Friday, December 19, 2008


Posted Friday - December 19, 2008 - 3:46 PM EST

*Crook-lyn DA Charles Hynes*

As Israel's Supreme Court approaches a final decision on whether or not to extradite Mondrowitz to stand trial in Brooklyn -- we're talking about the man police believe sodomized or sexually abused hundreds of boys, nearly all Jewish -- the silence around the process is deafening! All the more so because things may not be going smoothly.

We know Mondrowitz has powerful supporters in Israel. And the shameful record of Brooklyn D.A. Charles J. Hynes in this case shows he'd be only too happy never to have to prosecute Mondrowitz... never to have to expose his enablers and accomplices in the community... never shine a light on a case his office has avoided ever since he took office. Well, IF WE STAY QUIET -- HE MAY NOT HAVE TO!!!

The Jewish Week is already reporting that Israel's top court may be considering a "compromise" by which Mondrowitz isn't sent back -- and gets tried, IF AT ALL, in Israel... probably meaning a much lighter sentence, and certainly keeping other guilty parties -- the D.A., Ohel, the rabbis who covered for Mondrowitz for years, and anybody he may have traded victims or kid porn with (who knows?) -- conveniently out of the picture.

I've learned more. And it's not comforting!

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the State's attorneys (who have been pushing for extradition) to file additional papers by TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23. The judges -- who apparently didn't manage to read the record or the lower court's 40-page decision that explained in detail why Mondrowitz should be sent back for trial -- are suddenly worried that the alleged child rapist's "rights" may be jeopardized if he gets sent back so many years after his crimes were allegedly committed. Never mind that his prosecution is certainly timely under New York law -- because he was a fugitive since 1984, New York's "speedy trial" time limit didn't run. But maybe, asked the judges, it's all America's fault, not the alleged rapist's? Maybe America caused all the trouble by not renewing the extradition request until 2007?

Now, remember: NOBODY wanted Mondrowitz put on trial until WE got active and started demanding it -- with information in our hands provided by committed people like attorney Michael Lesher and Mark Weiss, and Michael's other (anonymous) clients. Israel refused Elizabeth Holtzman's extradition request in 1985; the Shas Party's Yitzchak Peretz refused to deport Mondrowitz after that; Roni Milo, the next Interior Minister, refused to deport Mondrowitz in 1987 after promising he would; then Charles Hynes got elected D.A. in 1989 and pulled the plug on the case.

Remember how the documents Michael Lesher finally extracted from the State Department showed that Hynes closed the Mondrowitz case, saying he wouldn't seek Mondrowitz as long as he stayed in Israel? Because he knew damn well that Israel didn't want him brought to justice any more than Hynes did!

Well, they still don't want it -- and now the dodge they seem to be trying is claiming that since America dropped the ball on the extradition request, it's not fair to Mondrowitz to send him back to Brooklyn after all... now that a wised-up community is not just listening to the Herbert Bomzers and other "rabbis" who said (you saw it on TV!) "Leave him alone." We want justice! -- and they know it -- and that's exactly what they DON'T want.

Okay: the facts. Michael has given me permission to post two things here. One is a copy of a document that proves the "America dropped the ball" argument is false. Oh yes, Hynes, dropped the ball (if he ever carried it in the first place); it was criminal of him to drop the case, it was unpardonable of him not to use all his efforts to try to get this animal returned to face his accusers. BUT, this embassy cable from September 9, 1988 shows that even back then, after Israel's criminal law expanded to include sodomy, leading Israeli officials were not interested in extraditing Mondrowitz UNTIL A NEW EXTRADITION TREATY WAS SIGNED... which didn't happen until 2007.


Read it and weep -- with anger! Mondrowitz's lawyer is lying, and if he gets away with it, Israel's Supreme Court will be lying too!! I'm also posting (with Michael's permission) an urgent letter he faxed to the Attorney General. The letter outlines the legal reasons why there should be NO question about sending this wanted, indicted multiple felon back to Brooklyn for the trial he deserves -- finally!

The amazing this is, with so much in the balance, NO ONE IS SPEAKING. Not the State Department (which ought to want to see its own extradition request carried out); not our Justice Department; not Israel's Ministry of Justice; and certainly not D.A. Charles Hynes!! Not a word from any of them!

