Monday, November 29, 2021

Kiruv at lincoln square - gafni

 Judy told her story to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. He chose to believe Winiarz.

Judy told one of her counselors in JPSY, Susan.

Susan brought Judy to Rabbi Blau who put out the word that Winiarz was dangerous.

I'm told by anti-Winiarz sources that an informal Beit Din was convenened in New York about Marc and Judy. That Winiarz was told to quit his job and move from New York to some unsuspecting community and make a new life (that was how these things were handled until recently).

Marc: "This New York Beit Din story is a complete fabrication. The Judy encounter should've been dealt with and healed immediately. I kept running JPSY for a couple of years [after the Judy controversy]."

Rabbi Yosef Blau's wife Rivkah worked for R. Shlomo Riskin in the 1970s and early 1980s (she ran his girls' high school). She frequently found it distressing and burned out twice. She and her husband appeared to have a tense relationship with R. Riskin (though they've all since buried the hatchet, and R. Blau has a son who works for R. Riskin).

Marc Winiarz was R. Riskin's poster boy.

R. Riskin was trying to raise money to show that he could produce a new generation of rabbis. The first (and only in the United States?) guy R. Riskin ordained was Winiarz.

Yeshiva University's backbenchers were furious at R. Riskin for starting his own Hebrew high school (Ohr Torah). R. Riskin was talking about starting his own ordination program up the road from YU. R. Riskin was taking funding that used to go to YU. The guy who funded Ohr Torah was Max Stern of Stern College (the women's branch of YU) fame.

Rabbi Blau and Marc Winiarz had a confrontation in 1985 in a hallway on the third or fourth floor of YU.

According to sources, the confrontation went like this:

Marc. "Rabbi Blau, what are you doing? Are you crazy? Why haven't you come to talk to me to heal this thing? You're spreading stories that are not true."

Rabbi Blau says: "I'm going to get you."

Marc responds: "Why don't you first take care of problems in your own home before you start throwing stones at other people?"

I hear that Rabbi Blau then threw a punch at Marc and said, "I'll bring you down."

On Oct. 12, 2004, R. Blau told me: "At one point, Mordechai came into my office and told me he'd get my wife. I was stern with him. He was threatening."

In July 2008, I ask Marc about all this. He replies: "This was a long time ago. I wish the Blaus well. I no longer live in their world. Perhaps one day in the future we will all be able to sit down like human beings and heal this."

In early 1986, Winiarz finished his term at JPSY.

Marc: "I ended JPSY for a simple reason. A lot of people who do youth work does it between 18 and 26 and then you burn out."

Luke: "Weren't you exiled to Boca? Wasn't there a Beit Din convened?"

Marc: "It never happened."

Luke: "So you went to Boca voluntarily?"

Marc: "Of course.

"It's a natural transition. I went to Rabbi Kenny Hain, who was head of communal services at YU. I was ready to take a pulpit. He suggested Boca Raton."

The rabbi in Boca Raton before Winiarz was Mark Dratch, Rabbi Norman Lamm's son-in-law.

The congregation (Boca Raton Community Synagogue) had about 20 families. They'd been brutal to R. Dratch. One guy was particularly vicious -- attorney Steve Marcus who was murdered in a gay bar ten years later.

Rabbi Lamm came down to help his son-in-law. When he got up to speak, four people turned their chairs to face the wall.

Nobody wanted to take the pulpit that R. Lamm had ostracized.

Winiarz moved to Boca Raton around 1986. He did a great job in outreach. He was charismatic. The size of the congregation tripled.

Marc ruffled feathers. Before the high holidays, he took out full page ads in the local Jewish newspaper that said, 'Are you bored with impersonal and monotonous services? Come join Rabbi Marc.'

"The other rabbis in town were furious with me," says Marc, "because they felt I was describing their congregation, which of course I was."


  1. And badatz is holier?

  2. Gafni is a rasha. Has this never happened in chareidi circles?

  3. Whose poster boy was tropper ñ

  4. bedatz responded and corrected problem

  5. When he was making a lot of noise, he was somebody. And had backing of major podium. I fully accept that you, under the guidance of Rav shternbuch were not taken in by the hype. R blau punched the menuval of Lincoln sq.

  6. Haredi kiruv rosh kollel

  7. How long did riskin ignore the matter I'm just checking as you may have a valid point here.

  8. Does abuse negate mitzvot of otehr people in the community, or even the victims?
    Even now, many Hareidi sectors will chose to hide the abuse than to go to the police.

    MO, RZ also had their terrible experiences.

    Did the silence or denial by Riskin enable the abuser? Is this a pattern we see elsewhere?


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