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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yudi Kolko's Victim Cries..."He Took My Innocence Away’"

He Took My Innocence Away’
By Jennifer Friedlin-The Jewish Week

South Carolina man alleges Brooklyn rabbi sexually abused him 20 years ago; third accuser against Rabbi Kolko and Yeshiva Torah Temimah.
Jennifer Friedlin - Special To The Jewish Week

The alleged molestation did not begin immediately. In fact, it would take at least a year of priming Israel Tsatskis before Rabbi Yehuda Kolko allegedly started to sexually abuse the young boy.

The year was 1986 and Tsatskis, then a sixth grader at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah in Flatbush, had suddenly become one of Rabbi Kolko’s favorite students in the school. Rabbi Kolko, then a teacher at the yeshiva, would call Tsatskis out of class to monitor his class or to do small errands, like make photocopies.

The attention felt good.

“I thought I was special because he was taking an interest in me,” Tsatskis recalled recently in a phone conversation.

Over time, however, Rabbi Kolko’s favoritism crossed the line and became abusive, Tsatskis alleges. Tsatskis says the molestation, which included fondling and groping of his genitals, continued until he completed the eighth grade and graduated middle school.

The scars, however, still remain.

“I hate that he took away my innocence. I blame so much on him,” said Tsatskis, a 31-year-old former U.S. Army soldier who lives in South Carolina.

Tsatskis is the third person to bring a lawsuit against Rabbi Kolko and the yeshiva for crimes he allegedly committed in the 1970s and ‘80s. His story took on a new resonance recently when Tsatskis went public in a court filing attaching his name to the claims against Rabbi Kolko; he had been referred to only as John Doe 3.

“The sexual abuse has caused Israel to suffer severe and permanent psychological, emotional and physical injuries and the inability to lead a normal life, as well as attendant economic losses,” according to the complaint. “Plaintiff’s injuries are persistent, permanent and debilitating in nature.”

Although the statute of limitations has expired for both a criminal and civil action, the plaintiffs hope that evidence of an alleged cover-up orchestrated by the head of the school, Rabbi Lipa Margulies, will enable them to proceed with the civil action.

Since the lawsuits were filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, Rabbi Kolko has been put on administrative leave. He has declined to comment on the allegations, while the yeshiva has denied any wrongdoing. Calls to Rabbi Kolko’s lawyer, Robert Mercurio, were not returned.

Recently, Rabbi Kolko was spotted chaperoning campers from Silver Lake Camp, Torah Temimah’s summer camp, at a Connecticut theme park, New York magazine reported this week. Avi Moskowitz, a lawyer for the yeshiva, told the magazine that Rabbi Kolko is not affiliated with the camp, but that “Obviously, the camp has no control over where he goes and what he does.”

Reached for comment Moscowitz told The Jewish Week that “[Rabbi Kolko] did not come on [the camp’s] behalf and wasn’t invited by us.”

Moscowitz maintained that the allegations against the yeshiva are “simply not true.” He added that he believes that the statute of limitations is such that the case should be dismissed.

Tsatskis said he decided to pursue his $10 million lawsuit against the rabbi and the school in order to try and regain a sense of control over the past and to encourage the fervently Orthodox community to which he once belonged to recognize that sexual abuse is a problem in need of attention.

“If the only thing that comes from this case is that the community wakes up and says, ‘this happens here,’ and that they stop it, I’ll be happy,” said Tsatskis.

The Tsatskis’ family ties to Rabbi Margulies go back generations to Hungary, where Israel’s grandfather knew him. So, years ago, when the Tsatskis family was looking for a school for their young son, the grandfather recommended his friend’s yeshiva. Rabbi Kolko was Tsatskis’ first-grade teacher. But the alleged trouble began several years later.

Throughout his early elementary school years, Tsatskis said he was a good student, but a bit of a loner. By sixth grade, he was having more trouble academically and his grades started to slip. His relationship with his parents was also growing strained. At that point Tsatskis says that Rabbi Kolko began taking a personal interest in his life. Tsatskis, meanwhile, started to see Rabbi Kolko as someone he could trust and confide in.

