Sunday, January 17, 2010

R' Aaron_Rakeffet-Rothkoff - Contemporary Scandals


Discusses child molesters, Tropper scandal and other scandals


  1. Listening to this now, excellent so far.

    R' Rakeffet is in agreement with Eda HaHaredis on 3 separate issues.

    He also labels tropper as "menuval she b'menuvalim!"
    A great title!

  2. Toronto Jewish Tribune

    Written by Atara Beck
    Wednesday, 13 January 2010

    TORONTO – “In our generation, the topic of conversion is a unique one,” said Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the religious Zionist Bnei Akiva youth movement and Center for Bnei Akiva yeshivot, who, at the invitation of local Zionist activist Larry Zeifman, led a roundtable discussion on the importance of encouraging Israeli immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) to become Jews according to halacha (Jewish law).

    Visiting here from Israel, Rabbi Druckman, rosh yeshiva of Ohr Etzion hesder yeshiva, a former deputy minister of religious affairs and, until recently, head of the State Conversion Authority, has long been advocating for a more ‘conversion-friendly’ system for olim [immigrants] from the former Soviet Union. He spoke in support of the newly launched AMI – Personal Ulpan for Conversion, through which small groups of potential converts could undergo the process with the continual guidance of a religious mentor family. Program organizers would be willing to accommodate a single potential convert as well, if necessary.

    AMI “represents a revolution,” Rabbi Druckman stated. It “transforms the process of conversion into an intimate, familial experience.” The program, which includes formal classroom education as well as informal learning through the mentor family, should significantly increase the number of converts through this personal approach, he explained.

    “We are 18 years too late,” he declared. “It would have been much easier had this been dealt with in a better way from the start. They [Russian olim] are already part of Medinat Yisrael [the state of Israel]. They are Israeli citizens…study in Israeli schools, serve in the army. Eighty thousand are considered non-Jews. What will happen to the next generation?”

    Indeed, “among the many who made aliyah are some 350,000 immigrants who are not Jewish according to halacha but came to Israel because of their deep connection to the land and people about which, sadly, they know so little today,” according to Natan Sharansky, chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, adding that he was “very pleased” to learn about AMI and sees the program as a “blessing” and “timely.”

    The majority of these olim claim Jewish ancestry; in fact, Rabbi Druckman read a list of names of individuals eager to convert to Judaism, including, for example, Rosenbaum, Landau and Kaplan.

    “It is clear that we are commanded and it is our responsibility to bring these people closer to the Jewish people and to assist them in fully connecting to and becoming part of our nation through conversion,” Rabbi Druckman stated. “The truth is that all the immigrants are our family…and we must embrace them and help them.”

    It was because of persecution and the forbidding of Jewish practice, including circumcision, that Jews from the FSU have been assimilated, “and the restrictions were enforced with brutal force like nothing we’ve ever seen. And the non-Jewish side suffered because of his connection to a Jew.”

    The descendants are from zerah Yisrael – literally, Jewish seed – and therefore should be encouraged to become full-fledged Jews, he stressed. In fact, this viewpoint has been expressed in rabbinic literature and supported by some of the greatest spiritual leaders in the last generations.

    Nevertheless, Rabbi Druckman affirmed that Jewish law must not be compromised in the process and the convert would have to demonstrate acceptance of the “yoke of heaven” and commitment to observing the mitzvot (commandments).

    Regarding the permanence of conversion, “all those who were converted to Judaism are Jews,” he stated. “No one can take that away from them.”

    For more information about AMI, contact Naftali Kandler, executive director, at 972-52-423-9740 or, or email


    Melbourne’s tightly-knit Orthodox community is reeling following the public ostracism of a group of dissident Lubavitchers accused of “a massive and reckless” act of blasphemy.

    A video posted last week on YouTube shows the group celebrating a seudah, or religious feast, on the Fast of Tevet on December 27, when Orthodox Jews are supposed to mourn the day the First Temple was besieged.

    The group, led by Alex Leonard and Asher Rozenfeld, appeared to include about 25 men, women and children singing, dancing, waving the yellow Chabad messianist flag and saying special prayers celebrating the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson — who died in 1994 — as the Messiah.According to Jewish tradition, fasts are replaced by feasts in the messianic era.

