Monday, August 11, 2014

Seminary Scandal: Why has the Chicago Beis Din reneged on its promises to the Israeli Beis Din?

This scandal actually contains a second scandal. The first scandal is that of Meisels and his betrayal of trust of his students and his fall from being a highly respected educator to being someone who is despised and held in contempt. But there is a second scandal which is also very disturbing. That involves the fact that the Chicago Beis Din has gone from being an active partner with the Israeli Beis Din to being a major opponent.

Contrary to popular mistaken belief - which is nurtured by the Chicago Beis Din and its supporters - the antagonism to the Israeli Beis Din and the non cooperation is not based on a difference in concern about victims. The view as presented by Frum Follies from leaked documents as well as the many negative comments made against the Israeli Beis Din is that only the Chicago Beis Din cares about the victims of abuse and thus it is important to either close the seminaries or have a wholesale house cleaing of staff. The claim made - directly or indirectly - is that the Israeli Beis Din cares only about the jobs of the staff and the preserving of the seminaries and therefore wants to cover up and defend Meisels.This is clearly illustrated by the false claim Frum Follies made that the Israeli Beis Din had prohibited girls to go to other seminaries or for the other seminaries to accept them click here for the post

Yesterday I conducted a two hour interview with the new owner - Yaakov Yarmish. I was impressed by how this successful businessman was fully aware of and fully attentive to the issues involved concerning the well being of the students. He is fully aware of the seminary culture which we discussed as well as the dangers inherent in male teachers with female students. He also has strong connections with gedolim and askanim. 

In short he is not a figure head brought in to save the seminaries at all cost. He was originally supposed to buy the seminaries together with his friend Tzvi Bloom (the friend of R Gottesman). Contrary to what the CBD and the lawsuit have asserted - it was no sham sale and was witnessed not only by the Israeli government but also was supervised by Rav Aharon Feldman. He also clearly stated that he was not a friend of Meisels and that the first signifcant contact he had with was only after the scandal broke.

He spoke of his frustration about trying to communicate with the Chicago Beis Din and in particular with R Gottesman - who didn't return his 50 calls in which he was careful to leave a message after each one. R Gottesman has been presented by the CBD as a key player in the relationship between the IBD and the CBD.

This is just the beginning of an expose of the sordid - clearly documented - details which will be presented in the near future. The IBD is not the villain and the CBD is not the hero.


  1. Could you please explain what it means to purchase a non-profit organization?

  2. The IBD didn't need to actively forbid other seminaries from accepting the girls to put that latter in an impossible position. The fact I'd that due to the IBD's statements other seminaries were not willing to take on the girls, so whether they actively forbade them from doing so is almost beside the point.

  3. That of course is a "SCANDAL", but the IBD giving a hechsher, without talking to the usus nothing at all to look at....

    I'm so let down.

  4. DT's main case in favor of the IBD is there being appointed by the CBD however there is no evidence supporting this appointment
    the original CBD letter we see them saying the IBD is already dealing
    with the case seems they were told to back off by IBD whom someone else
    had already brought in to case if they were indeed appointed by CBD lets
    see some evidence
    From all appearances thus far if the CBD did not involve them they must have been brought in by the Meisels supporters how much creditability does that give them? and before you say but they are chashuva rabonim so was meisels.

  5. @J - truth doesn't matter? The IBD did not prohibit. Furthermore how do you know that no other seminary has taken student from Peninim that you claim it makes no difference? Did you speak to the all the seminaries?

  6. Rabbi Michael TzadokAugust 11, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    Rules for Non-profit organizations in Israel and the States are very different.

  7. @vafsi - you are seriously distorting the facts. The CBD wrote a letter saying that the IBD was taking over. It wasn't a hostile take over as you imply.

    The CBD sent Rav Aharon Feldman, Rav Zev Cohen and R Gottesman to Israel specifically to arrange for the IBD to take care of this scandal. They were present at the sginint fo the shtar beruririn. Evenafterwards they promised that they would be cooperating with the IBD and that if the seminaries were sold to Yarmish they would retract the warning.

    In short your version is a lie

  8. You seem to be stuck on this silly taa'na that let's see proof that they were appointed by the CBD.
    How many times does it have to be said that THEY WERE THERE when it was signed, and no one, not even Mr. frum follies has denied that. The reason they didn't sign is simply because if you know anything about BD you should know that not every guy that's interested in a certain case signs on the actual shtar, and since the CBD are not baalei devarim as part of the actual nidon, then there is no point in them signing.
    In other words the CBD has no official "halachik part to this nidon". All they are, are people that asked the IBD to take care of the case, and this is something that no one is argueing, and then for whatever reason they are not happy with what's going on so they are putting up a fuss. (And really I shouldn't say them since only some askanim and bloggers that are making the tumult here.)

