Deputy minister of Health Yaakov Litzman seen leaving a meeting at the Rabbinate building in Jerusalem on February 14, 2019. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
To read the article in its entirety click here.
To read the article in its entirety click here.
By STEVE LIPMAN
The disgrace of sexual abusers (nearly entirely men) who identify themselves as Orthodox Jews is a well-known subject, covered extensively in recent decades in the Jewish and general media.
Lesher, an attorney whose specializes in this part of family law, is a longtime community activist on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse. He is an outspoken critic of what he sees as a failing of the Orthodox community he came to as an adult. His book concentrates on one disturbing aspect of the phenomenon – the propensity of Orthodox Judaism’s leaders and rank-and-file members, in the United States and Israel, to defend and support the abusers, at the expense of the victims and the victims’ families.
He writes, as he summarizes in the book’s introduction, about “how influential rabbis and community leaders have sided with the alleged abusers against their victims; how victims and witnesses of sexual abuse have been pressured, even threatened, not to turn to secular law enforcement for help; how autonomous Jewish ‘patrols,’ displacing the role of official police in some large and heavily religious Jewish neighborhoods, have played an inglorious part in the history of cover-ups; … how some Jewish communities have even succeeded in manipulating law enforcement officials to protect suspected abusers.”
This makes for a hard read, a searing indictment of putative religious Jews – from Modern Orthodox Jews to chasidic and the black hat, yeshivish community – who have in effect reintroduced a system of child sacrifice, sacrificing the interests of children (young boys and girls are overwhelmingly the victims of Orthodox Judaism’s sexual abusers) to those of the accused abusers and to the Orthodox community’s perceived image in wider society. According to Lesher, the children and their family members who take steps against abusers are usually regarded as traitors who unfairly harm the lives of the abusers and the abusers’ families; it’s “blame the victim” to an unconscionable degree.
Lesher painstakingly documents case after case of a communal mentality of Shah! What will the goyim think? It’s a mentality that bullies and ostracizes and often silences the victims who dare bring the crimes of Orthodox Jews to the secular criminal justice system and to any type of media. He writes of the indifference and hostility that the victims encounter. He covers the familiar territory of a corrupt beit din (rabbinic court) system and cites the self-serving misuse of Jewish law and of Jewish history to justify Orthodox Jews turning their backs on the victims. He describes, in the words of one chapter’s title, a “culture of denial,” an Orthodox community in which accusations against victims have become orthodox behavior.
Lesher names names – among them, the revered leaders of the Orthodox community – who, he claims, almost without exception help foster a cover-up of sexual abuse committed by ostensibly Orthodox Jews.
“’Cover-up’ is the only appropriate name for the deliberate evasion of a highly topical reality,” he writes. “I must add, sadly, that few in Orthodoxy have broken this code of silence.”
By Rocco Parascandola
| NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |May 10, 2018
An official with an influential neighborhood watch group in Brooklyn has been charged with raping a 16-year-old girl, police said Thursday.
Jacob Daskal, 59, who runs the Shomrim’s Brooklyn South Safety Patrol, a Hasidic neighborhood watch group, abused the girl between August and November of last year, police said.
Daskal was charged with rape and criminal sex act, plus three misdemeanors — forcible touching, sex abuse and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
Shomrim’s links to law enforcement have been a subplot in the ongoing federal probe involving two businessmen and a number of NYPD supervisors. In 2016, the FBI investigated what role the supervisors may have played in securing gun licenses for members of Shomrim. Daskal, who lives in Borough Park and has strong ties to the NYPD, was not charged in that case.
To continue reading click here.
By Al BakerMay 11, 2018
On Wednesday, sex crimes investigators for the New York Police Department received a troubling report: The influential leader of a Brooklyn safety patrol known as the shomrim had been sexually abusing a teenage girl, the police were told.