    But their actions prompted a severe rebuke from Rabbi Zvi Telsner, chief rabbi of Melbourne’s Chabad community. Rabbi Telsner, a former rabbi at Finchley Central Synagogue, issued a scathing statement on Sunday against the “perpetrators of such misguided deeds”, saying that the fact they publicised their “transgression” on the web “constitutes a massive and reckless Chillul Hashem”, or desecration of God’s name.

    In his ruling, plastered on the walls of the Yeshiva Centre, Lubavitch’s local headquarters, he said the dissidents cannot be counted as part of a minyan, are not allowed to answer “amen” in shul, cannot receive an aliyah to the Torah and no members of the community should speak to or have any business dealings with them until they seek forgiveness before a Jewish court.

    But Mr Rozenfeld and Mr Leonard, who were reportedly expelled from the Yeshiva Centre several years ago, said they had not seen the edict.

    “We are free to talk to anybody we choose and to carry on our business as usual,” Mr Rozenfeld said. Stating that he suspected the edict — which does not list names — constituted “character defamation”, he added: “I find it strange that a letter of such serious content would be issued publicly without me or anyone in the video receiving it first.”

    Rabbi Telsner — who in 2004 himself signed a letter declaring the Rebbe is the Messiah — hosed down suggestions he had ordered an excommunication.

    “It’s a statement about people who have transgressed. Their behaviour was in total disregard of Jewish law.”

    While some Orthodox Jews in Melbourne are bemused, others believe it raises serious questions about Chabad, which split after the Rebbe’s death between those who believed he was the Messiah and those who did not.

    Another Lubavitcher, Raphael Aron, said the furore “questions the ability of Chabad to continue without a Rebbe.

    “It raises existential questions about the future of Chabad. Is the Rebbe Moshiach? Is there another Rebbe or are we waiting until Moshiach? It’s a discussion no one is prepared to have.”

    An expert on cults, Mr Aron said the dissident group is “behaving in a cultish manner. It’s like they’re in some sort of trance.”

    The maelstrom has spawned hundreds of comments on Jewish websites. “Every Lubavitcher needs to do some major introspection, and realise that they are at fault for this horrible Chillul Hashem,” wrote one contributor on “It started out by believing in their hearts that the Rebbe was Moshiach, but denying it publicly. Then they crowned him Moshiach after his stroke. When he went into a coma they stated he could not die because he’s Moshiach. Finally when he died they started to come out with foolishness of a second coming. From there it’s just gone downhill.”


  5. Who is being open minded?January 17, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    It is interesting to me that while he condemns the externality of the black hat community and implicitly blames the black hat yeshivas for distorting their mesora from slobodka and lithuania,none of that applies to YU. His Rebbe,while not 100% successful has succeeded in the vast majority of cases in producing talmidim that are lkovod and tiferes. The strong implication is that the other yeshivas have succeeded only in producing hateful shallow pseudo-jews that crank out perverts and hypocrites. I have heard arguments like that on the Rush Limbaugh show directed at Democrats. Nobody from YU has problems! Amazing! The only example of hating someone for external differences is this kid with the black hat! How about the YUniks who immediately assume you are and anti-intellectual am-haaretz because you do where a black hat?
    The community has many problems. We all have a lot of work to do.

  6. Dear Mr Open minded,

    I think he is trying to get to the bottom of where the abuse is coming from. And he has a point. Tropper - whilst a menuval, was not a fool, ie not a moron. He may a total shekotz, but he knew how to manipulate the system.
    Why did he get through with such "success". Just like the Taliban bomber got into the CIA HQ in Afghanistan, so Tropper got through the Daas Torah HQ, They both caused great destruction. The CIA let in their double agent, without even a body search, becasue he was a "chaver". CIA was so hungry for enemy scalps, they would trust anyone to give them information.
    The situation with Tropper is not that different. In the last 10 years, no great seforim or great Roshei Yeshiva have emerged from the Hareid world. So they have tried to keep up the momentum with every little hate campaign instead. As if 1 kiruv book on science was sucha threat to orthodoxy. And Tropper played the game, being behind that and the covnersion crisis. And he had Haskomos of great rabbis (55+ according to one of his sycophants).
    The reason why he got so far, is the naiive belief that "if he is one of us, he cannot sin". That is really all Rakkefet is saying. And RAkkefet knows a lot - he studied under R' Aharon Kotler ztzl - so he knows how the old world used to be.
    Let us imagine a scenario where Tropper had not been caught out. He woudl still be running around today - in the name of higher Torh standards, with a criminal organisation (znut is criminal in Torah law, and lehavdil in US law - unless he had a license in AriZona).

