About Mike Diederich’s DA Opponent, Judge Thomas E. Walsh II
Note to Reader:
Mike Diederich, Jr. is running against Judge Thomas E. Walsh II for the DA position in Rockland County, NY. Judge Walsh, who is running as both an avid Republican and an avid Democrat (depending upon the locations of the signs) seems not to have been able to decide which platform suits him best. We are not really certain what to make of that, except to state that it would seem he has no particular sense of loyalty.
Walsh has been endorsed by a number of law enforcement agencies; but is also funded in large part by big development within Rockland County, with money coming in from Brooklyn, from Lakewood and from other areas which are currently mired in development controversies.
The same people who equate code enforcement with anti-Semitism are the same people supporting Walsh.
In 2013, Judge Walsh, in an article entitlted “New York’s Double Dippers” was cited in the Democratic Chronicle as one of the top paid members of the judiciary at that time:
17 state judges collected salaries and pensions last year, the highest earner being Surrogate Court Judge Thomas E. Walsh II, a retired local judge in Haverstraw, Rockland County, and a former county attorney. State records show he earned a $104,687 pension and two salaries — $3,750 from the state Department of Taxation and Finance and $132,260 as a state judge; he’s also an acting Supreme Court judge. His total compensation was $240,698.
We suspect a win for DA would mark him squarely as one of the top paid people in the County, if not the State, when you attach all of his accumulated pension and benefits; but we cannot independently verify how exactly that works, whether or not he keeps other pensions or has to relinquish them. To the best of our knowledge Walsh is no longer paid as a judge, though we are uncertain what other benefits he may be receiving.
In response to “Chassidim Are The Target, Not Overdevelopment” (op-ed, Sept. 13):
Concerns about irresponsible development in Rockland County are not anti-chassidic; “us vs. them” name-calling is counterproductive; and labeling people anti-Semitic when they are simply concerned about the problems they see around them is un-American.
Rockland’s homeowners see ever-increasing taxes of all sorts; public corruption that stems, at least in part, from bloc voting; housing and fire code violations endangering lives; crumbling public schools; and educationally-deficient private schools.
Our nation is great because we welcome diversity and respect everyone’s right to their own religious beliefs. I learned this from my father, who fought in World War II. But religious belief does not give a citizen a free pass to ignore the obligations of citizenship – and one of these obligations is to be an educated citizen.
An informed, educated citizen knows it’s wrong to discriminate against a person because of his religious faith, knows it’s wrong to say, “You cannot live in my neighborhood” because of unfamiliar clothing attire or customs, and knows it’s wrong to be a bigot.
But an informed, educated citizen also knows it’s wrong to deny children their right to a sound secular education and know it’s wrong to call someone an anti-Semite for supporting core American values.
I am an independent Democrat running for District Attorney in Rockland County who served with the U.S. military in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. I have been part of the fight against religious hatred. And as District Attorney, I will promote the values I outlined above since these values protect all citizens.
Land Use and Shuls Front and Center in Toms River Election
A recent Asbury Park Press article highlighted the prominent place that issues surrounding Toms River’s Orthodox population have taken in its local elections set to be held this November.
Most prominent is a proposed zoning change that would significantly reduce the amount of acreage needed to build a house of worship. The 10 acre requirement, has stymied the development of shuls in the North Dover area which is home to several hundred Orthodox families.
The proposal was released last month, but was quickly pulled from the agenda by retiring Town Council President, George Wittman Jr. He and Council Vice President Maurice “Mo” Hill said they would not support the change. Yet, later, Mr. Hill, a Republican, said that he would approve it if it would satisfy federal authorities who are presently investigating the town’s land use laws amid accusations of bias.
Mr. Hill’s Democratic rival, Jonathan Petro, has increasingly seized on the issue, in attempt to paint his opponent as sympathetic to the needs of the Orthodox community. Mr. Hill has vehemently denied that he has been influenced by any special interests.
Toms River is one of the state’s largest Republican strongholds, but in 2017 elections three Democrats won seats on its council largely with rhetoric criticizing what they portrayed as the council’s accommodation of the Orthodox community’s growth. Some of their campaign literature was criticized as anti-Semitic. One of the group’s most outspoken members, Daniel Roderick, who was recently censured by his fellow council members, re-registered as a Republican shortly after the election.
Toms River election: Growing Orthodox Jewish population is campaign issue again
Toms River election: Growing Orthodox Jewish population is campaign issue again ….. TOMS RIVER – A simmering dispute over zoning for houses of …. in the 2017 campaign that used “Lakewood” and “Lakewood-style …
A last-minute move to pull a zoning change that would have eased stiff restrictions on building houses of worship in Toms River boiled over into a public squabble among the township’s Council members.
Township documents reveal that under pressure from the federal Department of Justice (DOJ), the Council had acquiesced to amend an ordinance that required a 10-acre lot in order to build a house of worship, along with a set of related bylaws that have stood in the way of applications from both shuls and mosques in the past.
Yet, last week, when changes appeared on the agenda of a Land Use Committee hearing, they were suddenly pulled. Council President George Wittmann and Council Vice President Maurice “Mo” Hill both questioned how the amendments had found their way to meeting and stated that they would oppose such moves.
Shortly after the Council leaders’ statements appeared in the Asbury Park Press, Councilwoman Laurie Huryk called them out in a press release.
“Council President Wittmann knows exactly how the zoning changes ended up on the Land Use Committee agenda; the Township had committed to the Department of Justice that Toms River would be brought into compliance with Federal Law this year,” she said. “These corrective actions had been discussed many times, and needed to be enacted in a timely manner in order to save the taxpayers of Toms River untoward fines and penalties resulting from the current Federal Investigation.”
Neither Council President Wittmann nor Vice President Hill returned requests for comment from Hamodia.
The DOJ initially opened an investigation of Tom River’s land use regulations vis-à-vis religious organizations in 2016. At the time, a lawsuit was before the courts from the town’s Chabad house, which claimed restrictions on its operation were motivated by a spillover of efforts to block an influx of Orthodox Jews to the town’s North Dover section, which borders Lakewood.
Chabad won the suit and the investigation was closed in April 2018. However, according to a township report on land use rules affecting houses of worship, in December of that year the DOJ announced it was reopening investigations.
Months earlier, the township hired Marci Hamilton, a legal expert specializing in religious land use and a well-known advocate against the expansion of rights for faith groups to advise the Council.
Over the past four years, Mrs. Hamilton’s clients have suffered a string of losses in clashes with Orthodox groups, including attempts to stymie construction of a new Chabad center in Boca Raton, an eruv in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, and a kollel and affiliated housing in Pomona, New York.
The Council, Mrs. Hamilton, and other township officials met with both the DOJ and on at least one occasion with representatives of Toms River’s Orthodox community to appraise the legal viability of its ordinances. The result was an agreement to several changes, most notably a reduction from 10 to seven acres in order to build a house of worship. According to media reports, a clause was also accepted that would lower that to two acres in North Dover, but this is absent from the released documents.
Rabbi Daniel Greer, AKA “the Goat” has used his conviction to recruit Jews to the compound. There are many Jews living in Amish style communities with little interaction with the outside world. These Jews even dress like the Amish. Jews who live in Lakewood, Kiryas Yoel, Monsey, Williamsburg and Monroe choose to live in these communities because they believe that the outside world is doomed. They insulated themselves from the morally bankrupt secular world. They have good intentions. They do not want their children to be exposed to a country run by criminals in the White House, pedophiles in Hollywood and con artists on Wall Street. You can’t blame them. The President’s Office and the halls of Congress are occupied by rednecks, hillbillies and trailer trash whose only goal is to line their pockets at the expense of the American people. They wrap themselves in the American flag while their families profit off of such thug countries as Russia, China, and the Ukraine. These criminals don’t even know the rules of the criminal underworld. Criminals are not supposed to rat each other out to the authorities. Trump had no problem ratting out Biden to China for Biden’s sleezy business dealings with the Ukraine. The United States government is run by criminals, traitors and rats. It takes a criminal like myself to recognize another criminal. The guys I lived with in Otisville Federal prison are amateurs compared to the professional crooks in Washington DC, Wall Street, and Beverly Hills.
The Jews who chose to set up their own utopian communes created their own set of problems. They created a yeshiva system that protects and even honors pedophile Rabbis. They created a backward, fundamentalist world where conspiracy theories abound. They think that the goyim want to kill them with the measles vaccine. They rail against homosexuals yet homosexuality is rampant at their all boys yeshiva high schools and summer camps. The Goat has capitalized on their fears and stupidity. The Goat has told these Jews that his conviction was a plot to get his money. These Jews were not hard to convince. They already believe in conspiracy theories. They willingly arrived in the compound to help the Goat.
The Jews who helped the Goat with his minyan on Yom Kippur could be seen, and heard, praying from the second floor of the Goat’s nightmare on Elm Street building all day on Yom Kippur. I walked by and recognized a few of them as some of the drifters who have been recruited in the past. I have occasionally run into these guys and have spoken with them. They are actually decent individuals. They are desperate. They lack money. Some of them can’t carry on an intelligent conversation. Some of them have nervous facial tics. Some are mentally deficient. One guy has a really bad rash all over his body. Some are newly religious. They are misfits. It’s unfortunate that these young men have fallen through the cracks of the traditional Jewish world. Jewish organizations have ignored them. On Yom Kippur they ended up with a 79 year old pedophile who puts the moves on them. I believe Rabbi Notis sent a few guys of his own to help out.
Rabbi Notis is the perfect example of a conspiracy theorist. I watched Notis testify for the Goat in his criminal trial. Notis stated that anyone who was raped by a rabbi would never go back to that rabbi as an adult. Notis knew very well that Avi Hack went back to the Goat for many years as an adult. Notis would probably argue that Avi Hack was part of the conspiracy to take the Goat down and get his money. Why would Avi Hack voluntarily testify that he was raped by the Goat? Avi had no reason to come forward. Why would Avi want to embarrass himself and his family by coming forward? There was no evidence that Avi was raped by the Goat other than Avi’s own statements. Notis had nothing to say about the Goat molesting Rafi. Rafi never went back to the compound as an adult to honor the Goat. Rafi didn’t have anything to gain by testifying against the Goat. Notis had nothing to say about the allegation that Ezi Greer was molested by his own father. During the civil trial the expert witness for Eli Mirlis testified that Ezi Greer may have been raped by his father. Such inflammatory information would never have been disclosed to the jury had there not been some grain of truth to it.
There is a Connecticut Jewish media blackout with regard to the Goat’s guilty verdict. The silence of the New Haven Jewish Federation, synagogues of all denominations, and Rabbis of all persuasions is deafening. The Goat was always critical of Jewish organizations, especially the Jewish Federation. The Goat was not affiliated with any of these organizations. The Goat never needed their handouts. The Goat got his money by scamming the State of Connecticut with grants for his non-profits and scamming the City of New Haven for grants to plant trees in the Edgewood neighborhood. The Goat used to mockingly say that these organizations focused on the Holocaust and Israel, and ignored the Torah, the source of moral law. Jewish organizations raise money by appealing to Jewish guilt. The Goat was right in this regard. These Jewish institutions lack any moral foundation whatsoever. All they care about is fundraising. If a Jewish child was raped by a Gentile the Jewish organizations would make sure the entire world knew about it. But if your Jewish kid is raped by a Rabbi, the Rabbi gets a free pass. The Rabbi’s crimes get swept under the rug. Victims get silenced. The Goat knew that he could get away with his crimes for 40 years because he knew that Jewish organizations support Rabbi pedophiles over Jewish victims. The Goat is laughing all the way to prison. The Goat got away with raping numerous Jewish children for 40 years. I have been contacted by others out there who claim that the Goat raped children other than Avi Hack and Eli Mirlis. The leaders of Jewish organizations do not realize that when you don’t speak out for other parents’ children, nobody will speak out for you if something happens to your child. Ironically the depraved Goat knows more about morals than the Jewish Federation.
I expect the Goat to start recruiting young men for Sukkot. Reserve your seat in the Goat’s sukkah now in order to get a good view of the Goat. Just be careful not to bend over when you wave your luluv and esrog.
Israel’s Supreme Court has overturned a decision to release alleged paedophile Malka Leifer on bail.
The Supreme Court rejected an order by the Jerusalem District Court to release Malka Leifer to house arrest
Victoria Police is attempting to extradite her to Australia to face the child sexual abuse charges
Ms Leifer has fought against her extradition on mental health grounds since 2014
Victoria Police is seeking to extradite Ms Leifer to face 74 charges of sexual abuse against students at the Adass Israel Jewish girls school in Melbourne, where she was the principal.
The Supreme Court judge who ruled in their favour, Anat Baron, mentioned concerns during the appeal about Ms Leifer seeking to evade extradition, as she left Australia hours after allegations against her surfaced in 2008.
Ms Leifer has been fighting extradition to Australia on mental health grounds since 2014.
The extradition stalled after a court ruled she had a debilitating mental illness and was not fit to be sent to Australia to face charges.
But private investigators commissioned by the group Jewish Community Watch filmed Ms Leifer shopping, socialising and going into Tel Aviv to cash welfare cheques, despite her telling the court she was housebound and catatonic.
That led Israeli police to arrest her on suspicion of obstruction of justice and she was jailed in February 2018, although that particular case against her has not progressed in Israel’s courts.
Anonymity provided protection, not by allowing us to type words we otherwise would not have typed, but by affording us with a voice without the weights and burdens of multiple degrees and professional demands and what could appear to be attorney advertising were it to have a face. Our voice spoke words of a faceless anybody who did the research and came to a set of conclusions. We no longer have that level of protection. So we tread lightly, a chilling of speech in full force and effect. And for the sake of attorney ethics, perhaps call this attorney advertising, perhaps not. View it as you will.
And we digress. The ruling below by Judge Brian Cogan feels nothing short of a betrayal of justice for the victims, for justice and for the entire financial system. The jury had it right despite the theatrics of truly gifted attorneys representing the defendants. The attorneys did their jobs and the jury ruled, even at the many legal and judicial disadvantages imposed by Judge Cogan. And then the judge overruled.
We don’t get it. It feels very wrong.
The jury was an unsophisticated jury with likely precious little by way of experience in the investment world. And yet they were convinced that there was enough evidence to convict Mark Nordlicht and David Levy. We were disappointed they missed the whole picture but they got a piece of it right.
Unfortunately the Prosecution team did a rather inadequate job of breaking up the entire fraud piece by precious piece; and missed so many crucial bits of evidence to put before the jury, not the least of which was a comparison to how the global markets were performing at the time the Platinum Partners were active. This comparison shed light on how lacking in transparency were the activities of Platinum Partners now Teflon Partners at the time.
It was all very complicated; but could have been broken down by someone with enough experience in investments to break it all down. Yet the jury got the significance of Black Elk, a feat of epic proportions.
We have years of research behind our stories on this subject, a lifetime in the hedge fund world and extensive knowledge of the subject matter. The lawyers representing the State were out-played by master craftsmen. Simple.
But the jury got it right.
To be undone by the judge came as a surprise, accompanied by a deep sense of sadness and a feeling of despair for everything just and true about our judicial system, if such truth exists, and our financial markets. The markets work because of the integrity of the investment vehicles, the rules the hedge fund managers MUST play by. Teflon/Platinum Partners did not play by those rules. It all only works in concert when the investors can count on the judicial system to ensure act as referees or alternatively dole out equitable and judicial remedies when all else has failed. In this case, the justice system was in discord, as we see it.
The world’s financial markets continue to function only when investors can trust the underlying materials about the risks, solely when investors understand the thickness of the ice they are going to be skating on, which is supposed to be transparently laid out. There can be no substrata of lies and deceit or the entire endeavor is accompanied by hidden risks. That was the Teflon/Platinum Partners strategy. They hid risks, the ice was thinner in places.
This case, if not for any other in our anonymous and not-so-anonymous viewpoint, is representative of an entirely broken system. If risks can be so well hidden that minutiae determine a Judge’s unilateral decision to overturn a verdict, no market is safe.
The jury understood the material and afforded us with a just result. The judge here we simply do not understand.
Hopefully the prosecution team will retry this case; and perhaps they will contact those with an abundance of knowledge on the materials for assistance. If they decide not to retry the case, the victims will have been re-victimized by the very system designed to protect them.
If the Prosecution does not retry this case it will only either serve to substantiate a belief in unequal justice for the wealthy or prove that the Securities Acts and the investor laws are meaningless or some combination of the two. The Jury got it right. One of those convicted has been acquitted by Judge Cogan. Game well played.
We implore upon the Prosecution to take up the case again and to do better.
In a rare move, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan (Eastern District of New York) overturned a jury’s conviction. Cogan acquitted David Levy and granted a new trial for Mark Nordlicht. Levy and Nordlicht, both executives at now defunct hedge fund Platinum Partners, were convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in July of this year after a 9-week trial. A third defendant, former Chief Financial Officer Joseph SanFilippo, was cleared of all charges.
Back on December 14, 2016, seven individuals were indicted for their alleged participation in transactions at Platinum Partners, which was founded in 2003. Two of the primary targets of the investigation were Nordlicht, one of Platinum’s founder partners and its Chief Investment Officer, and David Levy, a senior executive at Platinum who also served as co-portfolio manager for Black Elk, an oil and gas company that Platinum controlled from August 2010 through September 2015.
As the trial approached, Nordlicht made a change in counsel from high powered attorneys at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP to Jose Baez who gained notoriety when he won “not-guilty’ decisions in two separate high profile murder cases defending Casey Anthony (Florida) and former New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez. It was an interesting strategy and one that seems to have paid off for now.
There is no doubt that there was some great lawyering here, but the case is also interesting because it went from some slam dunk Ponzi scheme, to a real hedge, who had some exotic investments, that went out of business after the FBI raided the place. So was it the hedge fund that was a fraud or an FBI raid that caused the fund to shut down? One thing is clear, there was a raid.
Platinum managed multiple funds, including Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage Fund, L.P. (“PPVA”), Platinum Partners Credit Opportunities Master Fund, L.P. (“PPCO”), and Platinum Partners Liquid Opportunity Master Fund L.P. (“PPLO”). One transaction involved the valuation of one of the funds’ investments, Black Elk – an oil and gas company that Platinum controlled from August 2010 through September 2015, and the subsequent sale.
Government prosecutors claimed that Nordlicht and Levy hatched a plan to get the money from Black Elk’s sale through misrepresentations to bondholders. The Government claimed that the evidence would show that the defendants rigged the Black Elk bond consent solicitation. At trial, the jury found Nordlicht and Levy guilty on counts six to eight (related to the Black Elk) but not guilty on counts one to five, which related to Platinum.
After a 9-week trial and the partial guilty verdict, Nordlicht and Levy moved for a judgment of acquittal under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 and for a new trial under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33. Judge Cogan deferred ruling on these motions until Nordlicht, Levy, and the government prosecutors fully briefed their respective positions. So just when prosecutors thought the trial was over, it wasn’t. After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Cogan acquitted Levy and stated that Nordlicht’s motion for acquittal was denied, but a new trial was approved as prosecutors did not provide enough evidence to sustain the conviction.
Judge Cogan wrote;
“In considering whether to grant a new trial, a district court may itself weigh the evidence and the credibility of witnesses, but in doing so, it must be careful not to usurp the role of the jury .. The ultimate test is whether letting a guilty verdict stand would be a manifest injustice. … There must be a real concern that an innocent person may have been convicted.”
Although the Government adduced sufficient evidence for a judgment of acquittal to be unwarranted, letting the verdict stand against Nordlicht would be a manifest injustice. Thus, Nordlicht’s motion for a new trial is granted.
