The Baruch Lanner Expose Is the Grandaddy of Exposes of Orthodox Sex Abuse

Gary Rosenblatt

Gary Rosenblatt

June 23rd will be the fifteenth anniversary of Gary Rosenblatt’s Jewish Week expose, Stolen Innocence. It was the first major journalistic treatment of an orthodox rabbi, Baruch Lanner who used his role working for the Orthodox Union’s (OU) National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) to brutalize and sexually exploit teen girls.

More important, the article copiously documented the OU’s failure to respond to numerous complaints about his misconduct. It is a must read for anyone interested in how bad cover ups can be and how much leaders can be complicit in the sexual abuse of an individual. Take the time to read it here.


Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence Selects New Rabbi to Replace Disgraced Dovid Weinberger

Rabbi Dovid Weinberger

Rabbi Dovid Weinberger

Last night (5/30/15) the members of Congregation Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence, NY approved the appointment of Uri Orlian as their rabbi. His appointment was approved by 84% of those voting at their Saturday night membership meeting. This ends a year and a half vacancy that started with a forced sabbatical of their previous rabbi, Dovid Weinberger. He was forced to resign following allegations of extensive sexual exploitation of women.

I have extensively documented the history of this case on Frum Follies  starting with the post, Whither Goes Rabbi Dovid Weinberger? and including an image of his signed agreement to leave all aspects of work as a rabbi or educator. Continue reading

Freundel Still Isn’t Apologizing to His Victims

On Friday (5/15/15), Rabbi Bernard (Barry) Freundel will be sentenced for video recording 52 women while naked at a mikvah. The government is asking for a sentence of 4 months for each count for a total of 17 years in jail. This is one-third of the maximum sentence. The government sentencing memo eloquently captures the betrayal of trust and the emotional harm because mikvah is such a sensitive moment for converts and married   orthodox women. It is a moment of sacredness and vulnerability. To be seen naked by one’s own rabbi, the government memo points out, is especially painful to orthodox women who adhere to a modesty code. It is way worse than being surreptitiously recorded in a gym locker room by a stranger.

Barry Freundel running photographers scrumOne of his victims is a woman who confided in Rabbi Freundel about being sexually abused. He counseled her to use the mikvah for healing purposes. Now she feels re-traumatized.

The government’s memo is well worth reading in its entirety.

Freundel’s memo, in contrast is pathetically self pitying. Of course he admits his guilt. But he has a funny way of understanding the gravity of his crimes. His memo dwells on his disgrace with nary a word about the impact of his crimes on his victims. The memo states:

Rabbi Freundel readily admits he has committed a serious crime [and] recognizes and regrets the negative impact his actions have had within the community. His conduct has brought shame upon Judaism, the synagogue he once served, his family, and himself. He has been publicly humiliated, forced to leave his office as a rabbi, and is now a convicted man. His fall, all of his own doing, has been very public and painful for the Jewish community, his family and of course, himself. Continue reading

More Security Theatre by Agudath Israel

David Zweibel of Agudah and Cardinal Dolan "Our rabbis are as bad as your priests"

David Zweibel of Agudah and Cardinal Dolan
“Our rabbis are as bad as your priests”

The TSA’s airport regimen has been derided as security theater. It is bumbling, intrusive, and only minimally effective (compared to the skillful handling of security by El Al Airlines). At best, at enormous cost, terrorism has not so much been reduced as moved from airlines to other venues like malls, movie theaters, and the streets. But politicians love it, just as they love our absurdly high levels of imprisonment. These measures may not work, but they convince the public that government is protecting them.

Agudath Israel also plays that game when it comes to children’s safety. The single greatest danger to ultra orthodox children comes from sex abuse which probably impacts 10-20 percent of all children before they reach adulthood. I say probably because I am extrapolating from research about the general public. I would love to have better statistics about the orthodox world, but generating them would require orthodox cooperation with such a research project, something the orthodox leadership will not allow. Their media spokesman, Avi Shafran insists that orthodox rates must be lower because of their fear of heaven. But if they were really that confident they would promote such research. Continue reading