To Keep Control – Technology Must be Removed from the Equation

Cell Phones & Smartphones


See also:

Yom Tefilla Announced To Fight Technology; Silence Still Deafening On Sexual Abuse

Apparently, the Moetzes Gedolei Yisrael of Israel have called for a “Day of Tefilos” to raise awareness about the spiritual problems technology posed by technology. As a community, we’ve become accustomed to these mass displays of piety, and international calls for prayer in hopes of inspiring a generation, and perhaps some divine assistance, to rid itself from the potential stumbling blocks in the way of spiritual purity, and connection to God. From asifos against the Internet in Citi Field, to international days of prayer, the Charedi world is awash in the mass organization of truly astounding feats of community organizing. One imagines that this kind of response could only be triggered by something perceived as an existential thread to the international charedi community. That is, after all, how they perceive modern technologies like smartphones and the ubiquity of the Internet: as an evil ploy of the Evil Inclination, whose only interest is in making sinning easier than its ever been before.

But what of the other existential threats that plague our communities? What of the rampant sexual abuse that is enabled by polices like those of Agudath Israel of America, which enable abuse and protect abusers, by mandating that victims of abuse and their families go to rabbis rather than law enforcement when they are abused? Surely this is as much an existential crisis as any other. Surely, with the number of people who eventually leave Orthodoxy, going “off the derech,” as a result of abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of a seemingly indifferent community, something must be done!

Apparently not.

You know, it’s interesting. Back when ZAAKAH first proposed protesting the Internet Asifa at city field, I was opposed to the idea. I didn’t see the issues as mutually exclusive. I felt, at the time, that there was enough space on the moral landscape of our collective conscience for two issues to exist simultaneously. One can easily perceive the Internet as being a spiritual threat in need of eradicating, while also acknowledging that child sexual abuse is a horrific violation of our most vulnerable people, and committing to stand against abusers and their enablers. I didn’t attend the protest outside the asifa. I argued with one of the organizers, and tried to convince him to cancel it. I had such faith in my community’s ability to treat both issues with the attention each deserved.

But it’s 5 years later, and we’ve had no asifa for victims of child sexual abuse. We’ve had no serious commitments by Agudah, and other major Charedi organizations and leaders to stand behind victims instead of abuses. We’ve seen no change in the policy that dictates that victims go to law enforcement rather than rabbis. Agudah continues to pour money into prevention, but still does nothing to ensure that abusers are prosecuted, and victims see justice. They spend all their time trying to make sure abuse doesn’t happen in yeshivos, while doing nothing to protect the majority of victims who are abused in their homes or by people they know.

They continue to attack those of us who speak up against them, while partnering with organizations like the Catholic Church to oppose legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Their excuse? That it would be cripplingly expensive to allow themselves to be open to that kind of liability, and that it’s more important for yeshivos to stay open than for victims of those yeshivos to get any justice.

And now we’re having an international day of tefillah to fight smartphones and Internet. It’s nice to see that the Moetzes Gedolei Yisrael of Israel have their priorities in order.


Michael Weiss, Construction Company Owner Charged in Death

Construction Companies’ Owner Is Charged in Laborer’s Death

The owner of two Brooklyn construction companies was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday because the authorities said he ignored complaints about a poorly maintained retaining wall that collapsed at a work site in 2015, killing an 18-year-old laborer and injuring two others.

The companies’ owner, Michael Weiss, 47, was also charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of the laborer, Fernando Vanegaz, an immigrant from Ecuador. In an indictment issued in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, Mr. Weiss was further accused of reckless endangerment, assault, grand larceny, tax fraud and falsifying business records. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Mr. Weiss pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was released on bail.

“Fernando Vanegaz should be alive today,” Eric Gonzalez, the acting Brooklyn district attorney, said at a news conference announcing the charges. “Construction site deaths such as his are becoming all too common as builders ignore safety protocols and hire untrained workers to maximize profits.” Mr. Gonzalez added, “We cannot allow this robust housing market to come at the cost of worker safety.”

According to the indictment, on Sept. 3, 2015, Mr. Weiss ordered several employees of his companies, RSBY NY Builders Inc. and Park Ave Builders Inc., to conduct excavation in an area of a lot at 656 Myrtle Avenue where they had not received permission from city buildings officials to work. Despite repeated requests from his workers — and federal regulations requiring him to do so — Mr. Weiss did not provide materials to shore up an exposed wall of a building adjacent to the site, which his companies were converting from a one-story fruit store to a five-story structure intended to house a shoe store and apartments, the indictment said.


