Rational Judaism – Sex Abuse Ring

 

http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2016/08/shocking-development-in-alleged-abuse.html

Shocking Development in Alleged Abuse Ring Conspiracy

There is an extraordinary development in the case, going on for several years already, of the alleged missionary pedophile ring in Jerusalem. It broke yesterday afternoon, just hours after I had a fascinating conversation with a prominent rabbinic figure about it.

Last year I posted the video in which Rav Moshe Shapiro tells his followers that the 70-year-old woman who was allegedly the mastermind of the ring should be beaten to the point of hospitalization or beyond, because the police are useless, and her house should be ransacked (to find the dungeon). His followers did so, breaking her arms and legs with metal bars, but did not find any evidence of the dungeon. They were then caught by the police, and Rav Moshe was indicted. His defense claimed that he was only offering sympathy to his followers, not telling them to actually beat her to death. Rav Moshe had subsequently put out a letter condemning those who beat her up, and disavowing all responsibility for it.

I couldn’t understand is how Rav Moshe could simultaneously try to absolve himself of all responsibility and let his disciple take all the blame. The rabbi that I met with yesterday agreed with me on that point, but he opined that ordering the vigilante action was not necessarily wrong. He told me that, according to the information that reached him, the elderly woman was indeed involved in terrible actions with children. I agreed that there isn’t necessarily a problem with a child abuser being stopped in such a way – if they are indeed guilty, and if there is indeed no other way to stop them.

However, in two superb articles in Tablet magazine, Menachem Kaiser had argued that the whole thing was not credible, just like the stories from the 1980s about satanic abuse cults. While there are certainly pedophiles in Jerusalem, the notion of a secret cultic ring is the result of mass hysteria. It is true that many highly intelligent people in Jerusalem – not just Rav Moshe Shapiro, but other prestigious and more humble and cool-headed figures – were convinced that the ring was real. Yet experts with training in this field disagreed.

The bombshell came yesterday afternoon. The Israel Police announced that after a lengthy investigation, they had discovered that the “secret abuse ring” was fabricated by three people as a way to make money. They had conspired to spread rumors of a terrible threat in order to solicit funds for an organization to fight this fictitious threat. There was indeed a conspiracy – but not the one that people had feared. (News article in English here – more extensive article in Hebrew here.) It’s wonderful news for the thousands of people in Jerusalem who were terrified about this ring (though many of them doubtless maintain that these arrests are all part of the conspiracy). But it’s tragic that the trail of carnage caused a woman to be beaten near to death, a suspect to commit suicide, and who knows what else.

What is the lesson to take from this story? I think one lesson to take is that there is a reason why we have a justice system. No, the system is not perfect, indeed it is far from perfect. But nor are decisions taken by individuals, no matter how brilliant they are. There’s no replacement for a systematic investigation, which includes consultation with experts in the field. It’s just as Winston Churchill said about democracy – “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2016/08/shocking-development-in-alleged-abuse.html
Advertisements

LETTER TO RABBI MARK DRATCH, Where is RCA action to protect children?

Dratch, Mark - large_medium

“Few Are Guilty, but All Are Responsible: The Obligations to Help Survivors of Abuse”

***Rabbi Mark Dratch from January 10, 2007

An open letter to Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America

from Eric Aiken

Dear Rabbi Dratch,

I write this letter to you out of great concern for what I perceive to be a lack of any meaningful action on the part of the RCA to protect Orthodox children from the plague of sexual abuse. The RCA is the largest Orthodox rabbinical organization in the world with over 1,000 members in 18 countries. It has close ties to Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Union, the Beis Din of America, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Conference of European Rabbis.

With the RCA’s enormous power and influence comes a concomitant responsibility to protect Orthodox children and support the survivors of sexual abuse in ways that have never been done before.

I tried to address this issue with you when I drafted an email that was sent to you in November of 2015. In it, I asked you to consider doing 3 specific things to protect Orthodox kids. Unfortunately, you would not commit to doing any of them.

 1) Implement and enforce the 4 separate sets of child protection resolutions that the RCA has adopted over the last 23 years.

I am not aware of a single rabbi or Orthodox institution that has implemented these important child safety procedures.

The RCA doesn’t even have a list of its own child protection rules on its website. It took me half a day of reviewing every RCA resolution for the last 50 years just to find these 4 sets of child protection resolutions.

How is an RCA rabbi who wants to protect children from sexual abuse supposed to have any guidance on this topic when the RCA doesn’t even publish a guideline for its members?

2) Endorse my website which publicizes the names of hundreds of Orthodox child molesters.

Three years ago, the RCA called for using a sex offender registry to identify child sex predators. To date, as far as I am aware, the RCA has not done anything to establish such a registry. You told me that exposing convicted child molesters is a “no-brainer”, yet the RCA will not publish such a database nor will they endorse mine.

3) Require all RCA rabbis to publicly pledge to ban anyone convicted of a child sex crime from attending their synagogues.