“I didn’t have a bad home or upbringing,” Tsatskis said. “But he was like my father away from home, like a big brother or an uncle. He would tell me I’m special and whenever there was a slight problem in my life he was the first one to take an interest.”

By the time Tsatskis entered the seventh grade, he said that Rabbi Kolko had his total trust. It was then that Rabbi Kolko allegedly began touching the boy inappropriately. Tsatskis said Rabbi Kolko would pull him from class and take him to his private office, where the rabbi would put his hands down the boy’s pants and fondle his genitals. On some occasions, Rabbi Kolko would follow Tsatskis to his private bathroom to “help” him buckle up his pants. Tsatskis said Rabbi Kolko would then grope him.

At the time, Tsatskis said that he had no sense that what Rabbi Kolko was doing was wrong. He blames this largely on the fact that neither the yeshiva nor his parents ever discussed the difference between appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior.

“My son and daughter know more about which areas are private than I knew when I was 15,” said Tsatskis, referring to his 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. “I felt if this is what he’s doing it must be OK.”

However, by the time he was a teenager, Tsatskis’ behavior was getting more out of control, so much so that a psychologist recommended that the teen undergo intensive therapy. While Tsatskis was in treatment, the truth of the abuse emerged, he said.

Although he felt a sense of relief, Tsatskis said he never fully recovered from the damage of having been abused by a figure of communal authority and personal importance.

“Once I realized that what he did was wrong, my whole life came tumbling down,” said Tsatskis, noting that his parents had a hard time knowing how to deal with their son’s situation.

Because of behavioral problems, Tsatskis bounced around five high schools in four years. Throughout his teen years, he began hanging out with the wrong crowd. His faith in Judaism was shattered.

“If this guy would do this to me and he represents Judaism, then something was really wrong,” said Tsatskis, who is no longer observant.

After high school, Tsatskis said he did a series of odd jobs and bummed around before joining the U.S. Army as a medic at 24 to “get some control back.” That same year he also married a woman he had known from Brooklyn. The couple is now separated.

“I have acquaintances but relationships are hard for me,” Tsatskis said.

In fact, Tsatskis said that he has never felt as good as he did when Rabbi Kolko was showering attention on him. “It was the ultimate high,” Tsatskis said. “I felt important, distinguished from the class.”

He said his pull to Rabbi Kolko has remained so great over the years that he has gone back to Brooklyn on several occasions to try and visit him in an effort to recapture that feeling of importance. However, Tsatskis said that Rabbi Kolko always seems distracted and uninterested in speaking with him.

“I would continuously go back to him and he would reject me,” Tsatskis said. “It’s sort of like a woman in an abusive relationship. Why does she go back? Because she feels special. I long for that special feeling.”

Over the years, Tsatskis said he tried to recapture the feeling through other relationships, but nothing came close to the feeling Rabbi Kolko gave him.

“Throughout my life I needed attention and he filled the gap,” Tsatskis said.

To this day, Tsatskis says he is still confused by what happened and why it made him feel the way he did. If he had the chance, he said he would like to ask Rabbi Kolko, “Why me? What was it about me? Why not any of the other 60 kids?”

38 comments:

Still Wonderin' said...

Thank you for getting back to the point. It's a point worth sticking to. Worth everything, actually.

steve said...

So sad how a pure Jewish soul gets destroyed by something like this. There is no punishment that is too severe for someone that does this to a child.

Anonymous said...

There Is An Individual Looking for Survivors of Rabbi Shapiro from TA of Baltimore.

Contact: tavictims@yahoo.com


In the mid 70's in TA Baltimore there was a Rabbi Shapiro (who lived with his wife in the TA dormitory building) who allegedly physically and sexually molested the boys that resided in the TA dorm.