Why not? Well, actually, we don't have to ask that... do we? What DO we have to do? Obviously, DO THE TALKING!! Our voices helped push the D.A. into finally asking for extradition in the fall of 2007; the publicity we generated got Mondrowitz arrested in Israel in November 2007; now we need to go public again! Let's let the people in charge know that we're watching this case, and if there is any dodge, any deal, any mealymouth about Mondrowitz's "rights," ANYTHING that keeps him from being sent back for trial -- we're going to have to know the reason why! And someone may pay for it!! No justice -- no peace!

Here's some contact information for people who ought to hear from the public: At the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, there's the sex crimes unit head:

JausR@BrooklynDA.org. You can let her know we'd appreciate hearing her voice, and her boss's, loud and clear, saying that Mondrowitz's extradition to Brooklyn is very important to the justice system and the entire community. She and Hynes have said they want to prosecute Mondrowitz: this is the right time to say that again, strongly. You might also ask her if she's sitting on the Mondrowitz file to frustrate a Freedom of Information Law request made over a year ago, in order to shed light on Hynes' recent actions in the case -- and still not responded to! You can also contact the D.A.'s Orthodox community liaison: WhiteH@BrooklynDA.org.

At the U.S. State Department, the public communication division phone: 202-647-6575. The main switchboard is 202-647-4000.

Israel's Ministry of Justice, public inquiries fax: 011-972-2-646-6357.

The message for these characters is that we're watching this case closely, we believe the law and facts clearly favor extradition and we hope their efforts toward achieving that result are completely successful.

Finally, there's Israel's High Court, Public Affairs Department. Phone is 011-972-2-675-9612 and 011-972-2-675-9613. I believe their email address is: tlunotrasham@court.gov.il and the fax number is 011-972-2-651-3191.

Bear in mind it's not proper to try to influence judges, so the message there is more or less: we are very interested in this case and its status; we know its history; we intend to continue to follow its progress. If they get enough calls, the word is sure to filter through. Remember: final briefs are being filed on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23. A decision from the court will follow. If we wait until a dirty deal is announced -- God forbid! -- it will be too late.

THIS IS THE TIME TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD. Let's show that there are still responsible citizens out there, and Jews who care more for the victim than the criminal!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


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{Via e-mail} We can’t allow HIS rav to keep covering for him and not force him to face his psak. I don’t understand why there are no organized demonstrations outside the Gerer Rebbe’s home and Yeshiva here and in E”Y, why there are no organized demonstration outside Mondrowitz’s home and the homes of his family both here and in E”Y. If this does not take place immediately and we wait for the OFFICIALS to do what they should do and not listen to the askanim backing him, justice will never take place.

Demonstrations should be legal and organized but they should take place immediately both here and in E”Y, round the clock. I know that he has at least one brother in Boro Park and maybe others. Some of you might know more. His family is protecting him and his friends are protecting him, NO ONE protected his victims. NOW IS THE TIME TO STAND UP FOR HIS VICTIMS. And honestly, I don’t want to hear about chilul hashem and being in the media, this would be the biggest Kidush Hashem to put this monster behind bars and make him the biggest example of what will happen to any molester who DARES to touch a yiddishe neshoma.


At the Brooklyn D.A.'s office, the best contact is Rhonnie Jaus, head of the sex crimes unit. Her email: JausR@BrooklynDA.org. You might also want to write to the D.A.'s liaison to the Orthodox community, Henna White, at WhiteH@BrooklynDA.org. These people should be speaking publicly about the importance of retrieving this wanted criminal for trial in New York's worst child sex abuse case. So should their boss, D.A. Charles Hynes. The U.S. State Department has the most direct responsibility for pursuing Mondrowitz's extradition: you can call its public communication division at: 202-647-6575. The main switchboard is 202-647-4000. Just let them know you care very much about the successful completion of the State Dept.'s efforts to extradite Mondrowitz. In Israel, the case for Mondrowitz's extradition is being argued by the Ministry of Justice. You can fax to the "Public Inquiries" number, which is: 011-972-2-6466357. Again, you can let them know how much the case means to us and our community. Of course, the actual decision is being made by Israel's High Court. It's improper to try to influence judges, so there's no way to contact them directly. However, you can call the Public Affairs Department at the court to express your strong interest in the Mondrowitz case and to ask how to follow its progress. The two numbers are: 011-972-2-675-9612 and 011-972-2-675-9613.