 

It is beyond comprehension that rabbis allow known and convicted child molesters to frequent synagogues and attend Jewish communal activities where children are present. There can no longer be any tolerance for such reckless and irresponsible behavior from our religious leaders.  

These are serious issues that I believe that the RCA is not adequately addressing.

Moreover, the RCA has adopted the following important resolutions which I believe are largely ignored by many RCA members and Orthodox institutions, especially Yeshiva University”

“Schools, synagogues and youth organizations to adopt policies which mandate the dismissal of abusive teachers and child care workers from their positions, and the notification of future potential employers of the circumstances of their dismissal.” Excerpt from the RCA resolution (6-1-1993) titled “Physical and sexual abuse of children.”

Incredibly, 23 years after this child protection resolution was adopted by the largest Orthodox rabbinical organization in the world, there is still not:

  • A single rabbi or Orthodox institution that I am aware of that will publicize the names of known Orthodox child molesters and rapists even though hundreds of these child sex predators’ identities are a matter of public record.
  • A system in place to notify future potential employers of the identity of known Orthodox child molesters and rapists.

Another example:

“The RCA will regularly issue on its website and to the media appropriate statements of condemnation when public attention is drawn to a case in which Jews are either victims or perpetrators of abuse.”

RCA resolution 4-27-10

I have on my website close to 250 publicly disclosed arrests and/or convictions of Orthodox Jews and rabbis for child sex crimes. They have been variously convicted of raping, sodomizing, beating, starving, burning, abusing and drugging Orthodox children in Jewish communities throughout the world. The RCA has only commented on 3 of these cases and those cases are from Orthodox factions that have little to do with the RCA community.

On its website, the RCA does not condemn by name the rabbis who cover up and protect Orthodox child rapists and molesters. There is no public warning to parents, employers, schools, yeshivas, summer camps and synagogues about the hundreds of Orthodox child sex predators who live in their communities.

 Throw abusive rabbis out of the rabbinate!

Rabbi Dratch, 10 years ago you ran jsafe.org (now defunct), in which you were a staunch advocate for the protection of Jewish children from sexual abuse. You wrote dozens of meticulously-sourced, scholarly articles arguing for instituting many reforms needed to protect Jewish children from sexual abuse.

On July 24, 2006 you call for defrocking and excommunicating abusive rabbis.

You begin your article by writing: “There are rabbis who should not be rabbis.”

Later you write:

“The Code of Jewish Law goes a step further and records that a scholar, who is rumored to be involved in heresy or immoral behavior, such that he causes a desecration of God’s Name, is to be excommunicated. Such a person certainly is no longer considered a rabbi.”

However, there are at least 150 rabbis who are known to have committed either sex crimes against children or to have violated the wives of their congregants, yet they have not been excommunicated and they still retain the honorable title of rabbi.

Even the Catholic Church, with its deplorable many decades-long history of protecting pedophile priests, nevertheless is willing to defrock them. In a recent 10-year period, the Catholic Church has defrocked nearly 900 pedophile priests and censured another 2,500 of them.

Rabbi Barry Freundel is the former head of the RCA’s conversion committee. He is currently serving a 6 ½ year jail sentence after being caught over the course of several years secretly video-recording 150 women undressing as they entered the mikva.

I can’t think of a rabbi who has traumatized more women, caused more of them to refuse to go to the mikva or to abandon Judaism than Freundel. Yet as far as I know, he has not been excommunicated and is still a rabbi.

Why?

 The Child Victim’s Act

 As you may be aware, for the 5th time in a decade, the New York legislature will consider eliminating their disgraceful statute of limitations for child sex crimes. This would allow child rapists and sex predators to be prosecuted for their monstrous crimes against children. The first 4 times this legislation was brought up, the bill was defeated by the holy clergy of the Catholic Church and Agudath Israel of America.

Rabbi Dratch, where exactly do you and the RCA stand on this issue? We need to hear from you loudly and publicly if you support the Catholic Church’s relentless efforts to prevent child molesters from being prosecuted or if you stand with defenseless Jewish children instead.

To prevent the incessant child sexual abuse in Orthodox communities worldwide, we need leaders who lead. We need action. We need rabbis who will stop at nothing to protect our vulnerable children.

What we don’t need any more is the abandonment and silencing of abuse survivors, the protection of molesters, the denial that we have a problem, the toothless resolutions or the righteous-sounding press releases.

To quote the last line of your essay titled “Few Are Guilty, but All Are Responsible: The Obligations to Help Survivors of Abuse” of January 10, 2007:

“The time for foolishness is over. All are responsible.”

 Yes they are, Rabbi Dratch.

Eric Aiken is an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse and the owner of http://www.protectjewishkids.com

 

***Rabbi Mark Dratch is the Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Counsel of America. Information about Rabbi Mark Dratch can be found on the RCA website by clicking here.

