Whitewashing the Meisels Seminaries and Their Principals

Elimelech Meisels Purim Punk Pninim Rabbi watermarked finDaniel Eidensohn indulged in another selective leak on April Fools Day to claim all is well in the seminaries. This is part of his continuing effort in partnership with Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz to undo the harm to the seminaries’ reputation from the earlier Chicago Special Beis Din (CBD) rulings that Elimelech Meisels sexually assaulted students at seminaries he owned, and worse, that other staff ignored open flirtation, obvious grooming, late night solo excursions with students, and even complaints by parents of sexual assaults.

The Special Beis Din of Chicago (CBD) made a mistake when they agreed to join an enlarged Beis Din (rabbinical court) together with the Israeli Beis Din and added on a seventh dayan (judge), Rabbi Eliyahu Brudny. They did it because the two Haredi rabbis in Chicago (Shmuel Feurst and Zev Cohen) were under pressure from five Agudath Israel of America members of the Moetzes (Council of Torah Sages). Led by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin of Chicago the Moetzes rabbis(Aron Feldman, Yaakov Perlow, Aaron Schechter, and Malkiel Kotler) signed a letter rejecting the conclusions of the CBD instead insisting all was now well at those seminaries.

The enlarged beis din’s majority was guided by a Haredi “sixth Shulchan Aruch” that no scandal can ever be allowed to close up institutions that provides jobs to people from choshuv (important) families. Under this perversion of commonsense and halacha (Jewish law), the reputations and jobs of important families overrode the safety and well-being of students. The CBD was willing to have the seminaries fail unless they completely removed Meisel’s influence, fired Mrs. Ullman, and demoted or censured other staff. They got Touro College (and its subsidiary, Hebrew Theological College) to suspend accreditation until those goals were realized. But then they acquiesced to joining an enlarged (aka joint) beis din.

Saving the seminaries was hard because Meisels was not willing to surrender his ongoing financial interest unless he could get enough money. He could not get enough money unless the seminaries could credibly recruit students. That is hard if you admit all the seminary administrators were abuse enablers. Hence the need to whitewash. This led to the tortured joint psak which acknowledged some problems including abuse and staff shortcomings requiring remedial measures while denying the full extent of the staff enabling.

A while back, Daniel Eidensohn released a text of the psak (minus explanation notes and two dissents) in Hebrew and offered an overly-cheery summary which ignored the criticisms of some staff. I translated the psak and pointed out numerous problems including the fact that seminaries were still not out of Meisels’ control and staff were reprimanded and had their authority reduced, especially Hindy Ullman.

Agudath Israel Lay President Gedaliah Weinberger hosting NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner after sexting scandal (Aug. 2013)

Agudath Israel Lay President Gedaliah Weinberger hosting NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner after sexting scandal (aka Carlos Danger) (Aug. 2013)

Now we are again assured by Eidensohn that the seminaries are sold to Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger “a prominent member of Agudas Yisroel.” For the record, he is “prominent” because he is wealthy, not because he has any educational credentials. He was Chair of Agudah’s lay board until 2013. He did Agudah’s dirty work of maintaining connections with mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner after an ugly sexting scandal, because Jews owed him “hakkaros hatov” (gratitude) and “the other candidates are not much better then him in terms of behaviors.” He sounds like is the perfect man to replace Elimelech Meisels. Continue reading

The Munkatcher Rebbe Goes to Bat for Charity Thief Willie Rapfogel

Munkatcher Rebbe and Charles Joe Hynes Text: When a Jew is arrested, to whom do you go? On left: With Jewish leaders who act on behalf of the Jewish community. On Right: He helped us, he helps us, and he will help us some more Vote for Charles Hynes for District Attorney, strong-fair, 6 Tishrei, Tuesday Sept. 10

Munkatcher Rebbe and Charles Joe Hynes
Text: When a Jew is arrested, to whom do you go?
On left: With Jewish leaders who act on behalf of the Jewish community.
On Right: He helped us, he helps us, and he will help us some more
Vote for Charles Hynes for District Attorney, strong-fair, 6 Tishrei, Tuesday Sept. 10

The Munkatcher Rebbe (Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Rabinowitz) is the anti-mesirah (snitching) apostle of Boro Park. Where others are content to counsel this practice in private, he goes public thundering about those who commit mesirah and have the chutzpah to think it is a mitzvah (good deed). He declared that this is one of the major problems facing Jews in America. A week after that sermon he declared that G-d would take revenge on snitches and they would come to no good end.