You can also email the Israel Supreme Court at:


It's case: 2144/08 Avraham Mondrowitz versus State of Israel

All support, actions and tefillos will be deeply appreciated by all Mondrowitz victims. Let's hope we can see justice done.

Michael Lesher, Esq.
Attorney for 6 Mondrowitz victims, author and activist


Archived Post --- Colmer is in prison awaiting trial!

Recently (June 14, 2007) Stefan Colmer was arrested in Israel at the request of U.S. authorities, who are seeking his extradition to stand trial in Brooklyn on charges of severe child sexual abuse involving at least two victims (ages 13-14), both Orthodox Jewish boys.

Sadly, it will come as no surprise to those familiar with these issues that Colmer is far from being the only party responsible for these crimes. Colmer's history of child abuse goes back more than ten years, and it was no secret to several rabbis, none of whom ever reported Colmer's crimes to authorities. Instead, Colmer was shuffled from community to community -- without so much as a warning to each new neighborhood -- while rabbis falsely claimed to victims that Colmer was "under control" or "being watched," and in some cases actively discouraged them from contacting police.

This is bad enough. But if we don't act quickly, another inexcusable injustice along the same lines will be committed. Even as Stefan Colmer's extradition is being sought from Israel for his crimes against our children in Brooklyn -- and despite pleas from victims and their advocates -- the Brooklyn District Attorney has so far refused to add an extradition request for Avrohom Mondrowitz, who has already been indicted for child sex abuse even worse and more extensive than the charges against Colmer. Under the current extradition treaty, Mondrowitz is subject to extradition just as Colmer is, and legally the case against him is ready for trial. Unfortunately, D.A. Charles Hynes continues to believe that the Orthodox community is unwilling to see Mondrowitz prosecuted for his heinous crimes against children, and is therefore -- amazingly -- ignoring this outrageous case.

WE MUST CHANGE THIS. NOW -- while the extradition of one child molester is being formally sought from Israel to Brooklyn -- now is the time to show the D.A. that WE WANT MONDROWITZ BROUGHT BACK FOR TRIAL TOO. This is a man believed to have abused or sodomized as many as hundreds of our children, and who has been living openly in Jerusalem for years, thumbing his nose at his victims.

WE MUST DEMAND JUSTICE NOW. With the recent improvement in the U.S.-Israel extradition, nothing is lacking to have Mondrowitz brought to trial but the will of the Brooklyn D.A. to stand up against the rabbis' wall of silence and demand the prosecution that is his legal obligation. It would be an insult to Mondrowitz's many victims if justice is selectively pursued for one hareidi child abuser who took refuge in Israel -- but not Mondrowitz.





Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lack of Ethics

Oldie but goodie -- Appropriate in light of the Madoff scandal!

Lack of Ethics
Rabbi Gregory Marx

"I have a confession to make. I read the newspaper Jewish-style. I look for those articles that are about Jews and things that affect Jews. All events can be interpreted by the question, 'Is it good for the Jews?' 'Economy falters.' Is it good for the Jews? Middle East flare up…Is it good for the Jews? All heroes and criminals are subject to that probing question: are they Jewish and will their behavior influence public opinion about the Jews? ...

Tonight, I want to talk about other types of Jews who are in the news. And it doesn’t make me proud. I read recently that Jews from Israel are the leading importers of Ecstasy into this country. That’s right, the drug lords of New York speak Hebrew. Last summer, New York police seized over one million Ecstasy pills from Israelis David Roash and Israel Ahkenzi. They had a street value of forty million dollars.

Those of us who travel on El Al, are not only with Yeshiva students and Zionists, we are traveling with drug dealers as well. And who are the carriers?

According to the Jerusalem Report, Bobover Chassidim are paid $1500 and a free trip to Europe for carrying up to $500,000 in cash to Amsterdam and returning with a load of Ecstasy.

They travel back to Israel with 30,000 to 40,000 aspirin-sized pills, which are then sent to America, Australia and New Zealand for sale.