  9. the words used by the only document in which the CBD mentions the IBD are "because these institutions and mr. meisels are located in Israel ... IBD has ASSUMED responsibility for this matter"
    your alleging that RAF RZC & RG went to Israel to arrange for the IBD to take care of the matter has no proof and even if true in no way makes the IBD the sole authority on the matter. what more likely happened is that when the IBD "assumed" authority the CBD said OK we will at least send some over site when they realized the IBD was just going to proclaim the sems kosher and allow all to carry on they felt the need to step in and write there letter

  10. by the way this scum bag yarmush is an opportunist who is busy boasting to his buddies how he is going to trash r Fuersts name to allow his "lucrative" investment to succeed he bought a seminary that the rabbonim of chicago said is not safe and is now complaining that they wont allow it to remain open that's chutzpa
    until he does the right thing and gives an immediate refund to anyone who signed up and now says this is not what i was paying for refund my deposit he deserves respect from no one (this is not a situation that came up after the parents paid in which case you tell them to bad this was there and hidden from parents as they made there choice to send)

  11. @vafsi - your claim that he is out to trash R Feursts to allow his seminary to make a profit - is a lie.

    If you want to send me signed statements from people who heard Yarmish say such a thing - I will publish it

    Are you claiming to be a parent who is being denied the deposit? Is so why not take him to beis din to have the matter resolved?

  12. @vafsi - you are totally wrong. Please get a statement from the Chicago Beis Din denying what I said.

  13. as i mentioned the people i have heard it from are yarmushe's friends and they are "helping" him through there various rabbinacal connections in return for a chunk of the profit i keep my mouth shut when talking to these powerful yet utterly crum people, fighting them openly will only hurt me in my current situation also were they to sense i disapprove of there actions they would shut up around me and i would be as in the dark as you

    i also know from parents who have been trying to get there deposits back that Yarmush made clear that he will not refund, it is very hard to take them to a BD when r gartner is the sem appointed arbitrator and he is saying the sems do not have to refund the money the only thing harder than getting stolen money back in a B"D is doing it when the thief already hired a B"D saying they don't have to return, unfortunately our B"D system only works if both parties are acting in good faith

  14. for you to condemn the CBD based on there appointment of the IBD the burden of proof that they were indeed appointed rests on you, a guess based on the CBD presence in IBD at some point in the proceedings does not constitute proof and to slander them without a smoking gun is shameful

  15. @vafsi - you are saying just believe my anonymous comments.

    If is more likely that you misunderstood what they were saying about Yarmish. Assumiing of course that you are accurately reporting their words.

    It is more likely that he views the CBD as aimed at preventing him from succeeding in spite of the IBD support. So it wasn't "I am going to destroy the righteous CBD dayanim in order to make a profit" but that "If I don't stop their unjustified attempts to destroy the seminaries I won't succeed."

    You are attributing simply a greed for money as the motivation. It is more likely that he views the CBD as unfairly attacking him and the seminaries.

    Same words but a major difference in the meaing

  16. regardless of the ibd psak, the parents registered their daughter for an ACCREDITED sem. if it no longer is accredited, then it would seem to be halachik grounds for a refund. no?

  17. r dovid i agree with almost all that you just said i do not expect absulte belief of what i am saying but as this is the best i can do under the curcumstance to report his bad behavior it will have to do
    also re: yarmishes self image i have no doubt that the way you explained things is how he wants to see the situation but to allow the man standing to gain the most from passuling the CBD to make the case that they were corrupted without very clear proof is laughable.
    it does not help that he is starting with a less than sterrling reputation for yashrus considring his refusal to refund parents (yes they shold drag him to a din torah if they can but the fact that he is making them do that in a case like this were it is very clear that they were mislead into buying into these sems reflects very poorly on his character and judgment)

  18. 1) How could a non-profit organisation be sold?

    2) Why did Yarmush/Gartner not give refunds to those parents who did not want to enroll their daughters after the scandal?

  19. @vafsi not refunding the money doesn't show that he is lacking in yashrus. He is relying on indepdendent authorities that the seminaries are safe. Why should he bankrupt his seminaries before they start?

    He is not the only one who thinks the CBD is corrupt - more on that later

  20. Control of the non-profit could be transferred by installing new board members.

  21. The membership of the amuta can be completely changed, transferred to the new person's control. That is what I assume was done with Yarmush.

  22. They absolutely are corrupt, and it is blatant in many aspects of this episode.

  23. Penenim is a US Non-profit (It may be registered in Israel as well). This concept that one can "sell" a Non-profit is false.

