by LostMessiah, March 4, 2016, Corrected March 5, 2016
A Community that Hails its Criminals as Heroes, Worships its Grand Rebbe as a G-d and Hides its Secrecy by Threat, Force and Intimidation
Much has been written about Rabbi Twersky and his Hasidic enclave located in New Square, a small incorporated village within Rockland County. But Rabbi Twersky’s dirty laundry has only been aired by courageous few. To his followers, known as the Skverer Hasidim, Rabbi David Twersky, is nearly akin to G-d. He prays in his own sanctuary, has his own Mikvah, exclusively for himself and his sons; who would not diminish themselves to the use of the communities’ Mikvah. Rabbi Twersky travels in a black Cadillac XTS, chauffer driven, and vacations at his multimillion-dollar riverside vacation home in Upper Nyack, New York, also adorned with its own private Mikvah. While most of his followers live below the poverty line (many getting help from government welfare programs and subsidies) and while they likely should be angered by his unabashed (and in our view embarrassing) wealth, he is instead revered, a tzadik, who his followers believe is deserving of his immense wealth. He is… idolized.
Rabbi David Twersky is also in supreme control over his followers, keeps them on a tight leash, an iron hand, determining where they educate their children, pray, reside, to some extent whom they marry and how they raise their children. When his Church… no, sorry, synagogue members decide to pray outside of the community, he orders that they be “frightened”, including the case of a man, Aron Rottenberg, who was burned outside his home, an act supposedly intended to frighten him. Rottenberg was burned over 50% of his body on May 22, 2011. Prior to the incident, the perpetrator, Shaul Spitzer (then 18) and a group of Twersky’s hired guns, had lived with the Rebbe to serve his daily needs. Shaul Spitzer, despite claims that he acted with others, was the only perpetrator who went to jail. Spitzer was released early after a judge decided that he should have been granted “youthful offender status” when the attack happened. Upon release this past summer, a celebration, including dancing in the street, delighted residents of New Square.
FailedMessiah, on October 28, 2015, reported that free coffee was being distributed in honor of released arsonist Spitzer, a hero to the community. The poster, written in Yiddish, refers to Spitzer’s release [corrected 3.8.16] as “HaChesed HaGadol” meaning the great pious act, and states that there should be great joyousness over his release. It does not mention that the explosive device was initially intended for the house of a man and his children. The fact that there was a sleeping family, including small children in that house, is of little consequence. The fact that Spitzer’s victim spent months in a hospital, went through dozens of skin grafts and has little use over part of his body, is also of little consequence.
Officially, Rabbi David Twersky owns nothing. His vacation home is owned by a company called Menucha of Nyack LLC (menucha translates from Hebrew to English as “rest”). His car is the property of another LLC. Money gets transferred back and forth amongst different LLC entities for purposes like payment of taxes, or alternatively avoiding taxes, as in the case of transfers to and from the community’s synagogue. In one example of a paper trail the referenced article indicated that one LLC paid the taxes on the multimillion dollar home by selling the home to another LLC for the amount of taxes owed. Once the taxes were paid the home got transferred back to Twersky at no cost, all through differing LLC’s. There are various examples of financial and tax manipulation. All of the paperwork between the LLCs skirts the lines of legal and illegal behavior, crawling in and out of legal and tax loopholes. The various transactions float within a grey area that would require a team of forensic accountants to decipher. If we had to put a label on it, we’d go for money laundering, but that’s just us.
Twersky’s Vacation Home
And, officially while Rabbi David Twersky demands control over every minutiae of activity within his community, he refuses to take ownership, not only of his wealth, but of the sins of his community. In addition to the burning referenced above, which in a series of articles Rabbi Twersky claimed was an “unfortunate incident” (and presumably not committed under his direction ); and the vast array of cases of intimidation, there are countless accounts of sexual abuse within the Skverer community that have been covered up or enshrouded in secrecy. In an article in Lohud on July 8, 2014, entitled Sex-abuse Victims Lack a Voice in New Square, Lohud described the silenced voices of abuse victims. Despite intimate knowledge of the cases of abused children, the vulnerable victims are silenced by Rabbi Twersky and his followers.
Herschel Taubenfeld, who had been prosecuted and convicted was in some sense unique in that he acknowledged guilt. It was not surprise when he received a sweetheart deal. When his brother, Rabbi Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld, was accused of multiple sexual assaults of a boy over a period of years, the results were vastly different. In one Lohud article, dated July 18, 2015, the author comments that the victim of an abuse case testified “in excruciating detail” about the years of sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Moshe Taubenfeld. At the time we, who followed the case, were certain that finally an abuser within that community would be held criminally liable. Yet, while the Moshe Taubenfeld case should undoubtedly have yielded a conviction, particularly in light of the horrifying testimony of his victim, an utterly shocking verdict led to his being found not guilty, on July 30, 2015. Taubenfeld abused numerous children over the course of many years. It is reported that Rabbi Twersky knew; and he did nothing. In fact, to the contrary, he protected the abusers.
According to FailedMessiah.com, posted on the date of the verdict of Taubenfeld, quoting from Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg a longtime haredi anti-child-sex-abuse activist, “the judge owes his election to New Square’s block vote.”
Rabbi Rosenberg, for his part in regularly commenting and recognizing the abuses within the greater Hasidic community, in 2012 had bleach thrown in his face.
In an article in the Forward entitled Hasidic Enclave keeps its Secrets Amid Elucive Rebbe’s Tight Control, the author writes:
“In 2008, a committee of six prominent members of the New Square community was established to handle sex abuse cases from within. Known as the Vaad, the committee was formed with help from the Orthodox children and family services agency, Ohel. The committee cites three foundations for its mission: education, prevention, and taking care of the abusers and their victims. But in a 2010 interview with the Jewish Star, an Orthodox publication, its chairman, New Square businessman Isaac Breuer, did not respond directly when asked if his committee would report child sex crimes to law enforcement authorities.”
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio Kisses Ring of Skver Rebbe David Twersky, February 24, 2015 [The Jewish Daily Forward]
Outcast Mother’s Death, and Questions About Jewish Sect’s Sway Over Children, November 21, 2013 [The New York Times]
Chemical Thrown at Rabbi Who Aided Abuse Victims, December 11, 2012 [The New York Times]
Related to Taubenfeld:
Alleged New Square Sex Offender Arrested, December 14, 2011 [FailedMessiah.com]
Alleged Haredi Pedophile Arrested, January 17, 2014 [FailedMessiah.com]
New Square, New York – Man Charged with Sexual Assault on Minor, January 19, 2014 [BrooklynNewYork.com]
Skvere Rebbe Allegedly Covered Up Latest Case of New Square Child Sex abuse, Allowed Alleged Molester to Continue to Teach in Square Schools, January 19, 2014 [FailedMessiah.com]
Alleged Victim Testifies at new Square Child Sex Abuse Trial, July 17, 2015 [FailedMessiah.com]