It was a complex case but Platinum was a complex hedge fund, something any jury would struggle with. It all started with an FBI raid, allegations that Nordlicht was seeking to flee the country and that the hedge fund was a Ponzi scheme. It turns out that the FBI’s raid was successful in taking down the Platinum but there was no clear motivation as to the defendants when they began to experience a liquidity crisis at Platinum (a real issue but not necessarily criminal). It’s not against the law to make bad decisions or to lose money … something that seems to have been criminalized in this case.
Professor Yisrael Aumann is a Nobel Prize-winning Israeli mathematician. He is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has held visiting positions at Princeton, Yale, Berkeley, Louvain, Stanford, Stony Brook, and NYU.
In last week’s Torah reading, Moshe Rabbeinu commands us to choose life — “Uvacharta Bachaim.” From this, the Talmud Yerushalmi in Kiddushin derives that a father must teach his son a trade and thus provide him with a livelihood. In this Talmudic passage, Rabbi Yehuda puts it bluntly: “If a father doesn’t teach his son a trade, it’s as if he taught him highway robbery.”
So it should come as no surprise that, as a frum Jew, I believe that our yeshivas should provide robust secular studies alongside an uncompromised Torah education.
hen my family fled from Germany to the United States in 1938, they enrolled me in a religious elementary school in Boro Park. When it was time to choose a high school, I decided on the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva (RJJ) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
After finishing university in the 1950s, I made aliyah to Jerusalem, and since then have pursued an academic career; but I’ll always remember my yeshiva experience as an exceptionally positive one that had a lasting impact on my life. For that reason, when the lawyers of Agudath Israel asked me for an affidavit describing my experience in yeshiva to urge the New York State Education Department not to intervene in the dual education provided by yeshivas like RJJ, I was glad to provide it.
As I wrote in my affidavit, “The immersive, time-consuming experience of deep Talmud study in an educational setting such as RJJ is absolutely necessary for the continuity of Orthodox Jewish life and practice. We were taught not merely a religion, but a way of life. And in that way of life, we were taught — and to this day I repeat daily — ‘Talmud Torah Kenneged Kulam’: the study of Torah is as important as all other religious observance put together.”
Shortly after news of the affidavit was reported in the Yeshiva World News website under the headline “INCREDIBLE: Nobel Prize Winner & Yeshiva Graduate To NYS Education Dept: ‘Talmud Torah Knegged Kulam!’” I got an email from a Chasidic yeshiva graduate that I found deeply upsetting. He informed me that he himself had received no secular instruction at all; and that most Chasidic yeshivas teach only a few hours a week of sub-par secular studies in elementary school and none at all in high school.
The picture that was painted for me — and later confirmed by other Chasidic graduates and parents of current students — is of young men who often graduate without even the basic skills to operate professionally. In many cases, this leads to poverty, and also to a sense of insuperable handicap.
Having left New York well over 60 years ago, all this was a revelation to me. Despite the distance, I find it impossible to ignore the genuine distress of the young men with whom I corresponded and the grave wrong being perpetrated on generations of children.
I stand behind every word in the affidavit; but knowing what I know now, I ask the public to read it with an emphasis that is perhaps a little different. Namely, that “I had wonderful experiences with BOTH secular and Jewish studies at RJJ. … The credit for my academic success belongs to Mr. Joey Gansler and to the mathematics he taught at RJJ. … If I were asked today to advise Jewish teens who have been admitted to both Stuyvesant and a yeshiva high school about which to attend, I would absolutely recommend that they attend a DUAL-curriculum yeshiva such as RJJ.”
We must continue vehemently to oppose government oversight and intrusion in yeshivas. The government has no right to dictate how we run our schools. But as my affidavit indicates, it does have a right to see to it that all children get a basic secular education that will enable them to be productive members of society. And that is also the Halacha.
Yesterday I was convinced that the Goat would walk away free today. After watching the jury deliberate this morning I became convinced that the Goat would be convicted. The jury handed Judge Alander a note asking the same question they had asked yesterday. They wanted to know the years Dr. DeRosa worked at the Yeshiva. They didn’t want to know about anything else that they had asked about yesterday. I figured that there was one juror who was hung up on Dr. DeRosa. I thought that the evidence was overwhelmingly against the Goat. I figured that the majority of jurors wanted to convict and that there was one or two holdouts. The majority had to convince the holdouts to convict. It was only a matter of time before there would be a verdict of guilty.
At about 12:30 PM the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all four charges of risk of injury to a minor. After the forewoman of the jury stated “GUILTY” four times, the Goat looked at his Ewe, shook his head and then looked away. The Ewe sat in silence. The Goat and the Ewe had prayed all morning. Their prayers were not answered. The marshals surrounded the Goat. They put him in cuffs. They took him outside the Courtroom and into a side room. Willie the Dow asked Judge Alander to poll the jury. Each individual juror was asked whether they voted to convict. Sentencing was set for November 20th. The Goat faces a maximum of 80 years in prison. The Goat did not look happy. The Dow crashed. It was Black Wednesday.
State’s Attorney Wilinsky asked Judge Alander to increase the Goat’s appearance bond now that the Goat was a convicted felon. The Dow argued that the Goat never attempted to leave the compound and has lived in New Haven for 40 years. Wilinsky asked the Dow whether the Goat had an Israeli passport. The Dow said he would find out. Judge Alander increased the Goat’s bond to $750K. Judge Alander told the Dow that he can come back in the afternoon for a bond hearing in order to discuss electronic monitoring and other conditions of the Goat’s release.
The Goat was locked up for an hour or so in a holding cell in the Courthouse and then appeared at the bond hearing in the afternoon. The Goat paid a bondsman ten percent of the $750K and was fitted for an ankle bracelet. The Goat will have electronic monitoring and be confined to his home in the compound. He will be allowed to go to a shul approved by Probation and allowed to visit his attorneys office and his doctors. The Dow asked Judge Alander if the Goat can go to Beth Israel Shul in Onset MA for Rosh Hashana and the Jewish holidays. Beth Israel was Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s summer Shul. The Dow argued that the Goat has been spending Shabbos in Onset lately and that it is hard to get a minyan in New Haven. Judge Alander told the Dow that the Ewe can help him round up a minyan here in New Haven. Request to travel to Onset for Yom Tovim DENIED.
When States Attorney Wilensky argued for electronic monitoring the Ewe mumbled “Anti-Semite” in the courtroom. At least the Ewe didn’t call her a “SHAYGETZ.” Guys in Otisville prison called me a self hating Jew all the time, which never bothered me. If they really hated me they called me a “SHAYGETZ.” Attorney Wilensky should not feel insulted when the Ewe called her an Anti-Semite. Wilensky should pity the Ewe, the Goat will be locked up with her on home confinement with an ankle bracelet all the time. Could you imagine being locked up with the Goat 24/7?
Judge Alander indicated that the Goat was a flight risk. The States Attorney argued that Orthodox Jewish child molesters tend to flee to Israel. The Dow objected to the electronic monitoring on the Goats hooves on Saturdays on the grounds it would violate the Sabbath. Objection OVERRULED.
I tried to interview a few jurors but was unsuccessful. Two of the female jurors were in tears hugging each other as they walked down the street outside the courthouse. I followed them over to a local restaurant where they all ate lunch together. I noticed that one of the alternate jurors joined them. I went into the bar and asked if I could speak with them, but they appeared very tired and told me that it was a very difficult case and they needed some time to unwind and relax and didn’t want to talk about it. As I left I overheard one of them remark that he was impressed with the performance of the Dow. The Dow rallied and shot up 100 points, after suffering a huge crash with the guilty verdict. I also overheard the jurors mention Avi Hack’s name. I have a feeling that had Avi Hack testified the guilty verdict would have come much sooner. The attorneys were able to drag right wing black hat Haradi Rabbi Notis all the way from Lancaster PA, and poor old Dr. DeRosa from Southbury, yet the key witnesses, the missing pieces to the puzzle, the missing links, Avi Hack, Dov Greer and Ezi Greer, were mentioned throughout the trial yet were AWOL.
The Goat will be confined to his home with an ankle bracelet for at least two years while he files and then argues his appeal. If the Goat is given permission to make a minyan at the compound his recruits may wonder why he is wearing an ankle bracelet. I wonder if the Goat will take his pants off over his ankle bracelet or under his ankle bracelet. The Goat will be allowed to have minors in the compound, as the charges of sexual assault were dismissed so the Goat will not have to register as a sex offender. The Goat can rebuilt his compound and call himself “The Ankle Bracelet Rebbe.”
In closing argument the State made a compelling argument that Eli Mirlis was unable to report the molestation and abuse to Dov Greer, Ezi Greer and Avi Hack. 14 year old Eli Mirlis felt that these adults knew what was going on and would have done nothing to stop it if he reported the abuse. This verdict is long overdue, but unfortunately the enablers who protect abusers and pedophiles never face justice. I have reported on this case in my blog since 2016. I do not get any personal pleasure when Mr. Greer, or anyone else for that matter, goes to jail, as I have spent 18 months in Federal prison myself and I would not wish incarceration on my worst enemy. But Mr. Greer presents a physical danger to others and should be in jail, regardless of his age. After speaking with numerous child sexual assault victims, who reached out to me, they express more anger towards the adults who protected and enabled pedophiles like Mr. Greer or decades, than the actual abuser himself. I hope that this highly publicized verdict will give others who have been abused the strength to come forward. As for other pedophiles, enablers and protectors of abusers, beware of Larry Noodles, I will hunt you down, and get you locked up just like the Goat. Make my day SHAYGETZ!
We’re slogging on, from 516 Ellsworth Ave, Noodles has finally been vindicated with the guilty verdict. Yechi Noodles! Moshiach Now!
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Published in its entirety from the blog of Larry Noodles. Thank you for picking this up. Sorry we missed it! Folks, if you will not donate to us, Noodles asks for assistance for his blog, a tax deductible donation. We do not gain by providing him a window for support. His reporting detailed what the rest of us seem to have missed. We will pick up this one and the next, in their entirety and with permission.
The silence of Jewish religious and lay leaders, rabbis and Jewish news reporters, of all political persuasions, on the Goat verdict is deafening.
It is very rare for members of the Jewish tribe to agree on anything these days. There is a large spectrum of political and religious viewpoints among American Jews, from the right wing Haradi to the far left Bernie Bro’s. Liberal Jews are just as outspoken and opinionated as Jews who support the Donald. Secular Jews do not mince words when they describe Orthodox Jews as misogynistic narrow minded bigots. Haradim have no problem referring to secular Jews as self hating Jews. You never hear such venom exchanged between civilized Christians.
The Jewish world has found common ground with the guilty Goat verdict. Jewish leaders of all stripes and denominations have all refused to publicly comment on the Goat verdict. The unified vow of silence is deafening. The Goat has managed to unite the Jewish people just before the Jewish New Year. Moshiach is supposed to arrive on a donkey, not a goat.
Not one leader from any Jewish Federation located in the entire United States has spoken about the Goat verdict. Not one pulpit Rabbi from any denomination in the entire country has spoken about the Goat verdict. Are they saving their comments for their grand Rosh Hashanah speeches that they are currently preparing to read to their followers in shuls, synagogues and Temples throughout the country on Monday? I don’t think so.
The mainstream media and the Jewish media has not reported on the Goat verdict. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vosizneias, Hamodia, The Forward, and the New York Post all reported on the Goat when he was first arrested, yet they now have asserted their First Amendment right to remain silent, just as the Goat did during his criminal trial. The Associated Press ran a very small blurb today.
The only logical explanation for Jewish radio silence on the Goat verdict is fundraising bucks. Fundraising for the Catholic Church dropped when pedophile priests were exposed and arrested. “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby” as State’s Attorney Roberg argued in closing arguments to the Goat jury. Roberg tore apart the Dow’s argument that Mirlis was in criminal court because he wanted money. Roberg told the jury that Mirlis already got his civil judgment. Mirlis didn’t have to return to Connecticut and tell everyone in the world the excruciating details about how he got repeatedly raped by the Goat.
Jewish non-profits and religious organizations would not have any problem raising money if these organizations were transparent, efficient, and honest and not mired in waste, hypocrisy, insecurity, and nepotism. Providing a warm, stimulating and engaging place for Jews to pray, learn and interact would also attract and keep new members. News of the Goat would have no impact on fundraising.
The only Rabbi brave enough to make any kind of statement about the Goat, on Facebook no less, was Modern Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier. Zuckier was the Rabbi at Yale Hillel for a year or two. I first met Zuckier after I got out of Otisville prison. He let me pray at the Yale Hillel even though he knew of my criminal record. I’ve been kicked out of many shuls because of my blog. The first shul I was kicked out of was the prison shul in the Otisville prison. The Jewish inmates got mad because I was sending my blogs to Paul Bass at the New Haven Independent. Fortunately I had two prominent inmate Rabbis doing long bids in Otisville who lobbied for me to be readmitted to the shul. In New Haven a local Rabbi said I couldn’t get an aliya because of my blog about the Goat. I wonder if this idiot would give me an aliya now. He should sponsor a kiddush for me. I probably saved his children from getting raped by the Goat.
I am still waiting for that kiddush the Goat’s son Dov Greer promised me on the first Shabbos that I got out of Otisville prison. Some people think that my anger towards the Goat stems from the kiddush that Dov failed to deliver. I went to the Goat shul on my first Shabbos out of Otisville and Dov Greer was nowhere to be seen. All I saw was Avi Hack and the Goat. Dov reneged on the kiddush. This incident reminds me of the story of Kamsa and Bar Kamsa. I was invited to a kiddush by the son of the Goat, ie., Bar Goat. When I got to the kiddush I realized that I wasn’t invited and Bar Goat was nowhere to be found. I offered to pay Papa Goat for the kiddush. Papa Goat refused. I then went to the authorities and helped the State of Connecticut get the Goat convicted on four felony charges of risk of injury to a minor. I never ratted out the Goat to the Caesar, ie., the Feds, unlike Bar Kamsa. I never blemished one of the Goat’s ducks, chickens or goats who live in his barn on West Park Ave. I did not cause the exile of the Jews. The Jews are already exiled in their cul de sacs in the American suburbs with their 55″ flat screen televisions.
Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier is the first and only American Rabbi, of any denomination, to write about the Goat verdict, on Facebook no less. If the President of the United States can make proclamations to the masses on Twitter why can’t Rabbi Zuckier speak to his followers on Facebook? These are the brave words of Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier: “Even A horrific Chilul Hashem and perversion of the Torah, now confirmed with this judgement. As a practicing rabbi in New Haven when these now-confirmed allegations came to light, and as someone who knew some of the victims, I felt the repercussions of this atrocity personally. Hoping this decision leads to some degree of Nechama for the victims; at the very least it should prevent any further wrongdoing.”
I encourage all readers, fans, followers, felons and stalkers of Larry Noodles to congratulate Rabbi Zuckier for standing up for truth and justice. Please be polite and do not stalk Rabbi Zuckier. And please do not use foul language, even if you think you mean well. And please use spell check and do not write to Rabbi Zuckier in all caps.
A man was selected, preferably a Kohen, to take the goat to the cliff in the wilderness and he was accompanied part of the way by the most eminent men of Jerusalem. Ten booths had been constructed at intervals along the road leading from Jerusalem to the steep mountain. At each one of these the man leading the goat was formally offered food and drink, which he, however, refused. When he reached the tenth booth those who accompanied him proceeded no further. When he came to the cliff he divided the scarlet thread into two parts, one of which he tied to the rock and the other to the goat’s horns, and then pushed the goat down. The cliff was so high and rugged that before the goat had traversed half the distance to the plain below, its limbs were utterly shattered. Men were stationed at intervals along the way, and as soon as the goat was thrown down the cliff, they signaled to one another by means of kerchiefs or flags, until the information reached the high priest. During the forty years that Simon the Just was High Priest, the thread actually turned white as soon as the goat was thrown over the cliff: a sign that the sins of the people were forgiven. In later times the thread did not always turn white: proof of the Jew’s moral and spiritual deterioration, that was on the increase, until forty years before the destruction of the Second Temple, when the change of color was no longer observed.
For G-d, For Country, For Yale, For Rabbi Zuckier. Yechi Noodles!
_____________________________________________________________________________ If you wish to help the Larry Noodles website defray the costs of court documents, transcripts, depositions, investigations & research, and make a tax deductible contribution to a non profit organization that works to help bloggers like Larry Noodles protect themselves against bullies like Daniel Greer, and the Department of Injustice, please donate your hard earned dollars, shekels, and dinars to this organization: First Amendment Watchdogs Incorporated, PO Box 2951, New Haven, CT 06515. For IRS non profit status and EIN number click this link
Leifer is standing trial for extradition to Australia on 74 counts of sexual abuse against sisters Dassi Erlich, Ellie Sapper and Nicole Meyer while she was principal of an ultra-Orthodox school.
Alleged sex offender Malka Leifer will be released to house arrest on Friday, the Jerusalem District Court ruled on Wednesday.
Following a decision last month by Judge Chana Miriam Lomp – who is presiding over the case – to appoint a new panel of psychiatric experts to evaluate Leifer’s mental fitness to stand extradition trial, Leifer’s lawyers appealed for her to be released from prison to house arrest.
Judge Ram Winograd, presiding over the house-arrest petition, acquiesced to that request on Wednesday, and Leifer will be released to her house in Bnei Brak with her sister.
The prosecution has until Friday to appeal the decision.
Leifer is standing trial for extradition on 74 counts of sexual abuse in Australia against sisters Dassi Erlich, Ellie Sapper and Nicole Meyer while she was principal of an ultra-Orthodox school. She has claimed for many years to be mentally unfit for extradition.
Leifer fled Australia to Israel in 2008, but legal proceedings against her only began in 2014.
A hearing on October 6 at the Jerusalem District Court will determine which psychiatrists will be on the three-member panel to decide whether she is mentally fit for extradition. The panel will be expected to issue its opinion by December 10.
“We are bitterly disappointed that Malka Leifer has been granted bail and is being released to house arrest,” said Jewish Community Watch, whose private investigation restarted legal proceedings against Leifer in 2018. “It’s impossible to understand how Leifer, who has already proved herself to be a flight risk, contemptuous of the justice system and a risk to children, would be allowed to leave prison.”
Leifer’s defense team has made it clear that their tactic is to drag out the proceedings for as long as possible, and the court appears to be allowing them to do so.
“I am deeply shocked and astounded that someone who is well enough to [be released to] house arrest isn’t well enough to go on a plane,” said one of Leifer’s alleged victims, Nicole Meyer. “I am hurt by the State of Israel.”
Thanks to a new law, one of the most secretive and isolated subcultures in the United States is facing possible exposure.
Fourteen years ago, an anonymous blogger calling himself Un-Orthodox Jew (UOJ) lit a fuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world when he began posting sexual abuse allegations concerning a Brooklyn yeshiva teacher named Yehuda Kolko. As the blog’s hit counter climbed into the hundreds of thousands and the comments piled up, it became clear to anyone reading that Kolko’s alleged behavior spanned several decades and was not exactly a secret in his community. It had even been the subject of an inquiry by a religious court in the 1980s, a proceeding that reportedly was derailed by threats made by the head of the yeshiva where Kolko taught to the dozen or so people who had come forward to give testimony. (Among ultra-orthodox Jews, going to the police to “inform” (mesira) on another Jew was and largely remains taboo and can result in ostracization or worse.)
But until that day in 2005, nobody had ever discussed the details of the saga in a public forum.
One of the early comments on the blog came from a reader named David, who wrote, “I too was molested by Rabbi Yidi Kolko, both while a student in 7th and 8th grades… and during those same summers whilst a camper in Camp Agudah.” His full name, he would later reveal, was David Framowitz, and for some time he had been obsessively searching the internet for any mention of Kolko. Before closing his initial comment, he wrote, “It is about time that the wall of silence be torn down.”
