Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seminary Scandal: Harry Maryles fails to get his facts and halacha straight before he pontificates

While it is true that I said that it is time to move on in dealing with Seminary scandal, Harry Maryles just posted an article attacking me that is so full of false analogies and distorted facts that I can't ignore it. Harry Maryles demands justice - but so does the IBD and myself. What is it that Harry doesn't understand? Because I respect Harry as a sincere person I will try explaining the facts one more time - in clear style with my point repeated a couple times - and hopefully this time he will understand.

First of all my statement that is was time to end the discussion of this scandal and get on with life is simple a recognition that the discussion has become repetition, shrill and is not accomplishing anything. It is not, contrary to Harry Maryles, comparable to Hillary Clinton's attempt to avoid facing facts and cover up events - before facts were known. That should be obvious to anybody who has read my many posts on the subjects and the comments that I have spent countless hours responding to all type of questions and criticism. That is called a cover up? Ridiculous!

Secondly it is elementary that a judge needs to pasken on the information he has been presented. When no new information is forthcoming the judge needs to make a decision based on the available evidence. This doesn't mean that he refuses to consider information that comes later. The Sanhedrin, acknowledging the possibility of error even in capital cases, even after they sentenced someone to death - still remained open to the possibility that new information would exonerate the one found guilty. They set up a communication system - that could stop his execution up to the last instant. Would Harry Maryles claim that the Sanhedrin was acting like Hillary Clinton because they said that they needed to arrive at a pask after no new information was forthcoming ?!

Thirdly a stalemate had developed in the situation between the CBD and IBD. The IBD requested the information that CBD had collected and the CBD refused.  The CBD issued a advisory not to go to the seminaries because they claimed some staff was complicit - but at the same time they refused the IBD's request to see the information needed to pasken whether  in fact any staff was complicit. The CBD has no ability to resolve this issue because the seminaries have signed a shtar with the IBD. (The CBD is in America and the seminaries are in Israel.That is why the CBD asked the IBD to take the case.) The seminaries thus could not clear their names according to the demands of the CBD but the CBD did not have the authority or ability to fire staff they claim had to go.

Contrary to Harry Maryles repeated claims, the IBD is not letting the seminaries go ahead knowing that there was staff that enabled  Meisels misdeeds. The CBD has not produced the evidence they claim incriminates some staff members. At this point, the IBD says the CBD lacks credibility. A beis din can only act on evidence that it has. Unsubstantiated claims of evidence that are not produced despite repeated requests - does not influence the judgment of beis din. Elementary rule of beis din.

Thus the CBD was holding the seminaries and the students hostage unless they were given total control. The seminaries and the IBD refused. Finally the stalemate was broken by the letter from the 5 American gedolim - including Rav Levine - who is a member of the CBD. The message was clear. Based on their intimate knowledge of the situation they declared - contrary to the CBD - that the seminaries were fine places to learn and safe. They added a Vaad hachinuch and Reb Birnbaum as overall director for added protection beyond what other seminaries have.

Again contrary to Harry Maryles' faulty understanding - this is no way comparable to Hillary Clinton's cover up. This was a move taken by 5 gedolim after careful consideration - that it was time to get on with life. His criticism of me is misplaced. I was simply reporting the message that is inherent in the letter of these gedolim. Harry doesn't like this or understand it because he is so committed to the CBD that anything against them has to be a signs of corruption, moral blindness or maybe plain stupidity. 
 Harry Maryles is wrong!

Until the CBD has produced evidence that the staff were Meisels enablers - these 5 gedolim are supporting the view of the  IBD  that the seminaries are safe. They are saying the CBD can not hold the seminaries hostage for their own selfish purposes. 

 I am capitalizing the following statement because Harry Maryles seems to have problem reading.  As I have stated this idea a number of times already in different posts.

 IF AND WHEN THE CBD PRODUCES EVIDENCE THAT THERE WERE ENABLERS AMONGST THE STAFF - THEY WILL BE FIRED IF THE ALLEGATIONS ARE CONFIRMED BY THE  ISRAELI BEIS DIN. FURTHERMORE IF AND WHEN EVIDENCE COMES FROM OTHERS SOURCES REGARDING THE STAFF OR VICTIMS - IT WILL BE EXAMINED CAREFULLY AND ACTED UPON ACCORDING TO THE HALACHA.