  7. According to UOJ's blog, the Rabbi Moshe Weiss who received $3 million from Tropper / Kaplan in 2008 is Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss who is the rov of Avi Shafran at the Agudah of Staten Island.

    Avi Shafran got very touchy when asked questions about the Kolko affair. I'd hate to see his reaction when asked about this.


    According to the former EJF insider, Tropper has an arrangement with Partners in Torah.

    This organization is a subsidiary of Torah Umesorah.

    Is Torah Umesorah receiving kickbacks?

  9. EJF is tamei b'ohel, b'heset etc.

  10. Why is Reb Shmuel quietly urging EJF to continue?

  11. Who is "Yisrael Freedman" that R' Abba Dunner mentioned is with EJF?


    Rabbi Aba Dunner, the London-based executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis, rounded on the EJF this week, telling the VosIzNeias news site that he would continue to try to stop the organisation’s “nefarious activities”.

    But EJF hit back, accusing Rabbi Dunner of not refunding money that it had given to the CER.

    Last month EJF’s founder Rabbi Leib Tropper resigned after recordings of a salacious telephone conversation emerged apparently between him and a prospective woman convert.

    But even before his departure, EJF had been under fire from the CER, which accused it of trying to meddle in conversion in Europe.

    Rabbi Dunner described the tapes of the phone call as “quite sick” and “shocking”.

    Retaliating in a statement on the same website, EJF said that it had given a “significant grant” to CER to fund its Beth Din. It added that it had grown “suspicious of the questionable use of the funds by Rabbi Dunner” and claimed he had refused requests to refund some of the money.

    But Rabbi Dunner hit back, telling an Orthodox newspaper, “It is a long-established pattern of the hired cheerleaders of the EJF to attempt to blacken the name of anyone who criticises their activities in any way”.

    Rabbi Dunner told the JC this week that the EJF had originally offered $250,000 towards the CER’s Beth Din, which supervises conversions in Europe, but that only half the money had come last year.

    He said the money was used for the purpose for which it had been given, the expenses of the CER’s Beth Din, for which EJF received “clear accounting”.

    He added: “We want the EJF to get out of Europe”.

    Despite the rift between the CER and EJF, the head of the CER’s Beth Din, Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, the influential former head of the London Beth Din, has continued to be associated with EFF’s work in Europe.

    Rabbi Dunner said: “There is a lot of surprise within the CER at Dayan Ehrentreu’s continued involvement with EJF”.


    The original link may no longer work but the story can be found here.


    One blog mentions that Rabbi Yoel Adelman of the Queens Vaad & Young Israel of Huntington who sits on EJF's board is most probably one of the Adelmans related to Tropper.

  15. Family ties said...

    One blog mentions that Rabbi Yoel Adelman of the Queens Vaad & Young Israel of Huntington who sits on EJF's board is most probably one of the Adelmans related to Tropper.

    He is tropper's brother in law. Also reportedly claims he severed his ties with EJF over 6 months ago

