Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Attn: Rabbi Gottesman And The Rabbinical Leaders Of Torah Umesorah And Agudath Israel!

The following e-mail was sent to the leadership of Torah Umesorah and Agudath Israel.
I have deleted the names of the yeshivas and predators for now. If the predators are not dismissed from their positions in ten days, I will go public with the information.

Sat, 24 Jun 2006
From: "Unorthodox Jew"
Subject: Attn: Rabbi Gottesman And The Rabbinical Leaders Of Torah Umesorah And Agudath Israel!

To: umesorah@aol.com


I have retained a former NYPD detective and nationally renown private investigator. His job is to investigate all credible allegations of abuse that come across my desk.

I can verify based on the evidence and victims' testimony that sexual abuse is taking place at the following yeshivas:

Yeshiva ...........-predator ...........
Yeshiva ...........-predator ...........

The menahalim of these yeshivas are aware of the problem and as of yet not have terminated their employment.
I would like to give you notice of these vile people, and am asking you to get involved and have them removed/terminated at once.

I trust that you understand that if in fact they are not removed immediately, I will do whatever it takes to publicize these peoples' behavior, the ongoing cover-up by the yeshivas, and I will arrange for legal help to the victims.

I sincerely hope that this can be avoided by your immediate involvement.


Saturday, June 24, 2006



At the outset, please forgive me for making the assumption that I have something meaningful to offer the survivors of sexual abuse, which I am not, or to the chachomim of this city, also which I am not. I am not an accredited professional. I am however, a father of an innocent child to whom these acts have been committed and, as such, I feel I may have a relevant contribution.

I have learned to see victims of abuse as people that have gone through an individual holocaust. Each victim having been through an event or chain of events that has forever changed not only the victim, but also reaches out to affect families, relatives, schools, communities ,and even into the next generation. The price we pay has nothing to do with the thousands of dollars spent in therapy for so many different issues both related to the assault(s) and their outgrowth (family disunity, Yidden off the derech, drug abuse, promiscuity, and poor school performance), but the toll it is taking on Klal Yisroel's future.

We must choose to understand the nature and scope of the dilemma and plan a clear path forward. As in all matters of Torah, the motivation must be the search for emes. Those who seek to accuse, blame, seek their pound of flesh, desire kavod or satisfy gaivah need not, no-must not be a part of the problem solving and the development of relevant answers for the needs of our community.

We must admit to ourselves what currently exists in our community in order to appropriately respond to those who perpetrate abuse and those who have suffered from it, as up until now the response has been inadequate and inappropriate.

I believe we must understand what the abuse is and is not. Sexual abuse is not an act of inappropriate or misplaced sexual desire. It is an act perpetrated by one in need to control and overpower another individual. Many times this is accomplished by manipulation and at other times by brute strength. Ultimately the result is the same. The victim is left feeling totally powerless in their world, afraid and intimidated by the prospect of a recurrence, guilt ridden, and feeling totally alone while being unable to share what has happened to them with those who care and love them.

It is a criminal act and not one between consenting individuals, even if somehow the perpetrator has manipulated the victim into thinking that the act was desired by the victim. It is the debasing of another human being to satisfy the lust for power and control ;it expresses itself as a sexual act. It robs innocence, it robs self esteem, it robs confidence, it robs one of closeness to G-d, it robs one of families, it robs ones ability to express love and intimacy in appropriate ways, it robs youth, it clouds judgment, it is spiritually, physically, and emotionally painful. It is extremely rare to find a perpetrator that acts only once. It is extremely rare to find a person who has been victimized who is not aware every day of their life of the continuing effects the abuse has had.

Who are the perpetrators? They are almost always males. When this is perpetrated by individuals outside of our community, we try to understand and make it understood that within the world at large, unfortunately, there are goyim such as these. It isn't easy, but the door is left open to understand the events within a Torah context, utilizing daas Torah to help us understand the machla and refuah. The most pressing issue we must cope with is what happens if the perpetrator is from within our own community? Brothers, fathers, cousins, uncles, friends, rabbeim, baalei battim, people we know and would otherwise respect, yeshiva trained or poshuta Yidden. Neighbors, business associates, baalei tsedakah, black hat or kipah srugah. They are here. They who have committed these atrocities are among us.

