Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Seminary Scandal:Why did the Chicago Beis Din cover up the scandal for at least 2 months?

I received a Chicago Beis Din document yesterday - which I posted - which listed their guidelines for dealing with the Meisels affair. The document is dated May 19, 2014. There is no mention of informing the seminaries or the students or the parents of what they perceived as serious sexual abuse and harassment. There is no mention of a concern that staff members might have been complicit in the abuse. There is no mention of the concern cited in the RICO claims that the seminaries and staff were conducting a fake operation whose sole goals were to defraud parents of their money and to provide victims for Meisels sexual appetite. There is no mention that they require Meisels to sell the seminaries. Finally there is no mention of going to the police - either in Israel or America.

In short the guidelines of the documents are the stereotypic Chareidi coverup of "lets keep silent and handle this ourselves."

So why only after they transferred the case to the Israeli Beis Din two months later - for the purpose of clarifying monetary obligation - that they suddenly sent out a warning letter stating that they can not "at this time" advise sending students to these seminaries? Why only at this junction does the HTC block government funding to the students?

Furthermore if they suddenly woke up to the need to protect the students - why did they renege on their promise to the Israeli Beis  Din to share the information they had collected and to provide access to the testimony of the victims? Why did they refuse Rav Aharon Feldman's suggestion that they form a joint beis din with the Israeli Beis Din? Why did they renege on their promise to remove the warning if the seminaries were sold to Yaakov Yarmish? 

At this point they have refused to answer any of these question - even to the Israel Beis Din.

So why is their apparent plan of destroying the seminaries - which they clearly viewed as viable and fixable and apparently still do under unnamed conditions - being applauded as sensitivity to the victims? Why is their coverup and insensitivity to the victims and potential victims amongst the students - being ignored. Why instead is the CBD allowed to make the IBD into the scapegoat and blame them for insensitivity. Why is the IBD being falsely accused of being obsessed with saving the seminaries at the expense of the students - but  the CBD is viewed as enlightened and solely interested in protecting the students?

No one seems to know the reason for this injustice.


  1. All these are questions that need to be answered but I don't think the document necessarily points to guilt. We don't know if there were other conditions for other staff in other documents or if this was just the preliminary ruling issued or if after 2 months of more investigating more allegations and problems turned up. I think that although you may be right it is to soon to make all the assumptions you claim here.

  2. Why the delay? The CBD av bet din's other bet din has a habit of manipulating issue dates of their false psakim

    Same thing here -- he manipulated the date to summer time, when a: people not available b: short time to evaluate , therefore c: take the safe route and send daughter elsewhere.

  3. while your questions on the CBD's conduct are very valid i would not be
    so quick to draw conclusions without knowing what happened. it is
    entirely plausible to me that the CBD was strung along by Meisels as he
    feigned cooperation, and requested from them in return some time to make
    the sems a safe and stable place before things come out in public, and
    he loses all the students and sems go bankrupt, when the CBD later saw
    he was using these stall tactics to try to undermine there efforts they
    made there findings public

  4. You ask these questions as an indictment... but really we just have no idea what happened.

  5. Rabbi Eidensohon, I am one of your biggest fans, But I am disappointed at your negative spin about the Chicago Beis Din. Just because you are close friends with a member of the IBD does not give you license to smear the Chashuva Rabbonim in Chicago who for 3 months worked diligently to determine what the facts were.

    Why did they remain silent until they referred the matter to the IBD? Maybe because they wanted to get all of the facts and testimony before accusing anybody of anything. I really don't understand why you have to smear these fine Rabbonim Chashuvim with headlines that include hot button words like 'cover-up'.

    If you want to use that word, try using it on the educators in Meisel's seminaries that chose to coverup what he did... and the IBD who seems not to care about that in Kashering these seminaries so quickly.

