Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Meir Pogrow: The defense given by a talmid of Pogrow and my rebuttal

I am publishing this letter I received recently because it contains a number of mistaken beliefs which seem to be widely shared. I am also adding responses to the letter writer's claims in the hope that it will educate people what actually happened. My information comes from sources close to the case. My response is in the indented paragraphs.
Hi Rabbi Eidensohn

I consider myself a talmud of Rabbi Meir since i listen to his shiurim. i know him for over twenty years. I have worked with him on one project of harbatzas hatorah and know many people that are frum today due to him.

Regarding the accusations against him i understand you have posted a psak bais din. and i read it with great pain. i understand your job is to protect the public, the abused from the abuser.

My problem is with you. Since ive read some of the cases you have posted, one of them a relative of mine, you have provided both sides to be able to prove or disprove any evidence.

What has transpired here based on what i read is Tamara Schoor wrote a post facebook accusing someone with a chazkas kashrus. according to her post she went to rabbis five years ago. it took the rabbis over five years to come out with a statement a psak din (after she went public they went public) also in jpost. Jerusalem Post he responds about bais din.
That's simply a mistaken assumption. It isn't true that the rabbis were twiddling their thumbs for 5 years before they decided to act on her complain. It isn't true that Tamara Schoor had been pressuring rabbis for 5 years and they cruelly and irresponsibly refused to act until she went public. This is simply base slander. There is actually very little connection between Tamara Schoor and what Beis Din did. No matter what happens , someone can always ask why didn't it happen before. The fact is there were factors that came together now that didn't exist before. It took the time it needed to take - and not a second more.
Rav Shafran is a top-of the line Dayan in Israel who is well acquainted with what goes on and in addition knows perfect English. The other 2 Dayanim have about 30 years Dayanus experience--each. They have a solid reputation for competence and responsibility - despite what some bloggers and kvetches want to claim. The remaining rabbonim that signed on to the psak are all world-famous.What happened is very painful to some people, but let's not grasp at straws to create a conspiracy theory of rabbinic evil.

If it took the bais din and rabbis five years, or they have very little evidence, or too much but the rabbis covered this up for five years. regardless we have a problem.
How can an intelligent person,who claims he is ehrlich, make such a nonsensical claim while knowing NOTHING about what transpired. Please reread what I wrote above. There was no rabbinic cover up. It was not possible to deal effectively with the problem until now - despite what some bloggers without any proof claim. Instead of trusting some bloggers - and others with an agenda against rabbis with little or no information - to say that there was an conspiracy to do nothing - try and trust the rabbis who actually took care of the matter when they say that there was no way of doing this earlier. Saying more would violate promises of confidentiality. Just as there were bloggers and others in the community who suspected what was going on - but made no public outcry, there were rabbis who also suspected but were unable to bring about the necessary change until now.
Like Goldilocks and the three bears, there was neither too much evidence, nor too little-- but juuuuuuuuust riiiiight when the beis din issued its psak - but not before.

Ether way i believe your doing this lshem shumayim as i see your writing about rabanim and cases that others stay away from. the minimum i expected from you is to give R' Meir a chance to respond before posting. it might be too late since his life is destroyed anyways he has no other job skills other then torah having posted over six thousand shiurim and close to half a million sheilos on mishna and rambam calling him a rasha a public forum is very irresponsible.

Meir's life is destroyed because of  his horrible deeds, not because of what anyone else did in response
May it be a kappara for the lives he destroyed (after he does teshuvah)

I hope and pray this chilul hasham is false.

It is too late for your hope and prayers - the damage and the chilul haShem already exist.


  1. You make some very interesting and valuable points. Would you care to expand. Taking a hypothetical case, let's say I suspect a a Rav of impropriety, what should I expect to happen if I turn to one of the Rabbonim on the Beis Din that convened? What would the procedure be? What kind of questioning would I be expected to face? What support would I get? What would happen to the accuser? Is there a possibility of them meeting face-to-face like the police sometimes do - an עימות (imut) it is called in Israel. How long should I expect for a deceleration to be made in the event that the Beis Din is convinced that the hypothetical Rav did in fact act inappropriately? What factors would influence their decision to hold off on an announcement? Would they try and solve things internally assuming no criminal offense had taken place? If a minor had been involved at what point would they go to the police? Are any professionals involved in the Beis Din proceedings? Thank you.

  2. 1. Something is not working properly in our society, if it takes 5 years (despite the existence of the internet) to notify our society that a danger lurks in its midst.

    2. I share Reuven's excellent questions. As I have said before, True Justice will only exist in a transparent environment.

  3. agree that these are excellent questions - am working on a reply.

    If a teacher is seen attracting groups of girls - that is simply not proof that he is doing something wrong. The issue with Pogrow was seduction. How long does it take for a seduced woman to decide she was wrong and to gather the courage to make a public spectacle of herself by pressing charges? How long does it take for a seduced woman to realize not only was she was wrong but that if she doesn't complain other women will suffer? We are not dealing with the problem of 1+1 but rather complex equations that have many solutions other than going to the police.

    But as a start the same concerns apply to the police and normal courts. Many complaints of abuse are simply dismissed by the police or the courts - because their is simply insufficient evidence. Many times this is dealt with by plea bargaining. People often don't go to the police because they are afraid they won't be believed - they don't have any proof.

