Justice for the Children- Some thoughts from the Taubenfeld abuse trial

by Pesach Sommer on his blog, Pesach Sheini

Leiby, Accuser of Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld

Laiby Stern, Accuser of Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld

I know that I can’t have held my breath for 1 ½ hours this past Friday. Still, as i sat in the courtroom listening to Laiby Stern testify about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his former neighbor Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld, a powerful and influential member of the Hasidic community in New Square, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

As I listened to Laiby as he was cross-examined by the defense lawyer I felt so many different emotions rise up inside of me. Perhaps the strongest emotion that I felt was anger. Anger at the dozens of men who were there to support Taubenfeld. Men who smiled, smirked, and even laughed each time Stern, who has a learning disability, was tripped up by the high-paid defense attorney. Anger at a community that instinctively circles the wagons around its most powerful members, rather than protecting those who are most vulnerable. Anger at a community that refuses to recognize the dangers posed by abusers in their community, where the abuser might receive, at most, a beating and a warning to not do it again, or, if they are influential enough, no consequence at all.

I also felt anger at the fact that the community fears the outside world more than it fears its children being hurt, and anger that it blames the victim for any subsequent problems  he or she might face, rather than holding the abuser responsible. Continue reading

What Chicago Can Learn From the Skvere Rebbe- (From the archives)

Skvere Rebbe on chair

Skvere Rebbe
David Twersky

This post first appeared in January 2014. Since then Frimet Goldberg wrote an excellent description of New Squares shameful handling of sex abuse.  Shulem Deen’s brilliant memoir, “All Who Go Do Not Return” also describes the cult of the Skvere Rebbe.

The Skvere Rebbe, Rabbi David (Dovid) Twersky, will be coming to Chicago on February 20, 2014 to spend a week dispensing his pearls of wisdom and graciously accepting donations. The Rebbe needs this money for himself and his Hasidim because:

The rebbe eats his meals on silver platters with golden utensils, owns a number of latest model Cadillacs for himself and his family, and lights his Hanukkah candles on a massive six-foot-tall sterling silver menorah that community members told me cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most of his followers… rely on food stamps and Section-8 housing vouchers for basic subsistence.

Here are some of the things the Jews of Chicago can learn from him.

HASHGACHAH PROTIS (Detailed Intentional Supervision) and CHESED (Kindness)

Aron Rottenberg

Aron Rottenberg

Chicagoans believe that Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern and started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which killed over 300 people and left over 100,000 people homeless. In New Square, the legally incorporated village dominated by the Rebbe, there are no such accidents. The Rebbe’s butler (“hois bochur”), 18-year-old Shaul Spitzer attempted to burn down the house of the dissident Rottenberg family, while the family was asleep inside. As a result of the attack, Aron Rottenberg suffered third-degree burns on over 50% of his body. Continue reading

Leiby Tells Reporter Why He Reported His Abuse in Skver by Moshe Taubenfeld

Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld

Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld

Rabbi Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld of New Square is indicted for allegedly sexually abusing “Leiby” for a period of years starting when he was a nine-years-old boy.

This all happened in New Square, aka Skver. When this was reported to the Rebbe (grand rabbi) of Skver, Dovid Twersky, it was dismissed with “Ich vais nisht; ich glayb nisht” (I don’t know anything about this and I don’t believe it). Well now the courts will get to decide.

Herschel Taubenfeld

Herschel Taubenfeld

Taubenfeld’s brother, Herschel pled guilty to child sex abuse and is still allowed to teach in Skver’s schools. He got off without spending a single day in jail. This, in spite of the fact that Herschel’s victim was ready to testify at a trial. However, the Rockland County DA, Thomas Zugibe, colluded with Skver which can deliver a block of votes. The DA allowed the case to be Continue reading

Predict the Luxury Car the Skvere Rebbe Will Use in Chicago



Back in 2006, Yitzchok Adlerstein gushed, “After more than a week in Los Angeles, the Skvere Rebbe’s entourage left town today, having bested Hollywood on its home turf.

In Hollywood, props are important. If you are doing street processions, cars are big props. This got me thinking about the Rebbe’s cars. Continue reading

Welcome to New Square But Bring Your Own Toilet

porta potty on wheelsThe cult enclave of the Skvere Rebbe (David Twersky), the incorporated New York State Village of New Square, likes to brag about their hospitality and kindness (chesed). This is often invoked to mitigate their off-putting habits like torching their dissidents, stealing from the government, and protecting their molesters.

As a legally incorporated village they have their own village court complete with their own judges, the Dishonorable Stuart Salles and the Dishonorable Benjamin Hager. I call them “dishonorable,” because they signal to victims, through the Rockland DA, Thomas Zugibe, that the courage to testify in a trial is pointless because they will still dispense the minimum sentence allowed. This leads victims to acquiesce to sweetheart plea bargains. These judges are fully bought and owned by the Skver leadership whose endorsements virtually guarantee election. Candidates endorsed by the Skver leadership consistently win over 90% of the vote. In fact, the Rebbe’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton when she was running for the U. S. Senate in 2,000 secured her over 99% of the vote!

The Dishonorable Stuart Salles

The Dishonorable Stuart Salles

The hospitality of Skver does not extend to those who report on abuse or support victims of abuse. One reporter, far along in her pregnancy, was denied the use of their bathroom facilities. When she managed to find an unmarked, unlocked bathroom she was told they would charge her with trespassing if she used it Continue reading