Thanks to a law that took effect last month, Framowitz’s hope may finally be realized.
Early this year, in the wake of the explosion of the MeToo movement and a cascade of abuse allegations leveled against institutions from Hollywood to the Catholic Church, New York passed the Child Victims Act (CVA). In addition to extending the statute of limitations for civil suits and criminal charges, the law allows a survivor of child sex abuse to file a lawsuit within a one-year period that began on August 14, no matter their current age. The so-called “look-back window” is key when it comes to cases involving the ultra-Orthodox world because those most likely to sue are people who are no longer in the community and subject to pressure or intimidation by its members, which often means they are much older than the prior limit on child sex abuse cases: between the ages of 21 and 23.
According to Frum Follies blogger Yerachmiel Lopin, who writes about sex abuse in the Orthodox Jewish world and says he has been in contact with more than 100 abuse survivors over the past 10 years, fear of retaliation and becoming a social pariah deters many “inside the [Ultra-Orthodox] community who want to publicly expose abusers and have them face legal consequences.”
“An Orthodox Jew needs to live within walking distance of a synagogue,” he said. “There is no getting away from the ties, and the risks of having their children expelled from schools, losing their jobs, and being shunned by their neighbors and relatives. Even moving to another country doesn’t get you away, because the networks are international.”
Legal obstacles proved insurmountable during the initial push to expose Kolko. None of the victims appeared to be within New York’s statute of limitations to press criminal charges (before the victim’s 23rd birthday) or file civil suits (before 21 to sue an institution and before age 23 to sue a perpetrator). The activists did recruit a lawyer willing to take a gamble on a legal theory arguing that a climate rife with “concealment, intimidation, and misrepresentations” had prevented the victims from filing timely lawsuits. The attorney initially filed a lawsuit on behalf of two victims against Kolko and the yeshiva where he had taught for more than 30 years (other suits were subsequently filed).
Update (9/20/19) Dr. David Pelcovitz spoke to SAR parents in the aftermath of the arrest of their teacher, Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick, for child porn production involving a student. He is scheduled to speak at other schools. That is a terrible choice. Parents, after you read this post, please contact your school’s administrators and urge them not […]
NEW YORK (JTA) — Sitting at the front of a large room lined floor to ceiling with Jewish holy books, Rabbi Joseph Beyda’s voice broke as he processed, seemingly in real time, the idea that a trusted teacher had preyed on his students.
“I think the overarching feeling of the administrators and the faculty and the board of the school is, we know you trust us, we take that trust very deeply, we dedicate our lives to it, we failed on this,” said Beyda, the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush’s Joel Braverman High School. “You could say it’s not our fault, but we feel like we failed.”
Beyda was speaking Wednesday night at a forum for parents and alumni at the Brooklyn high school that was called in the wake of last week’s arrest of Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick, a former teacher charged with soliciting naked photos of students for years, going back to at least 2012. An FBI special agent sitting to Beyda’s left confirmed the rabbi’s assertion: There was no way for the school to have known what Skolnick was doing.
“This is a man who hid in plain sight,” said the agent, Aaron Spivack. “There is nothing this school could have done. There’s nothing that anybody could have done. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you want to use that analogy. Predators are predators for a reason. They find ways to be predators.”
Skolnick, who moved last year to an administrative position at SAR Academy, another Orthodox school in New York City, was arrested Friday night by the FBI and charged with the production, receipt and possession of child pornography and child enticement. He was immediately fired by SAR. He had taught at Flatbush from 2012 to 2018.
Days after the arrest, which came only weeks into a new school year, parents, faculty and administration are still in shock. They want to know if there is any way to prevent this in the future, what to tell their kids and how to encourage them to talk about any abuse by Skolnick. SAR also held an open meeting for parents to speak with an FBI representative and school administrators.
“It’s just very sad that it took a long time until this came out in the open,” said the grandmother of one of Skolnick’s students, who declined to give her name for fear of being publicly linked to the scandal. “But it’s understandable because people are reluctant to expose such incidents. It’s sad, and I know he was a good teacher, he had a good reputation. My granddaughter and her friends, they were shocked.”
At the Flatbush forum, Spivack reviewed the FBI investigation of Skolnick’s alleged crimes. The rabbi is accused of posing as a teenage girl online and soliciting underage boys to send him explicit photos. At least one boy complied, and Skolnick threatened to release them publicly after the boy said he wouldn’t send more. Spivack said there is no evidence at this time suggesting that Skolnick inappropriately touched students or distributed the photos.
According to the FBI’s criminal complaint, Skolnick admitted that he had requested explicit photos from 20 to 25 people, most of them children. Beyda said he believes that many Flatbush students were solicited.
“The number is really high,” the principal said. “And it’s not going to be surprising to be greater than 100, and maybe more than that.”
Both SAR and Flatbush have policies governing the reporting of sexual harassment, teacher communication with students and the boundaries of teacher behavior with students. SAR conducted a background check before Skolnick was hired that came up clean, as did an FBI check. Beyda said Flatbush has an extensive interview and reference-checking process, and now does criminal background checks as well.
Advocates for preventing sexual abuse in the Jewish community said that the key for schools is to recognize and prevent what are called “grooming” behaviors — actions such as inviting kids over for sleepovers or luring them to secluded spaces — that lay the groundwork for abuse.
“If you see a rebbe insisting that a child spend Shabbos at his house without any other supervision there, that’s a red flag,” said Asher Lovy, the director of community organizing for Zaakah, which combats child sex abuse in the Orthodox community.
Joel Avrunin, the parent of a child who allegedly was sexually abused by a rabbi at a Jewish camp in Maryland, said that schools should hire an external firm to investigate Skolnick’s behavior and the school’s response to it. That’s what SAR did following revelations that Stanley Rosenfeld, an assistant principal at SAR in the 1970s who later taught English there, had abused students.
“What are the schools doing to find out the extent of his involvement with children?” Avrunin asked. “I’d like to see any school first hire an outside investigator. Who did he have contact with and what anti-grooming policies did the schools have in place?”
Baruch Sandhaus, now 52, claims Falk “would inappropriately touch” his penis in 1980, shortly after he started ninth grade at age 13, according to the lawsuit.
Falk, 74, who still lives in Brooklyn, now serves as the principal of Hebrew studies at Toras Zev, a Lakewood, N.J. yeshiva.
Sandhaus, a Florida businessman, said he is horrified that Falk is working with boys.
“It is devastating for me to hear that Falk is still working at a yeshiva. This man should not be around kids. I don’t want any children to suffer the way I did,” Sandhaus told The Post.
While in the ninth grade, Sandhaus confided in Falk that he had been abused by fellow Rabbi Joel Kolko in elementary school. Falk spent time counseling the troubled teen — and then abused him as well, he alleges.
Sandhaus complained at the time to the Midwood yeshiva, but a dean warned the family to keep quiet about the allegations or he “could not guarantee the safety” of the boy and his siblings, he contends.
The yeshiva kept Falk as a rabbi and principal until 1989. He was never criminally charged.’
But it settled with two other former students who alleged abuse by Kolko, paying them a total $2.1 million in 2016, The Post reported. Sandhaus also names Kolko in his suit.
Reached at the Lakewood yeshiva, Falk refused to discuss the allegations, telling The Post, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to take this call.”
Sandhaus filed suit in Brooklyn Supreme Court under the Child Victims Act, which opened a one-year window for people of any age to seek damages against their alleged abusers, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
Survivors for Justice, an NYC-based advocacy group, sent a copy of the lawsuit to the Lakewood yeshiva — and urged it to take precautions.
“It would be unfortunate if Toras Zev joined a long line of ultra-Orthodox yeshivas covering up allegations of child sex abuse and protecting the reputations of child molesters in their employ,” said spokesman Ben Hirsch.
When a nursing home chain collapsed last year, its default on $146 million in loans became the biggest loss in the 60-year-history of a HUD loan-guarantee program, according to a new investigative report.
The New York Times reported Friday on Rosewood Care Centers’ backing by a Department of Housing and Urban Development that insures some 15% of U.S. nursing homes.
While HUD officials told the newspaper the Chicago company’s demise was an “outlier,” the Times outlined a lack of record keeping and oversight around HUD’s nursing home loan insurance program. It has left some worried about its future.
The program helps senior care facilities secure lower-cost loans, promising to cover them if the owners balk. The program now guarantees $20 billion in mortgages for more than 2,300 nursing homes, the Times said.
At Rosewood, owners never filed required financial statements with HUD. Investor Rabbi Zvi Feiner purchased Rosewood and its 13 nursing and assisted living facilities in late 2013.
He has since been sued in connection with Rosewood and other investments, with vendor plaintiffs going after debts and investors claiming misappropriation.
A Conversation in a Government Office Where Passports are Issued and What to Make of It All
The events described below happened at about 8:00 am on September 24, 2019. Names have been changed from those having the conversation for the purposes of privacy.
The eyewitness was across the room and the conversation was not completely clear. This is therefore being brought to your attention as a point to think about.
What is relayed below is what was audible and could be overheard:
Customer: Hello, here are the the documents for my wife’s passport.
Clerk: Sir, her name on the identification documents does not match the name on the forms you submitted.
Customer: Her name is Tova. She goes by Tova. That’s her name. She needs a passport.
Clerk: Yes, okay, sir. But the documents say Leah. The name on the form must match the documents.
Customer: No. Ma’am. She goes by Tova and we were told that is okay. Tova is her name. It is what is used on other forms. The birth certificate, see, her middle name, its Tova.
Clerk: Sir. But the name on the documents must be as listed on the identification documents.
Customer: Yes. But I came in before. I spoke with someone. They said it was okay. She isn’t called Leah. She’s called Tova. So, I spoke with someone and that person said that we could use the name my wife actually uses. I was told there is a way to do it, to write it. And, its fine.
Clerk: Okay, well, if you were told it is okay, your wife must fill out the form with something that says that she is also known as. Have her fill out the form and add that and then come back to me.
END OF AUDIBLE CONVERSATION –
This all may be very innocent. The person overhearing the conversation could not see the content of the documents presented to the clerk.
But, if the passport is accepted by the government agencies, what if Tova actually already has a passport in the name as documented, Leah? And, what if she is then issued two passports?
While the person relaying this conversation said it was difficult to hear, it is conceivable that the State will issue this woman a second passport using her middle name, based upon the responses of the customer.
If, indeed, it is easy to have passports issued in names that are similar to but not exactly those names on the identification papers is somewhat unsettling. This would mean that it is possible for someone to carry two passports with different names and use each for different purposes. One person effectively becomes two.
This entire conversation could be meaningless. The departments that issue passports could return all documentation as invalid. But, it is something to think about.
People Should Be Outraged, Rabbi Feiner Settles Suit with the SEC; but it is Hard to Imagine any Sense of Remorse Given Comments by his Attorney to Crains
Crain’s Chicago Business reported the below information about the SEC settlement with Rabbi Zvi Feiner and the associates who swindled fellow Jews out of millions. But just to throw salt in the wound, the attorney representing Feiner and FNR, Mr. Ariel Weissberg a respected Chicago attorney, in his comments stated that his client doesn’t have the financial means to pay the SEC fines (or presumably to repay his victims). We wonder how much his attorney is getting paid to have thrown that salt in wounds of Feiner’s victims. This is not intended to in any way malign an attorney who did well by his client.
Should there not be a sense of outrage?
There is something very, very wrong with the statements made by Feiner’s attorney throughout the entire article, but perhaps the last paragraph speaks volumes about the righteous indignant response of the defendant. The last paragraph in the article reads as follows:
Feiner settled two civil suits, even though one ended in a judgment in his favor, Weissberg said. “It was the right thing to do,” he explained. “In the Jewish Orthodox community, that’s what we aim for. . . .There’s a higher authority that needs to be answered.”
Really? In the Jewish world we should not be committing these crimes at all. There is nothing about this entire incident, lasting years, that reflects “the right thing to do.”
A Rabbi, someone who had the respectability of his community, should be held to an almost unachievable standard of decency. Rabbi Feiner used the respect of those around him to lure them in and then he financially harmed his investors.
A braggadocios statement saying that the SEC fines will not be met because the Rabbi doesn’t have the financial means (as he apparently spent or repatriated that money to another country) should be leaving everyone with a really sour taste.
It is time that the Orthodox community remove the Hasmachut (Rabbinical Ordination) of those who commit crimes against the Jewish community. If, indeed, we are all looking to the same “higher power.”
A Chicago rabbi and a business associate settled charges they operated a Ponzi scheme that triggered a $146 million default, the biggest ever for a federally insured loan program for nursing homes. Still at issue is how much the rabbi, Zvi Feiner, will pay.
Feiner, Erez Baver and their Skokie firm, FNR Healthcare, were accused by the Securities & Exchange Commission of defrauding an elderly Holocaust survivor and other members of Chicago’s Orthodox Jewish community. They siphoned off at least $11.5 million raised from 62 or more investors to buy nursing homes and assisted-living facilities throughout the Midwest, according to a complaint filed Sept. 19 in federal court here.
Feiner, 49, is an ordained Orthodox rabbi and sole owner of FNR. Without telling investors in limited liability companies, according to the complaint, he sold facilities owned by other LLCs and used at least $9 million in proceeds to pay other investors and lenders. Baver, 39, is FNR’s executive vice president. He and his company, Cedarbrook Management, received more than $2.5 million for personal use, the filing said.
While Baver and Cedarbrook have agreed to pay back about $2.25 million and a civil penalty to be determined, Feiner and his attorney are negotiating a figure. “It’s going to be a big number,” said Ariel Weissberg, a Chicago attorney representing Feiner and FNR. Whatever it is, Weissberg added, “he won’t be able to satisfy it because he doesn’t have the financial resources.”
Baver’s attorney, Stephen Rosenfeld of McDonald Hopkins’ Chicago office, said he would check with his client before commenting.
Starting in 2010, Feiner solicited funding for 20 LLCs including four cited in the SEC complaint. One of those four, Rosewood Care Centers, operator of a dozen nursing homes and an assisted-living facility in Illinois and St. Louis, was seized last year by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development after defaulting on HUD’s $146 million loan.
The Personal Assets of Platinum’s Partners and Their Wives – Who Owns What? It is Well Hidden, The Trust Confusion
EDITED 9.23.19 3:49PM
We have posted a tax grievance filed by the wife of Mark Nordlicht, Dahlia Kalter. In the interest of privacy, we have redacted both the property address and the telephone numbers, though they are accessible publicly.
To provide some background, Mark Nordlicht along with one of the partners was convicted in the Black Elk scheme and has unsurprisingly appealed that conviction. But, perhaps the Judge who has yet to rule on the appeals, might want to consider what has happened to assets and the concerted efforts (often apparently confusing) to keep those assets hidden.
The holding companies/trusts/family investments vehicles are so confused, it would seem, that those charged with managing them and defending them (against things like tax assessments) can’t keep them straight.
The paperwork speaks for itself…
The losses to Black Elk Investors, well… those should somehow be recoverable. Perhaps one of the many trusts the money could have seeped into?
Jerusalem The Jerusalem District Court has ruled that a new psychiatric report is needed to assess if former Melbourne school principal Malka Leifer is fit to face an extradition trial over child sex abuse allegations.
Judge Chana Miriam Lomp on Monday presented a distant deadline of December 10 for the new assessment to be filed by three psychiatrists, in order for the court to decide if Leifer is truly mentally unfit, or faking her illness.Now at hearing 57, the case to try and bring the former principal of the Ultra- Orthodox Adass Israel school in Elsternwick in Melbourne’s south-east back to Australia to face 74 charges of rape and child sex abuse has met countless delays.
Judge Lomp in court said the evidence she had seen hadn’t reached a significant benchmark to automatically state that Leifer had been feigning her illness and therefore was fit enough to face justice.
Manny Waks, chief executive officer of the child sex abuse prevention group Kol v’Oz, said after the hearing that the decision was the “worst-case scenario”.
“It leaves the entire case in limbo and it’s just prolonging the pain and suffering to Leifer’s alleged victims,” Waks said.
Dassi Erlich, one of the survivors of Leifer’s alleged abuse who has been fighting to bring Leifer back to Australia for eight years, said the ruling left her feeling defeated.
In five years of court hearings, 30 psychiatrists have already been involved in determining if Leifer is fit to face extradition trial.
“How is this not enough? How many more psychiatrists need to weigh in? How much more emotional pain?,” Erlich said after the hearing.
“We are defeated but we will not give up.”Erlich and her two sisters intended to travel to Israel from Melbourne for the court hearing but cancelled their plans due to the continual and exhausting delays in the justice system.”We’ve decided to push off our trip to Israel and reserve our energy until there is more certainty regarding next steps in this long process,” Erlich announced earlier in the month.
Allegations of child sex abuse were first raised against Leifer in 2008.
The continual delays in court and the findings that Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman acted to have medical assessments altered in Leifer’s favour has raised question marks around Israel’s judiciary.
Decisions will stretch out even further legal proceedings to extradite alleged sex offender which have taken nearly six years
Judge Chana Miriam Lomp said that since there has been a considerable of conflicting information and testimony on the case she needed to hear from a new expert panel in order to make a definitive ruling on Leifer’s mental fitness.
A hearing on October 6 in the Jerusalem District Court will determine which psychiatrists will be on the three-member panel.
The panel will be expected to issue its opinion by December 10.
The decision will mean that the legal efforts to extradite Leifer to Australia which have already taken six years will drag on even longer, frustrating Leifer’s alleged victims and activists who have waged a concerted campaign for Leifer to stand trial in Australia.
Leifer is standing trial for extradition on 74 counts of sexual abuse in Australia against sisters Dassi Erlich, Ellie Sapper and Nicole Meyer while she was principal of an ultra-Orthodox school, but has for many years claimed to be mentally unfit for extradition.
Jewish Community Watch stated that it was very disappointed with the judge’s decision to consult with a new expert panel.
“After more than 57 court hearings, the court has pushed off the decision once again and assigned it to yet another group of psychiatrists,” said JCW.
“The real decisions the court has made today is that it wishes to be seen as an international embarrassment instead of a justice system which protects the most vulnerable.
“We continue to support the survivors, who have waited far longer than any victim should have to in order to simply face their alleged abuser in court. Their fight for justice is our fight, and we hope the community will rally around them until such time that Leifer is finally extradited back to Australia.”
Leifer’s lawyer Attorney Yehuda Fried spun the decision as in favor of his client arguing that “the court has determined that the state has not lifted its burden [of proof] and argued that the ruling meant Leifer would not be extradited.
Fried also said that he would petiiton the court to release Leifer from prison where she has been held since she was rearrested in 2018.
Leifer fled Australia to come to Israel in 2008, but legal proceedings against her only began in 2014.
A psychiatric panel ruled on Leifer’s case at the beginning of the legal proceedings against her that she was fit to stand trial for extradition to Australia but a private investigation into her situation in 2017 conducted on behalf of the Jewish Community Watch organization raised severe questions over her supposed psychiatric incapacity to stand trial.
The police subsequently initiated its own investigation and arrested Leifer in 2018 on suspicion of feigning mental illness to avoid extradition.
In May 2017 after a previous hearing in the District Court, private investigator Tzafrir Tzahi who carried out the private investigation into Leifer, said that his team had observed Leifer for two weeks and that her behavior and functioning seemed perfectly normal.
“During the investigation we saw that she was functioning like a normative woman and mother,” said Tzahi.
“She does the shopping, hosts her children on Shabbat, goes to the grocery store, goes to the post office, speaks a lot on the cell phone, laughs, converses with people, nothing that could indicate a problem with her daily functioning,” he continued, adding that they had also witnessed her writing cheques and paying bills.
Tzahi noted that Leifer does not work, but that she occasionally goes to Bnei Brak, alone by public transport, for various arrangements and also to meet one of her children.