Colleagues that I work with have deeply disappointed me. In Florida, an Orthodox colleague of mine is currently in prison, serving a multi-year term for soliciting minors on the Internet. He solicited a 14-year-old boy and was caught establishing a liaison with the youth. In his depravity he decided not to prey on his Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, but went instead to outside youths that he met in Internet chat rooms and subsequently dark parking lots.

We still await the beginning of the retrial for a south Jersey rabbi who is accused of hiring a troubled man in his congregation to bludgeon his wife to death. Then there are the cantors from New York and Harrisburg who are accused of molesting young boys in their own family and beyond.

And of course, a neighboring synagogue suffered for the past year, having discovered that its trusted employee allegedly embezzled over $1.2 million. While the staff was taking pay cuts in order to stem the financial hemorrhage, two employees were allegedly cutting checks to themselves for thousands of dollars a week.

More often than I care to admit, Jews in the news are not making us proud ... Four Chassidim ripped off the government to the tune of millions and millions of dollars by getting federal grants for schools that didn't even exist! And that didn't stop their fellow Chassidim from coming to the defense of their cohorts by claiming they didn't keep any of the money for themselves.

The chief rabbis of the community defended their actions, because it was strengthening the religious efforts of the community against the evils of secularization. What is happening to our community?

Rabbi Elimelech Naiman was given a prison sentence for mail fraud and misappropriation of government funds. He was the deputy director of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Borough Park.

Rabbi Jacob Lustig got 3 years’ probation and a million-dollar fine for skimming more than 2 million dollars from his synagogue's bingo proceeds.

Rabbi Hertz Frankel got nabbed for cheating the government out of six million dollars.

Recently, Rabbi Yizchok Fried was arrested for dealing in drugs. Two Chassidim were jailed for rigging an election in England!

And headlines in the New York Post and Daily News told the world of the arrest of 14 Satmar Chassidim of running a multi-million dollars 'full service fraud factory,' which bilked banks, credit card companies, individuals and the IRS of millions of dollars.

These are just a few from within the Orthodox community!

Not only have Jews in the news sunk to moral lows, but worse still, they have failed to accept responsibility for their moral wrongdoings.

I will never forget officiating at the funeral of a mother of two infants who was stabbed to death by her husband from Monsey, New York. Her two children are too young to remember the events that changed their lives, but when they mature, they will sadly come to understand their loss of innocence, the intrusion of violence and the betrayal of trust that turned their lives upside down. One parent gone, another in jail for the murder. I know that it goes on all around us.

It’s part of the daily news that makes up the larger world. But I’m not talking to the larger world. I’m talking to our community. You’re the only ones who will listen.

We Jews are supposed to be a light unto the nations. We are supposed to define our characters by our behavior. And judging from the past years, we are in terrible shape ...

We are here to remind the world, that deeds not faith redeem the world. If we lose sight of this teaching, if we forget to live like decent people, then we lose the essence of our faith.

We have become irrelevant. The world won’t need Jews anymore.

With all these recent revelations and scandals, it's not so much my concern what God thinks about it, and it is not even my concern what non-Jews think and say about it.

My deepest concern is how our own Jewish children feel about it!

A congregant told me that she swelled with pride when she discovered her elementary school-aged children avidly reading a front-page story in the newspaper. But then she was horrified to learn what article they were reading.

It was the headline about jury selection for a rabbi accused of murdering his wife. Who would have dreamed that a Jewish standard bearer would gain national prominence before children’s eyes in this way? ... So yes, 'Why be Jewish?' is being asked by many. And 'Why marry Jewish?' is being asked by many more. Can I still say because of our moral passion?

Can I still say, that it’s because we Jews have historically taken the ethical high road?

What do I say when our children are bombarded every day with stories of Jews who are corrupt and have sunk to the lowest levels of inhumanity ???

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Not Just Individuals - It's The Community!

A telling post from Daas Hedyot sent in by Malach Hamovies!

It's Not Just Individuals - It's The Community!