  16. In the 1120s, as a young man, Abraham Ben Yiju took off for the Orient to make his fortune in Indian trade. His correspondence tells of his arduous trip, and his marriage to an Indian slave girl, Ashu. The documents reveal the saga of Abraham Ben Yiju's family and fortunes: his business acumen in the import-export business - sending iron and spices to his Jewish partners in Aden, and importing arsenic, paper and other commodities to India; the birth of his three children; and the early death of a son in India.
    After almost 18 years in India and at the urging of his Aden-based partner, Ben Yiju left India for good in 1149, joining the Jewish community in Aden. He attempted to locate his brothers and sisters with whom he had lost contact when they fled Tunisia in the wake of the Norman Conquest.
    Responsa uncovered in the Geniza, and penned in Ben Yiju's own hand, reveals the cold reception the Jewish merchant received at the hands of some members of the Jewish community who questioned the validity of his marriage. If this were not enough, tragedy struck when his eldest son and heir to his estate died at about the age of twenty.
    Other documentation indicates that when Yiju's daughter was betrothed to the son of his business partner, her father broke off the wedding plans by taking his daughter off to Cairo - an abrupt move that led to bad blood and a financial squabble between the two long-time partners.
    To keep his wealth within the family Abraham Ben Yiju arranged to marry off his daughter to her long-lost first cousin (whom he pledged to support) - as was customary at the time. But private correspondence with the Nagid of the Cairo Jewish community reveals that Ben Yiju was deeply disappointed with his nephew's stature when the prospective groom finally arrived from Sicily.
    He was neither the "ben-Torah" he was purported to be and he lacked the "demeanor" of a successful merchant, so that Ben Yiju procrastinated in joining the couple in wedlock. It was only on August 11th 1156 - several months after Abraham Ben Yiju passed away as a disappointed and broken man - that the couple married. The so-called "nebech groom," incidentally, rose to become a leading member of the Egyptian Jewish community, knew Maimonides and became a dyan or religious magistrate."

    It is conjectured that Ben Yiju knew the Rambam well and the Rambam may have helped him with some of the difficulties of the conversion of Ashu (hebrew name Berakha). A few generations later the house of Maimonides and the house of Yiju were joined by ties of marriage.

  17. That's funny. Adelman's name is still on the EJF website despite that the site is frequently updated.

  18. Is it true as alleged on the internet that many gedolim remained silent after Shabsai Tzvi was exposed because they were embarrassed at having been duped?

  19. Adding to the scandals and their cover ups.

    EJF's Web site has been shut down.

    On the site they claim:

    Please Note:
    This site is currently undergoing renovations.
    Please watch for grand reopening.

    Everybody knows that a site doesn't just shut down for renovations. The old site is kept up until the the new one is put in place.

    Obviously they have something to hide or certain Rabbi's and Botei din no longer want their names and testimonials on their site.

    Not to worry readers, we at have saved an exact copy of the old site, complete with all files and photos.

  20. Part 2

    In addition to discovering large deposits of untapped natural gas, Aguiar was also rediscovering his ancestral heritage. In interviews, he likes to recount the tale of calling Tovia Singer, a Monsey-based rabbi who specializes in outreach to Jews who have become evangelical Christians, to demand the rabbi stop trying to take Jews away from Jesus. Instead, Aguiar continues, he fell in love with the Torah. In 2003, Kaplan introduced his peripatetic nephew to Tropper, who bestowed upon him the name Yehuda Dovid and took him on as a pupil in his yeshiva. Eventually, Aguiar convinced Jamie Black, his onetime high-school girlfriend, to convert to Judaism. “I thought about Jerusalem since I was a child,” Aguiar told a documentary film crew last year. “I had these amazing visions of Samson, this big strong guy, and David with the slingshot—these visions of heroes in my mind.”

    Until their falling out two years ago, Kaplan and Aguiar shared both a thriving energy business—Leor was named after Kaplan’s children, Leonardo and Orianna—and a charitable organization, the Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation, named for Kaplan’s mother and established after her death in 2002 to support Thomas Kaplan’s “philanthropic and religious goals.” From the outset, Kaplan was the principal donor to the foundation, contributing more than $1 million annually. Aguiar ran the foundation, which was registered to his home on a cul-de-sac in Fort Lauderdale, and which gave to an array of causes, including medical research and Jewish groups ranging from Hadassah, Magen David Adom, and the Jewish National Fund to ultra-Orthodox education and outreach groups, including Tropper’s yeshiva, Kol Yaakov, in Monsey.

    Between 2003 and 2008, the last year for which documents are available, the Kaplan foundation paid out more than $8 million to Tropper’s various enterprises, helping the rabbi establish adherence to his personal brand of biblical literalism as the gold standard for Jewish belief and practice, and for conversion to Judaism. But it’s not clear how warm their relationship ever was; emails filed in one of the court cases indicate that, as early as 2004, Kaplan was losing patience with his rabbinic ally, who was demanding more money. “Your method of recognizing my generosity is to threaten withholding of your contacts, a form of spiritual scorched earth,” Kaplan wrote. “You’ve acted like a child and jeopardized the greatest project with which you could ever be associated. Quite frankly you should be ashamed of yourself.”