    To have a truly transparent environment that would require the total absence of any privacy or confidentiality. Every home, store, business school street would required 24 hour camera monitoring. Everybody's computer would have to be available when anyone demanded to know what was on it. every camera would have to available for inspection as well. People would need to be monitored to see whether they are getting sexually aroused by children. Remember the principal videoed with a child. It is abuse if he is deriving sexual pleasure from the child but it is not abuse otherwise

    Think twice between wishing for a truly transparent society A change of balance is needed - but how is not so simple

  4. My favorite part is about not trusting bloggers.Rabbi Eidenshon,you have many wonderful maalos,but your self awareness and ability to realise how people perceive you needs a little work.

  5. I'm not surprised that it took 5 years, it's very common these days at all courts.
    I wouldn't want to see a beis din rush into conclusions in such a case that can ruin someone's life.

    I must add that i know Meir personally and I've heard murmurs about this behavior years ago...

  6. I think the shoe is on the other foot

  7. " I ... know many people that are frum today due to him."

    Baruch Lanner also made people frum, including an outstanding Maggid Shiur who I know.

  8. Thank you for working on a reply to the questions.

    Agreed, a truly transparent society is not one that I ever wished for. I wish for a significantly more transparent society, for example, one in which batei din follow a policy of providing all information, UNLESS there is a compelling reason not to, NOT the other way around. True Justice will only exist in a significantly MORE transparent environment.

  9. You write:
    If a teacher is seen attracting groups of girls - that is simply not proof that he is doing something wrong.
    I vociferously disagree! Something is very wrong, even if there is no sexual activity taking place. What happened to Lo Tarbeh Sicha, B'Ishto Umru?
    As a teenager watching B. Lanner walk into the pizza shop with 5 or 6 girls, it was clear to me that something inappropriate was going on. (Of course, there was no one to talk to about it. But that's another matter.)
    A male teacher of girls must be so far above suspicion that no one could even think that there was something inappropriate going on. And if he can't behave that way, he should get a different job!

  10. We know the Bais Din of America took 13 years in the Lanner case, and that was only AFTER they were exposed in the press. Rabbi Willig finally apologized for it in 2002, the case was brought in 1989, the witnesses debased and degraded, and Lanner allowed to continue with the abuse. Why do you think this is any different? Rabbis protecting Rabbis. How else to explain the Lanner case? And why couldn't it be true here as well? The Rabbis knew, the students knew, everyone knew, but nothing was done until it went to the press. I see history repeats itself. Over and over again.

  11. A rathered tired slander - but it is wrong. There was not sufficient evidence until recently. Why do you keep repeating the lie that this is a case of the rabbis who are protecting rabbis. There were various bloggers and advocates who have been informed of these accusations for years - yet they did nothing. The fact is that no one - not the rabbis and not the blogges and not the advocates nor the victims had evidence that they could do anything about the situation.

    The only history repeating itself over and over again - are people like yourself who take any evidence that can be twisted to accuse rabbis of being evil or lazy - while ignoring the fact that the same evidence could be used to accuse bloggers or advocates.

  12. Additionally, there are a few more differences between him Lanner.

    1) Lanner remained employed by NCSY and the Hillel school in Deal for many, many years after specific accusations and observations of impropriety took place.

    On the other hand, Pogrow has not been employed as an educator of women (or young men) in many years. While he was a brilliant and learned person, schools did not feel comfortable with him - despite not have specific accusations of impropriety.

    2) It was newspaper article that spread the word about Lanner.

    Contrast this with Pogrow, who had a Beis Din that spread the word about him.

    3) Lanner had a whole crew of associates who came to defend him and testify in court on his behalf.

    Pogrow does not have any person of note defending him.
    There is hardly a comparison between Lanner and Pogrow, other then the fact that they both thought that they can get away with doing whatever it is they felt like doing.

  13. Are you saying that Lanner being allowed to continue abusing youngsters throughout the 1990's, after the case was brought before the Bais Din of America, is a tired slander?

  14. No you are not reading what I wrote - I am talking about your claim that the Lanner case is the template the for current case

  15. When there is a product on the market that may or may not have a poisonous ingredient you don't wait five years to remove it from circulation. When a person may or may not be a sexual predator you don't protect him for five years until the allegations are proven - he should have been confidentially removed from access to any students. Unfortunately there is a long sad history of protecting influential predators from accountability.

  16. I gather you have never dealt with the issue and you are just imagining what the possibilities are in the real world. You again are asserting that this is a case of protecting predators - but you have zero evidence. Again the people who had suspicions including bloggers and advocates who are the first to yell call the police - as well as rabbis.

    According to your logic - there was a massive coverup of all people from a wide variety of people for 5 years. Do you really believe what you are saying?

  17. There is a (non-rabbinic) legal system in place. Bring criminal charges against the bastard. Put him away for life. He'll have the rest of his life to contemplate God.

  18. I accuse Michael of sexual misconduct. He should immediately be removed from circulation until proven otherwise.

  19. Dear Pogrow Talmid (it's Talmid with an i and not Talmud),
    I have known Pogrow for over 15 years and I myself hesitated to believe the rumours and even the psak din. Until I saw that Rav Y Berkowitz had signed it. I don't know anyone more concerned about bein odom lechaveiroh than him and if he signed the psak, it must have been with great koved rosh.
    Everyone has a 20/20 vision in hindsight but just look at my username - does it sound like it relates to any part of Pogrow's life???
    He is clearly a highly intelligent sociopath, who's able to manipulate people and, regardless of how much you may have gained from him, that doesn't take away from the fact that many many others (including his own children who were forced by Pogrow to learn Torah beyond their capacity for their age) suffered (and will maybe continue to suffer) a great deal.
    Do you want to have hakaras hatov for him... go ahead... even Rebbi Me'ir had hakaras hatov for Elisha ben Avuyah, so there's even a precedent in the Gemorah...
    But don't expect that your personal experience should in any way diminish any of the many wrong things he did.


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