What are we to say to our beloved when the trust instilled in us of our own community is violated? So many have been robbed of the single most important asset we can use to interpret and understand and reach out to those in need of help.

Many of the accused seem to be protected, their crime hidden from public awareness. Some leave town, only to perpetrate again within another community. There is denial on the part of many that those accused are guilty. When the victim is a child or the accusation comes years after the crime, the testimony is often suspect. Often times, we can only reach the conclusion that there was a victim, something happened, but the details become an issue of debate due to an inability to substantiate the facts.

We must decide how to handle the confirmed perpetrator. It is important to remember that a crime has been committed by a person with a sickness. If I was prone to seizures and drove a car and damaged someone, G-d forbid, I would not expect my rov to get me out of the legal obligations I would have, nor would I expect him to remain quiet if I wanted to transport children in my car at a later time. It would be expected that I would notify people that I was unable to do certain things due to my condition and I would be expected not to put myself in another situation where the safety and well being of another person would be compromised. A person with a cancer can only hope that with G-ds help, he will live his 120 years in remission, but with the realization that once discovered, the disease is forever at risk of re-emerging.

We must come to terms with those who carry within themselves the depths of understanding and knowledge of Torah, yet, have turned their bodies from holy vessels to impure receptacles by an action(s) that seems to refute their outward appearance of being yiray Shomayim. Just as Moshe Rabeinu was not reprimanded for breaking the luchos instead of bringing them into the midst of the unfit Bnai Yisroel at the time of the golden calf, it is understandable to feel that the perpetrators are not worthy of the gifts of Torah they hold and the kavod due them as holy vessels. However, today we lack the Leviim ;those tzadikim who are so pure that they are worthy and able to rid us of the unholy and tainted.

Perpetrators must come clean. They must first admit to themselves, then to their victims and the community at large, what they have done. This is always the first step. It must be public because the victim must have the validation that they were victimized. They have been abused and too often feel responsible and ashamed. When the abuser confesses, enough of the victims self doubt can be removed to allow the door to recovery to begin. We can deal honestly with the abuser and not allow him to be in situations that may cause him to stumble. We can watch, counsel, teach, and guide a person who understands and accepts his failings. We can take this Yid's shortcoming and use them to enhance our community. How many times has the government taken ex-criminals and put them to work preventing the same criminal behavior in others? They speak, they teach, they make aware. They have insight we lack. This is how they can do tshuva. Of course they may NEVER be around children again!

Who are the victims? They are our children, siblings, parents, extended families, friends, neighbors, our kehilas, and our community. We all suffer. The energy expended in the fallout of the effects of abuse is without end. Victims often suffer in silence for years due to fear, shame, and/or guilt. They may repress their horror or be emotionally unable to confront their reality, doubting their own credibility. This is a personal holocaust. Who is going to believe such a thing could happen? How is anyone else going to understand the pain?

The victims often feel it is easier to live in pain than to be forthcoming and be written off as a crank, a liar, a crazy person. Their pain and suffering exhibits itself in ways seemingly unrelated to the abuse. Many become problems academically and behaviorally at school. Their interactions with loved ones may deteriorate. They may not trust. Not just strangers, but even those closest to them. They may carry and exhibit irrational anger. They feel betrayed by their loved ones and others who have the responsibility and obligation to protect them from harm. We often lose them as b'nai mitzvas. We often lose them as members of our families and communities. We lose them to drugs and promiscuity. We may even lose them to be perpetrators themselves, having learned from the criminal behavior of their abuser how, through a warped and sickened perspective, to gain some control into their own out of control lives. The cycle continues. We all suffer.

We must feel it is as much an obligation to educate, inform and warn our children parents, neighbors, and congregations of the threats to our physical and spiritual safety as it is for all other types of criminal activity, whether Torah based or secular statutes.

We understand from Shlomo Hamelech that there is nothing new under the sun. It is our obligation to delve into Torah and find ways to help. The answers are there. We must find the needed refuah for the victims, the perpetrators, and our community. We must not give up on nor lose those we love and those who need our love.