  21. Part 3

    In 2007, after the sale of Leor closed, Kaplan and his wife, Daphne, contributed $36 million to the foundation; Aguiar, in his first contribution, added another $25 million. By the middle of 2008, as the relationship between Kaplan and Aguiar began to deteriorate, Kaplan attempted to remove his nephew—who had been drawing six-figure management fees—from the foundation. In a lawsuit pending in Florida state court, Kaplan accuses Aguiar of hijacking the foundation and distributing $7 million to certain rabbis “to further his claim he is the Jewish Messiah.”

    By then, Aguiar had already moved to Israel, where he has used his $200 million from the Leor sale to become something less than the Messiah—instead, he’s a bona-fide Jerusalem celebrity, instantly recognizable to Israelis as the owner of Beitar Jerusalem, the country’s most famous soccer club, whose bright yellow jerseys and caps he frequently wears.

    In September, Israel’s Channel 10 aired a documentary about the country’s newest hero, in which Aguiar offered a guided tour of an unoccupied apartment he owns in Jerusalem’s Old City, overlooking the Western Wall. “What did you think, I was going to be in Row 56 or something?” Aguiar asked. “This is like VIP seats here—in case something happens”—he seems to be referring to the arrival of the Messiah—“I wanted VIP seats. If it never happens in our lifetime, then we have something to look forward to.”

    The show also captured Aguiar—who explained in his interview with Tablet that he is relieved to have moved his allegiance from Tropper’s strict form of ultra-Orthodoxy to the more relaxed, welcoming Judaism of Chabad—stopping to buy cigarettes at a corner shop. “Jerusalem like you, love you,” exclaims one of the shopkeepers. “You been to selichot”—Jewish prayers of atonement—“at the Kotel?” asks he other. Aguiar responds that he has not, and pauses before asking: “What is selichot?”


    The article mentions Tom & Guma gave the EJF foundation a whopping $61 million when they sold their company.

    This means that a lot more shochad to rabbis will emerge when IRS filings for 2009 become public.


    Tropper's BT following is falling for the propaganda that because Guma is now in a mental hospital, Tropper is somehow exonerated.

  23. re: Shabbetai Zvi, Prof Scholem who researched this thoroughly, found that the historical record had gradually been removed, ie because there was so much support for Zvi, evidence was destroyed in order to save face for many Rabbis. Another coincidence - striking one at that, is that a declaration of 100 rabbis was gathered, declaring him to be Moshiach! Now, it was only 15 years ago when Chabad pulled the same trick for their "moshiach", with several gedolim amongst the signatories!

  24. "Is Torah Umesorah receiving kickbacks?"

    R' Aba Dunner's son has a senior position in Torah Umesorah, and it is quite likely that he has helped his father with the attacks on EJF, so I would doubt that TUM is on the EJF payroll, probably the reverse is true.


    “I demand that you resign as Chairman of EJF,” Aguiar allegedly said in a December 15 voicemail message, threatening to sexually violate Kaplan if he didn’t comply, according to court documents. “You can call me when the *** pain is bad enough,” he said in another message, filed in support of Kaplan’s motion to hold his nephew in contempt of court. (The presiding judge has not yet ruled on the request.) Additional filings contain more such messages: on December 20, the same day the New York Post published the seamy details of Tropper’s alleged sexcapades with Shannon Orand, the conversion candidate from Houston, Aguiar allegedly left the following message: “It’s the eighth night of Hanukkah and the flames are burning loud. I just sent over some candles for you guys and some pizza and some other items and gifts today so that you would have them as a token of our appreciation from our family to our family of just how much we love you ‘cause we love you so much that we decided to let you know that we’re praying for you in the event that you finally decide to commit suicide.” In court filings, Aguiar’s attorneys have not disputed their client left the voicemails, but argue that their content does not constitute harassment.