  6. The about-face came after Gottesman got involved. My interpretation is that he pushed the Chicago people to do more than just remove Meisels from the seminaries, which had already been accomplished, but to punish him by taking ownership of the seminaries away from him (shelo k'din, of course). Mixed in with that could have been a profit motive. The reports I've heard say that Gottesman originally tried to force Meisels to sign the seminaries and their bank accounts over to him personally. Who knows how he sold that to Chicago, but I can think of a story or two he might have told them. Amazing that a supposedly independent beis din allows a wealthy person to come in and overturn a ruling they already put their names on.

    All this is supposition. Who really knows their minds? But their behavior is not transparent. After making much use of the internet to spread the accusations, they suddenly have become very shy of divulging information. Not even to the beis din they themselves empowered to handle the case. It all stinks to high heavens.

  7. In other words, you're saying that they are an incompetent beis din. A beis din that can be fooled and strung along for two months after they reached a conclusion and issued a ruling/psak is a completely incompetent beis din.
    Thank you for clarifying your opinion about the Chicago Beis Din. It is greatly appreciated.

  8. You are a fan of Rabbi Eidensohn's consistent defense of husbands who do not give their wives gittin?? Do you read this blog???

  9. Just because you are close friends with a member of the IBD does not give you license to smear the Chashuva Rabbonim in Chicago who for 3 months worked diligently to determine what the facts were.

    Weird. You had no problem when Rabbi Eidensohn was "smearing"/questioning and attacking the Israeli Beis Din and their choshuva Rabbonim. I guess Rabbi Eidensohn's current exposé runs contrary to the purpose of your important little blog - to "reclaim" orthodoxy's center base. Yawn...

    Why aren't you concerned about the fact that 52% of Modern Orthodox high school students have dropped Shabbos and kashrus within two years of their high school graduation? Why are you supposedly so concerned about the 7% of "chareidi" kids who go off, but not the 52%? What's your real goal? Are you upset that your trashing of Meisels in your quest to trash chareidim will look bad?

  10. Fotheringay-PhippsAugust 12, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    Here's my theory about all this:

    The CBD and the IBD are both composed of good and decent people who mean well. However, they are all humans, and are biased by their differing perspectives. The CBD is an American group and they are more focused on the potential impact on the American girls (relative to the IBD). The IBD is an Israeli one and they are more focused on the impact to the staff members (relative to the CBD).

    This does not mean that either group does not consider the whole picture. Just that different aspects weigh more heavily on the scale for the different BDs.

    I think the above is all on solid ground. The following is more speculative.

    My suspicion is that the CBD did not appreciate that the IBD would take a different viewpoint than them on the issue. They got the IBD involved (with the usual vagueness which ultimately leaves some wriggle room), but anticipated the IBD doing much of what they would do if they were on the scene. Instead, it became apparent that the IBD looked at it differently. At this point the CBD was no longer willing to cede control to that BD.

    I think the reason the CBD does not want to cooperate and turn over evidence to the IBD is because they are convinced that no matter what the evidence is the IBD will just declare that they still think the seminaries should remain open. Turning over evidence to them would strengthen the IBD's hands, in enabling them to say "we've seen all the evidence and we've decided that girls should still attend these seminaries". In addition, turning their evidence over would strengthen the perception that the IBD is the final word, over and above the CBD, in that the CBD would be appearing before the IBD as just another supplicant giving evidence and pleading with the IBD to rule for them.

    In brief, once the CBD saw that the IBD was looking at things from an entirely different angle - and one which they considered inappropriate - it made sense for them to cease cooperation.

    In terms of handicapping the outcome, I've not been following this closely enough but from my limited view it would seem to me like the IBD might have a bit of the upper hand here. Primarily due to timing.
    The way these seminaries work is that generally most of the money is paid by this time. So parents who pull out need to get their money back from the seminaries. These seminaries are fighting for their survival and as long as they have some sort of psak from a reputable BD that they don't need to refund it, they are very unlikely to do so. (I imagine the lawsuit will take a lot of time to prevail, if it ever does.) So a lot of parents are going to be facing the loss of thousands of dollars if they switch their daughters, and they will feel pressure to just adopt the IBD perspective that all problems have been taken care of. By the time it's time to recruit next year's crop, the scandal will have aged somewhat.