The Agudah's response to the allegations of sexual abuse in their summer camp is way too little and too late. Where were you for forty agonizing years? We, who believe in the Divine involvement in every single act that occurs on Earth and all the galaxies, have to believe that the fire that destroyed the main building at Camp Agudah, the exact day that the Agudah's pathetic counter to the New York Magazine article on sexual abuse among the Orthodox Jewish community was published, was Hashem saying to Klal Yisroel "enough is enough."

May we all be zoche to be closer to Hashem through our efforts.


Has anyone contacted you as being a victim of Avrohom Mondrowitz?
I am a victim of his who only came forward as a result of the NY Mag article.
I've been in touch with an Attorney, went to the Brooklyn DA's office to formally file a criminal complaint,
and through my Attorney have been in touch with & given interviews to multiple Press outlets while
maintaining my anonynimity. The reporters are digging for the cause of DA's office quietly dropping the case,
and stories will be appearing shortly.

I believe that there is renewed interest in this case & pressure will be applied to the DA's office
to bring him back. I firmly believe that someone or some group from the "frum" Orthodox community pressured
the DA's office to drop the case. I am trying to find out if other victims have also recently come forward so that we can
pool our resources & pressure the DA's office.

Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


A Matter Of Orthodox Abuse
Rabbi Avi Shafran
True or false?

1) Child abuse does not happen in the Orthodox Jewish community.

2) Child abuse is particularly prevalent there.

3) Halacha-observant living actually encourages child abuse.

4) The Orthodox community has not taken measures to prevent child abuse.

Answers: 1) false 2) false 3) false 4) false.

Abuse of children unquestionably exists in the Orthodox community. So, though, does fanciful speculation of its extent. Consider a recent long, lurid article about a child molestation lawsuit against an Orthodox rabbi.

(Full disclosure: An Agudath Israel-affiliated camp is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit. The allegations include acts said to have been committed against two adolescent boys in the camp, where the alleged abuser was employed some 30 years ago. The other defendants in the lawsuit are Yeshiva & Mesivta Torah Temimah of Flatbush and the alleged abuser, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko.) Oh yes Shafran, full disclosure my ass-UOJ)

Robert Kolker, writing in New York magazine, cleverly and subtly sandwiched an admission of a dearth of statistical evidence about abuse in the Orthodox world between a sinister question and a damning speculation: “Is molestation more common in the Orthodox Jewish community than it is elsewhere? There are no reliable statistics … but there’s reason to believe the answer to that question might be yes.”

The “reason to believe” is based on speculation by Hella Winston, who has written about once-chasidic people who turned their backs on their communities. She recounts how “shocking” it was to hear how “so many boys [emphasis hers] have had this experience.”

Leave aside her unquestioning acceptance of her subjects’ claims. Focus only on the essential, glaring problem of drawing so sweeping a conclusion based on so slender and specialized a sample. Abuse, tragically, may well have been a factor in the trajectory of those disheartened Jews’ lives. And if it was, our hearts must ache with the anguish of the victims. But to consider their agonizing experience as somehow emblematic of chasidic life, much less broader Orthodox life is like deciding there must be a national tuberculosis epidemic after visiting a hospital and seeing “so many” patients there suffering with the disease.

Kolker then goes on to make an even more offensive and groundless speculation, safely qualified with the preface “There are some who believe.” What they believe, he reports, is that “the repression in the ultra-Orthodox community can foster abuse.” By “the repression” he means things like the strict forbiddance of sexual relations before marriage and the Jewish family purity laws that regulate when married couples may and may not engage in intimacy. The “few outlets for an Orthodox man with compulsions” create “a fertile environment for deviance.”

Here snideness slips toward slander, not only of Orthodox Jews but of Judaism itself. Larger society has ample “outlets” for sexual _expression (including many Kolker doesn’t likely prescribe). Yet abuse there is hardly unknown. Might the lack of sexual discipline inherent in a culture of “anything goes” be a greater risk factor for abuse than the ethic of personal responsibility cultivated by Jewish law?

