First posted on 2/27/2014. I was the first and primary source of this story on the Internet and it garnered over 30k views.
Rabbi Dovid Weinberger was fired by his shul in the Lawrence, NY, Shaaray Tefila, before Rosh Hashanah. They claimed he was on medical leave** but announced a search for a new rabbi shortly afterward.
Weinberger went off to Israel searching for another job but came back about a month ago. He should have been able to find a job because he is married to a granddaughter of the late “Gadol” Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg. That he failed to find a job, suggests both a bad reputation and marital estrangement. If the Scheinberg family wanted to help him, he would have found a job. In those circles, allegations of molesting are no obstacle to rabbinic employment.
Jonathan Rosenblatt, rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, is the great-grandson of Yossele Rosenblatt. I am sitting here listening to Yossele’s magnificent cantorial singing on recordings made a hundred years ago. He had everything, vocal range, control, phrasing, musicality, originality, and above all, soul. His secular contemporary in the opera was the great Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso. According to an often repeated story, Caruso attended one of Rosenblatt’s New York recitals. After hearing Rosenblatt sing Eli, Eli, he went on stage and kissed him. That was an innocent kiss expressing one great artist’s admiration of another.
But other interactions devoid of physical contact can be downright creepy. Most women have had the unpleasant experience of being visually undressed by strangers or having conversational partners talking to their chest instead of their face. Continue reading →
Dovid Zweibel of Agudah and Cardinal Dolan lobbying together
Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah) held its annual convention over the weekend of November 13-16. Executive Vice President Rabbi David Zwiebel delivered a keynote speech in which he bemoaned the way scandals undercut Agudah’s ability to be an “eight-hundred-pound gorilla” with politicians and government agencies.
This was slight progress. He did not scream “Innocent until proven guilty.” Nor did he complain that the media were unfairly focusing on orthodox Jews.
Avrohom Nesanel Zucker
There was a more substantial response in their session, “Surrounded by Scandal.” The topic was assigned to the time slot with the lowest attendance, Friday morning (11/14/14). There were no stars on the panel. All of the panelists discussed chillul hashem (desecration of G-d’s name). Only one speaker talked about necessary changes other than greater awareness and dedication to Torah principles. He too avoided naming the culprits or specifying their acts. Yet, any astute observer could discern his references to scandals involving Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Rabbi Elimelech Meisels and Rabbi Barry Freundel. Instead, in his talk about chilul hashem he devoted almost five minutes to highly specific recommendations. It was a breath of fresh air.
Gedalia Dov Schwartz at Nefesh Chicago Sex Abuse Conference 2011
The Chicago Special Beis Din (CBD rabbinical court) notified the Israeli Beis Din (IBD, this past Thursday (9/4/14), of their conditions for recommending the restoration of accreditation by Touro and HTC Colleges to the seminaries controlled by Meisels. The letter was signed by Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz (RGDS), Av Beis Din (head of the rabbinical court) on behalf of the whole CBD and addressed to the IBD’s attorney, Aaron Twersky (AT). The full text is below the article complete with Exhibit A, an article by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran, Av Beis Din of the IBD.
Conditions for Accreditation Recommendation (Direct quotes unless labelled comment)
(Bolding was added by blogger, Yerachmiel Lopin)
Remedial measures … are necessary in our view to ensure a safe environment for students…
The Beis Din would like to hear additional testimony from certain staff members before finally determining the appropriate remedial measures.
Comment: A number of members of the seminary refused to testify to the CBD. I am guessing these are staff accused of enabling abuse.This demand is an obvious rejection of the IBD/3IRs claim that allegations of enabling were investigated and all existing staff were deemed to have a chezkas kashrus (presumption of being trustworthy). The CBD insists a proper investigation still needs to conducted with and about staff. Continue reading →
David Morris cuts to the heart of the issue in his post Seminaries: Blessing-Dispensers & Diplomats. He summarizes the state of affairs and goes on to astutely dissect the latest statement signed by five prominent American rabbis. Words matter, even the words of those involved in cover-ups. In our best Jewish tradition, Morris captures all the evasive nuances in the latest proclamation. I am copying over his summary of the big picture,but you will have to go to his site for the detailed analysis of the statement.
1. Rabbi Elimelech Meisels is alleged to have had “unwanted touch of a sexual nature” with students at his seminaries.
2. This was investigated by the Chicago Beit Din (CBD) and the charges were substantiated to the Beit Din’s satisfaction.
3. This is not disputed by the ad hoc private Israeli Beit Din (IBD), nor anyone else of standing.
4. Meisels was instructed to depart from the seminaries by the CBD, subsequently reinforced by the IBD.
5. The CBD also investigated and found sufficient basis to allegations that senior members of the staff were informed by victims of the alleged offenses by Meisels, that they had failed to act to protect the girls, and the CBD therefore declared the seminaries themselves, even in Meisels absence, to be still unsafe. There are more bad apples in the cart.
6. This was accepted by Touro and TI who withdrew their accreditation from the seminaries.
7. The IBD, apparently with no knowledge of the nature of the allegations themselves, interviewed some staff members, and then publicly declared the staff to be all wonderful and therefore the seminaries entirely safe in Meisels absence.
8. The IBD effectively closed the emergency exits of the seminaries, by banning other seminaries from seeking out these students, and by seizing and refusing to refund the $8000 deposits. Continue reading →