  11. No, it's not "too soon." This is exactly the right time. They are trying their hardest to close down the schools by casting aspersions on the staff, and refusing to withdraw their letter even after the perpetrator was removed. They involved themselves in orchestrating a lawsuit by next year's parents. It's great that someone is seeing through the dishonesty. It's not a moment too soon to stop this rishus. Any later would be too late.

  12. it is not incompetent to try to treat people fairly the fact that he tried to take advantage of there trying to help him salvage something from the situation was an unfortunate turn that was stopped before any damage was done

  13. You haven't explained the about-face. Why'd they go to the IBD after they had already issued a psak? How do you account for the sudden involvement of Gottesman, and his appearance with R. Cohen at the IBD? You are ignoring the smoking gun.

  14. Do you have a source for that statistic?

  15. Mr. keyum, I know you are far smarter and more informed than everyone else here and so you are able to see straight to the truth. However unfortunately not all of us were born as gifted as you; we have really thick heads, and just like bashing batei din (it's so much fun) and causing problems. So as many times as you tell us what you "know" and what everyone's "trying to do" it's just not sinking in.

    So I hereby request of you (kindly) to please have rachmanus on us simple folk and not make any comments without at least some evidence or proof to help us understand. My head is really starting to hurt.

  16. And being that you seem to be the most informed person here, i suggest you start your own blog to educate us with all your inside information. You'll reach far more ppl than as an anonymous commenter.

  17. http://rabbipruzansky.com/2012/10/12/the-three-ply-cord/

    This is Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a Modern Orthodox Rabbi and advocate for MO.
    (The article seems to have been edited since originally published, though I'm not certain.)

  18. Everything I've said is borne out by the evidence. R. Eidensohn has posted much of it. See for example his latest post re. the RICO lawsuit. But I will say this. The mistake people are making is in thinking that the CBD's actions since their original psak are about protecting the girls. They are not, which is why they don't share evidence with the IBD. There is no evidence to share. The students are safe. Their purpose is to destroy the seminaries in order to punish him למען ישמעו ויראו. That's why they reneged on their promise to withdraw their letter after he sold. They never intended to keep the promise. The objective is to destroy the seminaries rather than allow him to profit from their sale; never mind the churban and chilul Hashem they cause along the way. And never mind that everythng they have done is shelo k'din. And never mind the harm they caused so many former students.

  19. The fact is that Meisels fully cooperated with the CBD from the start. Foolishly so, in my opinion, seeing what kind if bd they turned out to be. He stayed in the USA until the term end at their demand, and cooperated with everything they asked. He delayed nothing. He was not calling the shots. They were. He is not responsible that Gottesman took this on as a personal crusade to destroy him and the seminaries.

  20. Thanks for the link. One thing to take into consideration though is that I think the number is somewhat skewed - I say this as someone who has familiarity with the MO world - bc among the left wing MO (as you would say - very modern) schools the number is much higher than 50% but in the "right wing" MO schools where almost everyone goes to israel after high school the % is much lower. To an outsider it may all look the same (much like we think all chasidim look the same - but if you ever accuse a satmar of being belz your life may be in danger) but there's really a vast chasm. This was really random, please forgive me.

  21. You have not given the slightest shred of evidence as to why chicago changed their minds. Yes it needs an explanation. I just wonder how you're the only one who knows conclusively why. Have you tapped their phones? Please show us a teeny weeny (sorry i'm not as sophisticated as you) piece of proof that they're involved in some scheme against the seminaries. Just shouting the name gottesman (who may be a crook for all I know) doesn't tell me anything about the CBD's motives.

    At this point I think you just keep going in circles talking to yourself.

  22. Sorry, my mistake. I should have more clearly expressed by sorrow and horror about character assassination of meisels. We should be ashamed of ourselves, destroying the man! All because of a few pesky little girls - probably "problem children" anyways.

    How foolish was he too cooperate with beis din, rookie mistake. Everyone knows you don't respond til at least 3 hazmanas and a siruv.. But he should have gotten a better toein so it's his fault.

