Don’t Talk to the so-called Independent Investigators about Abuse at JOFA or the Detroit Federation

In the aftermath of the scandal of abuse/harassment of two previous executive directors by the sometime president, Bat Sheva Marcus, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) announced an “external review” by the  Cozen O’Connor law firm.

While it has not been publicized, the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit (JFMD), in response to complaints about misconduct by their Endowment Division’s Director of Philanthropy, Hy (Chaim Isaac) Safran, has authorized the prestigious Michigan law firm, Miller Canfield to speak to those with complaints about Hy. Complainants were directed to MC “Principal” Jennifer L. Sabourin according to a since-deleted April 2022 Instagram post by Brittani Schwartz. Others have confirmed to me reaching out to Ms Sabourin but quickly ending the initiative because they suspected the arrangement was designed to protect the federation, not the alleged victims.

In both cases I would advise against speaking to these firms. Their loyalty and their obligations are to protect the interests of their clients including minimizing their exposure to lawsuits for damages of all sorts. I am not saying that the firms will lie or be dishonest. But their sharing of findings will be asymmetric. Their clients will know all. The public will only know what the firms and their clients choose to put out there. 

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Why won’t JOFA give up on NDA’s? (updated-4/10/22)

See update note at bottom

Until today, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) of north America* was a member of the SRE Network (Safety, Respect and Equity). SRE was created in response to the #MeToo movement to promote collaboration and funding for fighting sex abuse and harassment in the North American Jewish world by bringing concerned organizations together to create common standards and collaborate in other ways including access to funding. 

Yesterday, JOFA was on the SRE website as an affiliate. With no explanation, they are not on the listing today. Hmm!

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Steven Pruzansky’s Letter on Behalf of Child Molester, Evan Zauder

Evan served as our Youth Director with great distinction. He was beloved by our children and parents alike……

I cannot help believe that the charges herein reflect aberrational conduct on Evan’s part…..

Having worked together with Evan for two years, seeing his sensitivity, thoughtfulness and acts of kindness first hand, and knowing of his good character that render the charges herein atypical of his true nature, I would respectfully urge the Court to… sentence Evan to [the] statutory minimum.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Above are some excerpts from a letter written by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky to help a convicted child molester, Evan Zauder. But first some context.

Steven Pruzansky is the rabbi of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, an 800-member, modern orthodox synagogue in Teaneck, New Jersey. In two successive postings on his blog (here and here) he derided the claim that there is a serious problem of rape on college campuses. Instead, he insists it is a byproduct of a promiscuous culture where women who are disappointed with their relationships proceed to contrive rape charges.

In a long essay decrying the claim that there is a “rape culture” which rationalizes rape, he has very few words for decrying rape. But just to seem like he is on side of angels he does write, “Certainly, one is too many, but few of these claims involve the old-fashioned and execrable assault by a stranger in some dark alley.” Continue reading