Contrary to Harry Maryles, this is not a cover up to save the jobs of kollel couples, it is not a cover up to prevent embarrassing the frum community, it is not a cover up for the sake of shidduchin - IT IS SIMPLY NOT A COVERUP BUT ELEMENTARY HALACHA!

Harry I think it is time that you move on from the rut you are in with your mistaken views that are based on you intense loyalty to the CBD.

Defeat and victory is in the eyes of the beholder - or why Palestinians think Hamas won

Contrary to what is typically understood - victory or defeat is not dependent on objective reality but the subjective reality. What is required for the Palestinians to acknowledge they were defeated - is it the number of dead, number of buildings destroyed or perhaps it is the failure to inflict significant harm to Israel. Answer it is none of the above. They know they won because Israel stopped fighting.


An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe Hamas defeated Israel in the recent Gaza operation, and support the continuation of rocket attacks if Israel does not remove the blockade on Gaza, a new Palestinian poll revealed.

According to the data collected on August 26-30 by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) headed by pollster Khalil Shikaki, 79 percent of Palestinians questioned in Gaza and the West Bank said that Hamas had won the war against Israel, while only 3% said Israel had won. A similar majority believed that Israel was responsible for the breakout of the war. 

In stark contrast to predictions voiced during Operation Protective Edge by senior Israeli military officers saying the extent of damage in Gaza would likely turn the civilian population against Hamas, 94% of respondents said they were satisfied with Hamas’s performance in confronting the IDF and 78% were pleased with the movement’s defense of civilians in Gaza. Eighty-six percent of the 1,270 adults questioned in the survey said they supported the continuation of rocket attacks at Israel as long as the blockade on Gaza is maintained. [...]

Judges slam Yeshiva University in $680 million abuse case- Title IX - defining statute of limitation

Forward  Imagine you are in a car accident. It’s the other guy’s fault, and you know your insurance company will sue his. But should you then and there investigate the car manufacturer for deliberately ignoring a mechanical fault, even if you have no reason to know that’s true?

That’s essentially the question United States Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi asked August 28 as he lambasted a Yeshiva University lawyer for claiming that dozens of former schoolboys ought to have sued Y.U. decades ago for a sexual abuse cover-up. 

Y.U.’s lawyer, Karen Bitar, argued that students should have found out soon after they were assaulted, during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, that Y.U. was deliberately indifferent to the fact that it employed abusive staff. Calabresi said: “It seems to me that’s a mighty hard way to look at this.” 

Thirty-four former students of Yeshiva University High School for Boys sued Y.U. for $680 million in 2013. They claimed Y.U. administrators, trustees, and other staff, facilitated a massive, decades-long cover-up of abuse at the Y.U.-run high school.  [....] 

 Under Title IX, students have three years from the time they become aware of a school’s deliberate indifference to their abuse to file a suit. To prove deliberate indifference, students must show that before they were abused, a high-ranking official knew that the school employed an abusive staff member and did not act appropriately. Calabresi, part of a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, reminded Y.U.’s lawyer that not even Koeltl believed the statute of limitations began as far back as the time each of the students was abused. [...]

A United Family or a United Front - the lesson of the rebellious child (Devarim 21:18) by Allan Katz

guest post by  Allan Katz 
Many parenting experts cite a verse from our weekly parasha-portion in order to encourage parents to keep a ' united front' against their' ben sorer u'moreh' - rebellious and challenging child. The verses Devarim 21:18-21 speak of parents who report their son to the elders of the city - that despite attempts to discipline him, he does not listen to the voice of his father or mother. The parents claim that their parenting is not the problem because they do not convey contradicting and mix messages to the kid, but it is the kid who is at fault as he does not listen to their  ' singular' voice.

Everyone agrees that parental and marital harmony is crucial for raising kids in a peaceful, loving and cooperative environment.  And children do better when there is some degree of consistency and predictability. But the overriding question is what are we being consistent about and whether we can overdo or misapply the consistency by following the widespread parenting advice of ' keeping a united front'.