A day later, detectives arrested the man, Jacob Daskal, a leader of one faction of what has been, since the 1970s, a sort of auxiliary police force for the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn’s Borough Park, Crown Heights, Flatbush and Williamsburg neighborhoods.
Mr. Daskal, 59, was charged with statutory rape, sexual abuse and other crimes. The authorities believe the abuse took place at Mr. Daskal’s home between August and November of last year, when the girl, who is now 16, was a year younger. But the inquiry is continuing, to determine if the alleged abuse occurred over a longer period of time or if there were additional victims.
The revelations cast another shadow over a group that has long cultivated relationships with New York’s law enforcement and elected leaders — and that has secured government funding for vehicles, phones and other equipment integral to its brand of security for some of the city’s most insular populations. On several occasions, critics have questioned whether the shomrim’s proximity to authority has fostered vigilantism or corruption.
In May 2016, two men linked to the shomrim of Williamsburg admitted to taking part in the assault of a black man in their neighborhood. A month earlier, Alex Lichtenstein, a former member of Mr. Daskal’s Brooklyn South Safety Patrol, which covers Borough Park, was arrested on federal charges of trying to secure handgun permits by offering the police thousands of dollars in cash bribes.
In the case of Mr. Daskal, 59, he was arrested at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, within the 77th police precinct, the police said. He was then taken to the Brooklyn Special Victims squad, they said.On Friday, the police said that Mr. Daskal had been charged with third-degree rape; third-degree criminal sex act; forcible touching; acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17; and third-degree sexual abuse. He shuffled, handcuffed, into court for arraignment and pleaded not guilty before Judge Deborah Dowling, who issued an order of protection on behalf of his accuser.
Evan Lipton, a lawyer for Mr. Daskal, said his client was prepared to surrender his passport.
Afterward, as Mr. Daskal was released on bail, some supporters surrounded him in a hallway as Mr. Lipton told him, “Your phones have been seized.”
It was not immediately clear what triggered Wednesday’s report to the police.
Around Borough Park, people seemed dazed by the news of the arrest.
“This is the last thing anybody would believe,” said one man, a neighbor, who stood outside Mr. Daskal’s house about noon, watching as a van from the Crime Scene Unit pulled to the curb. Throughout the morning, investigators, some wearing latex gloves, converged on the brick duplex set back from 46th Street as onlookers, including several children, gathered outside.
On those same streets, the shomrim are seen as quick-acting stand-ins for police officers. With their two-way radios and social media links, they have won praise for keeping a watchful eye on the community, chasing down burglars, controlling crowds and locating the missing.
Residents, many of whom are Yiddish-speaking and cling to a culture rooted in preindustrial Europe, trust the shomrim as liaisons to secular authorities, who can negotiate language barriers and complex social mores.
According to state campaign finance records, Mr. Daskal has been a consistent political contributor over the years.
Police officials, too, have embraced the shomrim. It is commonplace for shomrim leaders to attend promotion ceremonies at Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
In 2015, a year before he became police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, then the chief of department, threw out the first pitch at an annual softball game between officers from the 66th Precinct and members of the Borough Park shomrim. Mr. Lichtenstein played in that game, the Greenfield Classic, named for David G. Greenfield, a city councilman who represents the district. In an interview in 2016, however, Mr. Daskal denied that Mr. Lichtenstein’s criminal case involving the gun permits had anything to do with the shomrim.
On Friday, as investigators streamed in and out of Mr. Daskal’s house, signs of their connections were evident. Parked in the street, near Mr. Daskal’s driveway, were a pair of shomrim vehicles outfitted like police patrol cars: emergency lights; a shield logo; the words “Courtesy Professionalism Respect” written on the side.
Gillian Friedman | February 5, 2019 at 4:08 pm MST
SALT LAKE CITY — From behind the witness stand, Utah Rabbi Avrohom (“Avremi”) Zippel gazes out into the sea of faces and prepares to speak.
