protests. Direct donations through PAYPAL. At present, Zaakah, the organization that did so much on the Weberman case is not an IRS certified 501c3 charity so this contribution will not qualify for a tax deduction.

I know all parties involved in handling the funds and I am confident the funds will be handled with integrity and exclusively used for work to fight child sex abuse. Right now the costs are being met out of pocket by an individual of modest means, who volunteers a lot of time.  I have already contributed and a very few others have committed. But let’s spread the load.

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Join the Protest Against Agudath Israel’s Protection of Child Sex Abusers on Sun. 6/25 @ 3 p.m. in Midwood, Brooklyn.

This event, which I heartily endorse, was announced on the Hareini blog of frum anti-abuse activist, Asher Lovy. It is sponsored by Zaakah, the group that organized the protest against the pidyon shvuyim fund raiser for now-convicted child rapist, Rabbi Nechemya Weberman.

Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah) continues to deter reporting orthodox sex abusers by misrepresenting the halacha and claiming one must always consult with a rabbi before reporting child sex abuse to the police. In an unholy alliance with the Catholic Church they lobby state governments to make it hard to prosecute and sue abusers. In his post, Protest Agudah’s Abuse Enabling and Opposition to SOL Reform,” Asher lays out the case against Agudah.

Novominsker Rebbe

Novominsker Rebbe – Yaakov Perlow

I have often written about Agudah’s disgusting culpability in protecting those who desecrate our children with its horrendous effects on child victims, and adult survivors. In fact, I stumbled into blogging because I was angry enough to write a trenchant satire of an imaginary Agudah speech on abuse (Moetzes Gedolim Speak About Znus Affecting Children) This was back in 2009. Since then they have actually openly spoken about abuse. While their speeches have not been as funny, they have been as evasive and destructive. See for example the most recent speeches by the head of their moetzes (Council of Torah Sages), the Novominsker Rebbe, Yaakov Perlow.

This must stop. But it will only happen when enough frum Jews let Agudah know they want the change. Save the date, help share the message, and take the time to attend this protest in Brooklyn.

Be there at 3 PM on June 25th, at 1146 East 9th street in Midwood, Brooklyn, 11230

Below is the full text of the original announcement of the protest:


Author’s Note: Here is a link to the protest event, which will be taking place at 3 PM on June 25th, at 1146 east 9th street in Midwood, Brooklyn: https://www.facebook.com/events/1861272087529969

Agudath Israel, headed by Chaim David Zweibel, as been opposing and lobbyig against the Child Victims Act, which would protect children from sexual abusers by eliminating the Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse. Currently, according to the New York Statute of Limitations laws, child sexual abuse survivors can’t prosecute or sue their abusers in court once they’re older than age 23.

According to many studies, it takes, on average, between 10 and 30 years for victims to even come forward about being abused sexually. Agudath Israel, the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, and Chaim David Zweibel know this, and yet they continue to oppose legislation which would eliminate the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and open a 1 year retroactive window for old cases, thus allowing survivors of child sexual abuse to get justice from their abusers and the institutions that protect them.

Furthermore, it is the official policy of Agudath Israel of America, The Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, and Chaim David Zweibel, to forbid victims of child sexual abuse and the parents of victims of child sexual abuse to go immediately to authorities to report child sexual abuse. They require that victims and their families first consult a rabbi who can choose whether or not he wants to give them dispensation to go to the authorities.

This law is not just grossly illegal, but it also ensures that coverups continue unchecked in the Charedi community that constitutes Agudah’s base. Thousands of children are put at risk, and scores of abusers are protected, by this policy. Abuse is routinely covered up, and abusers are routinely protected by this policy as a matter of course.

That’s why ZAAKAH will be protesting outside of the house of Chaim David Zweibel, 1146 east 9th street Brooklyn, NY 11230, at 3 PM on June 25th, to send a message to him, and the other members of Agudath Israel of America, that they don’t get to escape the damage they’re causing by supporting these harmful and illegal policies. Their policies continue to make homes and communities unsafe for victims of child sexual abuse, so we’re bringing the issue to their homes and communities, and confronting them there where they can’t avoid it.

The only way we will ever truly end child sexual abuse in the charedi community is by making Agudath Israel of America, headed by the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, and Chaim David Zweibel, change this harmful, illegal policy, and support legislation that will end the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and give existing victims the window they need to get restitution for their suffering from the people and institutions that abused them.