Permit me a counter-hypothesis: A Torah-observant life does not lead to aberrant behavior; it helps prevent it. “I created an evil inclination,” the Talmud quotes the Creator, “And I created the Torah as its antidote [literally: ‘seasoning’].”

That fundamental Jewish truth that human inclinations are harnessed and controlled by Torah-life and Torah-study is self-evident to anyone truly familiar with the Orthodox community. The vast majority of its members are caring and responsible people who lead exemplary lives, free in large measure from societal ills like rape, AIDS, prostitution and marital infidelity that affect their less “repressed” neighbors.

That shouldn’t surprise; halacha-observance stresses family, community, compassion for others, control of anger and passions, ethical ideals. To be sure, there will always be observant individuals who sometimes fail the test of self-control, even with horrendous impacts on the lives of innocents. But that no more indicts Jewish observance than the fact that there are corrupt police or drug-addled doctors renders law enforcement or medicine suspect.

Preparing this essay, I interviewed some of the most respected mental health professionals with experience in the Orthodox world. To a person, they believe (based on their experience; as above, there are no statistics) that the number of child abusers in the Orthodox world is, like that of practitioners of other types of aberrant behavior, below that of general society. Anyone who thinks there is “reason to believe” otherwise has not consulted professionals whose on-the-ground experience uniquely qualifies them to speak to the topic. (Name names Shafran. Pro-Fresser Aaron Twerski?)

At the same time, though, just as bad cops and strung-out MDs must be rooted out, so must we address child abuse, whose victims, tragically, can be emotionally scarred for life. Even if the problem is less prevalent in Orthodox circles than elsewhere, abuse should be nonexistent in a community that believes in the sublime value of children, the momentousness of their upbringing and the consequence of the Torah’s laws to which abusive behavior is unambiguously antithetical.

Anyone who has shown a tendency toward abusive behavior has no business serving as a teacher, counselor or youth leader, and institutions must have procedures in place to ensure that they do not. And, while there is still much to do in this regard, the community can point with some degree of pride to important strides that have already been made.

Many Orthodox schools and summer camps have for years had in place clear policies and effective safeguards to help prevent abuse. Three years ago, the National Society of Hebrew Day Schools published and disseminated internal school guidelines for preventing and dealing with abuse, including reporting to civil authorities when appropriate. Sessions at its conventions focusing on the issue and featuring leading mental health professionals have been standing room only and lasted late into the night. (They came for the food you putz!-UOJ)

Special Jewish courts have been established in a number of Orthodox communities across the country to deal with abuse accusations (and have, in cases of proven guilt or admission of a crime, put suitable restrictions in place). A number of Orthodox mental health organizations and social service groups deal both with victims of child abuse and with abusers. ( You're a filthy liar Shafran-UOJ)

And contemporary rabbinical leaders have publicly spurred their followers to action on the issue. David Mandel, head of the Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, which operates a sexual abuse prevention and treatment program, said, “The degree to which Torah leaders have spoken out [on abuse in the Orthodox community] has been remarkable.” (Mandel is a nasty and sly co-conspirator-UOJ)

Has all that been enough? Nothing is, at least not until abuse is nonexistent in the community. Must more be done? Yes. And it will be.

As progress continues, though, we would do well to avoid the New York magazine mind trap. To imagine that what has defined traditional Jewish life for millennia is somehow a risk factor for abuse is to turn all logic and experience on their heads. The true risk factors, as mental health professionals attest, are things like absent parents, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of support systems and the touting of a Woody Allenesque “the heart wants what it wants” mindset, all considerably underrepresented in the Orthodox community. If any environment can reasonably be imagined to foster the bane of child abuse, it is the charged atmosphere of MTV, R-rated movies, contemporary advertising and uncontrolled Internet usage, not the universe of Jewish values.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


In response to everything that has been exposed to the public in the past few months, Lipa Margulies has placed Yudi Kolko on administrative leave. There are those who say this is more than one can expect from someone such as Lipa Margulies and as such we should leave well enough alone.