It’s a dreary Tuesday morning, and normally, public speaking doesn’t intimidate the 27-year-old. Since he was a child — the precocious and prized eldest son of a prominent rabbi — he has revelled in the attention of a crowd.
But today, sitting in a courtroom in downtown Salt Lake City, the confidence that usually comes so easily evades him.
He fidgets nervously, his fingers playing with his long dark beard, adjusting his black suit and yarmulke, the traditional garb of observant Jewish men.
Time seems to slow to a stop, and all he can hear is the sound of his heart pounding in his ears. But then, one message rings clear in his head, as if from on high: you are doing the right thing.
He clears his throat, and in a voice barely above a whisper, begins to share a story that has haunted him for decades.
In a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Rabbi Zippel testified that Alavina Florreich, 69, sexually abused him for roughly 10 years — from age 8 to 18 — while she was employed as his nanny.
Florreich was arrested March 30, 2018, on suspicion of 131 counts of child abuse. She was charged in 3rd District Court in April 2018 with five counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child, a first-degree felony, and two counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, according to charging documents.
Florreich, in interviews taped by police, said she was teaching Rabbi Zippel to be a good husband and that it was “all part of the boy’s curiosity” and it was just him “learning,” according to a police report.
Florreich did not testify at the hearing Tuesday, and her attorneys did not respond to multiple requests from the Deseret News for comment on the case.
Rabbi Zippel said he was inspired to come forward by the #MeToo movement, in particular by Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, who testified in court alongside 156 other women who said that former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar had sexually abused them.
But he is also making history: Rabbi Zippel may be the first Orthodox Jewish rabbi to come out during the #MeToo movement as a survivor of sexual abuse — a topic he said is rarely discussed in the observant Jewish community.
“I think he’s a hero for speaking out,” said Elizabeth Smart, who was in court supporting Rabbi Zippel Tuesday, and who has advised Rabbi Zippel on the case in recent weeks.
“The amount of courage it takes to get up there — I know, I’ve done it — the amount of courage it takes to stand up in that box and talk about what happened openly, I mean it’s terrifying,” she said, “So he’s a hero, and he can become a voice for so many victims who are too scared to speak out.”
What follows is an exclusive account of the story of a man who for years grappled with shame and guilt as a result of his alleged abuse, and who, in part because of his religious beliefs, was convinced he was a “terrible sinner” who was entirely to blame. He hopes that by coming forward, he can become an example not just to his own observant Jewish community, but to other survivors of sexual abuse suffering in silence.
“If I can help one person, if I can bring some sort of healing to one person by telling my story, then it’s worth it,” he said.
PLEASE READ THE DESERET POST HERE.
A major philanthropist who has contributed millions of dollars to Bnei Akiva and its various institutions as well as other national-religious organizations has frozen donations to the organization, The Jerusalem Post has learned, because of the expected participation of Rabbi Haim Druckman at the movement’s upcoming world conference.
Druckman, chairman of Bnei Akiva yeshivas and seminaries – and perhaps the most influential rabbi in the national-religious sector – has been heavily criticized for having publicly backed Rabbi Moti Elon after he was convicted of sexual molestation in 2013, stated that the judge was wrong to convict him, and inviting Elon to lecture at his Ohr Etzion Yeshiva in Merkaz Shapira.
Druckman has faced further criticism in recent week for failing to apologize or express regret for that support, after evidence arose several weeks ago of new incidents of sexual abuse by Elon in the last 12 months.
The philanthropist, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, stated in an email obtained by the Post that he was “dismayed” at Druckman’s refusal to publicly condemn Elon, saying that he was even more upset that Druckman would be a attending Bnei Akiva’s 14th World Conference next week.
The philanthropist said he was therefore freezing financial support to Bnei Akiva until it acts on the issue, stating explicitly that the organization must not provide a platform of any kind for “Elon supporters.”
On Thursday evening, Hadashot News quoted a letter sent recently by Druckman to a third party who had ostensibly written to him about their disappointment in his actions.