He also stated that during the entire two weeks his team had tracked her they had not seen her husband once.
Childhood Sexual Abuse and its Aftermath, “Unbelievable” and a Rabbi on Trial…
The following is being posted with permission in its entirety from the website of Larry Noodles. We encourage you to view the article and the website by clicking here. The permission granted should not be deemed an endorsement of our site by the author.
The article, “State v. Daniel Greer – Day Three” is a summary from the trial of Rabbi Daniel Greer, affectionate referred to by Larry Noodles as “The Goat.” This is explained in an earlier article.
Day Three is a summary the testimony of Lisa Melillo, an expert in forensic interviews of victims of sexual abuse, a summary of the testimony of Shira Mirlis, the wife of one of the victims and a summary of the testimony of Dr. Gabrial Fagan, an expert on Orthodox Jewish child molesters. It is being re-posted here by LM in the context of new developments at a number of acclaimed institutions of religious learning, now confronting abuses that occurred within their midst.
Childhood sexual abuse is complicated, devastating and has lifelong implications. As described in a recent Netflix television series, “Unbelievable” which is a true account of a serial rapist – [altogether unrelated to a religious community] a victim walks around with the aftermath of sexual abuse for a lifetime as if carrying a bullet fragment in the spine. Nothing could be more accurate. The relevance of that series to this article lies with the victim, Marie, who was destroyed not only by her rapist but by the handling of her case by the investigators, the responses of those she trusted and the recriminations that followed.
Childhood victims of any sexual assault are forever altered. Their sexual encounters are never completely healthy following abuse, no matter how much therapy a victim undergoes. And most childhood victims do not get therapy.
The nature of childhood sexual abuse is further complicated and made deeply tragic when the abuser is of the same sex as the abused. Not only does the guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-loathing and diminished self-esteem become part of a victims’ psyche; but also in victims of same gender abuse, the victimized is forced to confront the questions of sexuality that accompany that abuse.
For communities that have chosen to hide the abuse, childhood victims are victimized, repeatedly, over and over, by each and every person who knows, knew or suspected and said nothing. The complacence, if not disgraceful cover-ups within that community, are daily reminders, constant betrayals. The community enables the abuser and leaves the abused with a terminal sense of demoralization.
Children very rarely will report abuse that has not actually happened. Sometimes those children do not understand the nature of what has occurred until they are older, when the “bullet to the spine” is so deeply ingrained in their persona that confronting it risks changing a familiar reality. Adult victims of childhood sexual violence who have lived a lifetime with memories of abuse know that there are moments when the nightmares they confront provide comfort. An alternative reality risks leaving a frightening void.
Children do not know enough to invent sexual confrontations that did not occur. They are innocent enough to not always know they have been abused. Children of insular communities generally are not taught sexuality until they are in early adulthood, and trying to tie in childhood memories with young adult realities can be confusing, unsettling and overwhelmingly terrifying. And then there is the guilt and the shame.
For those of you who are reading this and engaging in the very same cover-ups intended to protect the good name of your community, understand that you are equally as complicit in the abuse as if you had committed it yourself. For members of the justice system, those whose jobs it is to investigate these cases, understand that children do not make up stories of uncomfortable sexual encounters. Tread lightly. You are dealing with the fragile psyche of a child or the shattered life of an adult victim.
Children can misread signs but there is a fine line. Treading lightly on the side of the victimized child is often the better side of valor. Children do not have enough information to invent those stories, particularly not children of religious communities.
For those tasked with hearing new cases that are being filed by childhood victims, do not take your task lightly. The courage of a victim does not come easy. It is like being dragged in gravel while tied to a truck moving at 100 miles per hour. It is agonizing, harrowing, humiliating and can seem endless. Think of the sound of nails scratching sharply on a blackboard, a diamond needle scratching along the vinyl of a record album, and understand you have been tasked with hearing a story that should be disturbing to hear but is far nearly unendurable to tell. Please take your responsibility with the depth of gravity the children and adults deserve.
For a victim the experience of telling the story is heart-rending and scarring and jarring and summoning that level of strength is nothing short of heroic. Children deserve better from our society by not having their stories ignored.
For children or parents of children who are being victimized, please come forward. Your time is now. You will be paving the way to a brighter future for yourself or your child. If you have lived in silence, don’t be afraid of your new reality. You are finally able to seek justice. Take the reins in your hand and ride with them.
There will never be light, just fewer less frightening shadows.
In the case of the State of Connecticut v. Daniel Greer the State presented the testimony of Lisa Melillo. Melillo is an expert in forensics interviews of victims of sexual abuse. Melillo discussed “delayed disclosure.” She testified that children have fear of not being believed or fear of family reaction or fear of getting into trouble. Children may not know that they are being abused, they don’t have sexual knowledge. Children have loyalty to their abuser and love their abuser. In most cases the children know their abuser well. There are very few cases of “stranger danger.” Most cases the sexual abuse occurs as part of a relationship with the abuser, separate from the abuse, it could be a family member. Children fear that they could suffer economic consequences, that their father will be thrown in jail, the family will be broken up, they will have no money. Melillo said children fear going into foster care if they report the abuse.
Melillo said teenage victims don’t perceive themselves as victims. They can be tricked into thinking that they are not being abused. They think that they are in a legitimate relationship. Males are socialized not to be victims. The stigma of homosexuality prevents victims from making a report.
Melillo testified that there is a power relationship that goes on with sexual abuse. The adult has more power over the child than the child has over the adult. We socialize children to obey adults, ie., police officers, teachers, etc… Children have the fear of punishment, or may even be threatened overtly by the abuser. The child perceives the adult as someone who can get them in trouble. The teaching method of “good touch bad touch” to teach children about abuse is no longer used by therapists. A bad touch can feel good to the child. The child is conflicted, as the body is responding in a pleasurable way.
Melillo testified that children “accommodate” the abuse by keeping it a secret. The children feel shame and embarrassment. They feel that they are damaged. Children try to protect themselves, everything will be OK if I just don’t tell. They protect themselves by maintaining a secret. Kids don’t have the resources to help themselves and they feel helpless and trapped. The kids feel they have to accommodate the relationship.
Melillo testified that after kids make a report they have a hard time trying to pin down the details of individual episodes, especially if the abuse has been going on for a long period of time. They may remember the first or last incident. If the abuse has been going on for years it is difficult for them to pin down times, dates and locations. Melillo testified that the children may share other activities with the adult. The sexual abuse may be one part of the relationship. The child also has positive interactions with the adult.
Willie the Dow cross examined Melillo. The Dow pointed out that she testified 36 times in Court, and in each case she testified for the State. Melillo said she would testify for the defense but no defense attorney ever asked her. The Dow pointed out that some people make false reports. The Dow asked Melillio whether the majority of Melillo’s 600 forensic interviews were with young children and not teenagers. Melillo said a large portion of her interviews are with adolescents and teenagers. The Dow obviously didn’t do his homework, he didn’t score any points. The Dow is down, its a bear market in the Goat stock exchange. The Dow pointed out to Melillo that she did not meet with the victim nor did she meet with the Goat. Why would anyone want to meet the Goat?
Melillo testified that the first sexual assault or sexual experience is the most memorable. The Dow asked her if someone left out crucial information in their report of their first assault whether that would that be important. The Dow tried to hammer Mirlis about the fact that in court he mentioned that the Goat touched his crotch on the first assault while in the police report Mirlis did not mention anything about the Goat touching his crotch. The Dow asked Melillo whether “leaving a crucial part about the crotch touch” was important. If this is the best defense that the Dow has for the Goat the State of Connecticut should start to get a jail cell ready for the Goat.
The Dow asked Melillo about whether the victim’s claim would be valid if the victim invited the abuser to a Christening or a bris, do you know what a bris is?” Melillo smiled and said she knew what a bris was and nodded her head. The Dow didn’t have to Dowsplain a bris, although I believe the Dow wanted to explain it to her and show off how educated he has become on Jewish customs.
The Dow made Melillo admit that some factors can be evidence of abuse while the same factors can be evidence of no abuse. Honoring the abuser or severing ties with the abuser can both be evidence of abuse. The Dow didn’t score any points with his cross examination.
Shira Mirlis was called up next to the witness stand by the State of Connecticut. She testified that she is the wife of Eli Mirlis, she has three kids, she went to seminary and then to Israel. Her relationship evolved very quickly with Eli when she met Eli in Israel. Shira testified that Eli told her that he was molested by a “rabbi” when she first met him in 2005. He said he was “molested by the rabbi of the yeshiva of new haven, he was crying when he said this.”
Shira testified that the day Eli was supposed to go back to the United States with Shira he got a call that his father had passed away. Eli was devastated and was very worried about his siblings. Eli was 18 and Shira was 19. Eli was the oldest of six other siblings. Eli and Shira went to the United States and went to the funeral and Eli sat shiva. The goat was at the funeral and may have been at the shiva. After 30 days there was shloshim. Shira was not present at the shloshim. Shira testified that Eli was very protective of his siblings during the thirty days before shloshim.
Shira testified that in 2007 she and Eli got engaged and planned a December wedding, on December 16th. The summer that Eli’s father died the Goat called Eli and said he wanted to meet him to discuss something. The Goat told Eli to meet him at the Branford Motel. Eli told Shira that he wasn’t sure what the Goat wanted. Eli assured Shira that he wasn’t going to let anything happen to him when he was with the goat. After Eli went to the hotel Eli called Shira and asked her to come to the Branford Motel, after the Goat had left. When she talked to him she knew something happened between the Goat and Eli, she could tell by the sound of his voice. Shira went to the Motel and Eli was crying and told her something had happened. Eli didn’t want to discuss the details about what happened between him and the Goat. Shira said Eli had sexual activity with the Goat at the motel and Eli was upset and regretted it. Shira wanted to be supportive of Eli and didn’t press him on all the details. Shira didn’t want Eli to go to the motel with the Goat in the first place.
Shira testified that the Goat was at her wedding, he signed the marriage contract, the ketuba, but she didn’t see him sign it. Shira testified that there were 400 people at her wedding. She said she had no interaction with the Goat. She said that there was a mechitza in the wedding hall, separating the men from the women. She testified that the men dance with the men and the women dance with the women at a Jewish wedding. She testified that she didn’t trust Daniel Greer. She said that she kept a close eye on Eli when he interacted with the Goat. She said she didn’t understand the relationship between Eli and the Goat but she dealt with it the best she could.
Shira testified that she had a sheva brachot, a party after the wedding, at Avi Hack’s house in New Haven. Larry Noodles was at this sheva brachot in December of 2007. Nobody called me to the witness stand. If I was called to the witness stand I would attest that the Goat stopped in the sheva brachot for about two minutes and left. I found it strange that the Goat didn’t stay as I knew Mirlis was a former student. I would think that the Goat would want to stay at the party as he was Eli’s rabbi. I didn’t know Eli at the time. I was asked to attend the party because they needed a minyan for the sheva brachot, and Avi couldn’t scrounge together enough people in the community to come by to make the minyan. Some of Eli’s friends from the goat high school were there.
Shira testified that after she got married she went to New Haven during the Jewish holidays and occasionally on Shabbos. She testified that she fought with Eli about going to New Haven. She said she “couldn’t look at” the Goat. Shira testified that she almost died giving birth to her first son, she hemorrhaged. Shira was in the hospital. She didn’t realize that Eli chose the goat as the sandek and Dov as the mohel. Shira was very upset that Eli chose Dov and the goat to be part of the bris. She knew that the Goat paid for the bris so she went along with it. She said that Eli was making very little money at the time. They were both about 20 years old. She didn’t like the goat holding her son. Shira testified that she had two miscarriages before her son was born, and she didn’t want the goat to touch her son, after all she went through to have a baby. Why is it so easy for rich old Goats to manipulate young people with no money?
Shira testified that Eli eventually told her the gory details of his relationship with the Goat. She said that the Goat and Eli look normal in public. She said Eli told her that “he didn’t like the goat going into him, and mostly the Goat gave him head but when he gave the goat head he wouldn’t let the goat cum in his mouth.” She had a very sick and disgusted look on her face when she explained this to the jury. She said that Ele cried when he told her these details.
The Dow cross examined Shira. The Dow asked Shira why she didn’t want “Dove” Greer involved in the bris. Shira corrected the Dow and said “Dov” Greer not “Dove.” The Dow said there is “Ezi, is that how you pronounce it, and the Hack, and the operation, you know what I am talking about.” The Dow asked Shira if the Jewish community all ate at the same kosher stores, all went to the same shuls and was not unlike another “ethnic community, such as Wooster Square, St. Michael’s Church, Pepe’s Pizza, you know what I am talking about?” Shira looked at the Dow as if he was from planet Mars.
At one point during the cross examination of Shira the Goat pulled the Dow aside and they had a little sidebar whisper conference at counsel’s table. After they finished the Judge asked whether there was any other issues the Dow wanted to raise. Willie the Dow told Judge Alander that he wanted to read a passage of St Paul from the Corinthians. The Judge asked the Dow how that would be relevant. The Goat looked angry. I can’t believe that the Goat requested that his Attorney read a passage from the Corinthians. The Goat would never allow a copy of the Corinthians in his Goat shul.
The Goat is not losing his religion. Even though I had reported that Willie the Dow told Judge Alander that the Goat had surgery scheduled on September 30th, which falls on Rosh Hashana. I heard wrong. The Dow wanted to introduce medical records of the Goat’s prior hernia operation which was on September 30th of some year, which may not have been on Rosh Hashana.
The Dow asked Shira whether she ever told Eli to report the Goat to the police. Shira said she always told Eli to report the Goat to the police. The Dow asked Shira whether she knew that there was a police department in Lakewood, where she lived at the time. The state objected. Objection SUSTAINED
The Dow asked whether Shira ate at the Goat house when she came to New Haven after 2008. Shira interjected that she “RARELY” went to the Goat’s house for meals. The look on her face is one of revulsion when she talks about the Goat. She is very convincing. The jury was riveted by her testimony.
The Dow introduced a copy of the Gan Gathering ad book, showing the ad placed by Mirlis. The Gan gatherings were fundraising dinners that the Goat had every year. I went to many of these gatherings. I have been looking for old ad books for historical purposes, if you have any drop me a line. The Dow asked Shira whether she ever placed an ad on the Gan’s ad book for their “annual anniversary event.” They were fundraising events not “anniversary events.” The Dow is down another 100 points on the world markets.
The State called Dr. Gabriel Fagan, an expert on Orthodox Jewish child molesters, to the witness stand. Fagan graduated from John Jay University and Yeshiva University. Dr. Fagan testified that he works with victims of child abuse as well as perpetrators of abuse, and provides counseling. Dr. Fagan was dressed in black pants, a white shirt, a black jacket, a long brown beard, glasses and a black velvet yarmulke. Dr. Fagan stated that he has testified in a Jewish rabbinical court but never in secular court. The State’s attorney said to Fagan, “Obviously you’re Jewish…” Dr. Fagan interjected, “most people think I am Amish.”
Willie the Dow introduced himself to Fagan before the Court proceedings in the bleachers. The Dow asked Fagan whether he knew what New Haven was famous for. Fagan shook his head. The Dow told him that New Haven was famous for its pizza. The Dow told Fagan that “you people should get out more you would like the pizza.”
Fagan testified that not all Orthodox Jews have beards, he said some don’t have beards for business purposes, others for hygeine purposes. Some see it as law or a common custom. He said most Orthodox Jews wear black jackets and white shirts, as they are very “fashionable.” Some people in the courtroom laughed. Fagan said his clothing is simple, and related to issues of modesty.
Dr. Fagan testified about Orthodox schools and why the sexes are separated. He said that most Orthodox Jews won’t date prior to marraige. There is a strong culture not to engage in pre-marital sex. When you put a bunch of teenagers together there is a risk of pre-marital sex that could lead to mixed dancing. I added the mixed dancing. Fagan didn’t mention mixed dancing.
Fagan said boys and girls learn differently which is a good reason to keep them separated for educational purposes. He said this is a well accepted custom for thousands of years, and Jewish law. He said that the difference between the Orthodox and the non Orthodox is the acceptance of the oral law. There is a way to do everything from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. There are 613 commandments, that are expanded on in the oral law, which covers marriage, monetary laws, weddings, bris. The Torah is seen as a blueprint on orthodox life, with the oral law providing additional explanation and commentaries on the meaning of all the laws. The laws apply from the day you are born until the day you die. For Orthodox Jews everything involves community, men need to pray three times a day, they need a quorum of ten individuals, you are always involved in the community, for a school you need a community. You have civic patrols that work with police, you have the EMTs, women who help other women who give birth, when you are sick there are communal institutions that help you, this is what it means to be an Orthodox Jew. The community is extremely central to Orthodox Jewish practice. The Rabbi is the master of ceremonies, in smaller communities a rabbi and his Rebbetzin will be the quarterback for everything in the community. Dr. Fagan testified that without the rabbi in the community there would be chaos. You need rabbis to serve as the conduit as to religious information and guidance.
Dr. Fagan has little coke bottle glasses and speaks quickly with a New Yawk accent. Fagan reminded me of Woody Allen in his rabbi costume in Anne Hall. Dr. Fagan testified that the Orthodox Jewish community has been about ten to fifteen years behind the secular world with regard to issues of sexual abuse in the Jewish community, but today many Jews have written books, formed organizations, and have addressed this issue. Faga said he was aware of these issues in 2002 because he was in the Jewish community as he grew up Orthodox. Formal sex ed was not done in 2002-2003, the time Mirlis alleged that he was raped by the Goat. Fagan said his parents were very open minded and he received information from his parents about the ‘birds and the bees’ as a youngster. He said not as many Orthodox Jewish parents were as open minded.
Fagan said he advises parents that their kids are going to learn about sex one way or another, its better that they learn from their parents rather than someone else Dr. Fagan testified that most Orthodox Jews don’t have televisions and they filter the internet. Jews are highly segregated and not exposed to sexual issues. Jews don’t even have the words to use to speak about sexual topics. There is not even a Yiddish word for sexual abuse.
Dr. Fagan testified that the topic of his PhD dissertation was the issue of why victims did not come forward for a long period of time after abuse. Dr Fagan stated that there is a Yiddish word for the backside, the “tuchos” and most parents use the words “front tushie” and “back tushie” but there are no words for penis or vagina. If children don’t know these words they don’t know that they are being abused if they are touched in this part of their bodies.
Fagan testified that there is a strong focus against “gossip mongering” in the Jewish world. If you speak evil of others you can violate 8-12 commandments. It is inculcated from early on not to speak evil or make accusations against others. Even in kindergarten it is taught not to talk about others, even if someone steals your blocks, you are not supposed to tell the teacher who stole your blocks.
Dr. Fagan testified about how Rabbis are given the highest honor and respect in the Jewish community. The Rabbis are your teachers and as you get older, such as in high school, you may spend 16 hours a day in school. They are your mentors, your guides and teachers, more so than your own parents. Rabbis are part of the connection of chain of events to the Jewish religion, throughout their lives.
Dr. Fagan testified that religious and spiritual conflicts are amplified when the student is abused by a Rabbi who they are close to. The trust is violated. Trust is a central theme in life from the time you are a baby. The relationship between student and rabbi is based on trust, there is reverence, an expectation that this person has additional knowledge to help them in life, when this trust is violated and rocked, the trust gets eroded. A victim is going to have a hard time in social groups, to engage in romantic relationships. If you can’t trust your partner it is difficult to function in a relationship, there is jealousy. Betrayal is another common problem, a crisis of faith, an individual who is part of the community and has a family, and then you have someone who represents that religion and spirituality, it makes the victim question the entire religion. The sense of betrayal comes not just from the person who violated the trust but also a betrayal from God.