Others realize that the problem never was Yudi Kolko. It remains an unfortunate fact that pedophiles will attempt to build lives around their prey. That Kolko chose to spend his life around children is no surprise. That Kolko was protected by Margulies should also come as little surprise to anyone who knows him. That Margulies and Kolko were allowed to continue their heinous acts for decades after complaints were made to Torah Temimah, Agudath Israel, Torah U’Mesorah and many others is symptomatic of the core problem.

The problem is with our self anointed rabbinical and lay leadership. In the coming weeks the world will learn of the unimaginably cynical and cruel acts committed by Lipa Margulies with the knowledge and assistance of Shia Fishman (executive director of Torah U’Mesorah,) Pinchus Scheinberg, Yaakov Perlow (Novominsker Rebbe and Agudath Israel’s president and chairman of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages,) Simcha Kaufman (rebbe in Torah Temimah, employee of Camp Agudah and talmid of Pinchus Scheinberg,) and Elya Svei (former Rosh HaYeshiva of Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, former chairman of the rabbinic administrative board of Torah U’mesorah and former member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages.)

Our message is simple.

When your child is running a fever you head straight to the pediatrician. When you have a toothache you go to your dentist. When you have a tax question you meet with your accountant. When you want an insurance policy you go to your insurance agent. When you have a legal question you ask your lawyer. When you find a leak in your home you call your plumber. When you need an extension to your home to house your growing family you hire an architect and a builder. You get the point.

When you or your children are molested or otherwise abused you go to the police to protect yourself and your neighbors and to a mental health professional to deal with the fallout of the abuse. Simple. There is no place for rabbis or lay leaders in this equation. This is not only our opinion. If you won’t rely on your own sense of decency, self preservation and logic, Rav Elyashiv, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rabbi Dovid Cohen and countless others from all walks of life declare that it is your obligation to do so.

The problem is more complex.

As a community we have been misled by our rabbonim. For several decades they have taught the dogma of thinly disguised papal infallibility wrapped in a cloak of kappotes and beckeshes. The complexity of this situation lies in the need to deprogram so many of us from this perverse distortion of our holy torah.

Our prescription is crude but effective. Shock treatment.

In a mere few months we have gone from a community deep in a dogma induced stupor to one engaged in a lively debate over the qualifications of our rabbonim and lay leaders possess to deal with our day to day issues.

Parents, students and rabbeim of Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah, our solution has two more stages left. The next stage will impact upon you directly.

We mean you no harm. The vast majority of you are unsuspecting victims who just went along with the flow. Your friends sent their children to Torah Temimah so you did the same. We feel for the disruption in your lives. Please feel for the agonizing pain in the lives of Margulies and Kolko’s many victims. We ask that you feel their pain so that you will not take what will be happening personally.

Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah and Lipa Margulies will be destroyed.

While many may mourn the good that will be destroyed along with the evil most of us understand that the good inherent in our holy Torah can not exist in the presence of Margulies and the institution he built on the blood and souls of our children.

Torah Temimah must be destroyed as a clear message to all that as a community steeped in the values of the Torah we can not tolerate such pure uninhibited evil.

We have fired our opening salvo. The barrage will continue and by September you will not recognize Torah Temimah.

Rabbeim, we understand the pressure you are under. Margulies pays you well and on time. You are comfortable. We suggest you think of the stigma of working alongside Kolko and for a man such as Margulies. We suggest you think about being unemployed without notice. Now is the time for you to either group together and start another yeshiva or find employment elsewhere.

Parents and students, now is the time to protect yourselves and your families and make alternate arrangements for the next school year. Neither you nor your children deserve to be a part of the punishment dealt Margulies for his murder of innocent children. Being a part of Torah Temimah has turned into an unimaginable stigma which will only get worse as more becomes public.

Enroll your children elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Aaron Twerski-I am ashamed and greatly angered by what you did. I truly believe that your participation last night has damaged the Jews!

A Very Respected Criminal Defense Attorney Writes:

Dear Professor Twerski:

I apologize for writing this after the fact, and I have as yet heard no reports how the meeting went last night. And while as a criminal defense attorney I truly believe that all are presumed innocent until proven guilty, that is in the eyes of the law, but not in the eyes of a 'kahal' who must be concerned about 35 years of a 'shmu'ah' that has surrounded Rabbis Kolko and Margulies and YTT.