    And now this "personal crusade" against him. I know that chicago is behind it all. There's gonna be a big payday at the end for all the dayanim. Lucky them what a clever scheme they're running.

  23. You have not given the slightest shred of evidence

    Have you thought of heeding your own advice? You haven't present any smidgering of evidence to any of your claims. Now, all your busy with are sarcastic comments and trying to chase away people who have information you don't want people to know.

    Here's what you need to remember, since the irrefutable facts are now out

    At this point I think you just keep going in circles talking to yourself.

  24. You're welcome.

    I think the number is somewhat skewed

    The numbers are more likely like you suggest. However, this blogger finds much more favor with left wing schools than he can ever find in Satmer. If he'll ever have a picture of a Satmer chosid as a representation of Satmer, it'll be with a background of a dirty street with gratify all over, on a windy day....

    This is all in the name of "reclaiming" the center base. Wouldn't he do a lot more good if he focused on stemming the 52% from leaving Shabbos and kashrus?

  25. You have correctly pointed it all out. To summarize:
    1) The three CBD dayanim invented a fantastical scheme to make money. First, they would find a dupe with some flimsy allegations against his actions. The dupe should also run multiple seminaries for maximum profit.

    2) The CBD dayanim then fake an investigation by also using fake outside resources and respected people with experienced in investigating sexual abuse.

    3) Once the groundwork was laid, the CBD then bring in some guy who has a friend who operates seminaries. This is key because otherwise it will be hard to monetize their profits.

    4) After the outside guy establishes that he can run the sems, the CBD then releases a letter stating that they don't trust the sems are safe even after Meisels leaves. This provides the opening for Gottesman to offer to buy (again, in collusion with the corrupt CBD) the sems at fire sale prices.

    The above story is basically the story that the anti-CBD camp is putting out there. Needs a lot of proof, and it also demands that we believe in a fantastical story that nobody can prove happened. Shameful that they malign such choshuve rabbonim in this way.

  26. @jasper, well said. I would just add 4a) carry out an illegal sale of a non-profit and then whitewash the cash in a money laundering scheme back to chicago, use a % to pay off the corrupt chicago DA and shalom al yisroel. Utter genius. And who said rabbis weren't smart. I could never come up with such a scheme.

  27. "You haven't present any smidgering of evidence to any of your claims."

    What claims? I haven't given evidence bc i haven't claimed anything.

    All I did was point out that this vast conspiracy you've uncovered is unsupported except by the conclusions you yourself formed.

    Might you be right and I wrong. Entirely. But I have enough humility to say I don't know and realize that the answers your so confident in have no proof as of now and we have yet to hear from the defense. Lo ra'inu ein ra'aya.

  28. @Jasper I am surprised that anyone with your intelligence and precise thinking should misunderstand what has been presented. It is not your "comedy" act.

    You are amazingly ignoring all the documentation that I have provided. I agree there are significant gaps in the story - but it is not the bad soap opera that you are tossing out.

    At this point - lets' grant that the CBD dayanim are all tzadikim and whatever they are doing is leshem shamayim. Let us also say that for the sake of confidentiality they don't want to share the story with you or me. But that doesn't explain why they can't share it with the IBD.

    Let's say that after asking the IBD to take the case they discovered that the IBD doesn't share there values. That through negligence on the part of the CBD they didn't investigate whether the IBD would pasken the same way they do. The reasonable thing to do is to simply say, "we changed out mind" - but they haven't. They simply are stone walling.

    The bottom lline is that tjeor actions - what ever there secret motivation leshem shamayim is - os destrorying 4 seminareis. Only one of whichMeisels clearly acted in appropriately. He is causing severe financial lost to Yarmish- after R Z Cohen approved of the sale and said they would remove the warning after the sale was final. They reneged on the deal.