Dr. Fagan testified that if someone who is running the place is stealing your wallet, who do you tell? If the Rabbi is running the place and he molests who do you report it to? The dynamic of traumatic sexualization gets amplified. If you have your first sexual encounter in not a typical way, if your first exposure to sexuality is experienced as “icky” or “yukky” it can lead to problems, sexual acting out, excessive pornography. Because masturbation is frowned upon in Jewish world, someone may struggle with sexual self control, he may engage in prostitutes, pornography, etc…
Dr. Fagan testified that in 2006 there was nothing public in the Jewish world on sexual abuse. The first victims who came out felt alone, they felt they were the only ones who were victimized, they got shamed by the community. Victim shaming. If someone came out their entire family was deemed undesirable for marriage. It would effect marriagability. With sexual abuse there is a fear of being seen as “used goods” that people don’t want to talk about.
Fagan testified that a child who is abused will not run away, our brains are like swiss cheese, we look at the good and try not to look at the bad, to justify staying in the house. The Goat did not look happy during this part of the testimony, he pulled the Dow aside, the Dow objected and asked that the testimony be striken. Dow’s Motion to strike testimony DENIED
The Dow cross examined Dr. Fagan. The Dow said that Orthodox communities are not all the same, they may be different whether you are in Passiac or in Crown Heights. The Goat didn’t look happy watching a fellow Orthodox Jew rat him out on the witness stand, spreading loshen hora. Fagan is worse than Larry Noodles! Dr. Fagan told the Dow that most Orthodox schools don’t allow radios, but if they do it is only AM radio rather than FM radio, so they can listen to the Yankees.
The Dow asked Dr. Fagan about rabbinical court. The Dow asked whether Jews are supposed to go to Rabbinical court. The Dow implied that Mirlis was somehow deficient because he didn’t go to a rabbinical court to report abuse, and he went to secular court instead. Nobody in the Jewish world today goes to rabbinical court in order to report sexual abuse.
During the break I spoke with Dr. Fagan. I asked him where he lived. He said he lived in Woodmere, New York. I asked him whether he knew Dov Greer, who lived not too far from Woodmere. Fagan said he never heard of Dov Greer. I pointed to the Goat and said that Dov was his son. The Goat heard our conversation and looked at Fagan to see whether Fagan knew Dov. The Goat hasn’t seen his children in a couple of years. The Goat burned that bridge down a long time ago.
We’re marching on, from the Criminal Court at 235 Church Street, New Haven, on to a conviction without a reasonable doubt, to the outer edges of the flat earth, we’re marching bitterly, goat cliff after goat cliff we are conquering! Yechi Noodles! Moshiach Now!
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Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-Rockland) and Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) held a press conference on the announcement that their legislation to require disclosure of residential properties owned by limited liability companies (LLCs) was signed into law by the Governor.
Under the new law, anonymous LLCs will now be required to share the names and contact information for all owners, managers, and agents associated with the company at the time of a real estate transaction. Currently, it is difficult if not impossible to ascertain the true ownership of anonymous LLCs, leaving municipalities with no person to hold responsible for code violations, illegal building or fines.
Senator James Skoufis said, “Finally, this new law will rip the mask off of these anonymous LLCs that continue to purchase massive amounts of real estate in the Hudson Valley. Neighbors have a fundamental right to know who owns the home next-door to them. Likewise, municipalities are desperate for this disclosure when they seek to hold property owners accountable for illegal building, code violations, and fines; my investigation into code enforcement found that local governments have a difficult if not impossible time tracking down who is responsible for bad-acting LLCs. This new law will help protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods by injecting much-needed transparency into an area of real estate that currently operates in the shadows.”
Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy has fired an associate principal it says was arrested over the weekend for charges that involve pornography production and “inappropriate photos.”
The arrest involves Jonathan Skolnick, an associate principal at SAR’s middle school, who was focused on Judaic studies. The news was shared with parents of SAR Academy students late Monday, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by principal Binyamin Krauss. Skolnick had been at the school for a little more than a year.
“It is shocking to know that someone who we have trusted with our children has been accused of harming them,” Rabbi Krauss wrote to parents, according to JTA. “Despite the practices in place to protect our children, we are not immune to breaches such as the one that seems to have taken place at SAR.”
Papers filed Saturday in federal court appear to charge Skolnick with coercion and enticement, receipt and distribution of child pornography, sexual exploitation of children, and conducting such practices across state lines.
To continue reading in the Riverdale Press click here.
Nearly 200 people attended the We, Too, Are YU March for LGBTQ Representation this past Sunday in New York City. Marchers wore “We, Too, Are YU” t-shirts and pride flag pins and carried signs and pride flags with the Star of David as they marched from nearby Bennett Park to the Yeshiva University campus.
Yeshiva University, an institution affiliated with Modern Orthodox Judaism, has struggled to reconcile biblical prohibitions of homosexuality with its increasingly diverse student body. Within Orthodox Judaism, some rabbinic opinions condemn homosexuality while others attempt to offer acceptance and tolerance to religious LGBTQ individuals. Past events at Yeshiva University have reflected both approaches, underscoring the institution’s struggle to resolve the issue of LGBTQ representation on campus.
Although organized by the College Democrats, an official Yeshiva University club, the event was not approved by the university’s Office of Student Life. Two local Jewish LGBTQ organizations, Eshel and Jewish Queer Youth, helped sponsor and organize the event. The College Democrats are demanding permission for a Pride Alliance club and LGBTQ events, a statement from Yeshiva University President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman condemning homophobic rhetoric, the appointment of an administrator whose role it is to promote diversity on campus, and sessions about tolerance and acceptance of LGBTQ students at orientations.
In a recent statement, Berman wrote that “Yeshiva University strives to be a nurturing and inclusive environment for all our students, ensuring that every individual is treated with respect and dignity.” Berman has put together a committee of rabbis and educators “to address matters of inclusion on our undergraduate college campuses, which includes LGBTQ+.” The committee, he says, will “work on formulating a series of educational platforms and initiatives that will generate awareness and sensitivity and help our students develop a thoughtful, halakhic, value-driven approach to their interactions with the wide spectrum of people who are members of our community.” The statement links to Yeshiva University’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, and says that “the University is committed to ensuring that no member of our administration, faculty, or student body harasses or discriminates against any student or employee.”
Mordechai Levovitz, founder and clinical director of Jewish Queer Youth, noted this statement in his speech at the march. He and other members of the LGBTQ community have criticized Berman for not including any LGBTQ individuals on his committee. During the rally, Levovitz led chants of “nothing about us without us” to protest Berman’s decision.
In the hours before the march, Yeshiva University students, alumni, and staff, as well as representatives from Eshel and Jewish Queer Youth, spoke to a crowd of supporters. Molly Meisels, president of the College Democrats and lead organizer of the march, came out as LGBTQ during the opening speech. “I’m not doing this as an ally, I’m doing this as a bisexual member of the community I am advocating for. I march because I didn’t feel comfortable coming out at YU until right now,” she said, prompting applause from the crowd.
A major frustration within the LGBTQ community is the offensive rhetoric often used by students and professors in classes, particularly those relating to Jewish law. “In my first few weeks at school, I was in a class where the rabbi said that sexual relationships such as incest, bestiality and homosexuality are all sins punishable by death in the Torah,” said Courtney Marks, a march organizer and a student at Yeshiva University’s Stern College, in a speech before the march. “He spoke as if people like me are evil and as if our lives do not matter. This is why I march!” she added, holding back tears.
Molly Meisels (left) and Courtney Marks (right) at the pre-march speeches in Bennett Park. (Credit: Leo Skier)
“I get paid to go to YU,” Joy Ladin, an openly transgender professor at Stern College, told the crowd in her speech. “But queer students are paying to be trashed in classes, to have humanity denied, to have halacha warped around values of homophobia and xenophobia and transphobia, rather than values that recognize that every kind of human being is created in the image of God.”
Ezra Felder, now studying at Columbia University, transferred out of Yeshiva University because of the intolerance he felt as an LGBTQ individual. “It became too much for me to stay in YU as a queer Jew,” he told Moment. “It was really difficult to be in a place where my queerness wasn’t able to be explored.”
LM is reposting the following article written by Joel Avrunin. The Avrunin family has been sued for defamation in conjunction with a report of abuse made by their son. They are currently litigating the matter in Federal Court.
LM has been, for obvious reasons, following the Avrunin defamation case for some time; but has not posted anything about the lawsuit. There is most certainly a chilling effect on litigation.
We are reposting without permission of the author and, as always, will take down anything deemed to be a violation of copyright or inaccurate. Alternatively, we will correct any information if we become aware of inaccuracies or have some reason to believe that information we have been provided is faulty.
On April 18, 2019, Maryland took a big step towards protecting children when Governor Hogan signed a law creating criminal penalties for a mandated reporter who fails to report child sexual abuse. Mandatory reporting laws date back to the Child Abuse and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1974, and require certain people with knowledge of child abuse to report it to authorities. Until this 2019 legislation, Maryland was one of only two US states (the other being Wyoming) to have mandated reporting on the books, but have no criminal penalty failing to report child abuse. Imagine lowering the speed limit to save lives, but then having no tickets for speeding. A law with no penalty is no law at all. While past failure to report could result in civil liability for the person not reporting abuse immediately, Maryland House Bill 787 establishes criminal penalties. Versions of this bill have been proposed in Maryland for over 15 years, so the passage is a cause for celebration.
After my family was victimized in the state of Maryland by a member of the clergy, I learned that Maryland has some of the worst protections for sexual abuse survivors in the United States. Maryland police regularly ignore reports of rape, closing them as “unfounded” at nearly twice the rate in other states. When a victim pushes their case, police in Maryland force victims to sign waivers or recant entirely. And when a victim has the nerve to question the police, Maryland state attorneys are alleged to get aggressive not with sex abusers, but with abuse victims. Maryland also lacks strong anti-SLAPP laws to protect those who report abuse from being sued for defamation by their abusers. Even teachers indicated by CPS for abuse (but not prosecuted) get transferred from school to school, and only in 2018 did Maryland’s largest school system complete CPS background checks of teachers. If you like the beach, you move to Florida. If you like to ski, you move to Colorado. Maryland’s legal environment makes it a sandy beach (or a powdery ski slope) for those who like to sexually abuse children.
In fact, Maryland Delegate C.T. Wilson noted that Catholic priests seeking to escape punishment for abuse in Pennsylvania have been relocating to Maryland. Wilson plainly stated, “Maryland was a repository for bad actors because we had soft laws.”
The first big recent change to Maryland’s hostile environment to victims came in 2017 when Wilson sponsored a bill to expand the civil statute of limitations window from 25 to 38, understanding that it can take decades for abuse survivors to come forward. With a criminal justice system easy on sexual abuse, expanding the civil window is the next best step for victims to obtain justice.
The next big change came in 2018 when I had the honor and privilege to provide testimony to Annapolis in support of the Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act, being championed by Baltimore City States Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Prior to this act, in the rare circumstance police investigated sex crimes, and in the rarer circumstance charges were filed, the rules of evidence in Maryland prevented prosecutors from introducing evidence of other sexual crimes. Maryland’s rules prevented the introduction of patterns of sexually abusive behavior as evidence (including multiple victims). The 2018 law had languished in committee for years, being opposed by Jewish leadership, Catholic leadership, and criminal defense attorneys. Once it got out of committee, it passed, and Maryland took another big step towards protecting children and other victims of sexual abuse. However, the accompanying bill to establish criminal penalties for not reporting child abuse did not make it to a vote in 2018.
In 2019 Maryland took the next big step in victim protection, when the criminal penalties not only got a vote, but were signed into law. I cannot find another article celebrating Governor Hogan signing this bill, and it is quite important in the battle to improve the law and make sure no other family goes through what my family has endured.
Maryland’s failure to report law previously did not address penalties for violations, only penalties for interfering in a report. Maryland Family Law § 5-705.2 stated:
An individual may not intentionally prevent or interfere with the making of a report of suspected abuse or neglect as required by law. A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction, is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding $10,000 or both.
No penalty was established for those who delayed reporting or failed to report altogether. Even Maryland legislators had no idea the gaping hole in their own law. Maryland Senator Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) said,
I was shocked. I didn’t realize that we were only one of two [states without penalties for failure to report]
The new law faced opposition from those who thought the punishment was draconian, and that taking away professional licensing was punishment enough for failure to report. In fact, Del Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery) reportedly said that since the 2015 license revocation law hadn’t been used, they shouldn’t pass more laws. Arguments like these, combined with opposition from the Jewish and Catholic lobbies kept this bill languishing in committee.
(B) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR AND ON CONVICTION IS SUBJECT TO A FINE NOT EXCEEDING $10,000 OR IMPRISONMENT NOT EXCEEDING 3 YEARS OR BOTH.
While this law alone does not solve the sexual assault investigation and prosecution gap in Maryland, it does provide a tool for more progressive prosecutors to begin unraveling this crime.
Unfortunately loopholes still exist. Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-704 defines mandatory reporters as:
…health practitioner, police officer, educator, or human service worker, acting in a professional capacity
But Maryland Code of Family Law Section 5-705 provides an exemption from these laws from clergy if they are:
bound to maintain the confidentiality of that communication under canon law, church doctrine, or practice
Unfortunately, the clergy exemption is still too prevalent in many states. Maryland law does not clearly differentiate between a Rabbi operating within confidential canon law/rabbinic doctrine, and a Rabbi who is working as a teacher, a school principal, a camp director, or a medical doctor. The largest Jewish community in Maryland mostly follows the rulings of the Agudath Israel of America, who requires rabbinic approval prior to reporting abuse. One of the largest religious schools specifically brings questions to Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky who also requires Rabbinic screening of child abuse prior to reporting. Rabbis in Maryland trained at the local Ner Israel rabbinic college advise that when there is an indication of abuse, people should
Call CHANA [our religiously directed private community organization], and together with their guidance and support, they will help you navigate if and when to involve the police, CPS, or whatever may be most appropriate.
Should a school principal, teacher, or healthcare worker be charged under the new mandatory reporting law, the vague wording will put prosecutors and judges in the uncomfortable situation of litigating the intricacies of Jewish law (halacha). Will the rabbis who delay reporting abuse while they run internal investigations be able to claim their behavior is in keeping with canon Orthodox Jewish law? What makes a person a Rabbi? In the ultra-Orthodox world, often a formal ordination (smicha) process is not required, merely a letter from a school principal (Rosh Yeshiva) calling a student a Rabbi. Could a school teacher charged under the new law get a last minute smicha exempting him from the law?
Catholic opposition to clergy reporting is actually starting to abate, led by new initiatives. It certainly helps that prosecutors in Maryland have started to look through files of the archdiocese of Baltimore. As of today, the most vocal opponents of mandatory clergy reporting are not Catholic but Jewish. In response to mandatory clergy reporting laws being debated in neighboring Washington DC and Virginia, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld provided what I would term a strawman argument as he commented:
Turning clergy into policemen is very dangerous…….If we try to hurt how religious societies function, it will hurt children
Ron Halber of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington offered tepid support to clergy reporting, but then walked it back with the caveat:
In some traditions there are privileged communications that take place between religious authorities and parishioners. We want to make sure there’s nothing blocking free exercise
It is ironic that prosecutors in Maryland are investigating the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, but have made no public inquiries into the Jewish Archdiocese (known as the Vaad of Baltimore and Vaad of Greater Washington). A push for mandatory clergy reporting in Maryland as is currently under debate in DC and Virginia would be a great first step.
The problem is that Maryland Code Sections 5-704 and Sections 5-705 are in conflict due to the vague language. The legislature could fix this in at least two ways. First, narrow the legal definition of clergy-communicant privilege by defining who can claim the religious exemption and when. A Priest must have a church, and a Rabbi must have a synagogue. The disclosure must be in a recognized protected conversation. Right now the law fails to clearly differentiate abuse learned through spiritual privilege, and abuse heard through other means, such as while playing a game of basketball. The aforementioned Jewish community group that reportedly chooses which cases to report to police will sometimes refer abuse victims to a Rabbi for therapy. Is that Rabbi required to report child abuse he learns about because he is a therapist, or is he exempt from reporting because he is a Rabbi? The law does not make it clear.
Today I am proud to be participating in a student organized protest at @yeshiva_university The students, former students and their allies are protesting because the administration has refused to give permission for Gay Straight Alliance (!!!???) and has refused to host queer events. Their demands are as follows.
1. That President Rabbi Berman condemn homophobic rhetoric from faculty (!!??) and students.
2. Events involving LGBTQIA+ issues cannot be denied by the Office of Student Life or anyone else on the basis of them being gay (!!!!!!???)
3. An administrator whose job it is to promote diversity inclusion on campus just as YU’s Cardozzo’s School of Law has.
4. Orientation include sessions about LGBTQIA+ acceptance and inclusion.
5. YU students should be allowed to have a GSA.
To any educator (person?) with a shred of dignity or concern for their students this would have happened years ago. On that note I want to say two things about todays protest. (1) The protest has nothing to do with the person harassed me on Sunday (2) I have made person decision to not do LGBQTIA+ activism within the orthodox Jewish space. This is because of my own trauma and I won’t answer any questions about it right now. I made an exception for today because one of the students reached out to me and if we are not supporting queer student organizers then LITERALLY what is the point.
NEW YORK — Hundreds of Yeshiva University students with rainbow flags and stars of David protested on campus Sunday, demanding better representation of LGBTQ students at the school.
“No more silence, no more fear! You are loved if you are queer!” they chanted in unison outside the university’s Mendel Gottesman Library on 185th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. They held colorful signs and wore custom T-shirts with the slogan “We too, are YU.”
The Yeshiva University College Democrats who organized the rally said that “for far too long, LGBTQ+ students have been forced into the closet by the administration,” and are blocked from hosting events and activities touching on LGBTQ issues.
A group of more than 100 YU students, alumni, LGBTQ allies and activists converged on Washington Heights on Sunday morning, Sept. 15 to march for LGBTQ equality and representation at YU. Organizers demanded a statement from President Berman condemning homophobia on campus, approval of LGBTQ-related events on campus, the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at YU, the appointment of an administrator to ensure LGBTQ equality and an orientation session about inclusion and tolerance.
The march, which was organized by the YU College Democrats Club in conjunction with Eshel and Jewish Queer Youth (JQY) — two noted Jewish LGBTQ advocacy groups — began at Bennett Park with remarks from organizers and advocates. The group then marched to the 185th St. Pedestrian Plaza on YU’s Wilf Campus, where they gathered to chant and sing outside YU’s Mendel Gottesman Library. Following the event, marchers had a pizza lunch at Lake Como sponsored by JQY.
“JQY is proud to support the courageous students at YU who are standing up for dignity, safety, and representation,” said Mordechai Levovitz, a former YU student who serves as JQY’s co-founder and clinical director. “On the ten year anniversary of the historic YU Gay Panel — which JQY was honored to organize — this march is indicative of the amazing progress that has taken place among the student body. We wish the same could be said about the administration, which seems to have regressed to censorship, excluding queer voices from conversations about LGBTQ+ issues, and ignoring students’ requests for meetings.”
Though the event was organized by the YU College Democrats, the university itself did not sanction the march. “Yeshiva University strives to be a nurturing and inclusive environment for all our students, ensuring that every individual is treated with respect and dignity,” President Ari Berman said in a statement, noting the university’s pre-existing anti-harassment policy. Berman noted that prior to the march, he convened a team of rabbis and educators, led by Senior Vice President Josh Joseph, and tasked the panel with fostering initiatives to address matters of inclusion with respect to the YU community, including LGBTQ-related issues.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday night, just days after striking a settlement with more than 2,000 local governments over its alleged role in creating and sustaining the deadly opioid crisis.