 

 

Shutting Down FailedMessiah – Fed Up With Hatred?… Likely Not

Speculation Abounds… Fraud, Crime, Sexual Abuse… What Truths About the Hasidic Community Did Someone Want Silenced?

by LostMessiah, March 15, 2016

LostMessiah had discovered long ago the connection between Diversified Holdings and Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz. There appears, as well, to be a connection between Diversified Holdings and EruvRav. That connection  was made clear by a listing on the EruvRav Facebook page.

It is beyond doubtful, however, that the reason for silencing Shmarya Rosenberg had anything to do with “hateful bloggers” and being fed up with the hatred toward Jews.

FailedMessiah  had nothing to do with a hatred toward Jews; but rather an unparalleled level of contempt for the behavior of bad people. It is largely irrelevant that the same bad people he criticized happen to clothe themselves in costumes of alleged piousness and cover up their unthinkable sins by hiding behind a holy Jewish scroll, except to the extent of the widespread hypocrisy.

The people Shmarya criticized were not pious or Hasid, nor are they deserving of the title “Kiddush Hashem.” They were and continue to be horrible men (and women), devoid of any sense of morality.  If  Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, whom we do not begrudge a number of charitable endeavors, was behind the shuttering of FailedMessiah then he deserves no credit, no laud and no praise. If Mr. Rechnitz were truly a “Kiddush Hashem” or a Ba’al Tzedukkah (charitable one) he would have helped to finance Shmayra’s endeavors, to bring to light the horrible crimes within a larger community, to end the rape and molestation epidemic in his community and to put an end to behavior that has created an almost insurmountable divide amongst Jews overall; and Jews and non-Jews cross culturally.  

Shmarya Rosenberg deserves a special place in our collective hearts, and hopefully in the Olam Ha’Baah (the next world) for his courageous articles, sometimes controversial points of view, and willingness to devote 11 years as a “media relations expert” for the better behaved Jews, whether ultra-Orthodox or otherwise, amongst us. Shmarya brought to light horrendous crimes and treachery. He publicized the criminal and amoral efforts to hide that abuse and shield abusers.  He unearthed corruption, money laundering, hate crimes and many others. To say that he was committing a disservice to the ultra-Orthodox community is to again victimize the victims and to legitimize the crimes. Anyone who thinks this is okay, should know nothing but shame.

As Jews, we should expect more of our community leaders, Rabbis, Torah Scholars, Political supporters and Ba’ale Tzedukka; than what anyone celebrating the silencing of Shmarya is suggesting. Those who applaud silencing FailedMessiah, are inherently procuring a pathway to poor behavior. That is unacceptable. We should expect those who most stand out, by their own traditional choosing, to play the part for which they dress, as traditional, good and decent Jews. The Torah in word and spirit demands that of us and we should be demanding it of ourselves. Only in that, will the Jewish community at large not be hated for the crimes of the few.

There is a Yiddish saying, “When you place a Shtreimel on a pig, you don’t get a rabbi.” It is unfortunate that for all of the chazirim wearing Shtreimels (and Shmarya named hundreds over the years) and for those willing to provide shelter to the chazirim and intimidation to the truthsayers, there should be no praise. There are those with political clout and the finances to back them up, like Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, who, if speculation is correct, would prefer to hide fundamental truths. There is nothing  charitable or good in that.

Until we as a collective are willing to walk into the Mikvah and drag the pedophiles out by their collective “shvantzes,” thereby cleansing ourselves of the sins of our brothers, we are no better than the worst amongst us. Shmarya was better. Until we are willing to discontinue paying off our judges to allow horrific crimes against mothers or fathers who wish to leave the ultra-Orthodox community, we are no less criminal. Until we are willing to gain a collective conscience, something the Torah demands of each and every Jew, worldwide, we are lost, wandering in a desert of immorality.

Shmarya was likely silenced because he prevented men like Rabbi Twersky his henchman in New Square, New York; and others like him from getting wealthier by impoverishing their people, both financially and educationally. Shmarya’s site was likely shuttered because he was uncompromising in his moral sense of right and wrong; and he believed that children should not be raped and molested by their teachers and rabbis. Shmarya was a voice for the abused children, battered wives and shunned ultra-Orthodox members. He was unabashed in his criticism of members of Agudath Israel and the Satmar community, their secrecy, intimidation, financial frauds and overall dark cloud they cast on the greater Jewish community. His silence could have been paid for  by the politicians and judges who stood to lose as he uncovered political fraud and corruption. Hard to tell.

The connection between Diversified Holdings and Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz should raise more questions than it answers…

unnamed
Eruv Rav, Diversified Holding, the new owner of FailedMessiah.com

 

In a post on onlysimchas.com posted February 3, 2016 and entitled

“HEAVY Speculation that Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz Involved In Closing Of Failed Messiah Blog

Rumors are flying around the Frum community, into what prompted Failed Messiah owner Shmarya Rosenberg to write a final post and say that he is closing his infamous blog down.

Strong speculation is that the noted philanthropist and leading Baal Tzedakah in Klal Yisroel, R’ Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz had a hand in the deal.