    As president of the 92nd Steet Y, Kaplan, 47, regularly hobnobs with some of the most powerful Jewish philanthropists in New York. He and his wife, Daphna Recanati, a member of one of Israel’s wealthiest and best-known families, also support major scholarship programs for arts education at the Y and have given millions to other charitable causes in Israel and the United States. Separately, Kaplan—who wrote a 788-page Oxford dissertation on Malaysia’s geopolitical positioning during the Cold War before, in 1994, opening a firm that prospected silver mines with financial backing from George and Paul Soros—has established a nonprofit organization called Panthera, devoted to wildcat preservation and research, which has created vast reserves of land in Brazil for big cats to roam free. (A recent admiring profile of Kaplan in the New York Times revealed that he also harvests honey from his jaguar preserves.) A serial entrepreneur, Kaplan moved on from oil wells to gold mining, through a new company based in London, which has hired Tony Blair’s former chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, as an adviser, according to British press reports.

    Aguiar, 15 years Kaplan’s junior, is the son of the billionaire’s older sister, Ellen Kaplan, who left Judaism to become an evangelical Christian. He was born in Brazil, but grew up in Fort Lauderdale, where he was a tennis star for his Christian prep school, Westminster Academy. Even after “returning” to Judaism, Aguiar continued to support the school, which is also his wife’s alma mater, giving it a $50,000 grant in 2007. After graduating from Westminster, he attended Clemson University, in South Carolina, but dropped out and moved to New York, where he became a clerk on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In 2001, Kaplan offered to bring Aguiar into his new business venture: oil and gas exploration. In court documents, Aguiar recounts getting into a car and driving to Texas, where he and a geologist, John Amoruso, made one of the largest onshore natural-gas finds in the past decade; as gas prices skyrocketed in the middle part of the decade, Aguiar and Kaplan’s company, Leor, attracted Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch as investors before selling to oil giant EnCana in 2007.

  26. DT: You may find this article interesting:

    The Strange Case of the Nephew of the Board Chair of the 92nd Street Y

    Thomas Kaplan is the chair of the 92nd Street Y's board of directors. He is devoted to gaining control of the Orthodox conversion process and saving panthers. His 32-year-old nephew Guma has gone crazy, and he's tangled up in it.

    It's a super-complicated story, but what you need to know is this: Kaplan and his 32-year-old, multimillinaire Israeli nephew, Gumo Aguiar, had been funding the efforts of a shady ultra-Orthodox rabbi named Leib Tropper as he attempted to gain control of the Orthodox conversion process. Except Tropper's plans were derailed when a tape was discovered showing him trying to "sexually coerce" (yeah, we don't know what that means either. Rape? BJs?) a prospective convert. Aguiar is a former evangelical Christian who moved to Israel in 2007 with his wife and three children; his relationship with Kaplan is now strained over the little matter of $2.55 billion in proceeds from the sale of a natural-gas venture, and he had taken to leaving threatening voicemails for Kaplan and trying to gain custody of his kids. Because of his erratic behavior, Aguiar's family had him committed to a mental hospital. Anyway, give this Tablet Magazine chronicle a read. Super rich Jews! Rabbis! Sexual coercion! Mental hospitals! It's all there.

    [Pic: Guma Aguiar, right, posing with Texas Governor Rick Perry (!?!?!?!?) in Jerusalem, via AP]

  27. More:

  28. The money (good pun) quote from the Tablet article:

    It is also the story of how an almost unknown rabbi managed to become one of the most powerful authorities on the question of conversion, fueled not by a superior knowledge of the Talmud but by access to something that appears to be even dearer to the hearts of the modern rabbinical establishment: money.

  29. R' Abba Dunner's son would have no say in what the higher ups do at Torah Umesorah and they are a bunch of Agudah puppets who refuse to even check the background of non-Jewish janitors lest they create a legal opening that can be used against pedophile rebbeim.

  30. Here is an organization promoting interfaith couples (without the need for gerus).

    On the page where they list temples and groups who welcome intermarrieds, the first one on the list is Tom Kaplan's 92nd St Y.

  31. Tablet says Tom & Guma gave $61 million to EJF after selling Leor Energy.

    Just wait until the 2009 IRS filings get published and we see how many big rabbonishe names have hot the jackpot.

  32. To view old copies of go to:*/

  33. Chabad preschools taking kids from intermarriage is an old story but it's a chiddush they also take kids with both parents not Jewish.