    However even more than the destruction of the seminaries and the financial loss is the fact that they are destroying the reputation of all the girls who ever went to these four seminaries. And this is inexcusable. up until recently they clearly felt that the problem was fixable and the seminaries could keep operatng. Now they refuse to disclose the circumstances that they woud declear the problem fixed.

    I hope you understand at this point because I really am getting tired of repeating this sordid tale.

  29. Valid point. I did not mean to argue with you.

    You have pointed out what I think is the biggest problem with MO (i'm not talking hashkafically just internally) - the failure to pass on their "system" to the next generation. Most either "flip out" and become yeshivish or are part of that 52%. The avante garde middle of the road is truly a rare find.

  30. @Moshe it would be helpful if you actually read the facts before bring in irrelevent issues.

    Regarding the sale.Both the CBD and the IBD agreed that the seminaries should be sold. So what ever dumping you are doing on the IBD should be done also on the CBD.

    But in reality the sale is basically of assets of the organization and a transfer of control which is not illegal. it doesn't involve paying off anyone.

    The case is complicted enough without bringing in issues whichare not relevant or do not differentiate the CBD and the IBD

  31. What facts am I missing? I have said and will say again that I'm not a lawyer, I don't know the laws governing non-profits. Everything I wrote was based on the seemingly knowledgeable lawyers commenting. If the sale was fraudulent then the CBD has equal blame as the IBD. I never said otherwise. I am not "dumping" on them. I have only respect for the israeli dayanim, i have no idea who's right and who's wrong and making a (well intentioned) mistake does not "passul" a rav in my eyes.

    What i was saying is that reading the comments here I see the posters have observed some anomalous details and have taken the liberty to invent a vast conspiracy with the CBD without providing any evidence or proof. When dealing with chashuv rabbonim don't you think we should at least hear their side before convicting them without trial.

    Or maybe it's just so obvious they're out to make a buck and we caught them. I don't know. At this point I just don't see it.

  32. I agree that there are gaps in the story. What's really getting me here is that at the same time as you admit that you don't have the CBD's evidence you are willing to make judgments about the seminaries. Yes they are refusing to share. Yes that is a problem. But bc of this problem we don't have the tools to make an accurate judgment. Might they have a reason. Maybe. I have no idea. Maybe they're afraid of it becoming another leak. That said how do you know "Only one of whichMeisels clearly acted in appropriately"?

    I would like to think that they have put at least as much thought into this as you and I have and realize the impact they're having on the seminaries and the girls and have some reason (terrible as it may be) for their actions.

  33. Oh I like this. You've audited yourself and came out your right.

    All I ask is that before you hurl accusations preface them with a disclaimer saying that this is your personal opinion and you have no proof whatsoever.

    To besmirch anyone is a grave sin and especially those of the caliber of which you are going after.

  34. @ Moshe - do you have anything meaningful to add to the conversation?

  35. "bc they gave their stamp of kashrus after only 8 hours while one of the dayanim wasn't even in the country"

    This is a lie. The hearing did not take place until R' Malinowitz returned from shiva. It was delayed for that reason.

    "I cannot (or maybe will not) accept that chicago is in this for some scheme to make a buck for them or their friends."

    They are doing it to punish Meisels by taking everything away from him. Some of their hangers-on see an opportunity to make a buck. You might think it's okay for them to mete out punishments, and publish letters on accusations heard שלא בפני בעל דין, but I believe in beis din being yashar and following the halachah. Which the CBD seems to have abandoned, but R' Shafran's beis din takes seriously. The Gemara is chock-full of the terrible consequences of corruption in the בתי המשפט.

    The fact that this is coming to light is in my eyes a kiyum of the pasuk: על כן לא יקומו רשעים במשפט. Rishus has no lasting kiyum.

  36. eLamdan, where were you?

    When Rabbi Eidensohn was linking to Frum Folies postings calling the IBD "outrageous", "incompetent" and worse. Where were you? Why weren't you defending the IBD in the same way you are seeking to somehow defend the CBD without a defense?

    Why weren't you defending the IBD against all the comments questioning and attacking them?

    Why is only the incomprehensible and unexplained behavior of the CBD what you seek to defend?