Failed Messiah is notorious for publishing anything that would make Frum Jews look bad. Every time an Orthodox man was arrested, even for a simple traffic infraction, it received a prominent article on the FM blog, along with 100 comments by hateful bloggers.

The rumors claim that allegedly Rechnitz was simply fed up with the amount of hatred towards his fellow Jews, and simply could not bear to watch it continue.

Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz has become a household name in Chesed, and has given hundreds of millions to charity in the past decade. His huge heart never stops helping broken souls around the globe.

Naturally, Rechnitz has used his wealth to make a Kiddush hashem on a massive scale, by not only giving to Jewish causes. A few months ago, Rechnitz was on national news after he paid $50 per meal for approximately 400 U.S. Soldiers in an airport in Shannon, Ireland. He saw them eating standard army food while all the other passengers in the terminal were eating in trendy and appetizing restaurants. Rechnitz then asked their commander if he can give them something extra.

This incredible Kiddush hashem is just a tiny glimpse into who this walking Kiddush Hashem of a man is.

Last week, Rechnitz made international headlines after delivering a speech at a dinner in Lakewood about the issue of children not being accepted into Yeshivas.

If Rechnitz had any hand in the deal to have FM pull the plug, his share in Olam Haba’ah will have just grown to an unimaginable level.”

 

A Convenient Deception, East Ramapo – Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan

East Ramapo – State Majority Leader John Flanagan Vows Support In East Ramapo BUT Look To Whom He Is Vowing Support!

by: FB site, Clarkstown What They Don’t Want You to Know

East Ramapo – State Majority Leader John Flanagan Vows Support In East Ramapo BUT Look To Whom He Is Vowing Support!

Senate Majority Leader Republican John Flanagan, has warned against a monitor, saying that the state shouldn’t usurp the power of an elected school board. The East Ramapo school board has opposed a state monitor with veto power.

“Really what they want to do is overtake that school district. And we’re not doing that,” Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, told a Jewish group.

If you have friends in Suffolk County remind them at election time that their representative is beholden to those who provide little to no secular education to their own kids and who have decimated a once top performing public school system in Rockland County.

A Convenient Deception, the Moral Bankruptcy of the Criminal Justice System

Judges Who’ve Been Bought, Nothing Else Makes Sense…

scales judgte

 

by LostMessiah March 13, 2016

FailedMessiah spent years reporting on sex abuse, the crimes, the verdicts, the judicial system that failed its victims.

LostMessiah wants the judges to tell us:

In what currency the heads of the ultra-Orthodox community, like Rabbi Twersky and others, were you paid to acquit criminals, to afford them reduced sentences or simply to avoid justice altogether. Were you paid in zlotzys? In rubles? In forints? In shekels? In Dollars?… or were votes the currency of choice?

For five hears Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld abused a young boy who lived nearby. For five harrowing years Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld violated that child. For five years Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld got sexual pleasure forcing himself upon a little boy. That child, Laiby Stern, will live with the abuse for a lifetime. While Moshe Menahem Taubenfeld dreams about how good it felt to have himself inside the body of a little boy, Laiby Stern will spend every night of the rest of his life reliving, in gruesome detail, what happened to him. The abuse did not end for Laiby Stern when Moshe Menahem Taubenfeld was prosecuted, nor did it end when Laiby testified.

Moshe Menahem Taubenfeld walked out of the court room, despite Laiby Stern’s testimony. While no punishment for Moshe Menahem Taubenfeld would have measured up to what Laiby Stern will live with for the rest of his life, Laiby Stern will never be free. Moshe Taubenfeld, an inveterate abuser, was freed and will most likely abuse again.

How could that happen?

Perhaps Judge Rolf Thorson can answer that question. In what currency were you paid, your Honor?

On July 30, 2015, the Forward reported about the story:

“Rabbi Noson S. Leiter runs a victim’s advocacy group in Rockland County called “Help Rescue our Children.” He was visibly distraught over the ruling, laying the blame at a corrupt justice process, citing the fact that both the Rockland County District Attorney, Thomas Zugibe, and Judge Rolf Thorsen received an overwhelming majority of the New Square vote.

Judge Rolf Thorsen won 99% of the votes from all four Ramapo districts in New Square when he ran for the bench in 2014. His brother, Eric Thorsen, is a family court attorney with close ties to the Hasidic community in Rockland County.

“The children of New Square are the biggest victims of a criminal justice system that clearly doesn’t seem to work in a just manner,” Rabbi Leiter said.”

Unstated in the Forward, but alluded to by Rabbi Leiter, is that Judge Thorson’s verdict, as astonishing as it is reprehensible, has intractable consequences. Not only did Judge Thorson let a serial abuser walk, he also enforced the code of silence shackling abused children within New Square and similar other ultra-Orthodox communities. Children who’ve suffered abuse, for whom Laiby exemplified courage and the potential for justice, will undoubtedly not be saying a word anytime soon.