This Rabbi Shapiro would french kiss the boys, insert his tounge into their mouths, or would physically force his fingers into their mouths, he would lie down beside the boys on their beds, or would lay down across the boys whilst constantly touching them all over their bodies.

If you are a survivor of Rabbi Shapiro, or know of anyone who might have been sexually victimized, please contact us at tavictims@yahoo.com so that you can be included in our future lawsuit against TA.

steve said...

It's amazing how observant Jews run to cover up, protect and make excuses for "one of their own", just because he wears a long beard and dresses like them, no matter how heinous the crime and how overwhelming the evidence is. All this they do under the pretense of "pidyon shvuim" and daas torah. Take the Mondrowitz case as an extreme example or the case of Nat Schlesinger recently where there was a tremendous chillul hashem. I wonder if the accused here wasn't Yudi Kolko but Mr. Glass the gym teacher(fictitious name), if they would be defending him also.

The Belsky Papers said...

Belsky, Kolko and Marguilies,

Are sick verminous slime who are so sickly warped in their twisted view of Judaism that they clearly are making buffoons out of their collective selves.

Picture this:

In my shul on shabbos I saw a 'halachic' discourse paper by belsky, in it he had 29 different retarded 'shailos' about milk and meat.

Questions such as:

1. what if chew meat for .5 seconds and then spit it out.

2. what if I 'swish' (yes this is the word they used- "swish" clearly imbecilic) my mouth with clear chicken soup and spit.

and on and on and on...

the singular focus on sheer stupidity..

But to say one god damn thing about child abuse- NNNOOO!!

I literally daven everyday for belsky to be removed from any 'rabinic' position that he has and for the 'Ha'mon Am' to wake up to the scam that represents the current jewish rabbinate.

I am starting a blog that will be entirely un-moderated and will be a forum for all to reveal their own personal stories of how belsky and the corrupt rabbinate have injected their vile slime and crooked 'decrees' and 'psaks', in the guise of das torah, into their lives.

Auto Report World Editors said...

Remember, do something nice to another Jew today.

Tomorrow, too.

time for action said...

What a brave soul!

Kudos to you Sgt. Tsaskis.

May you be blessed with the peace you deserve.

Anonymous said...

I knew a kid Tsaskis in camp Ma-Na-Vu.....are you the same guy?

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Say "when" Shea....You are not a youngster anymore, you are of ill-health. Your time to give an accounting to your Maker is drawing close.
What will you tell Him?
The Yodea Machshovos can't be bullshitted!
Say "when" Shea...L'maan Hashem, say when!

tavictims said...

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro victimized boys in downtown Baltimore already some 50 years ago whilst preparing them for their bar mitzvahs.

He was constantly molesting, french kissing, touching, rubbing up against, lying in bed, etc. with young teenager boys in TA Baltimore some 30 years ago whilst he and his wife lived in the dorms of TA. He was the rabbinic dorm counselor at that time.

In the 1980's he became the General Studies Principal at TA and was also molesting kids then.

TA officials knew about it for all these years and did nothing to stop it nor anything to help the many victims of Shapiro.

TA is responsible for letting this happen. It is TA's responsibility to help the hundreds of victims.

Please contact us at tavictims@yahoo.com so that we can begin to take necessary legal action.

The yeshiva world must know that we are going to fight back. They must understand and realize that if they harbor child molesters or cover-up child molestation molesters they and their board of directors are going to pay for their crimes.

Enough is enough.

We are going to clean up the yeshiva's and beis yaakov's of this crime against Judaism.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend go to rehov yechezkel 102 and he told me he couldn't find any name lezerowiz there.? Do you think it's made up?. He told me he went to Rehov Yechezkel 112 and there was a Lezerowiz there. Is it him could your source have made a mistake?

just wondering said...

Did this alleged abuse happen to Tsatskis after the Scheinberg/Bais Din debacle of the '80's? If it happened afterwards, it proves once and for all that Kolko never changed and never got the message.