Oftentimes in my life, when people discover that I used to be religious, they inquire as to why I chose to leave that lifestyle behind me. When I first encountered people asking me this, I would try to explain that the choice I made was a very personal one, based on what I concluded was right for me specifically, and that my decision wasn't intended to make a statement about the objective truth of Judaism in general. It's not that theological and ideological arguments didn't play a contributing part - they most definitely did, in that they significantly loosened the grip which my fundamentalist upbringing had held me in. And it's not that I was oblivious to all the scholarship (from science, history, biblical scholarship, and other fields) which challenged the veracity of Orthodox Judaism.

While I never did get too involved in those discussions, I was well aware of how powerfully they undermined many of the foundations of Orthodoxy. But more importantly, I knew myself, and I knew that what was really motivating me was the particular social and psychological needs which I was facing in my life. Orthodoxy was doing nothing for me (intellectually, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and in other ways) and even worse, I felt it was actively crippling me, by forcing me to subscribe to a lifestyle and value system which I didn't believe in at all.

So when someone would assume from my decision that it was an indictment of Orthodoxy as a whole, I would go out of my way to correct the mistaken impression. I would try to make it clear that while I was most definitely critical of aspects of that world, the community as a whole was not deserving of condemnation and that there were still many Orthodox people who I wholeheartedly respected (well, maybe "a few" is more accurate). But to presume that I was critical of Orthodoxy as a whole was an assumption that was not justified.

However, these days, when faced with this question of "Why am I not religious?" I find myself frequently questioning this approach I had previously settled upon. While it's obvious that the motivations for my choice couldn't have retroactively changed, the simple fact is that I am finding myself less and less able to look at the chareidi community that I came from and be able to describe it as anything other than a corrupt, dysfunctional, and totally unhealthy environment to be a part of.

The many recent indiscretions, dysfunctions, and outright misdeeds of individuals within the Orthodox community have been well documented in the media: Hundreds of sexual abuse cases being reported, including many by rabbis and principals (Kolko, Mondrowitz, Weingarten, Beis Yakov Principal, Satmar Principal in Williamsburg, West Bank Rabbi, Baltimore Rabbi), acid and bleach thrown at those not dressing modestly enough, beatings by modesty squads, attacking women who sit in the front of the bus, tax fraud by Hassidic Rebbes, infants killed by abusive fathers, indictments at glatt kosher slaughterhouses, eviction threats because of not being frum enough, etc., etc. I can keep on going, but I think the picture is clear. There's a lot of ugliness to be found within the chareidi community. A hell of a lot. This is way more than just a few isolated incidents.

However, despite the fact that these stories are appearing with ever increasing frequency, I don't think that these incidents are truly representative of the entire community. They are unfortunately more than just a few people, but I don't think that these sorts of extremely awful behaviors are actually widespread in the frum community. And I honestly don't think it's fair to tar the whole community with the transgressions of a small minority who make the rest of the community look bad.

The thing is though, that small minority of deviants aren't the reason that I think so negatively of the community as a whole. If it was only these incidents, I probably wouldn't be as critical as I am of the frum world. Rather, what fills me with such a repugnance is the behavior of the entire community itself, specifically in how it reacts to the many truly awful crimes happening in their midst.

For example, let's look at the child molestation issue: It's not just that there are child molesters in the community. Yes, that's awful, but as bad as it is, I'd concede that it's not more than a tiny percentage of the community, and I wouldn't judge the whole community based on just that. But what isn't a tiny percentage is the number of people who willfully and knowingly hamper efforts to bring these molesters to justice. What isn't a small number is the amount of people who would prefer to let these criminals remain free rather than risk sullying the reputation of their venerated institutions.

When a community as a whole allows such crimes to go unpunished and penalizes those who are trying to help innocent children, they can no longer hide behind the defense of "it's just a few lone individuals". At that point the community is also guilty. When the leadership (both rabbinic and lay) which the community looks up to is continuously silent on such a grave matter, it is a clear indication of where the community's priorities are.

When a community leader publicly admits that he has knowledge of hundreds of abuse cases, and yet his constituents prefer him to keep it all away from the police, the community has then become complicit in the crimes. When everyone cares more about what their neighbor is going to say about them, or their children's shidduch chances, or what yeshiva their kids will get into, or about being shunned by their friends (all commonly heard excuses for why no one wants to step up to the plate on any of these issues) - when they care more about all that than they do actually solving the problem, they're saying that they care more about maintaining the community's standards than doing what is right and just. That it's better to keep these things quiet.