A problem with the advice of having an united front against your challenging child is that it describes the 'parent-child ' dynamic a 'war'  against the kid where parents are ' doing to ' the child , imposing parental will using power  and authority. In a war, you may win the battle, but lose the war and your child. This advice blinds and deafens parents to asking important questions – what kind of relationship do I have with my child and/or is my child's lagging skills causing his challenging behaviors. A parent cannot report a rebellious or wayward son if they are' blind ', as they are also blind to the needs of their kid.  I often hear how a kid runs away from home, at best to his grandparents, after having an argument with one of his parents. Instead of maintaining the ' united front ' and backing up the father for eg , the mother who  has not been involved emotively in the argument and confrontation can step in as a third party and try to reconcile the parties by using Collaborative problem solving techniques. The concerns of the father and the child are put on the table and attempts are made to find mutually satisfying solutions or at least an attempt to try and compensate the child. When reasons are given for decisions and the concerns of kids are taken into account, kids are more likely to trust parents' decisions even when they are not so happy about them. A United front can cause even more damage. So  often with a challenging kid or  even with  a typical kid ,a spouse and it is usually the father  is more demanding, strict , critical and very confrontational with a child. The kid becomes more reactive, defiant, oppositional, explosive or implosive. The wife who disagrees with this approach is given the advice to maintain the united front and back the husband. This is the perfect 'recipe' for continued abuse and trauma. Constant confrontation, criticism and put downs is abuse and traumatic even if it is low level. Kids will either leave the home or be kicked out, drop religious practices and their emotional connection with their parents. Instead the other spouse or mother should see her role as primarily protecting her child and not sticking with her husband. The wife can show the husband that they are 'losing' and ' hurting ' their child and that the husband's concerns can be addressed by ' working with the child 'and solving problems in a collaborative way.  And if he continues, she should leave the home with the kids if he is not willing to follow her lead, instead of kicking out the kid. 

The verse talks about the kid not listening to the parents' voice', not just the words. This implies that the unified message must be honest and authentic. Although parents may easily share the same values, beliefs and dreams for their children, being human with different personalities they may have different perspective of the abilities of their children and interventions appropriate to the child. When parents feel compelled to take the same position on every issue in front of kids, they are being dishonest with themselves and certainly not authentic. Kids see through this, so it is better for kids to see that adults sometimes disagree and yet resolve their disagreements in a respectful way or even in some cases learn to tolerate differences. Instead of a ' unified front' parents should aim for a' unified family', where the kids participate with parents to form a family mission statement and problems are solved in a collaborative way taking into account the concerns of all. When parents ' concerns are addressed, the solutions not only address the kids concerns but also set limits. In this way parents can still be honest to them and authentic and work together for the unity of the family and not just keep a united front against their children.

Seminary Scandals: It's not over till it's over VS it's time to move on.- the END!

Having spent many hours in the last few weeks responding to questions about the seminary scandal or processes information about it, I think it is time to get on with life. I agree that there has been a need to explain and discuss this disturbing case. However the point has been reached where the same questions are brought up or baseless conjecture is tossed out to try and discredit the resolution - and that is where we are now.

The chareidi system - which includes the Chicago Beis Din and the Israeli Beis Din - typically work privately - out of the awareness of the public. The Chicago Beis Din is part of a system set up to decide whether allegations or rumors of abuse should be reported to the police or dealt with in house. Inherent in their mandate is the attempt to minimize chilul hashem while at the same time providing maximum  help to victims and potential victims.

Recent history is full of attempted cover ups of abuse in our community and the resulting scandals when the cover up failed e.g., Kolko, Weberman, Tropper, Kolko, Mondrowitz, Weingarten, Elon, etc etc etc. Therefore it is quite understandable why the public is suspicious of rabbinic pronouncements such as "Don't worry about it", "Everything is fine", Don't speak lashon harah". The community gets even more suspicious when one beis din dealing with abuse is attacked by another beis din concerning how things should be handled. Beis Din - by and large are not oriented to public relations and are not willing to accept the chutzpa of the masses  questioning their every move and pronouncement. Add to this the various blogs which have a long history of trying to undermine rabbinic authority - often with solid justification - but at other times simply functioning as a lynch mob. Toss in the strong attention of the secular media- and you have an explosive situation.

I have spent much time trying to understand what is going on. I have tried to clarify what has been done - to not only deal with the victims of this scandal - but what is being done to protect young ladies from having to deal with being abused by a charismatic talmid chachom who is also their mentor and perhaps closest confidante - in the context of a heady mixture of spiritualism and idealism in a bubble in Jerusalem - far from parents and normal protection.