The filing in New York follows the Sackler family agreeing to relinquish ownership of the lucrative company. The family also agreed to provide $3 billion in cash over several years and future revenue from the sale of OxyContin to assist communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
On Sunday, Purdue’s board of directors approved the settlement, which includes 24 state attorneys general who sued the company, accusing it of fueling the nationwide addiction crisis by aggressively marketing OxyContin while downplaying its potential for addiction.
Following Sunday’s bankruptcy filing, the company’s board members said the deal struck with the thousands of state and local governments will provide billions to combat the country’s opioid crisis.
“This settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis,” said Steve Miller, chairman of Purdue’s board of directors, in a statement to NPR.
“We will continue to work with state attorneys general and other plaintiff representatives to finalize and implement this agreement as quickly as possible,” he added.
The drugmaker said the value of the settlement is about $10 billion, but 26 states opposed to the deal have contested that estimate, vowing to take the Sackler family to state courts in an attempt to tap into the family’s fortune.
Purdue has pointed out that its products were approved by the Federal Drug Administration and that doctors were prescribing them to address patient pain. But the plaintiffs in the suits argue that company officials intensively marketed opioids and downplayed their addictive risks, laying the groundwork for the opioid crisis, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and is often described as a national emergency.
Purdue Chairman Miller says the company has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of settlement negotiations.
“The resumption of litigation would rapidly diminish all the resources of the company and would be lose-lose-lose all the way around,” he said in the statement. “Whatever people might wish for is not on the table now.”
To Continue reading and for access to the Bankruptcy Filing Documents click here.
Inzelbuch, 52, also will be reimbursed $29,000 to pay for a health insurance plan and can earn $350 an hour for litigation services for certain cases. The contract specifies that Inzelbuch is a contractor, not a district employee, making him ineligible for pension system credits.
According to the Asbury Park Press’ Data Universe, the highest-paid school employee in the state has been Diana Lobosco, who has a $297,625 salary as chief administrator/superintendent for the Passaic County Vocational District.
Inzelbuch’s pay also blows away the amounts made by Gov. Chris Christie ($175,000) and top federal government lawyers Attorney General Jeff Sessions ($207,000) and FBI Director Christopher Wray ($172,000).
The board voted 6-0 Thursday to hire Inzelbuch, a special education attorney who graduated from Lakewood High School and who served as board attorney from 2002 until 2012, gaining as many detractors as he did supporters.
In his previous tenure, Inzelbuch was at the center of controversies over sharply increased spending on private religious schools, charges of racial bias, a cheating scandal and regularly poor testing results, but on Friday he said, “It’s a privilege for me to be back.”
“It is my hope to make public school kids and all children a No. 1 agenda item, as opposed to needless and unnecessary distractions the district has endured of late,” he said.
The scheme, which centered on the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, was first laid out in a BuzzFeed News investigation.
Five real estate investors whose business was the subject of a major BuzzFeed News investigation were arrested this week for allegedly defrauding lenders and taxpayers out of millions of dollars in a scheme that targeted New Yorkers at risk of foreclosure.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York charged the men with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
Two years ago, BuzzFeed News revealed how this group of investors turned properties on the brink of foreclosure into million-dollar listings sold on the reality TV show Million Dollar Listing New York.
Amid the lingering effects of the mortgage crisis, Iskyo “Isaac” Aronov and his four partners located homeowners in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods who owed more than they could pay. The partners negotiated with banks to let the property go for far less than market rate, a process known as short selling. Then, with the original owners gone, the partners performed fast gut renovations, installing modern fixtures and marble counters, and resold the homes for north of a million dollars.
Prosecutors this week said Aronov and his team, which controlled every aspect of the short-selling process, traded on “false, misleading and incomplete” information, lying to the government and to lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, failing to disclose unauthorized payments and their business relationships. BuzzFeed News linked the group to nearly 240 homes.
“As alleged, the defendants defrauded mortgage loan holders out of millions of dollars, with taxpayers saddled with much of the loss,” Richard P. Donoghue, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced.
In the process, the partners helped fuel the rapid gentrification of brownstone Brooklyn, displacing black and Latino families who in many cases had lived there for decades, and repopulating the area with young, mostly white professionals.
“What makes their alleged crimes even more egregious was their artificial devaluation of properties that, when resold or ‘flipped,’ resulted in large profits,” said Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, one of several agencies involved in the investigation. “Many of these homes were located in economically challenged areas of New York where affordable housing is at a premium.”
The indictment comes amid a larger crackdown on predatory real estate investment targeting New Yorkers who remain in foreclosure, dubbed an “epidemic of fraud” by an investigative grand jury last year. At least 20 people have been convicted in alleged scams. New York state also passed legislation this year meant to better protect homeowners who had been the target of predatory investment or fraud.
BuzzFeed News found at least 12 lawsuits in which borrowers said they had been deceived by the group.
In some cases, homeowners said the investors got them to sign over the deeds to their homes before the sales went through, claiming it was a normal part of the short-sale process. That gave the investors leverage to pay less, because no one else could buy the house — but this left some homeowners, like Denise Riera of the Bronx, on the hook for mortgages to homes they no longer owned.
Aronov appeared in court in Miami and his bond was set at $500,000, according to court papers. The four other men were arraigned in Brooklyn. Two of them also were released on bond, including Michael Herskowitz, a 40-year-old Brooklyn lawyer.
Since 2015, Herskowitz has been implicated in at least two other schemes targeting borrowers in foreclosure in Florida and Queens. He paid a $281,000 settlement in the Florida case and pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct violation in the second.
Herskowitz’s attorney declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing case. Neither Aronov’s attorney nor those for the three other defendants, Michael Konstantinovskiy, Tomer Dafna, and Avraham Tarshish, replied to requests for comment.
Philip Esformes, who once reigned over a healthcare kingdom that made him a super-rich man, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for paying bribes and receiving kickbacks in a massive $1 billion Medicare fraud case touted by federal prosecutors as the biggest in the nation.
U.S. District Judge Robert Scola said Esformes’ scheme to generate thousands of Medicare patients for his chain of assisted-living and nursing-home facilities in Miami-Dade was “unmatched in our community, if not our country.”
The judge said the taxpayer-funded Medicare program for the elderly and indigent was built on an honor system, and that “Mr. Esformes violated that trust in epic proportions.”
Before Scola issued his punishment, the wealthy Miami Beach business executive sobbed as he apologized to the judge. “I lost everything I loved,” Esformes, 50, said, admitting he was a “broken” man who was “disgusted” by his criminal activity. “I destroyed my marriage. I scarred my three children. There is no one to blame but myself. I accept responsibility for what I have done and regret it.”
Convicted at trial in April of 20 healthcare-related bribery, kickback and money-laundering charges, Esformes gave an emotional 16-minute speech that generally acknowledged his criminal life but also aimed for mercy. He has been held in the Miami federal detention center since his arrest three years ago.
“Your honor, I don’t want this [crime] to be the only legacy I leave behind,” said Esformes, whose lawyers and supporters in the courtroom spoke of his personal and financial charity, especially in the Jewish, medical and academic communities.
Justice Department prosecutor Allan Medina said Esformes not only exploited patients to line his pockets at his chain of 16 assisted-living and skilled-nursing facilities, but “corrupted” the whole Medicare system in his zeal to fill patient beds without providing actual care.
“He corrupted the entire system — the Medicare and Medicaid system,” Medina said. “Philip Esformes had every opportunity. He had wealth, [making] $78 million in 2017. … He has no excuse for what he did. He has no respect for the law. He has no remorse whatsoever.
“He was the boss,” Medina said. “He bullied people to get what he wanted.”
Justice Department prosecutors Medina, Elizabeth Young and James Hayes argued that Esformes had billed $1 billion to the federal health insurance program for questionable services that patients largely didn’t need or even receive between 2006 and 2016. For his sentencing, they estimated the government’s loss at more than $550 million and urged the judge to give Esformes 30 years in prison.
However, one of Esformes’ defense attorneys, Howard Srebnick, argued that the government’s estimated loss to Medicare was grossly inflated. He said the loss was as low as $690,000 and argued for a 10-year sentence.
Scola then cut Esformes a break, saying the loss was between $4.9 million and $8.3 million, which helped reduce the defendant’s potential sentence significantly. Scola called his estimate “highly conservative.”
At a critical juncture before he imposed Esformes’ punishment, the judge seemed willing to lower his final sentence by four years if the defendant agreed to elaborate on his “acceptance of responsibility” in his original statement to Scola. The judge said he would only acknowledge Esformes’ acceptance if he specifically admitted he paid bribes and committed other crimes. But, after Srebnick consulted with counsels Roy Black and Jackie Perczek, Esformes’ legal team chose not to go that route because it would have precluded their appeal of his trial convictions.
“There’s not much more Mr. Esformes will say today about his feelings and remorse,” Srebnick told the judge, arguing he has suffered greatly in federal detention, endured unending shame, and is no longer the arrogant man he was before his arrest.
After the sentencing hearing, Srebnick said Esformes plans to raise critical pre-trial allegations on appeal that had attacked how federal authorities obtained documents and recordings that led to the defendant’s indictment.
“For three years, the government alleged a $1 billion fraud, but today the district judge rejected that grossly exaggerated characterization,” Srebnick told the Miami Herald. “We are optimistic that the [federal] court of appeals will reinstate the magistrate judge’s findings of deplorable prosecutorial misconduct and will vacate the convictions and sentence.”
After ‘deafening silence,’ Harvard opens review of Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to university
No university or charity or scientific society has been more closely associated in the public eye with Jeffrey Epstein than Harvard University, which received approximately $9 million from him over the years.
And no organization has seemingly been more adamant that it had nothing to explain, nothing to review, nothing to refund — even after Epstein later became the nation’s most notorious sexual predator.
That silence ended Thursday.
After refusing to comment for months on its past associations with Epstein and the money it collected as a result, Harvard released a letter from its president late Thursday stating that the school had opened a review into the matter.
“Epstein’s behavior, not just at Harvard, but elsewhere, raises significant questions about how institutions like ours review and vet donors,” wrote Lawrence S. Bacow, who took over as president in June.
Bacow said the school’s review of Epstein’s connections began two weeks ago, and had turned up funds Epstein gave that are still in use.
The Herald’s series of stories on Epstein, Perversion of Justice, also explored how then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta — later President Donald Trump’s labor secretary — agreed to keep the non-prosecution agreement secret from Epstein’s victims. The articles brought renewed scrutiny to Epstein’s years of alleged sex trafficking.
Amid that fresh scrutiny, Epstein was arrested the first week of July and was awaiting trial in New York City when he was found dead in his cell Aug. 10. The death was termed a suicide.
The university “absolutely bears the responsibility to make a concrete statement denouncing its ties to Epstein,” the Crimson said in its editorial. It continued, “Not only did [this] silence further Epstein’s reputation while he was alive, it is also unfair to current Harvard students who must live with the knowledge that Epstein touted his affiliation with their school while University administrators stayed — then as now — silent.”
Harvard did not respond to a request from the Miami Herald for additional comment.
NEW YORK (AP) — The family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma used Swiss bank accounts to conceal the transfer of millions of dollars from the company to themselves, New York state’s attorney general contends in court papers filed Friday.
New York — asking a judge to enforce subpoenas of companies, banks and advisers to Purdue and its owners, the Sackler family — said it has already documented $1 billion in transfers between those parties.
Those transactions include millions shifted from a Purdue parent company to former board member Mortimer D.A. Sackler, prosecutors said in the papers. Prosecutors say Sackler then redirected substantial amounts to shell companies that own family homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons.
The filing, made in a New York court, follows decisions by that state and others to reject a tentative settlement with Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue, announced this week, arguing it does not do enough to make amends for the company’s and family’s alleged roles in flooding U.S. communities with prescription painkillers.
New York, Massachusetts and others contend that the Sacklers drained more than $4 billion from Purdue since 2007, moving much of it offshore to avoid future claims. In its filing Friday, New York told a state judge that the only way it can determine the full extent of those transfers is if all those it has subpoenaed are forced to provide documents detailing their interactions with the Sackler family.
“It is elementary, however, that how the Sacklers moved and tried to hide their money will be key evidence of the liability of all of the participants,” a lawyer for the attorney general wrote the judge.
In 2013, 34 former students of Yeshiva University’s high school for boys, Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (MTA), sued the yeshiva alleging they were sexually abused over three decades by two rabbis and other school staff. In 2014, the case was dismissed by a New York District Court judge who cited an expired statute of limitations.
In February, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Child Victims Act (CVA), which changed the statute of limitations on criminal charges and civil lawsuits involving children. It opened a one-year window, which began on August 14, for new lawsuits to be filed on old cases, allowing adult survivors of child sex abuse to seek restitution. The CVA gave these alumni the opportunity to have their case heard, and they filed suit once again, joined by several other men, totalling 38 current plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs were victims of child sex abuse perpetrated by Rabbis George Finkelstein and Macy Gordon, and three unnamed individuals at MTA, over a 30-year period from the 1950s to the ’80s. Rabbi Gordon is now deceased and Rabbi Finkelstein lives in Israel.
Jay Goldberg, a 53-year-old software developer who lives in West Orange, has joined the lawsuit alleging that he was a victim of abuse at the hands of Rabbi Finkelstein while a student at MTA in the early 1980s. Goldberg’s goal, he said in an interview with The Jewish Link, is “to help the people who aren’t ready to get help, who have been abused and are stuck in a situation where they feel they can’t do anything.”
“If anything comes out of this, I would like it to be if only one, 10, 100 victims who wouldn’t have felt comfortable getting help, will get help. It is not about rehashing the facts, it’s about helping others in similar situations get the help they need.”
He stated emphatically that he does not want to be suing Yeshiva University. “I am not out to destroy YU,” he added.
According to Goldberg, it is not the facts of the case that are in question. “The only issue in question is ‘Are they responsible for what happened 30 years ago?’” he noted. The current law in New York seems to answer that question in the affirmative.
Goldberg’s hope is that this lawsuit will help to end the stigma of child sex abuse for survivors. He feels that most people do not know how to deal with abuse victims.
Lakewood is home to a huge Orthodox Jewish community and the rapid growth has engulfed the town, igniting tensions between the religious and secular societies on many levels.
Each day, we will explore some of the major issues in the community, including the welfare fraud investigation, housing problems and the strains on the education system.
LAKEWOOD — The drive into Lakewood from the Parkway could be confused with any other stretch of county road near the Pinelands. There are farm stands, strip malls, modest neighborhoods and an occasional open field.
Then, you cross the border into Lakewood and the landscape changes immediately. There are suddenly crowded townhouse developments, new multifamily houses going up and members of the Orthodox Jewish community on every sidewalk. Lakewood represents the convergence of almost every issue in New Jersey – race, religious freedom, discrimination, corruption, local politics, school funding, overdevelopment and transportation woes. What makes it unique is the unprecedented growth of the town combined with the complex issues surrounding the booming Orthodox Jewish community.
While tensions have been rising in Lakewood for years, the turmoil has escalated in recent weeks with a showdown over school funding and a high-profile welfare fraud investigation.
The arrests brought renewed attention to Lakewood and highlighted what residents of the Ocean County town already know – Lakewood is changing. This once-faded resort community has become the most complex town in New Jersey.
What makes Lakewood unique?
Lakewood is booming. Thanks to an influx of Orthodox Jews, it has been New Jersey’s fastest-growing town over the last 20 years. It has one of the highest birth rates in the world. Housing is going up at an unprecedented pace.
“It’s probably the most attractive place in the United States today for a young Orthodox Jewish family,” said Rabbi Aaron Kotler, one of the leaders of the Orthodox community. “That’s a phenomenon that certainly didn’t exist when I was growing up, 20 or 30 years ago. But it’s a reality today.”
JERUSALEM — For years, the resentment had been building.
In Israel, Jewish men and women are drafted into the military, but the ultra-Orthodox are largely exempt. Unlike other Israelis, many ultra-Orthodox receive state subsidies to study the Torah and raise large families.
And in a country that calls itself home to all Jews, ultra-Orthodox rabbis have a state-sanctioned monopoly on events like marriage, divorce and religious conversions.
A series of political twists has suddenly jolted these issues to the fore, and the country’s long-simmering secular-religious divide has become a central issue in the national election on Tuesday.
In a country buffeted by a festering conflict with the Palestinians, increasingly open warfare with Iran and a prime minister facing indictment on corruption charges, the election has been surprisingly preoccupied with the question of just how Jewish — and whose idea of Jewish — the Jewish state should be.
“I have nothing against the ultra-Orthodox, but they should get what they deserve according to their size,” said Lior Amiel, 49, a businessman who was out shopping in Ramat Hasharon. “Currently, I’m funding their lifestyle.”
This election was supposed to be a simple do-over, a quick retake to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a second chance to form a government and his opponents another shot at running him out of office.
Instead it has become what Yohanan Plesner, president of the nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute, calls “a critical campaign for the trajectory of the country.”
Blame Avigdor Lieberman, the right-wing secular politician who forced the new election by refusing to join Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition with the ultra-Orthodox. The hill Mr. Lieberman chose to fight on was a new law that would eliminate the wholesale exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the military.
Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers wanted to water it down. Mr. Lieberman refused to compromise.
It may have been a ploy to grab attention, but it struck a nerve. Almost overnight, Mr. Lieberman’s support doubled, and he became an unlikely hero to liberals.
For years, says Jason Pearlman, a veteran right-wing political operative, the two main axes of Israeli politics, religion and the Palestinians, had been “zip-tied” together. Mr. Netanyahu’s longtime coalition was just such a merger — right-wing voters, who favored a hard line toward the Palestinians, and the ultra-Orthodox, who promised a bloc vote in exchange for concessions on religious issues.
“What Lieberman did was to snap those zip-ties, popping the axes back apart,” Mr. Pearlman said.
Secular and liberal leaders from the left and center responded by effectively joining forces with the right-wing Mr. Lieberman against the prime minister’s ultra-Orthodox and religious-nationalist allies.
These rebels say that the mushrooming ultra-Orthodox population, with its unemployed religious students and large families subsidized by the state, is imposing excessive fiscal and social burdens on other Israelis. They are demanding more pluralistic options for marriages and conversions.
They were appalled that the ultrareligious parties were willing to grant Mr. Netanyahu immunity from prosecution, arguing that Mr. Netanyahu was buying his way out of jail by allowing Israel to be turned into a theocracy.
And they are furious at the growing influence of a quasi-evangelistic group of religious-nationalist Jews who espouse anti-feminist, anti-gay views and a far-right, messianic ideology.
“It’s becoming more and more alarming,” said Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the left-wing Democratic Union party. “People are starting to feel threatened.”
The ultra-Orthodox parties insist that they are simply defending a status quo that dates to Israel’s founding and is meant to preserve study of the Torah by its most pious devotees. A compromise with Israel’s then-fledgling religious community gave Orthodox rabbis control over family and dietary laws, among other things, in exchange for their support for the new state.
The ultra-Orthodox now make up only 10 percent of eligible Jewish voters, Israeli pollsters say — compared with 44 percent who consider themselves secular — but they have kept and added to those concessions thanks to their ability to extract promises in exchange for their political support.
“We’re not becoming a smaller minority, we’re becoming a larger minority,” said Yitzhak Zeev Pindrus, a lawmaker from the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism. “But we’re trying to keep it the same way it is.”
The religious-nationalists dismiss the criticism of their intentions as anti-Semitic self-loathing.
“They’re on a hate campaign against anything that has a Jewish aroma to it,” said Eytan Fuld, a spokesman for the right-wing Yamina party.
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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”
“He played it as a joke, but I was completely at his mercy,” Singer recalled. For the rest of his time at Yeshiva, Singer would often wear his tzitzit on the outside of his shirt—though this was regarded as rebellious—for fear that Finkelstein might find an excuse to assault him again.