For more information, please contact Asher Lovy at Asher@Hareiani.com.

Agudath Israel Has a Twitter Account and I Am Blocked

Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah) has a Twitter account,  @AgudahNews. But it seems that they don’t want me to follow their account. They have blocked me. I am forming an honor roll of others they have blocked. If you too are blocked, please note that in a comment.

I wonder if they also encourage their followers to buy up blogs like Failed Messiah, hack blogs like Lost Messiah or otherwise interfere with the operation of blogs. Why don’t some of you who consult with their daas torah check that out and report back their opinions.

It is a sad statement about their insecurity that they feel a need to block information which I will in any event get. It is an even sadder statement about their failure to comprehend how the Internet is indeed an open medium which is not as controllable as their captive print media. Continue reading

Agudath Israel Head Opposes SOL Reform or Going Straight to Police about CSA While Complaining that Bloggers Lie about Haredi Rabbis

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the latest pronouncements about child sex abuse by Agudath Israel of America’s lead figure, the Novominsker Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, on Sunday, May 26th at the Annual Convention of Torah Umesorah, the national umbrella organization for ultra orthodox Jewish schools. Below is a full transcript of the videotaped talk with translations in parentheses and my annotations below each section.

One of the problems that we are facing, more today, that we weren’t aware of, and it has to be mentioned, for a number of reasons, is the abuse of young people, b’oifen gufni (physical abuse) and molestation, al d’avoinoseinu harabim (which because of our many sins), have gotten into our tzibur (community).

Rabbi Yaakov Perlow (RYP) is dishonest in claiming they were not aware if the problem for decades. In fact he participated in the cover-up of the sex abuse of Yehuda Kolko among many other cases where molesting teachers were allowed to keep their jobs.

It is convenient for him to claim the problems have “gotten into our community” as if the problem wasn’t festering inside.

And the litzonei hador (mockers of this generation) feel that we don’t care about it. The bloggers feel that the Haredi world dismisses the problem and a. they are not sufficiently sympathetic to the victims and b. they don’t do, they don’t care; they are interested in protecting the perpetrators.

There is an interesting verbal stumble when he starts by saying the “The bloggers feel that the Haredi world… don’t do, they don’t care.” He got it right the first time; we accuse them of not doing. Caring is not enough.

I think they care, but not enough to threaten insiders, not enough to allow scandals to go public, not enough to pay proper compensation that victims need for healing and recovery, not enough to sack the officials who enabled abuse all these years. I am not sure why he thinks emoting is a substitute for action. Continue reading

Frum Follies Back Online

computer problems serverStarting yesterday(5/31/16) around noon, my readers could not access this blog. The techies at WordPress restored server performance in the last hour (~4 p.m., EST). I await word from them of the source of the problem. But my account was not hacked and contents were not endangered. I was able to see all the content through the back-end. Continue reading

Who Are You Going to Believe About Mrs. Ullman?

When I was in mesivta (high school) several of us loved reciting this nonsense verse:

One bright day in the middle of the night
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each Hindy Ullman
Took out their knives and shot each other.
One deaf policeman heard the noise…

Being clever yeshiva boys we went to work resolving the inconsistencies. It could be bright during midnight at the North Pole during the longest day in the summer. The dead can get up if resurrected. If resurrected with their heads in the wrong direction, they can face each other, back to back. Guns disguised as knives can shoot. The deaf can “hear” shootings by feeling the vibrations.

But we knew it was a game and the poem was truly full of contradictions. That’s what made it funny. A rabbinic court ruling (psak), laced with contradictions is no laughing matter. Yet that is what we have.

The joint Beis Din ruling on Mrs. Hindy Ullman, principal of the Binas Beis Yaakov Seminary addressed her culpability in Meisels sexual abuse of students. It states:

We are talking about incidents that… occurred 5772 [2011-2012] (the year Binas Beis Yaakov opened) and on… We are talking about a handful of incidents each year

After going through the material before us, it is difficult to shake the feeling that there were red flags and troubling signs, and the administration should have known and sensed what was going on under its own nose… It is difficult to establish that with certainty, and even if you say it is true, how can we know and decide if it was at the level of negligence or near negligence or less than that – but to leave it at nothing is impossible.