I am not going to repeat all the facts of this case but I will just mention the dynamics that continue to drive it. There is a jurisdictional dispute which resulted from either a misunderstanding and/or the vanity and pride of a single individual. The  accepted normative halachic practices have failed to resolve the conflict. What started out as a partnership in the best sense of the word has degenerated into a dispute which serves neither the victims or the protection of the students. It was clear that the dispute could not be resolved by the two sides and thus threatened to continue for years. The result of this dispute would be harsh pressure and continued stigmatization of the victims. A lawsuit of outrageous claims threatens a tremendous chilul hashem. There is the reality of the blanket smearing of the reputation of hundreds of fine young ladies who have attended, are attending or will attend these seminaries. A serious loss of emunas chachomim ( lack of respect for all rabbis and Judaism - is occurring and threatens to get much worse..

The IBD has proposed and is instituting fundamental changes in the seminary culture - which are widely views as needed for all seminaries - not just these four. The new owner had hired Rebtzn Birnbaum - a widely respected educator - to supervise all 4 seminaries. However this wasn't enough to break the deadlock or to quiet the constant attacks and accusations of corruption and cover ups from the supporters of the CBD against the IBD. Finally the head of the IBD - Rav Shafran - traveled to America  and succeeded in convincing 5 American gedolim of the need of a letter publicly supporting the seminaries and indicating that they are safe and productive places of growth and spirituality.[I do not have any direct information that the letter was solicited by Rabbi Shafran. I do know that he presented IBD's case to various rabbis. - see update below] In addition, the Novominsker had a vaad hachinuch of the highest level rabbonim added to reinforce the work of the IBD and to ensure that things were properly supervised. With this letter, the fight should have ended - especially since one of the 5 is himself a member of the Chicago Beis Din - and is well aware of the views of both sides. 

However it is clear from the comments I have been receiving that the supporters of the CBD have entered a new phase - to look for any inconsistencies no matter how insignificant - that would justify their continued fight against the IBD. This is the well known psychological phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. For example, a certain messianic sect had predicted an invasion from outer space on a certain date and claimed salvation only for their sect. The sect simply made an announcement to that effect - and didn't seem to care if anyone took them seriously. However when the date of the invasion passed there was a decided change. Instead of acknowledging they were wrong they took to feverish missionizing to convince others of the truth of the invasion. The missionizing helped calm the anxiety from facing the unpleasant fact  that they were wrong. The more people they could convince the less anxiety from reality. The more fervent their support of the sect - the easier it was to ignore that they had made a mistake.

Similarly here, the battle between the two beis dins is over and no useful purpose is served by continuing it. It is clear that the seminaries are viable and safe environments to continue their successful work in chinuch as the IBD has stated. 5 gedolim including a member of the CBD have publicly supported the view of the IBD. It is time for all of us to get on with life and to acknowledge the view of the CBD has been rejected. It is time to understand that the victims and the community will receive no benefit from continued attacks on the IBD and the view of the 5 gedolim. The battle is over. It is time to stop the guerrilla warfare.

Update regarding the origins of the letter of the 5 Gedollim - by Arie B. Link to letter of 5 Gedolim
I was intending not to post anything further in light of the fact that the issue is essentially moot. But there's an inaccurate perception here.
Rav Shafran was coming to America for other reasons, his trip was scheduled before this entire fiasco. He even had a public speaking engagement advertised beforehand.
During his stay here, he was under continuing harassment by various interests, with various "suggestions" and "proposals." His basic response was that if Yarmish wants to sell it's Yarmish's business, but whatever happens would have to be agreed to by the entire Beis Din, and he is only one member of three.
Apparently, the askanim who were running this campaign got several Roshei Yeshiva involved, primarily the Novominsker Rebbe (who has a very close relationship with Gottesman, as does Rav Feldman).
From what I understand, this letter represents the backfiring of the efforts of those askanim, because the Roshei Yeshiva spoke to those involved and roundly rejected the CBD's position, approach, and efforts.
Take it or leave it.
The schools are opening. The safety of the students has been assured, the ashukim have been protected, and a steamrolling of halachah has been avoided.
Having no vested interest here, I have every right to say that I leave it to the One Above to deal with the bloggers and commenters.
I will now go back to the constructive use of my time as those who choose to jabber continue on their own missions.