Fernando Vanegaz died on Sept. 3, 2015. “Construction site deaths such as his are becoming all too common as builders ignore safety protocols and hire untrained workers to maximize profits,” said Eric Gonzalez, the acting Brooklyn district attorney. CreditBrooklyn District Attorney’s Office

Shortly before noon that day, a wall of the adjacent building gave way, sending a cascade of masonry blocks and debris onto three of his workers. Mr. Vanegaz, who had been in the United States for less than a year, died; two others were injured.

The death came amid a surge in fatal construction accidents in New York, and Mr. Gonzalez said on Wednesday that 33 workers had died in the five boroughs since January 2015. That spate of deaths prompted a crackdown on shoddy builders both by local district attorneys’ offices and by the city’s Investigation Department, which assisted in the inquiry into Mr. Weiss.

“We have seen the tragic results on construction sites too many times when contractors ignore repeated warnings of danger and put the lives of workers at risk,” Mark Peters, the commissioner of the Investigation Department, said at the news conference. “In this case, the warnings were clear, but the defendant disregarded them at a deadly cost.”

To read the remainder of the article from the NYTimes click here.


A ‘Diamond in the Rough’ – Diamond JoeGutnick’s Wife

Joseph Gutnick slams press reports, says wife is ‘diamond’

Bankrupt former rich lister ‘Diamond’ Joe Gutnick has taken a swipe at the media after reports regarding his wife’s involvement in his companies following his bankruptcy, saying she is worth “millions” and is a “diamond”.

Mr Gutnick took the stand in the Federal Court on Thursday as public examinations of his bankrupt estate continue. His wife and son were examined earlier in the week.


"She is herself a very special gem, a diamond," Joe Gutnick says of his wife.

“She is herself a very special gem, a diamond,” Joe Gutnick says of his wife.

“There were disgusting reports in the newspaper,” he said.

Earlier this week, the court heard that a company linked to the bankrupt mining magnate is paying his wife, Stera Gutnick, $285,000 a year to work “a few hours a day” as a trainee jewellery designer, while her husband earns just $45,000 a year to work full time.

“She’s worth a lot more than some $200,000, possibly millions,” he said.

“She is herself a very special gem, a diamond,” he added.

“The press projected her as if she does nothing and we’re paying her an exorbitant wage. My wage is a separate issue. My concern is how this was presented in the papers,” he said.

Mr Gutnick said after his bankruptcy last year his wife worked three to four hours in the office, attended high level meetings and had research the jewellery industry extensively.


Stera Gutnik at the Federal Court this week.

Stera Gutnik at the Federal Court this week. Photo: Jason South

When asked what qualifications Mrs Gutnick had to be running the businesses while Mr Gutnick was bankrupt Mr Gutnick told the court: “She wears a diamond”.

Mr Gutnick also raised his plans to take defamation action over the stories.

He denied ever discussing with his wife any plans to put assets out of reach of creditors in the event he went bankrupt.

On Monday, lawyers for the bankruptcy trustees challenged Mrs Gutnick, and suggested the shuffling of directorships and her taking on the debt was part of a “broader plan to protect Joseph against bankruptcy”‘.

Philip Crutchfield QC, who was  asking questions of Mr Gutnick on behalf of two major creditors to the former magnate’s bankrupt estates, the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) and Kisan International Trading, told the court that on Monday Mrs Gutnick said her husband had discussed structuring his affairs to protect assets “in some fashion”.

Mr Gutnick said his discussions with Mrs Gutnick regarding his assets related to her desire that the couple invest in safer assets like real estate rather than speculative mining stocks.

He denied ever hiding assets from creditors.

“Over the years I ‘ve just followed the advice of my accountants and my lawyers about how my affairs have been put into place,” Mr Gutnick said.

Mr Gutnick entered bankruptcy last year after losing a court battle with his former business partner IFFCO and Kisan over a $54 million personal debt. His company Legend International Holdings owes IFFCO a further $15 million. With interest, IFFCO is owed a total of $73 million. Legend is now in liquidation.

As revealed by Fairfax Media last year, Mr Gutnick’s statement shows he owes his creditors $275 million and has only has assets of $16,087 in savings and a host of shareholdings that are valued at zero.

Some of Mr Gutnick’s debts are to relatives, including a $30.7 million debt to his wife Stera and more than $116 million in debts to three companies run by family members.

The examination continues.

South Head – Where has all the money gone?

South Head in voluntary administration, rabbi terminated


SOUTH Head Synagogue’s board has appointed a voluntary administrator, Rabbi Benzion Milecki’s contract has been terminated and three members have loaned the shul $500,000 to ensure the bank can’t sell the property.

Shul president James Hochroth informed members on Thursday night that the administrator has terminated Rabbi Milecki, who has been South Head’s rabbi for more than 30 years in Sydney.