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Anonymous above,
It seems that Leizerowitz was there for a day or two, and some of his "friends" escorted him to the Hadassah Hospital. His whereabouts are not known at the present time.

Anonymous said...

Ok-this did it for me...i was in tt the same time as tsaskis.i am starting to remember things....rabbi kolko-get the help you need immediately.you are a sick f---.

Anonymous said...

Was Tzazkis in Manavu?

Anonymous said...

Leizerowitz / Liezerowitz in the hospital? Could anyone give us an update on this sick dog?

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

The sane Orthodox Jews must read the article and understand the following:

Moskowitz is claiming that the fact that Kolko was on the premises of Camp Silver Lake...he came uninvited!

This shyster lawyer and his gangster client Margulies wants you to believe that Kolko strolled onto the camp's property by accident, chaperoned a bunch of kids to a water park, all the while NOBODY AUTHORIZED KOLKO TO DO THIS! NOBODY KNEW! The kids were whisked off by Kolko on his own without authorization of the camp!

So Shyster in chief, Kolko should be charged with kidnapping, NO???

Jeff Herman, please file kidnapping charges against Kolko immediately! If Margulies did in fact know about this, but he did it without the parents' authorization, LOCK THE FAT SLOB UP AND THROW AWAY THE FRIGGIN KEY!

And to you Mr. Lawyer, KISS MY ASS!

gross said...

Wow I can't believe it - Izzy Tsotskes - nicest guy in the world. I knew hime for a short time, way back.

Margo's going straight to hell.

Anonymous said...

Gross - I thought you were in your fortys for sure

gross said...

What would make you think so? Or otherwise? :)

Friend of Tsatskis said...

I was Yisrael Tsatskis' class for many years in YTT. He was a great friend and had great birthday parties at his home in Ditmas Park. He was a very fine boy as well and wouldn't hurt a fly. His family literally had no $ and I always thought it was odd that they could afford Ma-na-vu. I wonder if someone gave them a discount....

Anonymous said...

Boog, I miss your frequent comments. Where r u?

former tt student said...

Why are there no comments as to the fact that this molestation started in 1986, several years after the original beis din?

The fat and ugly pig Margulies, with the rest of the pigs in the TT pen, were adamant that the Rodef YK was cured and that he couldn't hurt a fly.

As to all the criticizers of UOJ, what in the world have you done to help this situation? Where have you all been all these years?

Who made you all tzadikei hador? By the way - what exactly do you consider daas hatorah? Chabad, Bobov, Satmar, Neturei Karta, Shas, Baba Sali or Baba Baruch,
or Uncle Moishe?

Better - who's shechita do you trust?

When a leading Talmid Chacham makes a mistake, or paskins erroneously, what is he considered?

When important ba'alei batim or chasidim cheat and lie, etc. what is that considered?

What is more holy - lying and misleading and then giving tzedaka, making sure that everyone knows what a ba'al tzedaka one really is, or going to shul 3 times a day and then lying and cheating?

When you Belsky goons finally show up at the gates of hell and they ask you what did you do that got you there, please remember to answer - I only followed da'as Torah, and couldn't care less about anything else.

he is innocent said...

HOW DARE YOU!?!?!?

If you want the world to think you are reliable, why are you publicizing Leizerowitz his address, shul etc when you know there's no evidence against him? You keep on bragging how reliable you are.

What do you have against Ger in general? Your blog is full of hate since the begging.

Anonymous said...

Leizerowitz innocent of what?

His many victims don't quite agree.

Anonymous said...

Please forward it to everyone you know.

EVERYONE needs to watch this video about photo fraud in the news media.
http://www.aish.com/movies/PhotoFraud.asp

mt mehdi said...

By the way - what exactly do you consider daas hatorah? Chabad, Bobov, Satmar, Neturei Karta, Shas, Baba Sali or Baba Baruch,
or Uncle Moishe?
-----

I can't speak for others, but I always held the following, in no particular order, to be Daas Torah:
1) Charles Barkley, (2) Howard Stern, (3) Ronald Reagan, and (4) Robin Quivers.

jewish survivors said...