  37. "This is a lie. The hearing did not take place until R' Malinowitz returned from shiva. It was delayed for that reason."

    -Huh? here's a quote from this blog on july 14: "The letter from the beis din is problematic as it is dated the 13th of July as a response to the Chicago Beis Din's ruling of the 10th of July. During that period Rabbi Malinowitz was sitting shiva in America for his brother. He got up from shiva on the 13th of July.

    update from reliable source - Since this was deemed a davar haavud Rabbi Malinowitz signed the letter yesterday"

    Did R Eidensohn lie?

  38. "They are doing it to punish Meisels by taking everything away from him."

    Again you might be right but do you have the slightest proof of this. You are like a jack in the box who just keeps popping up saying the same thing over and over again. Unless you have some new facts to support this why do you keep repeating yourself?

  39. That letter was written before the hearing in which they grilled the seminary principals and teachers. The final psak of R' Shafran's beis din is dated 7/25/14. I am looking at it right now. You are clearly confusing their psak din with a letter they wrote to the CBD, which went out before the hearing. It has nothing to do with the psak din.

  40. I keep repeating myself in the hope that the truth will penetrate. Or at least make a tiny dent in the certitude of people who have accepted the CBD's falsehoods as truth.

  41. I can tell you for certain that just increasing your volume (sound and size) will not convince anyone of anything.

  42. Fine. but you have not explained how they said before that hearing while one dayan was out of the country “Ein ila l’himana mimishloach banos l’limudim
    ul’hashhiya b’seminarim eilu. Chazaka(!) al hatzavos hachashuv sh’oseh melachto ne’emana”. (the original is here http://daattorah.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2014-07-17T13:30:00%2B03:00&max-results=11&start=66&by-date=false). Might the expertise of a BD that is supposed to be experienced in these issues be called into question if they issue this before there is even a hearing?!

  43. That letter was written to the entire public, not the CBD- read the first paragraph. Do you read what you write before pressing post?

  44. It's not the psak din. Look at the psak din. See the date. Do the math. If you can.

  45. As I said, don't read my comments. I'll continue to do what I believe to be right irrespective of your advice.

  46. They had already done some work, in which R' Malinowitz participated. They came up with these החלטות ביניים. To counter the great danger to the seminaries posed by CBD's letter (which was published שלא כדין), they felt it necessary to publcize these interim החלטות immediately. Therefore, they conferred with him (by phone, email, whatever) and obtained his signature during shivah. He then returned and they did the full hearing, after which they published a psak. Even the full psak is not yet complete, as they themselves wrote, b/c they are waiting (fruitlessly, and we now know why) for the CBD to send them the evidence they have supposedly amassed, so they can see what, if any, culpability exists among the teachers and principals. The correct thing at this point would be for all students etc. who have information about teachers or principals who ignored warning signs to contact the IBD.

    These are all things you could have figured out yourself if you would trouble yourself and had an open mind. But you don't. "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

    Still, I'm glad for the chance to spell things out for those whose heads are a bit less thick.

  47. I pursued kiskeyum's replies and they make sense. The relevant questions are completely and satisfactorily answered.

    I, who was originally in support of the CBD thank kishkeyum and Rabbi Eidensohn for their perseverance and open-mindedness.

  48. First you accuse me of incessantly repeating the same thing over and over, now you say I'm changing claims. Make up your mind, such as it is.

  49. Fair point. I'm willing to concede the possibility that the ibd genuinely considers the seminaries safe and the cbd genuinely does not. But then I'm left with the fact that the seminaries themselves need to take appropriate actions (issue an apology, be transparent, offer to refund deposits) which they have not yet done.

  50. How does this fit in to your comment? Can you make up your mind as what it is you're questioning and arguing about?

    You ask these questions as an indictment... but really we just have no idea what happened.


    I'm willing to concede the possibility that the ibd genuinely considers the seminaries safe

    How do these two comments reconcile themselves?

  51. Well, evidently someone else has been following our discussion. :)


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