How much did Rabbi Twersky and his henchmen offer in exchange for the freedom of Laiby’s abuser and for the continued silence of all of the other abused children, suffering daily the sins of that community?

Mazel Tov, Judge Thorson, not only did you let a serial sex abuser walk, you singlehandedly provided other abusers solace. You provided a convenient deception for Rabbi Twersky and the mechablim (terrorists) of the New Square community by substantiating what Twersky tells the abused victims regularly, “mesira (reporting) will not get justice”. Menachem Taubenfeld and many others like him can rape assured knowing that their young victims will never seek justice. Why?

Because, Judge Thorson, you have set a shining example of how justice works for our most vulnerable. You, by acquitting Taubenfeld stole the hope from a generation of children who suffer the same torture. You have proven that the criminal justice system, when it comes to the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic community is morally bankrupt.

Oh… But don’t worry, your Honor. You are in good company, joined by Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thomson and Judge Mark Dwyer.

thompson

Both DA Thompson and Judge Dwyer can be credited with setting “Luckiest Pedophile in New York” free.

FrumFollies in a piece entitled,Thompson Blames Everyone but Himself for the Lebovits Sentence” reports:

“Baruch Lebovits waltzed out of jail (on 10/3/14) after serving only three months following sentencing on his plea bargain for eight felony counts of oral sex with a child (PL130.40). A number of us tried to get an explanation for this dismal outcome, but the official line from the Brooklyn DA was, “no comment.””

Hella Winston of the Jewish Week dug deeper and reported that Judge Mark Dwyer,

“Despite being made aware that he had misunderstood correction law in a way that resulted in a notorious chasidic child molester receiving less jail time than he apparently intended – did not revisit the sentence of Baruch Lebovits.

According to the Jewish Week, the office of Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson, despite its knowledge of the judge’s error in advance of sentencing, did nothing to prevent this drastically and erroneously reduced prison sentence aside from writing a CYA letter to the court.”

The FrumFollies piece goes further with regard to DA Thompson:

“Thompson likes talking about protecting everyone in Brooklyn. But he seems to have decided not to pursue witness intimidation and bribery that inhibits ultra orthodox sex abuse victims from pressing charges. A case can be made that Thompson discriminates against molested orthodox children by not granting them enough prosecutorial vigor.”

For DA Thompson, it would appear, protecting the interests of his Hasidic voters trumps all else. For many within the Hasidic community sex abuse, domestic abuse, witness tampering, bribery and intimidation are crimes perpetrated with brazenness. The law is simply a judicial inconvenience. Truth and justice are a modern deception.

Judge Mark Dwyer, referred to the Leibovitz case as “convoluted.” There was nothing convoluted about it. What was labyrinthine, however, was the maneuvering of the justice system to further victimize rather than prosecute.

baruch-lebovits-looking-back

Judge Dwyer has proven himself an invaluable tool for a Borough Park community. For the Hasidic abuse victims in his courtroom their is little if any justice served.  Meir Dascalowitz, who raped and molested children in the mikvah (ritual bath), pleaded his case and got a sweetheart deal. Menachem Deutsch, who raped two boys in a Belzer synagogue in Brooklyn should have been a no-brainer to convict. He went unpunished and then celebrated after leaving the courtroom. In those two cases where Judge Dwyer let serial offenders back on the streets, with nary a slap on the wrist, there should be nothing but condemnation by a moral society.

DA Thompson, Judge Dwyer does  your support come cheap? Does further abusing the victims who seek justice, by allowing the criminals their freedom, represent significant political capital so worthy of legal abandon?

Are your collective versions of criminal justice so morally bankrupt that right and wrong, both morally and legally have lost their meaning and now represent nothing more than a convenient deception?

 

Chabad, Bryski, Chanoch Lena’ar… Our Brother’s Keeper

The Families of Serial Sex Abusers and the Children Who Are Forever Damaged by Their Sons and Brothers, Bryski

by LostMessiah, March 9, 2016

Rabbi Mordechai Meir HaKohen Bryski z”l died on January 8, 2012 at the age of 88 and left behind a very, very large family. We imagine that many within that family have done great things for Judaism and the Chabad movement. However, if we are to follow Genesis 4:9And the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” we must ask ourselves where were the brothers of Wall of Shame member Rabbi Jacob (Yaacov) Bryski  when he was molesting children at a yeshiva in Crown Heights, Brooklyn?

Bryski_orig

It is in honor of the courage of those children that we are pursuing this further.

To name of few of those courageous survivors:

Shneur Borenstein, read his story from September 18, 2011, here.

Ozer Simon’s story can be found here:

In an article from Newsweek, dated March 3, 2016, quoted and highlighted in a number of posts on this site and others, entitled: CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS PLAGUE THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY, author Elijah Wolfson accounts the details of Ozer Simon and Sheur Borenstein and their abuse at the hands of  Rabbi Jacob Bryski, principal of Yeshiva Chanoch Lena’ar (“YCL”).