Was HaRav Dovid Cohen Threatened? Is That Why He Turned Survivors Away?


Last week I aske the question "How Many Survivors Did HaRav Dovid Cohen Turn Away?"
Since then I've been hearing some very disturbing rumors from some of my most reliable sources.

One rumor I keep hearing consistently "the reason why Rabbi Cohen turned away so many survivors had to with the threats he received to his own personal well being and that of his family".

I've also been told "if Rabbi Cohen showed any support to the daughter of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau, the organizations he was connected would loose a great deal of financial support from the Steinharter Family of Baltimore (Steinharter Insurance Servcies)."

I've been told that this particular family supposedly financially supports many of the organizations in Baltimore that tend to support other alleged sex offenders.

I also want to mention that last week someone posted the following comment to the thread "How Many Survivors Did HaRav Dovid Cohen Turn Away?"
There is a prominent family in Baltimore named Steinharter. They are close friends of Eisgrau and have done some dirty cover up work connected to the allegations against him. They have money and I was wondering if anyone has any insight...Are the Big Three N, H, H, (Neuberger, Heinemann, Hopfer) controlling the Steinharters, or are the Steinharters and their money controlling the Rabbis?
I need help looking into these rumors, so if anyone has any information please e-mail it to me.

Rabbi Dovid Cohen is the halachic advisor (advisor on Jewish law) at Ohel (a mental health center in Boro Park). I think it's also vitally important to note that there have been many complaints about Ohel over the years regarding the training and education of those who work in their programs for survivors and offenders. I've also been told that if a therapist at their agency suspects a child is being abused, they need to get the ok from Rabbi Cohen prior to making hot-line reports.
Many Victim Advocates like myself have been saying over and over again that our rabbis DO NOT have the education or training to collect forensic evidence nor know how to conduct victim sensitive interviews. Our rabbis NEED to be working as if they are all mandated reporters. Meaning if they SUSPECT a child is being abused and or neglected -- they pick up the phone and make a hot-line report.

We all NEED to start demanding that when a rabbi hear disclosures they IMMEDIATELY help those who have been "allegedly" victimized contact child abuse hot-lines and or make police reports. Let those who are trained conduct the investigations. The way cases have been handled in the past NEEDS TO STOP TODAY!
The goal is to protect our children from ANY POTENTIAL HARM!!!

Here's a list of some of the cases in which Rabbi Dovid Cohen said were unsubstantiated. If you know of more please post them:

Simcha Adler
Yohannan Berkowitz, PhD
Rabbi Lewis Brenner
Rabbi Ephraim Bryks

Rabbi Moshe Eisemann
Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
Shmuel Juravel
Rabbi Solomon Hafner
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz
Rabbi Tovia Singer
Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel
Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
Rabbi Matis Weinberg


posted by Jewish Survivors Of Sexual Violence at Thursday, August 10, 2006

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

WHAT HAVE WE BECOME????TRASHING AN INNOCENT DEAD NESHOMA??? HOW LOW IS LOW???? IS THERE NO SANITY LEFT AMONG THE JEWISH PEOPLE????

One of the many comments and e-mails trashing the victims. I edited out the victim's name!

UOJ


"Regarding the boy in meiselman's yeshiva, dated march 28th 2006:In response to the pathetic misinformed people who flock this site to have what to talk about in shul:

The Torah teaches us not to contend with the wicked. I do not have to write this to defend anyone. A world class Torah educator such as Harav Moshe Meiselman doed not need to answer to the low baale baatim of the jewish community. As the saying goes from his progenitor, the Brisker Rav: "if a dog barks at you, do you feel compelled to bark back?". However, in order to satisfy your needs to raise your self-esteem by taking down others, "I would like to inform you that the boy who commited suicide was mentally ill. It got to such a point, that he was forced to fly back to America due to a refusal to eat anymore, telling people that he could not as he did not know the proper meaning of a bracha.With a boy this sick,refusing to take his own meds, was bound to commit suicide at some point."