“Rabbi Milecki was one of the highest paid rabbis in Australia – terminating him will save a great deal of money.  We will go without a rabbi for a period and expect the costs of a new rabbi to be more modest,” Hochroth said.

“Rabbi Milecki may decide to challenge in court the actions of the Administrator, which if successful would increase the costs of the Administration and delay its finalisation.”

According Hochroth’s letter, the situation between the rabbi and board completely disintegrated.

Hochroth told members “in the interests of full transparency, but with considerable regret” that Rabbi Milecki terminated the board, administrator and IT consultant’s access to ShulCloud, which controls newsletters, accounts functions and various databases.

A day after Rabbi Milecki allegedly locked the board out, he wrote an email to members using the software.

“Should you notice my absence from an edition of eNews, or should it contain material that does not fit the mission statement, please know that it has not come from me,” he wrote.

“At any time, should you wish to communicate with me, please do not reply to this email. To ensure that I receive your email please write to”

The board contacted the software provider in New York to restore access but when Rabbi Milecki then contacted them again, the company shut down the system until the board and rabbi could reach an agreement.

“We still do not have use of our computer system,” Hochroth said.

“The administrator will be advising ShulCloud of his appointment and the termination of the Rabbi and request that the suspension be lifted.

“As you will appreciate, it is apparent from the above that the relationship between the Rabbi and the Board has irretrievably broken down.”

The greatest risk for the shul of going into voluntary administration is that the bank could call in the mortgage on the property.

“This potentially puts our property at risk of being sold up or falling into the control of persons unknown who may have differing objectives to those of the majority of members,” Hochroth wrote.

“Three members of the shul – Curtis Mann, Rodney Naumburger and myself  – have each loaned $500,000 to pay out and replace the bank to alleviate this major risk to our property and kehillah.

“The terms of this new loan are no less favourable than those of our current bank facility.  The primary benefit of this new loan is that its lenders have every desire and intention to see the shule and kehillah continue and flourish which is not necessarily the case with a major commercial bank.”

Hochroth said the decision to call in a voluntary administrator was a “last resort” to protect the company from further financial loss and then to attempt to bring the shul back to financial viability.

In a second letter to members on Thursday, Anthony Elkerton, who was appointed as voluntary administrator, explained to members that during the administration period he is personally liable for debts incurred by the synagogue.

“For this reason following a review of the Synagogue’s financial position and projected cash flows that I made the decision to terminate the employment of Rabbi Milecki,” Elkerton wrote.

“I formed the view that the costs of employing the Rabbi are such that cash flow would be negative during the administration period and I would be assuming a potential personal liability.”

Kushner Partner Conflicts – Bribery Cases


Bribe Cases, a Secret Jared Kushner
Partner and Potential Conflicts

President Trump’s son-in-law, a top adviser, had help building a real estate empire from a member of one of Israel’s wealthiest families.

It was the summer of 2012, and Jared Kushner was headed downtown.

His family’s real estate firm, the Kushner Companies, would spend about $190 million over the next few months on dozens of apartment buildings in tony Lower Manhattan neighborhoods including the East Village, the West Village and SoHo.

For much of the roughly $50 million in down payments, Mr. Kushner turned to an undisclosed overseas partner. Public records and shell companies shield the investor’s identity. But, it turns out, the money came from a member of Israel’s Steinmetz family, which built a fortune as one of the world’s leading diamond traders.

A Kushner Companies spokeswoman and several Steinmetz representatives say Raz Steinmetz, 53, was behind the deals. His uncle, and the family’s most prominent figure, is the billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is under scrutiny by law enforcement authorities in four countries. In the United States, federal prosecutors are investigating whether representatives of his firm bribed government officials in Guinea to secure a multibillion dollar mining concession. In Israel, Mr. Steinmetz was detained in December and questioned in a bribery and money laundering investigation. In Switzerland and Guinea, prosecutors have conducted similar inquiries.

The Steinmetz partnership with Mr. Kushner underscores the mystery behind his family’s multibillion-dollar business and its potential for conflicts with his role as perhaps the second-most powerful man in the White House, behind only his father-in-law, President Trump.

Although Mr. Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies, he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7 billion in acquisitions over the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal. Last month, his company announced that it had ended talks with the Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial firm linked to leading members of the ruling Communist Party. The potential agreement, first disclosed by The New York Times, had raised questions because of its favorable terms for the Kushners.