Hadashot quoted Druckman’s reply where he said: “I feel your true pain over my silence regarding the new information that emerged about Rabbi Mordechai Elon,” adding that he had also been pained by the criticism directed at himself.
He said, however, that “I thought that from the perspective of truth I needed to act and not necessarily speak.”
Druckman said that as soon as the information reached him, he together with other rabbis instructed Elon to stop delivering lessons, halt all public activities and to stop holding personal meetings with youths. He added that anyone who had been harmed by Elon could approach him for help.
In December, the Uvda investigative reporting program revealed that allegedly Elon had sexually molested a youth in a private meeting with him. The youth had audio and video evidence which he presented to Druckman, and to rabbis Yaakov Ariel and Shmuel Eliyahu.
The three rabbis subsequently told Elon to cease all public activity, as Druckman related in his letter.
On Thursday, former Bnei Akiva chairman Daniel Goldman said he was boycotting the upcoming world conference because Druckman was going to be an honorary guest.
Goldman said he could not “in all conscience” attend “alongside Rav Druckman, until he is prepared to accept responsibility for his decisions with respect to Rav [Mordechai] Elon.”
To read the article in its entirety click here.
A popular rabbi convicted of sexual offenses has been negotiating his public rehabilitation with ultra-Orthodox politicians in exchange for his followers’ political support, according to a television report on Tuesday.
After evading arrest for three years, Eliezer Berland, 80, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2016 on two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault, as part of a plea deal. He was freed after five months, in part due to ill health.
Now, his associates are working to bring him back into the fold, according to a recording obtained by Hadashot.
In the recording, captured before the October municipal elections in Jerusalem, an aide to Berland, Natan Bezenson, is heard speaking with United Torah Judaism’s MK Meir Porush.
The TV report was aired days after Deputy Education Minister Porush was photographed speaking with Berland at a wedding, sparking an outcry.
UTJ is comprised of two parties, the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel and the Lithuanian Degel HaTorah. The parties ran separately in the local elections, and Berland’s supporters apparently made use of this rivalry to offer the support of his followers in exchange for legitimization.
“Today in the ultra-Orthodox community [Berland] is an outcast,” Bezenson says in the recording. “We really have a very simple demand, very simple, a single demand: that [leading rabbis] will accept him.”
He then suggested a photo op where Berland will meet with Hasidic leaders and call to vote for Agudath Israel in the local elections.
Porush responded that this would be unlikely to happen, and the aide pressed him. “They need to make some effort to honor him, some minimal show of respect, some minimal recognition. If he’s not a human being, then why do you need his votes?”
Bezenson went on to threaten to “ally with your enemies” and bring down Agudath Israel.
The offer did not appear to go ahead, and Berland eventually supported an independent slate in the first round of municipal elections in Jerusalem, which did not win a significant number of votes. He later supported Shas’s preferred candidate in the mayoral runoff, Moshe Lion, after Shas leader Aryeh Deri sent several associates to be photographed with the rabbi.
Porush was heavily criticized in online ultra-Orthodox forums for meeting with Berland this week during the Beit Shemesh wedding of Berland’s great-grandson.
The two were photographed conversing during the event.
Long considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers from the Bratslav sect, Berland fled Israel in 2013 amid allegations that he had molested several female followers, one of them a minor.
According to the indictment, Berland would often receive people in his homes in Jerusalem and its suburb Beitar Illit, and hold private meetings intended for spiritual guidance, counseling or benedictions. The rabbi would sometimes take advantage of the meetings and of his position in the community to engage in sexual acts with women, including minors, according to the charges against him.
He was on the run from authorities until 2016, avoiding several Israeli attempts to extradite him. He moved between Zimbabwe, Switzerland, the Netherlands and South Africa, accompanied by a group of devout followers numbering around 40 families. Berland was apprehended by South African authorities, extradited to Israel, and detained upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport in July 2016.
To continue reading click here.