  24. The question is if there was a transfer of funds to Meisels' personal account or not. As one who has spoken with Mr. Yarmish, perhaps the ba'al hablog could enlighten us.

  25. @Yehoshua - didn't ask him when I spoke with him - but will forward the question.

  26. RDE that is crum, sorry. He can rely on a bd psak that they are safe, he should not force others to rely on it. More to the point, "safe" is not something a parent may be willing to take a chance on, and if so it is CLEARLY a mekach taos. Monies should be refunded sir.

  27. I think any one with an ounce of yashrus sees that these parents only signed up for these sems because they were kept in the dark about the going ons at the sems if they had known when they were considering these sems they would of had the power to decide if the sems were safe and somewere they were comfortable sending there daughters now that they we misled and the sems took there money the right thing to do is give them back the right to decide if they want to send to say that now that they were trickred into signing up they lose there power to decide and now only the IBD rabonim can decide is extremely krum

  28. My father owns a shul in the states and I can confirm that the law is the same here as well. It cant be sold and if assets are sold the funds have to be allocated to the same or similar charity.

  29. How is Meisels seminary a bon-profit? They charge 20k+ for tuition and are profitable enterprises?

  30. That was a great summation...

    Unlike the IBD which has responded to the letters from RAF, it appears the CBD -- whose dayanaim I had held in the highest regard -- has never directly responded to any of the IBD's letters. Regrettably and most dishearteningly, they seem to have chosen to operate by issuing public proclamations and directives and leaking information at their assertions to bloggers, while ignoring the very serious material allegations made against them.

  31. @vafsi - What would happen if you ordered 20 thousand dollars of beef from Argentina a number of weeks ago. you put down a non refundable deposit. the supplier invested the deposit in order to obtain the meat. Sometime during shipment an incident happened that raised serious questions about the meat. The question was brought before the gedolim and they ruled that the meat was kosher l'chatchila.

    You decided however that you didn't want to eat meat that was questionable and required a psak and you demanded your money back. The seller says the gedolim clearly paskened it was kosher. You say I don't care because maybe they were wrong.

    Would you still declare it was a lack - of even an ounce of yashrus - for the supplier to refuse to return the money whcih would cause him bankruptcy in order to fulfill your demands for meat that never had a question? The meat is not transferrable beause all those who wanted meat had already bought it - so it can't be sold to recover the loss.

  32. It's a transfer of control, which is what is called for when the former head needs to be gotten rid of b/c of charges of sexual abuse.

  33. "by the way yarmush is an opportunist"

    Most successful businessmen are opportunists; that's how they make money. It's not a bad thing. He took advantage of an excellent business opportunity. So?

  34. Any parent who wants a refund can take him to a din Torah. I suspect they'll win easily.

  35. Your analogy, while good is still imprecise. In your case, there was at least someone who ruled that the incident did not change the status at all and it was fine l'chatchila.

    Here, this is absolutely not the case. 1) the seminary lost accreditation from at least two places and 2) even if they get it back, these seminaries have certainly suffered tremendous hits to their reputations and are not looked at the same way, even with the IBD psak. Just the fact that a psak was given and we are having this discussion when IBD did not have to give a psak for BJJ or B'Nos Chavah sullys its reputation and was not what the parents signed up for. Thus, the "meat" was not the same, it's the equivalent if the meat came back kosher l'chatchila but Grade B meat instead of the Grade A ordered. For someone to not refund the money when the product clearly is not the same is wrong.

  36. RDE- you don't have to post this but what about the point I made to you by email? I haven't yet seen a good response to those issues from the IBD.

  37. The truth is the dayanim had to know that this is how their words would be taken. To claim that "The students were not prevented from going to another seminary as is clearly stated in the 4 item in the IBD statement of July 25. The IBD only prohibited other seminaries from recruiting the students" does not seem true. Yes a technical legal reading of the psak would lead to that conclusion, but in practice no other seminaries will take these girls. We all know that when it comes to kol korei's etc. its not about the strict definition of the words but rather the conveyed intent. Did anyone think that the rabbonim said is was ok to own and read slifkins books as long as you didn't "bring them into your house"? Of course not. Let's be honest here.

  38. But you can't pay someone for that. If you do it's called corporate fraud. People get put in jail for this. It happens often with the board of co-ops. It is 100%millegal

  39. @Moshe do you know of cases where students didn't transfer because the other seminaries would not take them? Are you making up the problem or do you know it is real?

  40. @Ben P - it is up to poskim to decide whose moshul is more correct

  41. An Allegory

    "Hello, Donkeys Unlimited."