    Anne Estes, who grew up Quaker and describes her husband as a “lapsed Episcopalian” is also a big Kiddie Korner supporter. Her son went to the school for four years; her young daughter attends it now. “It’s been wonderful, spiritual, and supportive,” she says of the school, and not just of her children. When she lost her job last year, “Shternie and the rabbi were there for me, as a friend,” Estes says. “They’ve been there for us during some very painful times.”

    I ask if her son ever felt odd, as a non-Jew at a Jewish school. No, she says. “We were worried that he would feel like he didn’t belong. But he never felt that way.” Then she stops. “Except for the time he asked about—what’s it called, what you do on Friday night?” Shabbat? “Yes,” she says. She goes on to explain that her son got upset because his friends celebrated Shabbat, and he didn’t. “So I went to Mrs. Plotkin”—Shternie’s mother, who works in the school office—“and I said, ‘Would it be okay if I did something?’ I didn’t want to be disrespectful. She said, ‘It’s a family ritual, you can make it a family ritual.’ So I made an ecumenical Friday night celebration; we sliced the bread, I said a prayer over the candles. We still do it sometimes.”

    But for other families, even those who are happy with the school, the religious component can remain a thorny issue, leading to a disconnect between what a child learns in the classroom and what she practices at home. Alexa de los Reyes, whose son attended Chai Tots and who is married to a non-Jew, says, “my husband says, ‘Let’s say the blessings; let’s have the Shabbat.’ For him, it’s much easier to adopt it as a family tradition. It’s much more complicated for me.”

    Consider this, from the teacher’s manual of Chabad’s Upper West Side preschool: “topics relating to the age of the earth and man, various geological stages … and any other ideas which may be dichotomous with Jewish theology are not to be discussed in the classroom without the express permission and guidance from the Director.”

    Pearl Beck, the social psychologist, says: “These modern, educated, secular Jews who send their kids to Chabad preschools, and eat at Chabad houses—I’m not sure they know that it has a specific ideology, with ideas about Zionism, for example. The parents might like the product, but they don’t regard it as an ideology.”

    Others are more damning about Chabad. David Berger, a Jewish historian who wrote a highly critical book about Lubavitch messianism, says, “I’m not particularly worried about these preschools—I assume the vast majority of their teachers are not teaching about the moshiach—but I see Chabad Lubavitch as espousing ideas that have the potential to undermine Judaism. So anything that might contribute to the success of the movement troubles me.”

  34. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 18, 2010 at 7:17 AM said...Adding to the scandals and their cover ups. EJF's Web site has been shut down. On the site they claim: Please Note:
    This site is currently undergoing renovations. Please watch for grand reopening...Obviously they have something to hide or certain Rabbi's and Botei din no longer want their names and testimonials on their site."

    Naa, they are finally following the dictates of some anti-Internet Gedolim ;-} That brings them into line with Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah that don't have their own websites {:-(

  35. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 18, 2010 at 7:32 AM

    "Oylem Goylem said...Tropper's BT following is falling for the propaganda that because Guma is now in a mental hospital, Tropper is somehow exonerated."

    Unfortunately this is the nature of all such movements/cults/false messiahs/fruadulent saviors that they themselves do not drop their own defenses (because they are sociopaths and megalomaniacs) but instead feel vindicated by the problems of others.

    Thus the Christians "excused" antisemitism and claimed that the Jews "deserved it" because they rejected Jesus (this is actually official Christian theology), or Hitler, yimach shemo, in his last days in his fuhrer bunker was still ranting against "world Jewry" when it was the Red Army bombing him to smithereens. Not to mention all sorts of modern-day fanatics who blame Israel for all their problems, especially the dictatorial Islamic regimes, as they ignore their own pariah status and create red herring distractions by blaming their problems on others.

    So this is no suprise.

    By the way can anyone name some prominent disciples of Leib Tropper and graduates of Kol Yaakov yeshiva and the official positions they hold, it would help to identify where the protection of the disgraced Tropper and the dead-in-the-water EJF, and belief in the "false EJF messiah" is taking place!

  36. Rabbi Dunner is quite an accomplished word smith in his own right, and has no need to employ his similarly gifted son at Torah Umesorah to come to his erstwhile defense.


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