Jay Goldberg, who attended Yeshiva from 1980 to 1984, says that he endured years of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse from Finkelstein. The rabbi, he said, forced him and others to wrestle with him while he became sexually aroused, and demanded that they hit him repeatedly. Neither Goldberg nor Singer ever reported Finkelstein’s behavior to the school; when one student, identified in a future lawsuit as John Doe 14, finally did, in 1986, Finkelstein allegedly pulled him out of class in a rage, shoved him against a wall, punched him, and threatened him with expulsion. The school took no action during those years other than removing Finkelstein’s office door. In 1991, he was promoted to principal.
During those same decades, another Yeshiva rabbi, Macy Gordon, was also reportedly sexually abusing students. One accuser, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe 2, claims that Gordon sodomized him in his dorm room in 1980. The rabbi “said he was going to punish me for missing class,” the accuser told me. “He laid me across his lap and took my toothbrush and plowed it in and out of my rectum, and it burned. I remember it burned for a very long time after. I can’t go back in time and tell you what I was thinking, but I can only tell you that it lasts forever.” He told me that Gordon also sprayed Chloraseptic on his genitals, remarking that he showed “signs,” by which Gordon meant signs of puberty. Later that year, John Doe 2 tried to kill himself.
In total, Finkelstein and Gordon are suspected of hundreds of acts of sexual abuse at Yeshiva, though they never faced any legal repercussions. Finkelstein was discreetly forced out of Yeshiva in 1995 but quickly found work as the dean of a Jewish day school in Florida and later as the director general of the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, although allegations of abuse followed him to each of these new positions.
Gordon, for his part, enjoyed a thirty-plus-year career at Yeshiva.He also eventually moved to Jerusalem, where, according to the New York Times, he served alongside Finkelstein on the advisory board of the National Council of Young Israel, an organization promoting Orthodox Judaism to liberal American Jews. (The current president of the organization claims that neither rabbi had been involved with the group “to my knowledge.”) In 2002, Dr. Jonathan Zizmor—a celebrity dermatologist whose advertisements were a staple of New York City subway cars for decades—set up a $250,000 scholarship fund in Gordon’s name for future generations of Yeshiva students. (Zizmor claims he knew nothing of the abuse at the time, and when allegations surfaced, he maintained that Gordon was “a great teacher, a great man.”)
In 2013, thirty-four of Finkelstein’s and Gordon’s victims—including Singer, Goldberg, John Doe 14, and John Doe 2—filed a $680 million lawsuit against Yeshiva, alleging that sexual misconduct occurred for decades with the knowledge of the administration and without recourse for victims or punishment for the perpetrators. But by the time the suit was filed, the statute of limitations had expired, and the case was dismissed.
This past February, however, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, signed the Child Victims Act (C.V.A.), which modifies the state’s statute of limitations such that many cases previously dismissed because of the length of time since the alleged crime can now be relitigated. As of this writing, attorneys for the former Yeshiva students—now numbering forty-one—planned to refile the lawsuit with new evidence on August 14, the day the law was scheduled to go into effect. Their hope, one of the attorneys, Michael Dowd, told me, is for Yeshiva to “finally be held accountable for their craven, repugnant, and unconscionable behavior in letting known sexual predators have unfettered access to scores of innocent and unsuspecting boys.” But even if they succeed, it’s far from certain whether the C.V.A. will be able to fundamentally change the culture of secrets and lies that has given rise to scandals such as the one at Yeshiva in the first place.
As child abuse cases against yeshivas mount following a one-year lookback provision, questions turn to legal strategy. Are their fears of bankruptcy warranted?
When a one-year lookback provision created by New York’s new Child Victims Act opened last month — temporarily lifting the statute of limitations on civil child sex abuse cases and allowing survivors of any age to pursue justice through the courts — youth-serving institutions across the state braced for legal fire.
Now, just weeks after the lookback clause went into effect, Jewish institutions across the denominational spectrum are facing legal retribution for allegedly mishandling allegations of child sexual abuse, with claims reaching as far back as the 1950s. In the handful of cases filed thus far, prominent defendants include the National Ramah Commission, the Conservative movement’s camping arm; the Conservative movement’s flagship rabbinical school, Jewish Theological Seminary; Modern Orthodoxy’s flagship institution, Yeshiva University; prominent Modern Orthodox day school Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School (SAR); prominent Modern Orthodox day school Westchester Day School; Yeshiva Torah Temimah, a Brooklyn-based ultra-Orthodox school with a branch in Lakewood N.J.; Oholei Torah, a prominent Chabad yeshiva in Brooklyn; and Temple Beth Zion, a legacy Reform congregation in Buffalo.
Claims leveled against these institutions include negligence in stopping or preventing sexual abuse; breach of fiduciary duties; and the intentional infliction of emotional distress against survivors of childhood sex abuse. Though details among the cases vary, leadership across institutions are alleged to have known about predatory behaviors and failed to act; helped alleged abusers gain entry to other youth-serving institutions; and engaged in intimidation tactics to prevent victims from coming forward.
Yeshiva Torah Temimah, an all-boys charedi school based in Brooklyn, faces a new lawsuit for covering up the alleged sexual abuse perpetrated by Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, who taught at the school from the 1960s throughout the ’80s. Four ex-students previously sued the school, charging Kolko molested them from ages 11 to 13; at the time, the state court tossed the cases after determining claims fell outside the statute of limitations then in place.
(L-R) Barry Singer, Jay Goldberg, David Bressler three of the plaintiffs in the suit against Yeshiva University at a recent press conference announcing their suit against YU. Hannah Dreyfus/JW
(Previously, the school agreed to pay an unprecedented $2.1 million to two former students who accused Kolko of sexually assaulting them. Details of the secret settlements emerged in 2016 when the school failed to make payments. The case marked the first time a New York yeshiva paid off alleged victims of sex abuse, experts said. Kolko, now 72, received a controversial plea deal from then-Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in May 2012 after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment; he did not have to serve jail time or register as a sex-offender.)
Now, the case is being revived under the Child Victims Act. Alleged victim Baruch Sandhaus filed a complaint in Brooklyn Supreme Court last month, alleging that Kolko and another rabbi on staff “would inappropriately touch” his private parts on various occasions between 1978 and 1980, when he was a student at Torah Temimah.
Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesperson for the yeshiva, said the alleged events occurred “40 years ago” and so have no connection to the current administration.
“Why would a new administration know anything about what took place decades ago?” he told The Jewish Week in a phone conversation. “It’s not going on today.” The school, he said, is “financially capable of dealing with a lawsuit” and will “continue to function and turn out Torah-trained young people.”
Sheinkopf referred to the new roster of lawsuits — including the revived case against Torah Temimah — as “a trial lawyer game to make a lot of money.”
As cases begin to play out — a process that could take years — precedents set in other states that have adopted similar lookback provisions might provide a blueprint for what institutions, and survivors, might expect, lawyers say.
“So far, every religious institution I’ve sued has told its constituents that lawsuits would lead to bankruptcies,” said Patrick Noaker, the attorney representing plaintiffs in a new lawsuit filed last week in Kings County Supreme Court against the Chabad boys yeshiva, Oholei Torah.
Yeshiva Torah Temima in Brooklyn, NY. Wikimedia Commons/Jim.henderson
Noaker said the passage of the Child Victims Act won’t make it any easier for alleged victims to win cases. “Sometimes the time that has passed can make it hard to find witnesses and evidence that the school knew or should have known that children were in danger. We also have to prove damages,” he said. “The only thing the Child Victims Act does is open the court room doors. We still have to prove our case like any other,” he said.
“The only thing the Child Victims Act does is open the court room doors. We still have to prove our case like any other.
In February, shortly after the Child Victims Act bill passed, Agudath Israel of America — a large charedi umbrella group that long advocated against the bill alongside the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America — issued a statement warning its constituents that the look-back provision “could literally destroy schools, houses of worship that sponsor youth programs, summer camps and other institutions that are the very lifeblood of our community.”
Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel, told The Jewish Week this week that “the fears certainly continue,” though he was not aware of how many suits had been filed against yeshivas.
For Noaker, a Minneapolis-based lawyer who represented plaintiffs in a host of lawsuits against Catholic dioceses in Minnesota after the state passed a three-year lookback window in 2018, the line is familiar.
The argument is straight-up manipulation.
“The Catholics said lawsuits would shut down hospitals and homeless shelters — it never happened,” said Noaker. “The argument is straight-up manipulation.”
Though several of the cases he litigated did contribute to dioceses in Minnesota filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to settle hundreds of claims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests, not one diocese ceased to function because of the financial decision.
‘This is the reality that currently exists in Israel,’ says the creator of Autonomies
War rages in the heart of the Middle East. Jerusalem is captured. Concrete walls go up, and a deep distrust spreads across the holy land.
The well-worn tale is used as the backdrop to multiple Israeli television dramas. Yet for one show, it is not Arabs and Jews who are doing the fighting, but Jews and Jews.
Currently touring film festivals across the world, the six-part series Autonomies envisions a clash between secular Jews and the deeply religious ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews.
In this vision, set in the near future, civil war has cut the land into two countries. The coastal State of Israel is nonreligious, with the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv as its capital. Jerusalem is a walled, autonomous city-state, run by Haredi rabbis.
At first glance dystopian, the show is in fact an artistic extrapolation of real-life rifts in Israeli society. Many Israelis increasingly see secular-Haredi disaccord about the future of the state as a greater concern than the Palestinian issue, and fear it could tear the country apart from the inside.
Yehonatan Indursky, an Israeli filmmaker who wrote Autonomies with the writer Ori Elon, says the show takes divisions in Israel “to extremes, and tries to show what can happen if we do not wake up and try to find the way to live together and respect one another’s way of life”.
The drama’s protagonist, Broide (played by Assi Cohen), is a Haredi man who moves contraband, smuggling pornography and books banned by the religious authorities into Jerusalem. He is one of a few who crosses between the two sides and is soon caught up in a controversy that could reignite the war.
The Israeli filmmaker Yehonatan Indursky, pictured, wrote the show with the writer Ori Elon. Photograph: Dpa Picture Alliance/Alamy Stock Photo
The series comes off the back of the writers’ hit Netflix show Shtisel, which received acclaim for sensitively and lovingly portraying Haredi family life, and has been renewed for a third season. Autonomies instead paints a much bleaker scene.
“Autonomies gives a kick in the stomach. And sometimes it is painful and hard to watch,” Indursky said.
What is fascinating for many viewers is how similar the setting of Autonomies appears. Israelis today lament a nation already divided, with the Haredim often living in their own neighbourhoods, women covering their hair with wigs and men wearing black coats and hats.
To secular outcries, ultra-Orthodox politicians have sought to ban public transport and other activities on the Jewish holy day of rest, and outlaw non-kosher food in supermarket chains. They feel their way of life is under threat.
Meanwhile, resentment against them focuses on hefty government stipends given to the community, as many men do not work but study religious texts. Almost half live in poverty.
Indursky grew up in an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem but has not been part of the community for years, although he keeps close links with family and friends. He said he had received two main responses from Israelis to the series, both of which saddened him.
“One possible answer is that this is really not a dystopia but rather a utopia,” he said, adding some viewers backed the idea of separate countries to end seemingly irreconcilable differences.
“The second possible answer is that this is not a dystopia – this is the reality that currently exists in Israel. And in a way, that’s part of what we wanted to show through the series.”
The fissure between secular and ultra-Orthodox communities has already spiralled to the point that it ignited a political crisis this year.
Drug-resistant germs, including Candida auris, prey on severely ill patients in skilled nursing facilities, a problem sometimes amplified by poor care and low staffing.
Maria Davila lay mute in a nursing home bed, an anguished expression fixed to her face, as her husband stroked her withered hand. Ms. Davila, 65, suffers from a long list of ailments — respiratory failure, kidney disease, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat — and is kept alive by a gently beeping ventilator and a feeding tube.
At least 38 other patients at Ms. Davila’s nursing home, Palm Gardens Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn, have been infected with or carry C. auris, a germ so virulent and hard to eradicate that some facilities will not accept patients with it. Now, as they struggle to contain the pathogen, public health officials from cities, states and the federal government say that skilled nursing facilities like Palm Gardens are fueling its spread.
“They are the dark underbelly of drug-resistant infection,” said Dr. Tom Chiller, who heads the fungal division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaking about skilled nursing facilities, particularly those with ventilated patients, but not Palm Gardens specifically.
Such nursing homes are playing a key role in the spread in New York, where 396 people are known to be infected and another 496 are carrying the germ without showing symptoms, according to public health officials. In Chicago, half of patients living on dedicated ventilator floors in the city’s skilled nursing homes are infected with or harboring C. auris on their bodies, said Dr. Allison Arwady, the acting commissioner of the city’s Department of Public Health.
Much of the blame for the rise of drug-resistant infections like C. auris, as well as efforts to combat them, has focused on the overuse of antibiotics in humans and livestock, and on hospital-acquired infections. But public health experts say that nursing facilities, and long-term hospitals, are a dangerously weak link in the health care system, often understaffed and ill-equipped to enforce rigorous infection control, yet continuously cycling infected patients, or those who carry the germ, into hospitals and back again.
They are caldrons that are constantly seeding and reseeding hospitals with increasingly dangerous bacteria,” said Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York who leads the nonprofit Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. “You’ll never protect hospital patients until the nursing homes are forced to clean up.”
The story is far bigger than one nursing home or one germ. Drug-resistant germs of all types thrive in such settings where severely ill and ventilated patients like Ms. Davila are prone to infection and often take multiple antibiotics, which can spur drug resistance. Resistant germs can then move from bed to bed, or from patient to family or staff, and then to hospitals and the public because of lax hygiene and poor staffing.
These issues have also vexed long-term, acute-care hospitals, where patients typically stay for a month or less before going to a skilled nursing home or a different facility.
A recent inquiry by the New York State Department of Health found that some long-term hospitals grappling with C. auris were failing to take basic measures, such as using disposable gowns and latex gloves, or to post warning signs outside the rooms of infected patients. At one unnamed facility, it said, “hand sanitizers were completely absent.”
Officials at the 240-bed Palm Gardens did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Over the past year, the number of patients who were infected with or were carrying C. auris there grew to 38 from six, according to a nurse there and public health officials. The tally has now fallen into the high 20s after some patients died or moved elsewhere.
The New York health department issued a statement in response to queries from The New York Times: “The Department of Health has made controlling the spread of C. auris a high priority and has conducted extensive training and education on infection control policies and procedures for Palm Gardens and other nursing home providers throughout this region. The health and well being of nursing home residents is our primary concern and we take complaints regarding quality of care very seriously.”
Scientific research on nursing homes and drug resistance is sparse, but some recent studies offer evidence of the problem. A study published in June in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases found that patients and residents in long-term care settings have alarmingly high rates of drug-resistant colonization, which means they carry the germs on their skin or in their bodies, usually without knowing it, and can pass them invisibly to staff members, relatives or other patients. Elderly or severely ill people with weakened immune systems who carry the germ are at high risk of becoming infected. (Health officials in New York state said 14 percent of those now infected started out carrying it and then developed symptoms).
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An Absolut nursing home in Orchard Park will close as its owner, Absolut Facilities Management, seeks Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition while it reorganizes, the company announced Wednesday.
Absolut did not announce a date for the closing of its Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Orchard Park, a 202-bed facility with about 185 residents.
The state Health Department on Wednesday approved a closure plan for the Absolut nursing home, said Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the agency.
“The Department of Health will work to ensure that all residents have been placed in other facilities providing the appropriate levels of care, as required by the closure plan,” Hammond said.
The Health Department would not provide The Buffalo News on Wednesday with a copy of the closure plan it approved. Generally, the Health Department requires nursing homes that plan to close to continue operations until the last resident is relocated.
The Orchard Park nursing home is one of the lowest-rated nursing homes in Western New York. It has an overall rating of one star, or much below average, from the federal government. The nursing home has been cited by the Health Department for numerous deficiencies in recent years, but it has not been fined in the past three years.
Absolut, which operates a chain of nursing homes in New York State, and some of its subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday in New York City, the company announced.
“These actions were taken in an effort to help the company financially reorganize itself and better position itself for the future,” the company said in a news release. “Similar to many other companies that have successfully utilized the Chapter 11 process to restructure their finances, the company expects to emerge from bankruptcy stronger than before.”
Absolut will keep open the company’s other nursing homes – in East Aurora, Gasport, Allegany, Painted Post and Westfield – as well as an assisted living facility in Orchard Park, the company announced.
Absolut’s seven facilities employs 975 people and generate revenues of $83 million, according to its bankruptcy filing. The Orchard Park facility that is scheduled to close has about 234 employees and recorded revenues of $18.1 million in 2018, down from $18.6 million the year before, according to the filing.
Absolut purchased the Orchard Park nursing home, along with other nursing homes in the Buffalo region, in 2007, beginning a wave of local nursing home purchases by investors from the New York City area.
In 2018, Absolut sold four other nursing homes in New York to Personal Healthcare, a downstate chain. Personal Healthcare was operating the former Absolut homes in Dunkirk, Eden, Houghton and Salamanca as it sought Health Department approval.
“As we have seen in recent days with the announcement of the closing of Newfane Hospital, health care generally, and specifically long-term care, faces significant challenges,” said Israel Sherman, CEO of Absolut Care. “We are very confident that we will emerge a much stronger company after these legal proceedings are concluded. It is our expectation that during this process that patient care, our employees and our commitment to excellence will remain our top priority.”
(NEW YORK) — Thirty-eight former students of an Orthodox Jewish school in New York City operated by Yeshiva University sued Thursday over claims they were molested by two prominent rabbis in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. The suit alleged the university failed to protect students at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and even promoted one of the rabbis to principal after receiving abuse reports.
A Yeshiva University spokesperson declined to comment, citing a school policy against speaking publicly about litigation.
The lawsuit is one of hundreds that have been filed over child sexual abuse allegations since last week, when New York state opened a one-year window for suits previously barred by the state’s statute of limitations.
During a press conference Thursday, three of the alleged victims, flanked by their lawyers, spoke about disturbing behavior they say went on for decades. “I didn’t even understand at the time that this was sexual abuse; I just knew that this guy was putting his hands all over me,” said Barry Singer, 61, speaking of one of the rabbis he said kept reaching into the boy’s pants, even in school hallways.
The Associated Press doesn’t typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse unless they choose to be named.
One of the accused rabbis, Macy Gordon, died recently in Israel. The other, George Finkelstein, has denied the allegations.
Finkelstein was promoted from the school’s assistant principal to principal even after some of the boys’ parents reported the alleged abuse to school officials, the plaintiffs said. He also eventually moved to Israel, where he worked at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue. Calls to the synagogue rang unanswered Thursday.
Thirty-four of the plaintiffs attempted to sue Yeshiva University for sexual abuse and facilitating sexual abuse in 2013 but the case went nowhere, because it was barred by the statute of limitations at the time.
Tel Aviv — Zehava Feinberg is a 19-year-old from charedi girls’ seminary in Jerusalem who wanted to study computer science after high school in the hope of landing a job at an Israeli high-tech firm.
“I like problem solving and math,” she said. “I’m looking for a job that I won’t be bored at. I want it to be a good salary. I also want to raise a family.”
In theory, there should be plenty of opportunity for Feinberg. Israel’s high-tech sector is thirsty for young programming talent and intense demand for employees has driven up salaries so high that many companies have set up programming operations outside of Israel to ease labor costs. At the same time, charedi communities are eager for women to find high-paying jobs to provide a higher quality of life for a population group in which men are encouraged to engage in religious studies and the poverty rate was a staggering 43 percent in 2018.