    "Yes, I'm in the market for a donkey."

    "Sure. What kind of donkey were you looking for?"

    "I'd like one that has a certificate that it's not a first born male born from a donkey owned by a Jew."

    "Oh." [silence]

    "So, can you sell me a donkey?"

    "Can I ask you a question? Did you recently buy an option to purchase a newborn foal from Insiders Donkeys?"


    "Well, as I'm sure you're aware, Insiders had a well-founded rumor go out about it that it sold a Petter Rechem from time to time, and Insiders was forced by a Bais Din to sell their business. The new owners over there can help you."

    "But I want to buy a donkey from you."

    [truly uncomfortable] "The Bais Din has ruled that all expecting jennys in the Insiders herd have previously given birth, or have been determined from ultrasound to be carrying a female, so you can be confident that when your foal is born at Insiders that it will be Kosher to own it -- plus you can always redeem it from doubt, and Kasher it that way. You're all set."

    "But I want to buy a donkey from you, not one that is tainted with the Insiders tattoo on it. Years from now, if I decide to re-sell the donkey or it's offspring, I don't want to have to prove that it was bought after the allegedly corrupt Insiders founder transferred his business."

    "The Bais Din has ruled that I can't recruit new customers who have current accounts with Insiders."

    "You're not recruiting me! I called you, not vice versa. I want to buy a donkey, sight unseen."

    "Well, YOU know I didn't recruit you, and I know I didn't recruit you, but...well, someone might suspect I recruited you, and that would kind of look bad, know what I mean?"

    "But Shechems Donkeys said he would sell me a donkey, so why can't you?"

    "For the reason I told you, it'll look like I possibly recruited you. Some companies will sell to you, some just won't."

    "So, what you're telling me is that although the Bais Din said I could buy from you, the practical effect is that I can't."

    "Yes. If I sell to you and you make one loose comment such as 'I liked what I found on Unlimited's website', or 'An employee at Unlimited told me the donkeys are well treated', my reputation would be stained -- it'll appear I recruited you."

    "But liking a website or informally speaking to an employee is not the same as being recruited!"

    "Look, man, the former owner of Insiders is being quoted by a news telegraphic service (and the article has been picked up by at least one newspaper) that not only did he never sell a Petter Rechem, but that his attorney is telling him to sue anyone who hints otherwise. I'm not going to expose myself to spurious charges in court, whether it's a Bais Din or any other court. Part of being wise is seeing the possible outcomes of an action."

    "But the right thing to do is to be confident you're being honest and to sell me a donkey."

    "Sometimes it's better to be smart than to be right."

  42. Which if one party pays another is called a crime.

  43. I have seen multiple times already from those who claim to be parents (i can never be sure) saying that they have been trying to switch their daughters out and have been begging, literally begging other sems to take them and they all refuse/don't return calls etc. While you are right that i can't prove it, and/or the situation has changed in the past few days, it makes sense knowing "the system" that something like this should happen. It fits. What the BD should do is (i think) privately contact the parents and other seminaries and clearly state their position. I have a feeling that such forthrightness may actually prevent parents from removing their daughters.

  44. How to sell anon profit, in america or israel:

    Keep the main asset (usually, r
    Estate) in the owners name. Then sell the real estate. Yrs,the non profit can move, but that's not practical with a school, as a: people identify the ocarion either the school b: the non profit invested money in capital improvementd c: write a cushy ease agreement (might need arms length ne

    Write a cushy ing therm employment contract (might need arms ams length negotiating).

    Control the board of directors, ad discussed.

    In NYS, hire remaining shul members to be chazan, gabbai, set up kidfudh, etc jobs. Pay them nicely, etc. After a few years, assets are minimal. Donate to another shul, and you got the omey. (One friend of mine's father took the sifrei torah and said that's my retirement fund, he was the rabbi.)

  45. Which has nothing to do with making the schools safe for the girls, which is what I thought all this is about. But evidently, you've got some other agenda.

  46. Many businesses are organized as non profits. It just means profits have to be taken out in a different way (salary, expense account, etc)

  47. Yes, as you said above. And as I responded, that has nothing to do with the matter at hand, which is making the schools safe. Again, you clearly have some other agenda.

  48. If a couple divorces, can they get the shadvanut back from the shadvhan. Clearly established halacha. -- not.

  49. @Moshe you raise an important point. I had already requested from those close to the IBD to see if the IBD will issue an offical letter on the matter.