You know the Rebbe is up to no good when he writes “I make clear my commitment and the obligation of all to respect the laws of this country.”

The occasion for this letter was a plea for mercy on William (Willie) Rapfogel who participated in a scheme which stole nine million dollars while being paid over $410,000 a year to lead the Metropolitan New York Council on Jewish Poverty. A rabbi is supposed to be gravely offended by those who steal charity dollars which belong to the poor.

But the Rebbe, who is thick as thieves with other beneficiaries of Met Council grants, cares more about the money they got than the theft. So he wrote all about Willie’s good deeds (as if he was working for free). But the really elegant part of the letter was the closer. Continue reading

Deciphering the Latest Joint Rabbinical Court Ruling on the Meisels Seminaries Scandal

Elimelech Meisels speaking poster brooklyn Jan 11 2014 cropped andwatermarked and captionedThe enlarged joint beis din issued a ruling on the Meisels seminaries which was posted on the Daas Torah blog on 3/11/15 with the misleading title, “Joint Beis Din – Israeli and Chicago – issues psak regarding former Meisels seminaries that all is well and that no one needed to be fired!

I ask my readers to forgive me for taking six days to respond. But a travesty of this magnitude deserves a full fledged report and rejoinder, not just a nasty swipe.

Further below is a full translation of the entire document posted on Daas Torah. But, first some observations and cautions.

Eidensohn’s claims notwithstanding, the ruling criticizes some staff and did some fancy footwork to exonerate others. Mrs. Hindy Ullman was a tough one to exonerate because the Beis Din received evidence she was directly told of an abused student and she dismissed it out of hand characterizing the student as not credible.

Hindy Ullman

Hindy Ullman

Ullman also offered up the absurd defense that she, the employee, forced Meisels to leave the seminaries. The Beis Din wrote:

It is clear that once it became known, the administration acted quickly, with determination, and with great efficiency to investigate what occurred. This led to the removal of the offender/abuser from the physical environment (by immediately sending him abroad) and from continuing in the field of education).

We are led to believe that the employee, Mrs. Ullman, had this much power over her boss, Meisels.

Ullman was stripped by the Beis Din of some of her roles and put under supervision for a year and half. It is possible that the intent is to have her resign while not declaring that she was fired. Continue reading

Is Mike Vecchione’s Career Finally Tanking over the Kellner Case?

Charles Hynes photo by Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2012

Charles Hynes photo by Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 2012

The 24-year-reign of Brooklyn DA Charles (Joe) Hynes’ Ancien Régime is developing new cracks that will widen, even if he wins reelection tomorrow in the closely contested race with candidate Kenneth Thompson. Right now there are deep divisions in the Office of the Kings County District Attorney (KCDA) about the continued prosecution of Samuel Kellner on charges of attempting to extort the family of Baruch Mordechai Lebovits in return for determining whether witnesses would be brought forward alleging he molested them. Kellner’s attorneys argue persuasively that the case is contrived to void the Lebovits conviction and protect him from further prosecution. DA Joe Hynes recently claimed that the KCDA was ready to proceed to prosecution. However, Joe’s minions kept stalling the day of reckoning. Otherwise respected ADA Joe Alexis even resorted to an ex-parte communication with a judge in violation of normal practice. He did it to further delay a DA response to a defense motion until after the election, according to Kellner’s attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui. Continue reading

A Career Newsletter for Becoming a Gadol (Satire)

I am reposting this satirical
item from my archives of previous years

B’Derech HaGadolim, is a new trade newsletter for ambitious rabbis. Subscriptions are by invitation only.

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