The (so far) lack of proof in the eyes of the law and halacha - although there seem to be many more than 'al pi shnayim aydim' around - may not condemn the parties yet legally, but I believe it does not give anyone the right for others to go out of their way in order to give them the cloak of purity and innocence as this hastily prepared meeting featuring yourself and David Mandel did. Clearly this was a P.R. campaign to make the public believe that Rabbi Margulies is innocent of all 'charges' against him. To the extent that you are (in my humble opinion) prematurely 'mesayai'a' him 'lidvar aveirah' - to perpetuate his claim of innocence in the cover-up - I am ashamed of you and greatly angered by what you did.

I truly believe that your participation last night has brought great harm and damage to the Jewish community at large, to your own reputation, to the institution that you are employed by, and to hundreds and hundreds of innocent kinderlach.

Had you truly been interested in helping alert the community to this problem, you would have received the invitation from Rabbi Margulies and then done all you could to move the meeting to another location, had it sponsored by an independent group, and found a sponsor for an ad and mailing that said "Invitation to all YTT Parents and Parents of any and all Yeshiva students to come hear experts on the topic 'Keeping your children safe and Preventing Abuse' ."

By allowing your name to appear on a YTT letterhead above the signature of Rabbi Margulies, I believe you have wrought upon yourself disgrace and shame. As our chazal have told us, "Oy la'rasha v'oy lishchayno."


Sunday, June 04, 2006


This is a copy of an e-mail I sent to a friend to pass on to the rabbis.


There's very credible evidence coming in on another large yeshiva doing exactly what Torah Temimah has done. I do not want to start taking down yeshiva after yeshiva, but I will, if need be.

Before I go public with anything further, perhaps you want to set up a meeting with the Moetzes/Torah Umesorah and tell them the following:

1- Lipa Margulies must be removed from Torah Temimah. I don't care how it's done. He can't EVER again be involved in the chinuch of children. Let him open a restaraunt and get Kolko as head waiter, and Belsky as mashgiach for all I care. When Margulies is removed and Shustal or that caliber person becomes rosh yeshiva, with an administrative board like the Chaim Berlin and YTV model, I will move away from the Torah Temimah issue predicated on the following:

a- An independent sex registry is set up for all the yeshivas and Bais Yaakov schools, administered by frum professionals, NO RABBIS!

b-An independent professional panel of ten (men & women) are put together to hear allegations of abuse. They can meet on Sundays on a rotating basis. Three people need to show up once in 3 weeks.

c- If the above happens by August 3rd-Tisha B'Av, they will avoid the third self destruction of the Jews brought on by their own evil behavior.

I'm in the process of retaining a high profile PI, a former NYPD detective, to investigate ALL allegations of abuse, and go STRAIGHT to the media and the authorities with his findings.

Please get back to me by June 10th.

Your Chaver,

My friend responds that he's having a problem with the direction the blog is taking.

This is my response to him.

I can appreciate your concerns about the direction of the blog. I'm also very glad to hear about your progress with the pending bill, but it's still pending and so is the registry by Torah Umesorah.

Why not a statement from Torah Umesorah that they are working on one?

Look, you have valid points, I agree that some of the language is questionable, even mine.

But look at the results because of the worthiness of our cause! Kolko is gone and Margulies is ruined!

Do you really think anything would have happened if there was not a lunatic out there ready to take down all the yeshivas that are rotten, and harboring sick, abusive and ill rebbes?

"Rabbi"......is a monster, I verified it over a two week period before I put it up.

I screen 100 posts that have a name on it before I put up one. The masses are enraged, I feel it in their language.

I know people, the best deals and best results are made under pressure and deadlines. YESHIVA.......... is next, if the organizations don't act.

I too feel that I am NOT permitted to go away until major changes are implemented; not promises, not want to, not going to, but implemented permanently.

My dear chaver, (I mean that)...I will go away when the changes are in place NOT A MOMENT BEFORE. I don't trust them and neither should you. They've proven themselves to be rishaim, yes, teshuva is possible, but so far it's a bunch of talk.