. People, stop talking about stupid politics and open a gemara. What's wrong? You don't know how to learn? We figured as much. You are the typical people to play on their computers at night-you have no yiras shamayim or idealism for the torah and mitzvos and have to keep yourselves occupied by looking at your neighbor's wives and leasing new cars. On shbbos you can't play on the web so you have your kiddush clubs. Good luck in the world to come. I mean, don't forget that you once learned about giving din and cheshbon FOR EVERY SECOND OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.
I pity the inane, ignorant trash that live amonst us."

Auto Report World Editors said...

Vicki,

I know that you have no evidence for at least one of the names on your list, because you were trolling sites fishing for dirt on him, and your site has no information about allegations. You just don't like TS because he's friends with your nemesis TK. I've told you that your allegation regarding his dismissal was false and you have never responded to my challenges. Vicki, you are simply not credible.

just wondering said...

former tt student said...
Why are there no comments as to the fact that this molestation started in 1986, several years after the original beis din?

-----------------------------------
Please note, I did comment on this issue yesterday and I'm still waiting for confirmation that it happened after the infamous bais din debacle. My only source is the NY Magazine article which states that the Scheinberg psak was after Mondrowitz fled in '85, but doesn't say which year it was. If anyone can verify if the alleged abuse of Tsatskis happened afterwards, please comment.

time for action said...

People, stop talking about stupid politics and open a gemara. What's wrong? You don't know how to learn? We figured as much. You are the typical people to play on their computers at night-you have no yiras shamayim or idealism for the torah and mitzvos and have to keep yourselves occupied by looking at your neighbor's wives and leasing new cars. On shbbos you can't play on the web so you have your kiddush clubs. Good luck in the world to come. I mean, don't forget that you once learned about giving din and cheshbon FOR EVERY SECOND OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.
I pity the inane, ignorant trash that live amonst us."
______________________________________________________

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon is basking in the glow of his influence on the Yeshiva Movement.

You non thinking black hatters are a disgrace to everything that is sacred and holy in our religion. Children's lives are being destroyed by the likes of Kolko and Margulies and you rave about Bittul Zman?!?

Anonymous said...

the roshei yeshiva do not answer to low baale batim because they do not pay his salary. If they had a real board to answer to, which they don't, the situation might be different. enuf parents pay full tuition or at least partial tuition and everyone stands up for their torah learning. this is very important.

no homo at tomo

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

To the distinguished olam of Orthodox Jews world-wide....

I understand that the real,fake, phony, menuvel, rasha, sheigetz, goy gamur,evil, rot in Hell, maybe, for sure, possible, probable, can't be, could be, absolutely, positively, disgrace to the Jewish people, uncircumcized, mechallel Shabbos, little pipick, no pipick, skinny, fat, Hitler, Eichmann, Stalin, Spinoza, mevaze gedolim,........you get the drift (all really sent in ),...........will be doing a meet and greet to all his friends and enemies Saturday evening.

If you want to kill him, shoot him, bomb him, shake his hand, cut his hand off, give him a black hat, spit at him, get his autograph, or just want to bring every single whacko to get a real good look at THE NUMBER ONE ENEMY OF HARDEDI JUDAISM...

PLEASE SHOW UP SATURDAY NIGHT AT YOU KNOW WHERE..........

IF YOU SAY "REAL UOJ" at the ticket counter...they will give you a fifty cents discount.

HE'S LOOKING FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

PLEASE SHOW UP SATURDAY NIGHT AT YOU KNOW WHERE..........
--------

Dates for Fringe Festival August 2006

SAT 8/12 10pm
SUN 8/13 2:15pm
WED 8/16 3pm
THUR 8/17 5:15pm
SAT 8/19 9:30pm
THUR 8/24 5:45pm

Henry Street Settlement - Recital Hall
466 Grand Street
CROSS STREET is Pitt
SUBWAY: F to Delancey, JMG to Essex
BUS: 14A

Is this the place you're referring to?