Seminary Scandal: New letter from American Gedolim praises new spiritual supervisors of the 4 seminaries

A letter signed by American gedolim - including Rav Levin from Telz of Chicago, Rav Aharon Feldman of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel, Rav Aharon Schecter of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, Rav Malkiel Kotler or Lakewood and Rav Yaakov Perlow - praises the four seminaries which were acquired by Yaakov Yarmish from Meisels. They express their clear approval of the new spiritual managment that will be closely supervising these seminaries. Certainly sounds that they do not agree with the psak of the Chicago Beis Din! I have verified that the letter is genuine.

update regarding the origin of this letter - by Arie B. Sept 2, 2014
I was intending not to post anything further in light of the fact that the issue is essentially moot. But there's an inaccurate perception here.
Rav Shafran was coming to America for other reasons, his trip was scheduled before this entire fiasco. He even had a public speaking engagement advertised beforehand.
During his stay here, he was under continuing harassment by various interests, with various "suggestions" and "proposals." His basic response was that if Yarmish wants to sell it's Yarmish's business, but whatever happens would have to be agreed to by the entire Beis Din, and he is only one member of three.
Apparently, the askanim who were running this campaign got several Roshei Yeshiva involved, primarily the Novominsker Rebbe (who has a very close relationship with Gottesman, as does Rav Feldman).
From what I understand, this letter represents the backfiring of the efforts of those askanim, because the Roshei Yeshiva spoke to those involved and roundly rejected the CBD's position, approach, and efforts.
Take it or leave it.
The schools are opening. The safety of the students has been assured, the ashukim have been protected, and a steamrolling of halachah has been avoided.
Having no vested interest here, I have every right to say that I leave it to the One Above to deal with the bloggers and commenters.
I will now go back to the constructive use of my time as those who choose to jabber continue on their own missions.
Official English Translation

Monday, September 1, 2014

Schlesinger Twins: Petition against Austria and Germany denying custody to non-native parents

Beth Alexander's loss of custody in not an isolated phenomenon but is in fact typical for non-native parents in Austria and Germany. She has requested that everyone sign the following  Petition  to change this practise



Dear President of the European Parliament,
Dear President of the European Commission,
Dear Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament,

As you already know, in binational separations or divorces, when non German or non Austrian fathers and mothers are concerned, they are almost systematically pushed aside and then deprived of any contact with their children by a German or Austrian administration (Jugendamt and Family Court) which uses inequitable, shameful means, which they denounce regularly, often supported by national and European members of parliament.

For twenty years, thousands of French-German, Italian-German, Spanish-German children, etc. have been abandoned in the hands of Germany and Austria. Their rights, as expressed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Hague Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and other international conventions, are ignored and scoffed. The parents of these children are scattered throughout Europe and beyond.

They are terrorized by threats and blackmail of these member countries of the European Union. Disarmed, ruined, destroyed by a Kafkaesque system, they are then considered "isolated cases" in their country of origin and by European institutions, and eventually stigmatized and criminalized.

Whether the children live in Germany (or Austria) at the time of the separation or they have been removed from their country of residence and held as hostages in Germany or in Austria, the German and Austrian parents benefit from the support of the authorities of their country. Sometimes they are often even forced by them to cut any contact between their children and their non German or non Austrian ex partner.[...]

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chedvas Seminary: Welcoming letter from Rabbi Meir Kahane to parents and incoming students

Dear Parents and Incoming Students amus”h,

I hope this letter finds you well.

As many of you are aware, much of our summer has been spent reevaluating our school to ensure that we are being mechanech with the utmost kedushah, tahara and safety.I wanted to update you on our progress:

We have been in consultation with numerous rabbanim, machanchim and Gedolei Yisroel both in the United States and Israel for hadracha and eitza and are indebted to them for the innumerable hours they gave us and the precision and care with which they have evaluated our system and advised every step of the way.  They offered their heartfelt support, and repeatedly expressed their appreciation for the excellent work Chedvas is known for and the countless exemplary bnos Torah we have produced.  They encouraged us to continue our meleches hakodesh.

As per the eitza of Gedolei Torah and the Beis Din of HaRav Mendel Shafran shlit”a, Rebbetzin Blimi Birnbaum has been appointed minaheles ruchani of the entire institution.  Rebbetzin Birnbaum is well known as one of the most prominent Bais Yaakov educators in Eretz Yisroel.  It is truly an honor to have her on staff.  We appreciate her guidance thus far, and look forward to her eitza for many years to come.