Please get back to me by June tenth with a "written" letter of intent agreeing to yesterday's demands, I will then go on hiatus until Aug. 3rd.

If not...they'll be sorry, very sorry.....you know that!

Good Yom-Tov...All my very best,

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Call for Submissions – The Other Ba’al Tshuvah Stories

A Call for Submissions – The Other Ba’al Tshuvah Stories

Although this post will appear on Jewschool as well, I just wanted to give a personal note of thanks for this opportunity to UOJ. As some of you may know, I was a writer here before joining Jewschool, and it was here on UOJ that I first began speaking about my own earlier experience as a Jewish fundamentalist, and my problems with famous and powerful kiruv institutions, such as Ohr Somayach. This was a hard thing for me to do, in part because of my own lack of pride in many aspects of that experience. As I expected, I was attacked as crazy, a loser, and weak minded for listening to rabbis in the first place. This from Ultra-Orthodox Jews! But UOJ himself and the core writers of the early days of this blog were very supportive, and most surprising, quite understanding. And I discovered it wasn’t the end of the world to talk about what I thought was wrong in Ultra-Orthodox kiruv, or even what went wrong for me. In the end, I felt a lot stronger. This was made possible by UOJ. I had never spoken about such things publicly. I was finally facing my past as a Jewish fundamentalist.

All too often, the Orthodox community is uninterested in alleviating a frequently destructive situation for so many ba’alei tshuvahs. It is a cold numbers game, and control over as much of their lives as possible is considered ideal, even paramount. The secular Jewish community is all too frequently ignorant about what the problems are, and when they resist what is happening to their children and their friends, end up discussing “hashkafa” issues, which is right where the kiruv masters want the discussion.

What UOJ has proven with his stunning success is that the Orthodox community cannot be trusted to police itself properly, but enforcement must be imposed from outside. And although much of his readership are committed Ultra-Orthodox Jews, there are others, many who may be appropriate for this new project, or know others. ]-- DK

It was only a matter of time before current or former ba’alei tshuvahs banded together to oppose their radical policies and excesses. That time is now.

If the Ultra-Orthodox compilations and movies about Ba’alei Tshuvah are to be believed, most stories follow a similar arc. Secular Jew discovers Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Rejects secular world in its entirety. Marries like-minded newly religious spouse. Lives very fulfilling and meaningful life, and achieves higher and higher spiritual levels.

What is not discussed is the socio-economic devastation to middle-class recruits, the lies, the discouragement of secular education, the dissatisfaction in performing low level jobs for those who listen, the discouragement of vocational ambition, the lack of intensive hard skills offered such as the Hebrew and Aramaic language, the preference given to those from wealthy families, the encouragement of stringency, the encouragement of neurotic and obsessive behavior, marriages arranged not on love but on a value system assimilated usually for only a couple of years, the push for isolation from friends and all but immediate family, and the eventual massive dropout rate of ba’a’lei tshuva.

They must have had a hard time finding anyone with such problems.

That’s why Failed Messiah (Shmarya Rosenberg) and David Kelsey are joining forces. We want to help! And since there are obviously very few such cases judging by all the success stories, we are teaming up together to find these very, very few and isolated cases of dissatisfaction, in the off-chance there are any.

And since the ultra-Orthodox world is so confident of the superior lifestyle they are advocating for secular Jews, we know they won’t mind us compiling a book that raises the difficult issues they must have forgotten to ask in their never ending releases about how much happier everyone is who joins the ranks of Jewish fundamentalism, and presents them to the secular Jewish community. In fact, we know the Ultra-Orthodox kiruv institutions will be thrilled to have Jews who experienced first-hand the joys of Ultra-Orthodox ba’al tshuvah living express how they think things should be different, and what went wrong. And what they think about the institutions and faculty they attended.

If you or anyone you know is a ba’al tshuvah or former ba’al tshuvah, we want to hear his/her story. The unedited version. The version not fit for the holy Artscroll. Essays needed as well! Specific topics preferred.

Please contact us. For more information, please go to http://www.kiruvstories.com/.

Or email us at- submissions@kiruvstories.com.

We need your help!