Still Wonderin' said...

UOJ is Dead. Long Live UOJ.

This week a group of enterprising do-gooders successfully outed UOJ, a.k.a. The Un-Orthodox Jew. Unless you’ve been trapped under a rock, or offline, for the last six months, you know that a stark raving blogger has captivated, infuriated, and terrified the frum world and beyond by undertaking a one man holy crusade to crucify those he deemed arrogant, absent powers for allowing a small, but significant, number of child molesters and sex perverts work with and around vulnerable Jewish children in yeshivas, camps, and elsewhere.

To further his cause, this renegade blogger, UOJ, used intimidation, frothing rants, and his personal funds to strike fear into the oligarchy of influence he viewed as having strangled transparency and intellectual honesty in the frum community for more than a generation.

As for UOJ, he was only successful due to his embrace of the unfamiliar, and therefore frightening, technology of blogging. Through his blog, he provided a voice and a platform for those who had been silenced by the specter of public stigma, humiliation, and the not-so-subtle threat of “unnecessary” complications and ostracism when the time to marry off one’s children arrives -- the social gulag of frumkeit.

Outraged by the injustice, UOJ used his cover of anonymity to structure a forum where open ideas, intellectual honesty, and fearless admissions could blossom. Since January, his blog had attracted a growing community of thousands of readers and commentors who used the opportunity UOJ provided to constructively vent against those whose stranglehold on the status quo has stood unchallenged for decades. Yet, there is a dark side to freedom of expression when coupled with anonymity.

In short order, UOJ's blog became a magnet for the most vile loshon horah, the wildest of unsubstantiated claims, and a virtual cesspool of sniping, bickering, ad hominem attacks, misinformation, and outright sleaze. Some days, and often for weeks on end, it appeared as if every loser in the Jewish nation and beyond had found their way to the UOJ blog to spew vulgar, bitter, and no doubt agenda-driven drivel about all they saw as wrong with all things Jewish.

Without a doubt, by virtue of the fact that UOJ both allowed and in many cases fueled this environment, there is just cause for him to be taken to task.

Indeed, Judaism is a religion that does not condone the use of any means to achieve a particular end. One's actions must be frequently examined to insure they remain well in accordance with halacha, and just as important, common civility.

UOJ frequently crossed this line. He also, willingly or not, allowed himself to be irresponsibly misled by relying on any allegations, even if leveled anonymously. His methods often made it difficult or impossible to truly discern the motivation of the accuser; anonymous email is hardly the way to accurately verify truth and fact.

He is guilty of hubris and a foolish refusal to keep the cause of his mission formost and reverse course as needed. The biggest sin he committed was allowing his ego and raging god-complex to overwhelm the message and to undermine the credibility of those he was so committed to help.

With this said, there is also a valid argument to be made that desperate times call for desperate measures.

To an uncertain degree, our community is overdue for desperate measures. Our excesses in terms of spiritual abuse and the open cynicism of Jews disgusted by the exploitation and trivialization of all that is kadosh in our communities have become too great to ignore.

In recent years, kavod and influence have become the de facto currencies of our most densely populated frum metropolitan communities. As of late, these same communities are as easily characterized for their naked superficiality and neurotic, fetishistic obsession with superstition and the material trappings of religious observance as they are for chesed. The chesed is sincere, but does not successfully counterbalance the darker side of our communities

My feeling has long been that most forms of extremism will eventually find itself wandering into a collision course for a correction. And corrections are not known for being pleasant.

This said, I believe UOJ was that correction, or at the very least, a clear sign that the correction is coming. We can only pat ourselves on the back for having outlived the Nazis for so long. The substance of the communities and societies we so improbably built must ultimately rest on substance; that substance must be revisited and bulked up often.