Under the hadracha of the Novominsker Rebbe shlit”a, in conjunction with the Bais Din of HaRav Mendel Shafran shlit”a, a vaad harabanim has been established to evaluate school policies and standards and to set new ones. They will be involved in an ongoing fashion, to advise and guide the schools for this year and for years to come, be”h.  The vaad is comprised of the esteemed Rabbanim: HaRav Moshe Hillel Hirsch shlit”a, HaRav Yehoshua Eichenstein shlit”a, and HaRav Asher Weiss shlit”a.< Gedolei Torah in America, including the Novminsker Rebbe shlit”a have written a letter endorsing the schools and the steps that have been taken.  It is attached to this email (in the original Hebrew and an English translation).

It is our tefila that Hakadosh Baruch Hu give us siyata dishmaya to continue to be mikadesh shem shamayim

As usual, please do not hesitate to be in touch with any questions. I remain,

Sincerely,

Rabbi Meir Kahane
Menahel

Seminary Scandal: Frum Follies deliberately misrepresents my views.

Yerachmiel Lopin and I have major disagreements regarding the proper handling of the Seminary Scandal. He views the Chicago Beis Din rabbonim's advisory against attending the 4 seminaries  and their obstruction of justice - as heroic, while I view it as preventing the resolution of the matter and the clearing the mud from the names of hundreds of past and present and future students of these 4 seminaries. 

Following the recent letter by 5 American Gedolim - including Rav Levin a member of the Chicago Beis Din - which praised the 4 seminaries and noted the addition of Rebbetzin Birnbaum as overall director of the seminaries and major Israeli poskim as their Vaad haChinuch - Yerachmiel Lopin is now trying discredit these 5 gedolim as well as to try to discredit me.

This is clearly an act of desperation to try and save the Chicago Beis Din - since it involves trashing a member of the CBD itself in the process! The letter is widely and correctly understood to be a rejection of the CBD's claim that the seminaries are not safe and and also an endorsement of the IBD's focus on getting passed the scandal and focusing on correcting the basis of the scandal - the seminary culture itself. Anybody who is familiar with the seminary culture, understands that this latest scandal was not an aberration of one man who couldn't control himself. The highly emotional relationship between teacher and student and psychological dependency of the students needs to be changed in all the seminaries. That is what the IBD is doing - especially now that it is augmented by the Vaad haChinuch.

Furthermore in the course of trying to discredit me, while he correctly notes that I was initially in favor of the Chicago Beis Din and critical of the Israeli Beis Din - he deliberately misrepresents the reason for this change. He asserts that  I have lost my way - that I am a hypocrite who has sold my soul to the forces of darkness and have repudiated my long time campaign against abuse. He ignores a much simpler explanation - which has the additional advantage of being true.

My initial reaction was based solely on the public releases of the Chicago Beis Din and the Israeli Beis Din. My present position is the subsequent result of reading the many documents that I have posted from the Israeli Beis Din and the Chicago  Beis Din. In addition I have had access to askanim who are directly involved with both sides, In addition I have obtained significant clarification of issues from the IBD itself. I am not ashamed to admit that my initial perception was wrong and that I now have a better informed view of the situation. The Israeli Beis Din has one major problem - they have not been concerned with public relations. Most of this turmoil could have been avoided if they had taken care to fully communicate what they were doing. Nonetheless they clearly are doing what needs to be done - as seen by the approval of the 4 seminaries by the 5 American Gedolim.

I acknowledge that initially I was not aware of the permanent removal of Meisels and the absolute nature of the sale. Aside by this being confirmed by the new owner Yaakov Yarmish - it was also confirmed in a letter from Rav Aharaon Feldman. I acknowledge now that the CBD was making false claims that the sale was a sham to a close buddy of Meisels - Yaakov Yarmish. The sale is not a sham and Yarmish is not and was not a close buddy of Meisels. I also didn't realize that the CBD was claiming that they never relinquished control - something which is contrary to the documents.

Additionally I initially accepted the view that was circulated by the CBD that Meisels had repeatedly committed severe sexual abuse and harassment.  But I was faced by the fact that the Chicago Beis Din has not provided evidence for this and that Meisels in fact only admitted to inappropriate contact. Thus there is a clear contradiction in the CBD's position. If Meisels is in fact a rodef - why didn't they either contact the police or urge his victims to do so. It is elementary that the knowledge of a rapist loose in the community does not even require a beis din to call the police. Everybody who knows this to be a fact - is required to call the police. So either the CBD was involved in a cover up or that Miesels - while disqualified from being an educator - is not a rodef.