Yeshivah Chonoch Lenaar (which translates from Hebrew into Education for the Youth) was established by Rabbi Yaakov Bryski whose goal was “to give boys with little or no formal Jewish education an opportunity to study and learn about their heritage.” According to the Newsweek article YCL was a boarding school for children who were expelled from other Yeshivas.  “Chanoch Lena’ar, he says, was a “dumping ground” for kids having problems in religious school—a place for all the misfits.”

In a Blogpost, Imamother.com (byline, “Connecting Frum Women) on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 3:49pm on blogger asks:

Hello all of you out there!!
Can anyone recommend Yeshiva Chanoch Lenaar in Crowns Heights?
Do you know anyone who learnt there?
Do you know if they are warm and caring and if the boys there are nice or do you have behavior problems?
Is it expensive? Overcrowded?
Any info would be greatly appreciated since I am seriously thinking of sending my 14 yo son.

Thanks again!”

The first response she got was posted 4 minutes later at 3:53pm and said, “I fed those kids for 16 loooooong years. I liked them, but kinds from anash they weren’t (usually). I don’t know what kind of boys they get now.”

When the original blogger inquired at 4:21 pm about the meaning of the word “anash” another blogger wrote, “The boys in Chanoch Lanaar are not generally  kids who grew up in Lubavitcher homes. Or they are kids who went off the derech, and are coming back.”

The word anash from Albanian translates to “sideways.”

In old Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon however it translates as follows:

  1.  “to be weak, sick, frail
  2. (Qal)
    1. to be incurable
    2. to be sick
    3. desperate, incurable, desperately wicked, woeful, very sick (pass participle) (metaph.)
  3. (Niphal) to be sick”

At 9:18pm, that same day, another poster finally commented about YCL and experiences she had and wrote:

My brother was there for a few months and hated it so he left. He wasn’t off the derech, just behind on learning, but if I remember correctly, he was not happy at all with how he was treated. They would lock them out of th dorms to keep them in yeshiva, and then out of yeshiva to keep them in the dorms, and the whole yeshiva just had an air of distrust towards the boys. But this was a few years ago and it could have changed since then. “

At some point in 2010/2011 YCL closed and was to be reopened as a new institution. It was renamed “Yeshivah Mordechai Meir” in honor of Yaakov Bryski’s father. In an announcement regarding its re-opening, the caption states:

Yeshiva Chanoch Lena'ar. Bryski

“Yeshiva Chanoch Lena’ar got a new name, which is now prominently displayed on a sign in front of its building on Eastern Parkway and Albany Ave. The Yeshiva was renamed after Rabbi Mordechai Meir Bryski, father of the Yeshiva’s dean Rabbi Yaakov Bryski, and the new sign was installed just in time for his Shloshim.”

According to Newsweek:

So Borenstein and his father, along with an attorney, traveled to Brooklyn and arranged a meeting with Bryski. During that conversation, which they taped, Bryski confessed to the sexual abuse, and they cut a deal. The Borensteins said they’d keep quiet about it under three conditions: Bryski would pay for Schneur Borenstein’s therapy, get professional help and—most important—stay away from children.

At first, Bryski stuck to the agreement. Chanoch Lena’ar didn’t reopen the next school year. But in 2012, Crown Heights community blogs began reporting Bryski was opening up a new school, in the same location, under a different name. Despite Bryski’s prominence, Borenstein and Simon—now working together—were undaunted. They tracked down a list of the new school’s board of directors. Simon’s mother started making calls, alerting them to the allegations. The school never reopened.

In 2014, Jewish Community Watch’s Facebook Page comments that Rabbi Yaakov Bryski is seen dancing with children. The FB post, asks some poinient question:

Are we willing to experience momentary discomfort to demand that Bryski, and other known abusers, not be around children?
Again, our Rabbonim have repeatedly told us, that doing nothing violates a clear Lav in the Torah. It also sends a few messages:
  1. He is not a danger to children.
  2. We do not care about the pain of their past victims.
  3. Why should any victim come forward and experience the pain of speaking about their past when a community does nothing.

In the Borenstein settlement, Bryski was to be kept away from children. However, clearly that was not enforced.

The Bryski family, like many of prominence, were able to protect their own with cross-claims in a civil suit, denials of wrongdoing or inexplicable  failures to pursue criminal suits, which is the case with Bryski and Shneur Borenstein. The Bryski family is not alone in a long list of prominent Hasidic Rabbis and Rabbinic bloodlines who have members of their family accused of abuse; and which protect the family member instead of the victims. The victims deserve better.

As an interesting side note, in the Catholic world, there is also a Bryski, Reverend James Bryski, accused of pedophilia. His abuses of children went on for 30 years, not dissimilar from many of the stories of abuse reported within the Hasidic community.  Unlike the Hassidic Jewish world, Reverend Bryski was characterized as a “serial pedophile.” That characterization alone, by the press, the law enforcement officials, other victims, was a term of validation. It’s absence in the Hasidic context has not gone unnoticed.