Many, myself included, feel that huge segments of frum society are running on fumes. There is a hollow, empty wind blowing and the only thing that will stave off our being swept away will be to batten down the hatches of defining who we are, why we’re here, and what our role is. And the answer to none of these questions, as UOJ has forced us to face, is definitely NOT sheltering and enabling predators and perverts through inaction and apathy.

Therefore, while repugnant to many, I don’t believe anyone can truthfully insist that UOJ’s efforts were completely invalidated by his excesses. Since UOJ began his crusade, a lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Yeshiva Torah Temimah and a rebbe accused of serial molestation over the course of 25 years. So far, at least three people have gone on record to level these claims, and twinhe yeshiva owner is being charged in a civil lawsuit for willful negligence among other charges. The damages to be collected run in the tens of millions. It is not out of the question that the plaintiffs will prevail. At this point, the outcome is anyone’s guess, but a guilty verdict would certainly send a constructive and long overdue message.

Furthermore, for these last six months, those who are irresponsible, or might I say wicked enough, to employ, harbor, and justify the activities of perverted individuals who prey on the vulnerable and innocent (and any child or teenager falls into this category), either through physical or psychological abuse were quaking in their boots. One Rasha Yeshiva in particular leapt to action only when threatened, and has since sat back to enjoy the view, as well as the reprieve the UOJ outing has no doubt provided.

For months, the three letters U.O.J. have struck terror into the hearts of those whose stock is a sterling reputation, regardless of how ruthlessly it is attained, to bolster fundraising and their leverage to attract "aleph" students. Such a climate of self-examination, even if precipitated by outside pressure, is healthy.

UOJ is responsible for creating this climate where the weak were finally empowered, the oppressed were finally uplifted, and the silenced were finally vindicated.

Whether those who have unmasked him have succeeded in silencing UOJ remains to be seen. One cannot know how those who feared him most will react from here on. Or if those who flocked to him so readily will continue to do so, now that the jBlogosphere’s Wizard of Oz has been unmasked.

Will people, deciding that the Wizard of UOJ is mere mortal, and hardly their omniscient savior, reject the man and his message and decide to move on?

Most of all, will the good he has done, even if tarnished by crude and vigilante tactics, result in lasting change and certain justice for the abused, oppressed, and silenced of our communities?

I certainly hope so, because his rude, anonymity notwithstanding, the man who we now know is UOJ was onto something. And I fear that those who delight over crippling him may unleash a societal cancer far more lethal that bruised egos and bullet holes in a flawed status quo.

MaryWilbur, b'nai Noach said...

I's Not My Fault, I'ts the Victim's

"I would like to inform you that the boy who committed suicide was mentally ill.
[Between the Lines: Therefore, I/we bear no responsibility for his death]
It got to such a point that he was forced to fly back to America due to his refusal to eat anymore . . . .
[Between the Lines: It didn't make economic sense to request medical intervention on his behalf despite his irrational justification for refusing to eat and his drastic weight loss. The physical and mental well-being of our students is not my/our responsibility. It's their parents.]
With a boy this sick, refusing to take his own meds, [he] was bound to commit suicide at some point."
[Between the Lines: Since it was clear that he wanted to die and I/we foresaw that he would commit suicide, it would be unkind to try to help him in anyway except to get him as far away as possible. Really, how can you expect me/us to intervene in the life of someone who is so disturbed?]

Whatever happened to "love your neighbor as yourself"? I thought I read that somewhere in Torah. Surely, it's still there.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how observant Jews run to cover up, protect and make excuses for "one of their own", just because he wears a long beard and dresses like them, no matter how heinous the crime and how overwhelming the evidence is. All this they do under the pretense of "pidyon shvuim" and daas torah. Take the Mondrowitz case as an extreme example or the case of Nat Schlesinger recently where there was a tremendous chillul hashem BY NAT SCHLESINGER AGAISNT HIS ENTIRE FAMILY by dragging his own family into his crimes. why do we orthodox jews protect these animals?