Finally Yerachmiel Lopin states
All I know is I have been consistent in my positions about abuse for the last five years. You on the other hand have taken a U-turn backwards from your advocacy for child safety. Dr. Eidensohn I hope it is a malady you are professionally equipped to resolve because all other explanations implicate your integrity or social judgment.
I agree fully that Yerachmiel Lopin has been consistent in his views of abuse. He has focused on bashing rabbis and Orthodox Judaism - even if his views are not always helping the victims. In the case of the seminaries - the safety and welfare of the seminary students is best dealt with using the IBD's approach of changing the protocols and providing oversight of the seminaries. This is clearly acknowledged by the 5 American gedolim. It is not helped by the CBD's approach of refusing to cooperate with the beis din - that they themselves appointed and by trying to close down the seminaries - unless their jurisdiction is acknowledged by all concerned. And it surely isn't helped by the CBD's plan of telling parents to file an absurd RICO slander against the seminaries.

Finally it is astounding that he tries to defend the Chicago Beis Din against the letter of the 5 American gedolim - by attacking the integrity of its member Rav Levin. This is a self-defeating approach. If Lopin's charges are true that Rav Levin was trying to protect a child molester - then where is the protest of the other CBD members. By their failure to protest shows that they are not concerned primarily with protecting against abuse. Furthermore Lopin is apparently being inconsistent. Normally we would expect a true child advocate to protest against the beis din for child abuse that Rav Levin is part of. Lopin, in his desire to attack the IBD turns a blind eye to this transgression and acts as if you can attack one dayan of the CBD without disqualifying the entire beis din.

In sum, Yerachmiel Lopin should get his priorities straight. Is he first and foremost a defender against abuse or is he primarily concerned with bashing rabbis and Judaism through claims of mishandling child abuse? His actions clearly show it is the latter.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Seminary Scandal: A shamefully inaccurate account published by the Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune    An inaccurate and misleading version of the Seminary Scandal has just been published by the Chicago Tribune. It seems to have been deliberately leaked by supporters of the CBD to coincide with the release of the Letter of 5 American Gedolim which has been in the works for the last 2 weeks. The CBD has suffered a harsh body blow by this letter which in effect endorses the IBD over the CBD. The article falsely implies that the dispute between the IBD and the CBD is whether Meisels is guilty. It can be expected that the supporters of the CBD will peddle their version to other secular media in attempt to discredit the IBD.
A federal lawsuit alleging that an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who runs seminaries for girls in Israel is a sexual predator offers a rare look into the most traditional branch of Judaism, where a young woman's religious education can prove key to finding a good husband through a matchmaker.
The allegations raised in the lawsuit, filed this month in Chicago, have already been brought before rabbinical courts in Chicago and Israel. The courts —known as beis din — came to contradictory decisions on the accusations against Rabbi Elimelech Meisels.
The lawsuit was filed by parents of girls who want their tuition money back in light of allegations against Meisels. They say in the suit that the rabbi for 10 years recruited young women from Chicago and other cities to his seminaries in Israel "under the guise of educational and spiritual development."
Meisels is accused in the lawsuit of "developing mentor-mentee relationships with girls," taking them on late-night coffee meetings and sexually assaulting them. Meisels, who could not be reached for comment, does not face any criminal charges.
A few weeks before the suit was filed, a Chicago beis din heard the allegations against Meisels. The body ruled that, based on testimony (including from Meisels) and documents, it believed "students in these seminaries are at risk of harm and does not recommend that prospective students attend these seminaries at this time," according to the lawsuit. [...]

According to the Israeli rabbis, "there is no cause for concern" at Meisels' seminaries. In addition, the Israeli court said that "it is absolutely forbidden" for other seminaries to offer Meisels' prospective students the opportunity "to switch to their institutions."
 I received the following critical letter from Art Bader - which has been published by the Chicago Tribune as a comment.