Beny Steinmetz (center, with gray tie) and his brother, Daniel, (gold tie) at a Vanity Fair party at the Natural History Museum in London in 2005. Credit Dafydd Jones

Dealings with the Steinmetz family could create complications for Mr. Kushner. The Justice Department, led by Trump appointees, oversees the investigation into Beny Steinmetz. Even as Mr. Kushner’s company maintains extensive business ties to Israel, as a top White House adviser, he has been charged with leading American efforts to broker peace in the Middle East as part of his broad global portfolio. A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

‘A Terrific Partner’

Representatives for Mr. Kushner and the Steinmetzes put distance between Raz Steinmetz and his uncle, Beny. Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for the Kushner Companies, called Raz “a terrific partner,” and added: “He is the only Steinmetz that we have done business with.”

In a statement provided by his attorney, Raz Steinmetz said: “None of my investment entities has invested in any transactions with Beny Steinmetz or any of his interests.” Louis Solomon, an attorney at Greenberg Traurig LLP, who represents one of Beny Steinmetz’s companies, said any business relationships between Raz and Beny were two decades old, and said the two men had not had contact since 2013.

The two men, as well as Daniel Steinmetz, who is Beny’s brother and Raz’s father, have controlled their own companies. But some of their financial interests — ranging from diamonds to real estate — have been entwined over the years. Records reviewed by The Times show that they have shared offshore investment vehicles, employed the same company director and were once connected to the same Swiss bank accounts.

Continue reading

Why are Jewish Newspapers not Covering the Rabbi Greer Rape Case? YU – Where are you?

Greer witness list

The Witness List – Rabbi Daniel Greer of Yeshiva of New Haven, Yeshiva University, A Cover-up?

LostMessiah, 26 April 2017

This is a developing story.

We were sent a copy of the witness list in the federal lawsuit against Rabbi Daniel Greer who, as you may remember, is accused of raping at least one Jewish student who attended Yeshiva of New Haven and the Gan School.

We note a few extraordinary things about that witness list that raise questions, which in our view point to a widespread conspiracy by many within Jewish community, Yeshiva University context and affiliated Jewish organizations to cover up the sexual assault of children by prominent Jewish rabbis.

We note the name of witness Rabbi, J. David Bleich, who sits on the Board of Yeshivah University, is an expert in Jewish ethics and is widely respected. While he was ultimately denied the authority to testify on procedural grounds, his willingness to potentially bare false witness on behalf of Greer raises questions. Why would Bleich testify? Is there anything he can say or think that could make this case okay? Why is Yeshiva University and why are other Jewish organizations and “ethics experts” not promoting justice on behalf of Greer’s victims and ostensibly others like them.

Is the Jewish rabbinical community any different than the Priesthood in this regard and why are the communities not doing something to help the children?

We note a Rabbi who made media attention after he found $200,000 in a desk drawer, also on that list. Is this a coincidence or is there money circulating the YU Rabbinical world paying off witnesses or paying for testimony?

We are posting the below article as the article’s author has gathered significant information and apparently uncovered numerous victims and a litany of unsavory indications that the Yeshiva community does not want this case adjudicated in favor of Greer, at any cost.

The article is dated April 24, 2017 and should serve as a backdrop.

We note that aside from Rabbi Greer’s name, the victims’ names – as commented to by the author – have been changed. DCF is the “Department of Child and Family Services.”

There is currently a litany of information on the Greer rape case available on Mr. Noodles’ site. There is also a history of the case which we will post in “FURTHER READING” below.

By way of this post, we implore upon the Jewish media community to follow and provide media attention of the case. We ask you to review the list of witnesses and ask yourselves if our contention of a widespread cover-up is worth exploring. We believe it is. We believe that there is still room for “Spotlight.”

More Greer Victims Out There

Continue reading

Rabbi Groner/Rabbi Telsner and the Royal Commission

CIVL Board update regarding Rabbi Groner and the Royal Commission

ל’ ניסן ה’ אלפים תשע”ז

Dear Members,

We write with regard to recent media attention related to Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner’s testimony at the recent Royal Commission hearing.

Rabbi Groner was asked to attend the Royal Commission hearing on 23rd March and to give testimony on behalf of Yeshivah. He was asked some specific questions about the new governance structure, his role in the new structure and the employment of Rabbi Telsner.

The media then reported last week that an allegation had been made to the Royal Commission and / or Australian Federal Police regarding statements Rabbi Groner made during the hearing related to Rabbi Telsner’s ongoing employment.

We are actively working through a process to determine what actions, if any, we should take in the interests of our members and will keep you updated. The Board is of the view that Rabbi Groner did not mislead the Royal Commission.

With regard to clarifying Rabbi Telsner’s position, we are working through the various considerations as a top priority and will communicate further as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, as always, if you would like to contact the Board, you can email us at We would appreciate if members could refrain from contacting individual board members by phone, as this places high demand on board members’ time and also doesn’t allow the full board to consider your message.


CIVL Board

Printable version