  50. r doneil there are two obvious problems with your analogy 1. the sems knew there were problems when they sold it origanly
    2. kashrus of the meat depends on a rabbi saying it is so safety of a seminary is a metzius that a psak cannot create it is the right and obligation of evrey parent to make sure they are sending there daughters to a safe place if the sems took money while withholding information that the parents would have based there decision on they should not lose the right to make that decision regardless of whether they could drag the money out of the sems in a Din Torah the proper thing to do is refund those who do not feel it is safe this is not a piece of meat that a rabbis psak should by deciding for them
    i find it hard to believe that you are so morally obtuse as to not see this is a clear wrong way to act

  51. What? And cheat the new seminary of a premium price!

  52. @vafsi ode - I never heard anyone saying that kashrus is determined by what the rabbi says and not the reality of what the meat is. Could you please bring a source that kashrus is different?

    You eat any hechsher as long a s a rabbi pronounces it kosher?

  53. The meat metaphor is comparing apples to chandeliers!
    In this case, some Rabbis say the sems are safe, some say they're UNSAFE!
    (Although your very personal, very subjective opinion is that the IBD is more qualified, I sure hope you're not going further down the rat hole by claiming it's the 'gedolim' vs plain people who just happen to have smicha.)

    Using the same argument as you, until you can PROVE that the CBD is fraudulent and that their opinion may not be taken seriously, no parent should be forced to pay attention to IBD, and therefore if they request a refund based on the ruling Of The CBD, they should be refunded immediately.

    Vafsi speaks simple, common sense.
    Buying a business where many 'clients' believe your 'product' is somewhere between defective and a complete scam, and refusing refund in collaboration with a Beis Din that in a few short days paskened 'kosher viyosher' without seeing a need to FIRST do whatever it takes to at least hear the other side (!), seems strange.

    Rabbi, coming from someone who almost always appreciates your 'sechel hayashar' reasoning (and usually agrees), the more I read your commentary on this chilul Hashem, the more the RICO case seems sensible.

  54. Yes since aid echad is neman bisurim me on the receiving end may eat as long as a relisble person says it's kosher
    Additionally when a rov passkens on an isdu veheter shillah unless I am a learned fellow I have a chiuv to follow his psak how ever when I have a shalli if something is safe there is no reason to follow a rav any more than anyone else's opinion

  55. you ordered 20'000$ worth of meat, on the condition it was kosher. The seller wanted to provide meat with the hechsher "greatK". While the meat is in his possession, it turns out that "greatK"-Meat is not kosher (kashrut scandale).

    In this case, clearly, the seller will have to provide you with different meat for your 20'000 $.

    But in this case, you ordered it from "greatK" directly. So "greatK" themselves were involved in the fraud/scandal that rendered the hechsher unreliable.

    So therefore, you, as a client, did not simply err, but you were mislead.

    In this case, you are entitled to a full refund & refund of damages that resulted from the deception (e.g. refund of flight ticket if you booked already and you cannot use it, because in the end, you won't be going to Israel).

    so it is quite elementary that a refund is due, perhaps even more than a refund to compensate for extra costs...

  56. @vafsi ode - psak or aid echad allows you to eat it - it doesn't make the meat kosher. why do I have a chiyuv to eat if a rav paskens - I have permission but why claim a chiyuv?

  57. Here, argentina / IBD abbonim say it is kosher vs american / CBD who say not kosher. American bet din might be wrong, might be foolish, might be corrupt,, whatever, but since it was always agreed the market is american, the american bet din controls, not argentina.

  58. Of course it does. What do you think can happen if 6 months from now after everything has died down meisels goes to court to challenge the validity of the "sale". Who's back in control then? Are you really so near sighted.It seems you may have some other agenda here.

  59. to normal consumers kosher = halachicly permissible to eat, stop trying to split hairs
    also i said you have a chiuv to accept the psak as the halacha, if you are not hungry you dont have to eat

  60. @vafsi you have a major problem in understanding if you think the my objection to your statement is mere hairsplitting. It was incorrect and misleading.

  61. @Moshe what if Martian's invade the Earth? Why are you so convinced he will try to nullify the sale? Even if he did who sys he will succeed. Remember the CBD did not even require him to sell the seminaries - so why bring up this highly unlikely scenario?

  62. I'm not convinced of anything. However I've heard of several cases of accused abusers who after a while managed to sneak their way back to where they were before, and to leave meisels a wide opening where he can go to court/blackmail those involved with criminal charges if they don't reinstate him is in my view somewhat negligent.

    Slightly more likely than alien invasion but you never know.

    And what does the CBD have to do with this? I would have just as much problem with them if they let him stay on. If I would have seen their letter first i would have said it about them. This isn't some competition between israel and chicago. They can both be wrong they can both be right or some sort of in between chulent for all i care.


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