This is why I can no longer look at the chareidi world with even a modicum of respect. The community as a whole has clearly expressed that they place the reputation of their society, and their place in that society, above the well being of their own children. How can anyone not be disgusted by such a society?

If the community truly cared, then it wouldn't ostracize people who try to bring the criminals to justice. If the community cared, a chassidish family wouldn't be afraid to tell the police who raped their 14 year old daughter. If the community cared it wouldn't stand behind and support a man convicted of killing his own baby (UTJ Knesset member Meir Porush called him a "good, quiet and disciplined" young man). If the community really cared, people wouldn't have to continuously be ashamed to report abuse to the police.

When last year, a chassidish man was found to be selling the Monsey community non-kosher chicken, the community showed how much they cared. The man and his family were run out of the community, in shame and in fear for his life. The community showed what they cared about then. And when the community allows accused child molesters to peaceably remain a part of their community, but those who try to help victims are harassed and attacked, they make it even clearer to the world what they care about. When a frum politician is able to back down on a promise to stop a molester from teaching kids, and no one demands that he keep his word, it shows where the community's concerns lie. When the rabbonim get more worked up about "illicit" music and "heretical" books than they do about yeshivas harboring molesters they reveal to us just what matters most to them.

This is why I have become so absolutely and utterly disgusted with the frum community as a whole. It is no longer just individuals committing these crimes. It is also the general public, and the leadership, which is responsible for allowing these horrible injustices to be perpetrated. It is the community and rabbis which turn a blind eye (or worse) towards these indiscretions. Their inaction, and relative silence (aside from a few vocal and brave activists), is a shocking admission of where their priorities truly lie. Their unwillingness to step up, and yes - risk condemnation and possible political fallout - is a clear indication of what the community values. If your community is going to condemn you for bringing a criminal to justice, isn't the community unambiguously saying that they prefer to protect criminals? Aren't they also then complicit in their crimes?

Admittedly, I know that there are many individuals in the community who are as horrified and sickened by all this as much as I am. Probably more so. But then why don't you speak up? I know the answer to that - because it's too costly for you. You will be shunned, ostracized, maybe even worse. I understand that. But how can you not be ashamed of yourself? With your silence, you are making a choice, a choice to be part of a society that prefers to let some of the very worst crimes of humanity - rape, violence, murder, abuse - go unpunished.

How can any self-respecting person - let alone one who considers themselves spiritual and religiously principled --- stand to be a part of this world?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New York Magazine Investigative Reporter Seeking Sexual Abuse Survivors In The Orthodox Jewish Community

UOJ ARCHIVES MARCH 10, 2006 - 9:47 AM

And they thought I was bluffing!

I would ask everyone to send an e-mail to Bob, and tell him what a difference he's made with his award-winning article. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude! Thanks once again Bob --- big-time!




My name is Bob Kolker, and I am a writer for New York magazine.
I am writing an investigative story about sexual abuse in
New York's Orthodox Jewish community, and I am writing this message in hopes of reaching out to people who are based in New York.

Specifically, I am hoping to interview survivors and tell their stories.

I understand that being interviewed might be a painful and difficult
thing to ask. But I have learned from interviews with experts how the
reporting of abuse is sketchy and perhaps even frowned upon
in certain parts of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The very difficult challenge I have ahead of me with
this story is to find the most accurate and sensitive way
to describe the difficulties suvivors have had in reporting
their abuse and getting the help they need. The best way to describe this to readers, I feel, is to interview survivors personally and learn what they went through.

The obvious goal of this story is to try to prevent future victims of
abuse from having the same problems. I hope that this story, as a work of advocacy journalism, can help raise awareness and sensitivity to this issue and to work toward the removal of a stigma for people who have been abused.

But for equally obvious reasons, I'm dedicated to being sensitive
toward my interviewees for this story.

Of course, I am more than willing to protect your anonymity
and to work with you on exactly how you would like your story to be presented. My only requirement is that I must interview people from the New York area.

A brief word about me: I have been a writer for New York magazine for seven years. I write mainly about public policy and criminal justice. My past stories include an investigation of airport safety and a close look at New York's public education.