Therefore it seems that we must make do with the continuation of the arrangements that were agreed upon by the administration in Kislev of this year. According to [these arrangements], some of the positions and responsibility will be transferred temporarily to another party. As well, supervision and guidance by Mrs. Birnbaum will be increased. These arrangements will be in effect until the start of the school year of 5777 [Fall 2016]. [bolding in the original]

The judges acknowledge multiple episodes of abuse complete with “red flags and troubling signs” that Mrs. Ullman “should have known and sensed” was “going on under” her “own nose.” Yet they dispute that this was negligence. Well actually they kvetch, “how can we know and decide.” I thought deciding was their job.

In the end, they settle on a vague set of sanctions with two parts to last until fall, 2016. Some of Ullman’s “positions and responsibility will be transferred… to another party” and “supervision and guidance by Mrs. Birnbaum will be increased.”

I don’t know about you. I could not certify the safety of a school whose administrator has to be on probation because they were either too stupid or too indifferent to discern, detect and stop multiple episodes of sexual abuse of students by staff. Yet that is what they did when the released the first part of this ruling in December when they wrote, “There is no danger or problem in sending students to study in these seminaries.”

The members of the Chicago Beis Din believe she is under tight control and will eventually be forced out. But is that true? Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn posted a letter on his Daas Torah blog from a mother of student now attending Ullman’s seminary, Binas. She writes:

I periodically ask my daughter if anything has come up this year and she says no.  I ask if Mrs. Ullman is in charge and she says yes.  What that tells me is that if there was a “punishment” it is sure not one that anyone sees and thus would not be effective as such.”

We have students and parents who cannot discern any transfer of Mrs. Ullman’s positions and responsibility.

So who are you going to believe, a Beis Din that promised some sanctions against Mrs. Ullman or parents and students who are convinced that Ullman is faultless and retains full authority?

Agudah Is Recycling Old Rhetoric about Combating Fraud

Periodically, Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah) makes a show of concern about scandals and chilul hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) but then nothing changes. When it comes to financial scandals, denial sets in for big givers. After all, how can a baal tzedakah (big charity giver) be a gonif (crook). Nobody even acknowledges they were probably donating stolen money.

Spinka Rebbe - Naftali Tzi Weisz

Spinka Rebbe – Naftali Tzi Weisz

Their last big show in 2009 coincided with the conviction of the Spinka Rebbe (Naftali Tzi Weisz) for money laundering. In a spectacular display for the outside world there was a Haredi-sponsored event complete with an American flag on the podium.

However, it is common knowledge that many Haredi institutions exploit their tax status as religious organizations to launder money. As religious organizations they are exempt from having to report their income and expenditures on IRS 990 forms. So the government has no easy way of discerning irregularities. Some not-for-profits (NFPs) voluntarily provide that information to the IRS (and thus to the public). It is the gold standard for transparency and accountability. But nobody in the Haredi world exerts any pressure to do that because money laundering is woven into the texture of Haredi life. Before anyone starts howling, let me be clear, I absolutely know that there some Haredim who will not do it either as a matter of conscience or good judgment. However, hardly anyone will publicly pressure other organizations to become more transparent.

Consider for example an old case of the Rabbi (sic) Mahir Reiss and others who were convicted of laundering millions of dollars for Colombian drug dealers. In return, they got to keep 15-18% as money laundering fees. The vehicles they used included the Bobov Yeshiva Eitz Chaim.

The five years following the Spinka scandal should have given the Agudah plenty of time to make serious progress in combating lawlessness. Yet the latest convention made it sound like they were just now discovering the problem and beginning to address it.

Novominsker Rebber Rosh Moetzes

Novominsker Rebbe – Yaakov Perlow

Fifteen years ago there were also promises to confront the problem while in fact, the Novominsker Rebbe (Yaakov Perlow), the Agudah’s Rosh Moetzes (Head of the Council of Torah Sages).

That scandal involved a group of Haredim using Haredi NFPs to launder millions of dollar for Colombian drug dealers. One of the convicted defendants was Mahir Reiss. According to Jewish Week’s reporting of the sentencing:

Mahir Reiss’ attorney, Nathan Lewin, paraded witnesses onto the stand to testify about his client’s charitable and financial support of the Orthodox community in New York and Israel……

Perhaps the most stunning testimony came from Rabbi Perlow, also known as the Novominsker rebbe, who is a member of the influential seven-member Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America, the ultra-Orthodox advocacy group. Rabbi Perlow revealed that he was sitting shiva or in mourning — his wife had died several days ago — but he left his house because of the importance of pleading for leniency in Mahir Reiss’s case. Continue reading