Despite that potential match, the prospects for young charedi women like Feinberg to find employment as programmers in Israel’s technology industry have been discouraging. In the last two years, nearly three out of every four graduates of vocational computer science programs at the Bais Yaakov schools, a network of Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox girls seminaries with 8,000 students, did not find work with technology companies. The graduates who do get jobs in the field are usually employed in low-paid quality assurance jobs. At the same time, charedi women became convinced that the industry was biased against them, and often never even bothered to apply for entry level jobs.
But an educational pilot project is trying to improve the prospects for female graduates of charedi post-high school seminaries to find work in high tech. Dubbed “Adva” (small wave or ripple in Hebrew), the project aims to give high school graduates a post-secondary education on par with Israeli universities and colleges (institutions that are shunned by ultra-Orthodox as “foreign” and sacrilegious).
The two-year (three semesters) program also gives them programming boot-camp problem solving experience as well as interviewing and career skills necessary for the largely unfamiliar world of high tech.
Feinberg is part of the first Adva cohort — 86 students spread over three Jerusalem schools — and recently completed her first year of studies, which focused on catch-up math courses in statistics, calculus and linear algebra, as well beginning programming languages.
“Our math level was not such a high level,” said Feinberg. At the beginning of the year we had intensive math to bring it up just so we could learn.”
The curriculum has been developed with input and oversight from university computer science professors and executives from technology multinationals. The program is a joint initiative of Start-Up Nation Central, a non-governmental organization promoting Israel’s tech sector, the companies themselves and the Bais Yaakov network of schools. (Start-Up Nation Central did not provide exact figures on the cost of the pilot, saying only that the first year’s costs were “expensive” and that government agencies are expected to pick up some costs for the second year.) It also has the blessing of ultra-Orthodox rabbinic authorities.
The disconnect between Israel’s reclusive ultra-Orthodox community and larger society animates the country’s daily political debate and is shaping up as a major wedge issue in the Sept. 17 elections. Issues of military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox 18-year-olds and charedi-enforced restrictions on marriage, dietary laws and Sabbath observance have created a bitter divide.
But that chasm also threatens the country’s economy: with low levels of employment, the impoverished charedi (and Israeli Arab) populations will eventually become a drag on public finances. Economists have warned that Israel needs to take urgent steps to better integrate the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arabs into the larger economy.
“We can’t sustain our economy if Arabs and charedim go their separate ways and don’t participate,” said Eugene Kandell, the chief executive of Start-Up Nation Central and a former economic adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The majority of relations between non-religious and charedi populations is driven on fear and non-familiarity. Each one thinks the other wants to change them and delegitimize their way of life.”
The Adva initiative began with Yisrael Tik, the head of external relations at Bais Yaakov and a former director of education for the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Ilit, who wanted to improve the job acceptance rate for seminary students studying computers. Tik discussed the challenge with colleagues on Israel’s Council for Higher Education (on which he also serves), who put him in contact with Start-Up Nation Central.
The first thing the stakeholders realized was that the vocational curriculum developed by Israel’s labor ministry for the seminaries was not up to par.
“The computer programs at seminaries don’t provide what the industry requires,” Tik said. “They were built for people who don’t attend university.”
As recently as a decade ago, nearly two-thirds of charedi women became educators within their own community. That figure has dropped to just over one-third, as more of the women find work as nurses and caregivers. For years teaching was the most prized women’s profession within the charedi community, but now, women with engineering education are also sought after as potential matches. Poverty rates among the ultra-Orthodox are dropping, but the community still lags far behind the rest of Israel.
“People are more practical now,” said Gilad Malach, who heads the ultra-Orthodox program at the Israel Democracy Institute. “There is a need and wish for a lot of women to go into areas of high tech. Even within the community, there is an understanding that if a woman is working and earning a lot of money,” it frees a man “to [pursue] religious studies.”
Adva isn’t the first educational program to embrace the challenge of integrating ultra-Orthodox women into the tech workforce. Special courses at three Jerusalem academic colleges are tailored to ultra-Orthodox students, though only 130 charedi women are receiving degrees a year — far from the number necessary to help the industry or boost the standard of living of charedi families.
And more than a decade ago, programming companies like Matrix software opened offices in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Ilit to employ charedi women in a gender segregated work environment that offered flexible hours so employees could balance home life and employment. But those positions were outsourced programming projects with relatively low pay.
Instructors in the Bais Yakov program are all charedi women with doctorates in their respective fields. To overcome suspicions about the tech work environments, community rabbinic authorities visited the offices of technology companies taking part in the program.
But there is still ample resistance to women pursuing degrees in high tech. In May, at a conference for the parents of women studying at the post-high-school seminaries, Modiin Ilit Chief Rabbi Meir Kessler complained about husbands who encourage women to earn better salaries. He warned that “immodest” workplaces promote “evil” inclinations, mixing with secular co-workers and leave wives too tired to handle their roles as homemakers.
After the publication of a report on the program in an ultra-Orthodox newspaper, a public leaflet warned the public that “the defense establishment” was behind a secret campaign to turn the charedi seminaries into academic colleges with help from “collaborators” from within the seminaries.
We are often accused of taking a one-sided approach to the issues involving the Hasidic (Chasidic) community, of ignoring that there are two sides to every story and of crossing the line from factual information to hate speech. For that we apologize. It is during those times when you will see breaks in publication. There is a fine line between opinions and facts and the message they send (perception is everything) and it is not always walked as cleanly as it should be or frankly as intended.
Here at LM we admire with significant emphasis, those like the Rabbi from New Jersey who commented on prior pages of this blog. His comments are important in the debate of how a community can live together, religious and non-religious, Jew and non-Jew together in harmony.
It takes courage to speak out.
We admire Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone (mentioned in the article below) for his tutorials and opinions or Chabad.org, some of which have graced our pages, whether we agree with them or not. We most admire people like the nurse, Blima Marcus mentioned below, who has gone on a virtual crusade to “debunk vaccination myths”. We don’t express our admiration enough.
We take issue, however, with the belief, expressed below and in the continuation of the Algemeiner article, that it is acceptable for an entire community to be groomed to study ancient texts. While their knowledge, ability to understand and parse out the details of the Jewish texts, and carry that kowledge to the next generation is, indeed, important; it cannot be to the exclusion of all else. Many of these people do not speak the language of the land, and we feel there is no legitimate excuse for that. If that same Jewish scholar is going home, having 9 children and then expecting non-religious, secular or non-Jewish members of society to foot the bills for those 9 children, he is imposing his religion on others. There is a fundamental unfairness to the rest of us, which perpetuates resentment and hate. Those who get angry and resentful should be understood in the context from which that is generated as well.
There must be a balance struck between study for the sake of study and contributing to the economic and financial continuance of that society. In the United States, we refer to the greater US. When living in London we refer to the greater UK and when living in Canada, we refer to the greater Canada. It is all well and good to be a scholar, but when you take money from society to study, you breed resentment. This blogger, for one, would love to return to study, a government and philosophy student who spent years editing translations of the scrolls of Elephantine Island for a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But it is unrealistic to do so if a family must be fed, taxes must be paid and children must attend school. We are not living in a vacuum.
Within the writing of some of the most scholarly rabbis, there was a clear understanding, if not an outright demand of the Jewish people, that we be self-sufficient. However we chose to establish our society, the religion demands that we not rely on others for support. When religion starts to encroach upon the lives and livelihoods of others, it is an imposition and unacceptable. To deem those not religious as not even Jewish or as lesser humans, which can be found in multiple teachings throughout the religious (and perhaps fundamentalist Jewish world – yes… every religion has its kooks), then the balance gets tipped and damage is done.
We, with admiration, agree wholeheartedly that there must be a way forward that provides for mutual respect, mutual tolerance, global sensitivity and a measure of love for those notable people on all sides of the debate and political divide. We thank Algemeiner for the published opinion and those highlighted within the article.
We ask that you please read the Algemeiner article below and that you consult its original sources. It tells a different story then most that grace our pages, but one that should be read without a passive indifference or active criticism.
The Orthodox Jewish community of New York is under attack. In just a few days, a 63-year-old Hasidic grandfather was beaten with a brick, another was made to strip off his yarmulke at gunpoint, a gang attacked a truck, and more. Then a shocking campaign video was posted by Republicans in Rockland County, depicting Hasidic Jews as a threat to their fellow Americans.
Those behind the video refused to apologize, and as The New York Post revealed, they had deviously plotted their modern-age blood libel months in advance.
As Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, social media editor at Chabad.org, puts it, Hasidim “are described as all things except for the one thing we are the most: human beings trying to make it in this town like everyone else.”
An example of the way these people have recently been picked on is the public reaction to the measles crisis that recently swept New York. With a health ban that was placed only on yeshiva schools, many began to blame the Orthodox for not vaccinating their children. Never mind the fact that most of the schools with unvaccinated students weren’t even Jewish, or arguably that the common denominator between those who refuse vaccinations isn’t religion but being white, rich, and well-educated.
Regardless, by painting the vaccination crisis in New York as an Orthodox Jewish issue, the national conversation is skewed away from the reality that nine percent of Americans (30 million people!) are reportedly anti-vaxxers. Furthermore, it is an Orthodox nurse, Blima Marcus, who is leading the way in teaching healthcare clinicians how to effectively debunk vaccination myths for the American public.
The problem is that this bias leads directly to the short-sighted and dangerous “us vs. them” mentality that pits public opinion against minority groups. In her New York Times article “Is it Safe to be a Jew in New York?” Ginia Bellafante points out that the societal intransigence to take action against the blaze of anti-Orthodox bigotry stems from stories like these that carelessly stoke the “existing impressions of backwardness.”
I believe the flames of insidious bigotry must be quenched with the soothing waters of public education.
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently appointed Deborah Lauter, previously of the Anti-Defamation League, to run the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. They should follow the advice of Elan Carr, US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, who recently remarked that fighting antisemitism must include “philosemitic education” about positive Jewish contributions to society.
Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, arguably the most politically active Hasidic Jew in New York City, laments the ignorance surrounding the contributions his community offers the general public. “I think most New Yorkers would be surprised to discover that our non-profit, United Jewish Organizations (UJO) of Williamsburg, provides social services to anyone, regardless of religion, race, or creed.”
Although most of Niederman’s clientele are Hasidim, he advocates for fellow New Yorkers of all backgrounds who are referred to UJO. “We help anyone who walks in the door,” Niederman says, “it could be food stamps, housing assistance or whatever else they need.”
This public service ethos is derived from Jewish spiritual theology, which places a moral mandate on its followers to engage in “Chessed,” colloquially translated as “acts of loving kindness.” As Professor Jack Werthheimer writes in his article “What You Don’t Know About the Ultra-Orthodox,” the Orthodox have made “Chessed” into an “art form” by creating hundreds of aid programs, known as “Gemachs” — a Hebrew acronym for “Gemilut Chasadim,” literally, “the giving of loving-kindness.”
In the marketplace of ideas, cultural contributions from these most visible Jews should be cherished and protected as a national resource. In these communities, young men are expected to dedicate their post-high school years to studying at Kollelim, yeshivas of higher learning, where they pour over the ancient texts from morning until night. The purpose of this higher education model isn’t to obtain a degree but to engage in study for its own sake.
Reverse Mortgages, Michael Hild, Live Well Financial, an Arrest and a Brilliant Scheme
Below this summary you will find articles and additional reading related to the Hild arrest. In short, Michael Hild was charged with a variety of frauds related to a reverse mortgage scheme. Constructed as a reverse mortgage, to be explained below, Hild lent people money and he then borrowed money and/or secured investments against the collateralized properties by overvaluing the properties for his investors. What makes this so interesting, however, is that in the context of reverse mortgages and cash advance/fast-cash/reverse loans, it was both clever and quite simple. The loans themselves are quite legal, albeit in our view somewhat egregious. It was not illegal until he overvalued the collateral.
Cooking his books for investors meant, in the simplest terms, playing with the spreads between actual fair market value and perceived value of the collateralized instrument, which in the case of reverse mortgages is property. In the case of fast cash or what are sometimes referred to as MCA loans, the collateralized instruments are receivables. Both types of loans, from our perspective, are potentially dangerous to a Borrower, who in both cases is generally cash poor, has a poor credit rating, not enough income or for some other reason cannot obtain a bank loan. Both types of loans generally have the added twist of significant fees drawn on the initial principal draw and then added to the principal calculation, which means that the fees are also valued when the respective lenders start calculating interest against the borrowers. Again, this is all quite legal, unfortunately.
Moreover, if the lenders are using the collateral to obtain other lines of credit, obtain additional investments or to purchase securities, they are getting the benefit of the loans multiple times, sometimes triple-dipping. We hope that the Hild arrest, and an explanation of the framework by which the entire scheme was constructed, will help us provide readers with an understanding of the dangers of entering into reverse mortgages and high interest rate cash advance loans and of investing in companies that engage in these types of loans, absent a clear understanding of the pitfalls.
We note that we have seen far too many people exploited. Reverse mortgages and cash advance/fast-cash loans (or reverse loans) provide the borrowers with money and the lenders with interest, initial fees and then a method of calculating interest accumulated on those fees and then obtaining a benefit of borrowing against inflated valuations – a triple dip. It’s all legal until the valuations are inflated. The spreads between truth and fiction are malleable and the ability of many of these lenders to defraud is remarkably easy. Hild would not have been caught had the valuations not at some point crossed the line from believable to unimaginable.
Under most reverse mortgages, the borrower (the “Borrower”) is typically elderly and cash poor but owns a home. Often the Borrower does not have family or does not qualify for Medicaid. The reverse mortgage lender (the “Lender”) offers a solution for a homeowner who is cash poor, namely instant access to cash. Many Borrowers of reverse mortgages are vulnerable to all manner of schemes. Typically, the Lender comes offering the Borrower money in exchange for value. In many cases the associated fees and other things, including exorbitant interest rates are not disclosed or clearly enumerated for someone who is not savvy. The Lender will first have the home appraised and then provide the Borrower capital with which to live, on some formula of the value of the home versus life expectancy, generally giving the Borrower somewhere between 20% and 40% of the appraised value of the home.
It should be noted, most appraisals are conducted for these purposes on the lowest end of the spectrum, to benefit the Lender to the detriment of the Borrower. The Lender will generally also take substantial fees up front, sometimes as much as 10% on the actual home’s value. In some cases, the Lender deposits a lump sum into the Borrower’s bank account and in other cases, the Lender provides loans in tranches or multiple deposits which can generate multiple fees. The backing or collateral for those loans is the value of the home; and the interest on the loans can be as high as any state will allow. In many cases, the lender will add all kinds of service fees which can increase that interest rate exponentially but because they are not characterized as interest, they are not deemed usurious. Again, this is all legal.
The financial hopes of the Lender is that the Borrower will live a short time and die without heirs and beneficiaries to come and sell the home and repay the loan and interest and fees that have accrued. In that case, the Lender takes possession of the home at a significant discount. The Lender can also gain possession of the home if the person becomes sick requiring a lengthy stay in a hospital or rehabilitation facility. The Borrower’s family, heirs or assigns can have as long as one year to sell a home after the Borrower dies or gets sick but during that time the loan is still increasing with interest and fees. The ultimate payoff amount includes interest and fees that grow exponentially each year.
Often, the Lender of reverse mortgages severely under-values the home to the Borrower, convincing someone with, for example, a property work $450K to accept a $250-300K valuation. In the best scenario, the borrower may get $80K-$100K on the house. We have seen a borrower who got $35K for his home after being told that there was a problem with his credit worthiness.
The difference in value of the home between the low end of the appraisal and the high end of the appraisal spectrum can be as much as $200K for a house valued at $450K and in the Michael Hild case, he was showing his investors a portfolio at the highest range of the spectrum, even so much as inflating the value well beyond that. In addition Hild was investing in properties for his own personal portfolio using the money of investors in the fund, an easy play really, when you look at the valuation spreads.
Michael Hild was inflating the value of his portfolio to convince investors, securities dealers and legitimate lending institutions to provide him and his partners/officers greater sums of working capital. He was using that capital to increase his lending portfolio (of reverse mortgages) and then using that increase to induce greater investment and at the same time adding significantly to his personal portfolio. Given the malleability of his market, what was believable had wide parameters.
We will follow this story. We caution our readers against loans taking loans against homes or receivables without the strict and cautious review of an attorney who understands these instruments. They can be addictive as a means of easy cash, until they aren’t. And the money made by Lenders who are successful both in the reverse mortgage and in the cash advance/fast cash (MCA) space is almost inconceivable. And to reiterate, it is legal.
Apparently depicted in this video: An English Rabbi being harassed by Protesters because he has taken a liberal view on education, as the government in England (similar to New York) moves to enforce guidelines on teachings in private schools.
The following is a beautifully articulated article by Rabbi Pini Dunner regarding education. It is a follow-up of other articles he has written. Respectfully, we have only posted part of his comments, without permission, and ask that you consult his original text for his full commentary by clicking here. We believe, though could be wrong, that the controversy to which he is referring is the scene depicted in the video above.
Earlier this week, I briefly visited New York for a wedding, and once again I came face-to-face with the controversy that continues to rage over proposed education regulations formulated by the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
Feelings are running high, and the campaign to thwart the said proposals is in full swing. Many within the orthodox community are convinced that this scheme is the thin end of a very insidious wedge, and they include those whose schools provide a very good general studies education.
Quite a number of the people I spoke to believe that allowing the authorities to determine how and what is taught at Jewish private schools poses a grave danger to the future of orthodox Jewry in America.
But how did we get here? How is it possible that a bunch of bureaucrats in Albany has managed to rattle the orthodox community to this extent?
Why is it, if so many schools are compliant with equivalency requirements, that NYSED wants to institute these draconian measures to regulate and oversee them?
Incidentally, whatever happens in New York will surely foreshadow similar legislation in other states. There is a broad concern among education officials that Jewish private schools are not in compliance with basic educational requirements, and that children who attend these schools are being shortchanged by their institutions, to the extent that they will “graduate” without the basic skills required to provide for themselves and – once they marry and have kids – their families.
In the Satmar Hasidic community this whole episode is being painted in very stark terms. Last month, the various factions within Satmar (please note: it is no small feat to unite this very divided community) issued a powerful declaration regarding the dangers posed by the proposed regulations.
In a vigorous call to arms, the leadership requested that the “honored parents” of students in their various institutions join a letter-writing campaign to the authorities to ensure the failure of the “evil education decree” which threatens the status-quo, and which – they claim – might result in the devastation and destruction of Torah-true Jewish education in New York.
And this week twelve Hasidic institutions published a notice to announce that they would never include “common core” education books in their general studies curriculum under any circumstances, as they are full of “heresy”, and their only intent is to prepare those who use them for a college education.
Meanwhile, thousands of parents within the Satmar community and other associated Hasidic communities, including many who have sent letters to NYSED so that they openly comply with the mandated letter-writing campaign, are secretly hopeful that the state will impose the regulations on their children’s schools so that the next generation will be forced to learn English and math, and be properly equipped for life in twenty-first century America.
I have received hundreds of emails and calls since my last article on this subject, the vast majority from Hasidic parents congratulating me for my stance, and imploring me not to abandon them and their children to a life of ignorance and penury.
One parent wrote to me that his children only speak Yiddish, as their school does not allow them to speak English at home, otherwise they are in danger of being expelled. This means, said my correspondent, that his children do not know the English names of the days of the week, nor do they know their English dates of birth, nor can they explain to the doctor what their symptoms are when they require medical attention.
These children, it is worth noting, are all third-generation Americans. How is it that if they were Jews from the former Soviet Union, or living in low-income industrial towns in Israel, that we would do everything we could to help them gain a foothold in life, but just because they live in Williamsburg, or Monsey, or New Square, we do nothing to help them, and simply write them off? How does it make any sense that hundreds of thousands of Jewish children are being doomed to a life of poverty right under our very noses?