Once again, I hope this isn't too much of an intrusion, but with your
help I am hoping to raise awareness and sensitivity to this issue.

You can call me any time at 212-508-0811, or email me at: robert_kolker@newyorkmag.com

Many thanks for your assistance,

Bob Kolker
Robert Kolker
Contributing Editor
New York Magazine
444 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10022
office: 212-508-0811
mobile: 917-743-9843

Monday, December 08, 2008

From Main St. To Saddle River Road - Monsey, New York 10952

Beth Medrash Elyon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beth Medrash Elyon is a yeshiva in Spring Valley, New York. It was considered one of the elite yeshivas during the 1950s and 1960s. It closed sometime during the 1960s due to disagreements among the leaders of the yeshiva. Its Roshei Yeshiva have included Rabbis Reuven Grozovsky, Gedalia Schorr, and Yaacov Kamenetsky. Among its graduates are Rabbis Yisroel Belsky, J.D. Bleich, Yosef Goldman, Nosson Scherman, Moshe Leib Rabinovich (current Munkatcher Rebbe), Lipa Margolis, and Professor Aaron Twerski. The two brothers, Rabbis Dovid Shustel and Shlomo Feivel Shustel studied there as well. Their father Rabbi Simcha Shustel was the Rosh Kollel.

The yeshiva reopened in the recent years. It is currently headed by R' Don Ungarisher, who is the son-in-law of R' Reuven Grozovsky.


I'm sitting on a very humble couch, in a very humble living room, in a very, very humble house in Monsey, New York. My cousin Rabbi Menachem is speaking passionately with my father z"l, sitting to my right.

I'm very young - I'm hearing words that I never heard before in conjunction with rabbis and Orthodox Jews. NEVER!

"Forged deeds, forged signatures, fraudulent notary seals, grand theft, embezzlement, defrauding Yeshiva Torah Vodaath of millions of dollars." New homes - being built on land owned by Torah Vodaath - but the new legal entity with all the official looking title documents and seals, called Batei Elyon Inc., had as officers, people by the names of George Schorr and Louis Septimus. These homes were built on Saddle River Road right behind Bais Medrash Elyon, on parcels still owned by Yeshiva Torah Vodaath - Brooklyn, N.Y., a non-profit corporation --- the holy of holiest of all yeshivas, (even though they had scumbags passing through like Aron Twerski, Yisroel Belsky and Lipa Margulies)--- once upon a time! Rabbi Menachem is gesturing, hands flailing in the air, and brings, what seemed like 50 pounds of legal documents to the couch. I'm feeling very ill, sensitive stomachs run in my family. I barely made it to the bathroom --- I puked my guts out all over the place!

In the early 1940's --- Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz ztvk"l, had a vision of building a Torah community in a town nobody ever heard of --- Monsey. He had already picked out the local grocer to-be - Mr. Stern - to house a kosher market for the "soon to be thriving" Torah community. The principal and the first rabbi of the new Torah community was selected; Yeshiva of Spring Valley and Congregation Bais Yisroel were on the drawing board to be headed by Rabbi Dov Greenbaum z"l - a son in-law of RSFM.

So he convinced anybody and everybody that had a dollar to their name, and had a Jewish name - to fund the purchase of this huge tract of land - acres and acres of farmland with a few farmhouses, from Main St. to Saddle River Road - on behalf of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath.

Mr. Moshe Fensterheim a"h - told me that RSFM was a man with no shame - he asked R' Moshe, a talmid, for maaser money (to tithe) from his wedding gifts. One can only imagine the amount of wedding money R' Moshe received.


They laughed and scoffed "what did he know about building communities?" - he beat them up --- badly! So badly --- their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are devout Orthodox Jews. How's that for revenge?

The transaction happened -- a post-graduate yeshiva and a kollel was established --- Aish Dos and Bais Medrash Elyon. The first out of town Orthodox training ground for future rebbes in yeshivas, and the first kollel of its kind on American soil. Now RSFM was ready to implement yet another "crazy idea" --- an organization that was going to create a yeshiva day school movement, providing authentic chinuch to Jewish children in every major American city --- Torah Umesorah.

Back to the humble couch in Monsey.....

(To be continued... not necessarily in consecutive posts)