Rabbi Pinchos Stolper, the founder and first director of the Orthodox Union’s (OU) youth division, NCSY, died earlier this week. There has been all sorts of praise of his deeds with nary a hint that he enabled the molesting of hundreds of teen girls who trusted NCSY. Stolper, was repeatedly told about Rabbi Boruch Lanner’s molesting by victims, parents, and other NCSY staff. He made believe that these allegations were not true. After Stolper retired, the lid was finally blown by Gary Rosenblatt’s articles in the New York Jewish Week. A few years later Lanner was finally tried and convicted of child molesting and sent to jail. Eventually the OU conducted an extensive investigation confirming the allegations. Yet Stolper continued to be treated respectfully in his retirement and they even have an annual award in his name.
It sticks in the craw of every survivor, especially anyone whose complaints were invalidated by Stolper, to see him being praised. I am tired of the arguments about the good outweighing the “lapses.” There is a special evil in these sorts of lapses. It is a moral calculation that imagines one’s work is so important that it should not be inconvenienced by the problems affecting individual kids. They are discarded as roadkill on the way to the kiruv mission. This is moral bankruptcy.
The National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) of the Orthodox Union (OU) has a detailed Standards Manual for Conduct, Policy, and Behavioral Standards first put online in 2008 and most recently revised on 9/10/2016. Continue reading
The OU claims they notified Beth Tfiloh about their decision to terminate Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky as the leader of their Yachad Program because of suspicions of child sexual abuse. Beth Tfiloh denies it. The OU should publicly support their claim by providing phone or email records demonstrating the relevant contact.
But there is something more they owe the public: an explanation of how he came to be hired in the first place. A check with Maryland’s protective services would have shown there were allegations of abuse. Continue reading
Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President of the OU 2009-2014
The Rabbinical Council of America and Yeshiva University were critical of Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt’s practice of mentoring boys and young men in extended mutually nude interactions in showers and saunas. However, the Orthodox Union (OU) used Rosenblatt for rabbinic mentoring events starting in 2009 and 2010. These events ran through 2013 but it is not clear if he was used for all of the remaining events, though the OU did not claim otherwise when I inquired.
According to a 2010 email by OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil,
In Toronto I attended a three-day conference for over 30 rabbis from large, medium and small shuls across North America. This is part of a regular series of gatherings organized by the OU, which occur on-site in numerous locations; last year, the rabbis met in Chicago, while next year’s conclave is planned IY”H for Kansas City.
Many of the rabbis who participate in this group are relatively new to the pulpit (within the past decade, but most newer). They are mentored by more experienced rabbis, foremost among them Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center. This event was held at Shaarei Shomayim, following which, I was privileged to remain behind in order to serve as Shabbat scholar-in-residence. (emphasis added).
Imagine a letter written on behalf of a rapist we will call Hershel Shvantz.
To the Honorable Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman,
I am writing you about Rabbi Hershel Shvantz who pleaded guilty to raping my daughter 3,000,000 times. I have known him for years and have seen nothing but good in his work on behalf of children in our community. Whenever I called him for help, he responded. I was shocked to learn he raped my daughter. That is not the Hershel I know. He admits he made some mistakes. But I believe you should also consider all the good he has done. Please be lenient in proposing his sentence. He has the potential to do a lot of good in the future.
Rabbi Keiyn Rachmonis
Alright, I realize some of you can’t buy the idea of someone raping three million times. But bear with me. Many orthodox Jewish leaders wrote letters to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requesting leniency for William Rapfogel. He was a man with a $410,000 annual salary for running Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (aka Met Council) who stole over $3,000,000 from Met Council. This same clique raised over $3,000,000 so he could pay back the stolen money, thereby reducing his prison time without giving up his apartment or second home.
All the letters can be seen here. But let me save you the trouble and summarize their main points. Continue reading