Dear Mr. Grossman,
I just read the above-referenced article and found some astonishing omissions. You note that: “According to the Israeli rabbis, ‘there is no cause for concern’ at Meisels' seminaries. In addition, the Israeli court said that ‘it is absolutely forbidden’ for other seminaries to offer Meisels' prospective students the opportunity ‘to switch to their institutions.’
What you fail to note is that Meisels was removed from any involvement with the seminaries several months ago, and the Israeli Beis Din wrote their ruling after the seminaries were sold to a new owner with no prior relationship to the schools or Meisels.
These facts are available online, extensively discussed on numerous blogs that have been dealing with this for the past many weeks.
Although those providing you with information may have withheld those facts because they have an agenda, I would think it the responsibility of a reporter to look into matters a bit more thoroughly.
Especially in the age of Google, I regret to say that your act of omission is reckless and irresponsible. I call upon you to rectify it immediately.
Art Bader
================This followup clarification was sent to the Tribune by Mr. Bader======
I serve on the board of an organization that offers educational scholarships that is subsidizing tuitions for underprivileged girls going to these schools (among others) and my daughter has numerous friends who are going/were intending to go to seminaries impacted by this case.
 
This involvement had brought me to follow the story from the time it first broke with a letter issued by a Chicago Beis Din on July 10. I am also a friend of one of the Rabbis on the Beis Din in Israel, which, as that July 10 letter made clear, was the Rabbinic authority on the case from that point onward.
 
Numerous blogs in the community have been pontificating on the issue, but some facts remain clear, including that
  • Meisels had been removed from any direct involvement with educational matters and was barred from entering the schools or interacting with students
  • that the Israeli Beis Din NEVER in any way vindicated Meisels [in fact, they never directly addressed any issues involving him at all, because of his removal, it was irrelevant]
  • and that – by the time the July 25 letter -- the schools were under completely new ownership and had agreed that the Israeli Beis Din was completely empowered to institute policy and staff changes at the schools as they see fit.
This being the case, some of the assertions made in the article regarding the stand of that Rabbinic Court are blatant lies, while others are misleading and defamatory half-truths.
 
Furthermore, the July 25 ruling from the Israeli Beis Din does not state, as your “reporter” claims, “that ‘it is absolutely forbidden’ for other seminaries to offer Meisels' prospective students the opportunity ‘to switch to their institutions.’”
What it does say (in #4) is that “No other seminary (existing or newly established) may reach out in any way – directly or indirectly – to students who had been accepted...” It essentially forbids predatory recruitment.
I am attaching the July 25 ruling below so you can have an independent translator verify what I wrote here. I am also posting the text on af email sent by one of the schools on July 24. Both of these are available online, by doing a search.
Mr. Grossman essentially wrote a PR piece for those who are suing the schools, defaming a prominent Beis Din in the process. It is shameful that The Tribune has allowed this to remain on your site as-is.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rivky Stein & Yoel Weiss: Rivky's claims are lies - Benyamin Abeles - claimed by Rivky to be one of her dayanim - gives affidavit that his name was forged on beis din documents and he is not a dayan

Benyamin David Issachar Abeles
Rivky Stein and her mentor Frankel  have perpetrated a major fraud

The have created a false beis din with false dayanim and at least in the case of Abeles - he alleges that his signature was forged. When he found out about the misuse of his name he contacted Yoel Weiss and gave the following affidavit.

As I have said all along - Rivky's beis din is phony. Nobody ever heard of it or its dayanim. It poskened against the halacha. It could not be located or responded to by phone or email. Her case is full of lies and slander against Yoel Weiss. She has created an incredible chilul hashem in going to all the media with her lies, her forged documents, her false beis din, her begging for thousands of dollars from the public with a story of rape, kidnapping slavery etc etc. her disgusting RICO claim which is full of lies. The secular media - especially the New York Daily News' Reuven Blau - strongly supported her cause. Hopefully the media will have the integrity to publish a retraction.

In addition there is a strong backlash against her as the result of her recent posting about getting evicted by her foster parents - Rivky's supporters are deserting in droves.
Redeem Rivky 
Friends and supporters of Rivky Stein: We had thought that the Lefkowitz Family, who fostered Rivky when she was a teen, had decided to do the right thing, but today Rivky received the shocking news that she and her two tiny children will be evicted within 6 days, the week before the start of the school year. We are filled with dismay at this lack of basic human decency. Follow this page for further news. Voice your outrage. Help support Rivky in her struggle to be free.
Her posting about being evicted was taken down today - apparently because of the huge number of negative comments it elicited.

Her days as a media star-  as an aguna - are numbered