On November, 25, 2013, FailedMessiah.com reported on a probation sentence given to a pedophile, Yosef Donin, who sported an 8 page charge sheet. The disgusting injustice of a probation sentence aside, if we use Reverend Bryski as an archetype, the term serial pedophile would have been more than warranted.

Reverend Brysky may or may not be related to the Jewish Bryski bloodline. The fact remains, however, that his victims are getting justice, where similar scenarios in the Hasidic Jewish world remain enshrouded in secrecy or have gotten brushed under the carpet.

It may be about time that sexually and physically abused Hasidic children are provided the same lexicon for the characterization of their abusers. It is unquestionably past due that the protections received by their Catholic counterparts, whose numbers are far fewer, be bestowed upon them. These children, victims of horrific abuses deserve better.

 

 

 

 

Is it Abuse, Suicide, Victims or “Survivors”?

Oholei Torah – Chabad Yeshiva in Crown Heights, Years of Abuse

by LostMessiah.com

In an article entitled Child Abuse Allegations Plague the Hasidic Community, Newsweek‘s author, Elijah Wolfson describes the allegations of sexual abuse that have plagued Oholei Torah, one of the largest of the Chabad Yeshivas in New York, specifically located in Crown Heights.

His first example is the story of Ozer Simon, now in his 40’s, who claimed to have been molested by his teacher, Rabbi Joseph Reizes, while living and attending school in Miami in the 1980’s. Reizes had moved to Miami from Brooklyn just before the abuse started. Despite the allegations of abuse, the teacher who fled to New York of his own volition, was hired to work as a teacher at Oholei Torah where the sexual abuse continued.  It took 15 years for Oholei Torah to fire Reizes after another parent came forward. Oholei Torah refused to discuss the incident with Newsweek.

According to Newsweek, (“When reached by Newsweek on the phone, the relative [of one abused child] declined to be interviewed.”) Another child, who requested anonymity commented,  “Reizes was always touchy; he’d put kids on his lap…” Sadly many of the children, now adults, refused to be interviewed, refused to come forward, refused to discuss the abuse because, even years later, they fear reprisals against themselves and their children.  Frightening still, “Reizes, now retired and in his 60’s, lives across the street from the school where he used to teach.” In the State of New York, had Reizes ever been prosecuted (and convicted – which is rare in the Hasidic Community) he would be on the National Sex Offender Registry and would not be able to live near the school. How many more children he could have gotten his hands on since, is an virtual unknown.

The article places significant weight on the naïveté of ultra-Orthodox children who, from very young ages, are separated by gender. They are not taught about their bodies or sexuality. They are not taught what is appropriate or what is inappropriate. As such, they don’t always even recognize when they are being abused. There are stories in the Newsweek article not only of Rabbis and teachers abusing children, but of older children abusing younger ones, even for money.

Manny Vogel, another abused child within the Oholei Torah school, was abused by an older boy. Vogel, quoted in the article “the boy asked for a favor. He claimed he wanted to try karate moves on me.” But, as Newsweek reports,  “Karate was simply a pretense to touch the younger boy in ways he would later come to recognize as inappropriate.” “One time, Vogel says, “the classmate paid him $5 to let him touch Vogel’s genitals over his pants.” According to Newsweek,  Vogel never said anything to his teachers,  principal or parents. Vogel’s final comment in the paragraph, “He took advantage of me. I didn’t know any better.”

As history would have it, Ohalei Torah never acknowledged the claims about the older boy made by other students. The older boy was never prosecuted and the abuse continued until he graduated. He has since been invited back to Oholei Torah to be a shaliach, which is translated from Hebrew to English as “messenger”. In other words, he acts as a missionary to welcome new boys into the community.

For Manny Vogel, the abuse did not end while he was in Ohalei Torah. After graduating he went to Yeshiva Brunoy, a Chabad school in Paris. There he was again abused by a “shaliach” from the new school. But, this time he reported the incident to the school. As quoted form the article, “A week later, Vogel says, Rabbi Zalman Segal, director of the school’s Higher Section for the oldest students, told him they would send the alleged abuser away to a yeshiva in another country.”

Vogel, who returned to New York, was offered money by the abuser with a request for silence. Vogel did not take the money but did not speak about the incident either. A few years later, according to the Newsweek article, Vogel found out that the abuser was allowed to return to Paris after he left. In addition, the abuser now works at a Chabad summer camp where is responsible for the welfare of 300 kids and teenagers.

The Newsweek article continues with harrowing details about a boy, Chaim Levin, who was raped with a pen by his cousin, Sholom Eichler, for years. When he reported it, the head Rabbi, Hershel Lustig told him not worry, that he was still a virgin and not to tell his parents the identity of his abuser. According to the article, “Lustig has worked for Oholei Torah for over 40 years. He’s an impeccably dressed, well-spoken man deeply beloved by the community. In 2003, he was the dean of Oholei Torah’s elementary school, a position he still holds.”

Sholom Eicher, in 2007, worked at Gan Israel Montreal, a religious summer camp. In 2012, though the Statute of Limitations had expired, Chaim Levin filed a civil suit against Eichler, a suit he won in the amount of $3.5M, which he has yet to collect. Eichler left the country for Israel, where he is outside of the reach of extradition.

The accounts of abuse, the disturbing stories not only include abuse by Rabbis and teachers, but also prominent members of the Hasidic society. Mordechai Meir Bryski, a Rabbi and real estate mogul who was accused of abusing another student. While a suit was filed, so too were counterclaims and the suit was dropped. By 2010, Bryski’s name was on the “Wall of Shame” of JewishCommunityWatch.org .

Bryski still lives in Crown Heights, but according to Newsweek, while he has never been charged or convicted, after years of running schools and abusing children, he is not longer prominent within the community. He blames his victims coming forward and appears to take no responsibility or even acknowledge that he did anything wrong.

Mendy Raymond’s story is one of physical abuse and not sexual abuse. The abuser, a Rabbi named Menachem Mendel Zalmonov. When Raymond’s parents confronted Lustig, the head of Oholei Torah, Raymond was suspended. And, according to Raymond’s brother Nachum, Rabbi Zalmonov had a reputation for beating on children. A former student of Oholei Torah, Mendy Alexander, said that Zalmonov was a “known abuser.”

While Oholei Torah is notorious for the unsettling numbers of sexual and physical abuse cases attributed to Rabbis and teachers, it is not alone in its history of abuse or cultivation of abusers. The problem is occurring in the Chabad community throughout the world.

LeiferMalha Leifer

Malha Leifer, principal of the Adass Israel school for girls in Austrailia was accused of sexual abuse of girls. “In September 2015, Australia’s Supreme Court awarded over $1M in compensation to a 28-year-old abused by Leifer from 2003-2006.” FailedMessiah reported extensively on the Leifer case. Shortly after the verdict, Leifer moved to Israel. Presently, Malha Leifer (a/k/a Malka Leifer) is wanted for 74 counts of indecent acts and abuse at a Jewish school. According to an article in the Jewish Times, from January 19, 2016, she is currently living in Bnei-Brak in Israel and despite extradition requests, Leifer claims she had psychotic episodes before each incident of abuse and the process has thus been stalled in Israel. “Her Lawyers have asked the court [in Israel] to reject extradition request due to her mental state.” Unlike most cases, Leifer’s is unusual because many of the girls are willing to testify against her and are just waiting for her to be extradited.

As of February 23, 2016, the Australian News reported that the “headmistress Malka Leifer to face psychiatric tests” which have been ordered by the Jerusalem District Court.  To date, however, she remains at large, while her many victims remain shackled by a system that is not allowing them to see the justice they seek.

As of today, there are 103 abusers on the Wall of Shame of JewishCommunityWatch.org. We have not a single doubt that the number should be at least tenfold. Overcoming the stigma associated with reporting the abuse within the Hasidic community is what allows the abusers to retain their anonymity and perpetuates the abuse.

To date, there are countless numbers of children within the Hasidic community who have been abused, are being abused or will be abused. We would guess that in the time it took us to put together this article, thousands of children have suffered. These children, whether they know it or not are survivors. Whether they kept quiet and remained in silent suffering or spoke out, they are survivors. Just living past abuse takes courage.

In honor of the survivors and to give credit and praise to the children who have come forward and have spoken about their abuse and continue to so; and in loving memory of those who simply could not overcome the abuse, we have created the  “Wall of Courage.”

For our start, aside from those already mentioned we offer the following names for that wall:

The LostMessiah Wall of Courage:

Manny Waks, who has discussed his abuse countless times

Same Kellner, listened to his son, sent someone to jail and then in the spirit of retaliation was himself accused of bribary (charges which were dropped in 2014)

Chaim Levin, accused his cousin of abuse

Ozer Simon, repeatedly abused by Rabbi in Miami

Manny Vogel, repeatedly abused

Schneur Borenstein, abused and now speaks about the Child Victims Act (CVA)

Mendy Raymond, physically abused at Oholei Torah

All of the victims of Malka Leifer, those willing to speak and those who suffer in silence

“Leiby – child accuser of Skverer Rabbi Moshe Menachem Taubenfeld of New Square whose case should have been a slam-dunk for conviction.

Leiby Kletzky, z”l, murdered by Levi Aron, which murder was to have spurred greater protections for children

Rabbi Michael Malchior, who has spoken on abuse and created a network for its victims

Shulum Deen, who has written extensively about his harrowing experiences, whose writing has drawn attention to the plight of Skverer children, amongst others

In loving memory:

Sarah Mayer (a/k/a Suri) z”l, 31 hanged herself

Faigy Mayer z“l, who jumped to her death after leaving community

Younger Brother of Mendy Alexander z”l, who committed suicide after years of abuse