Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Trouble in the Catskills



Kolko kicked out of one colony but finds another
By Michael Orbach
Issue of July 31, 2009 / 10 Av 5769

In the Catskills this summer, worries about children’s safety are extending beyond the swimming pool.

Yehuda Kolko, the rebbe who pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangerment and who is suspected of abusing dozens of children in his teaching career, moved into a summer home at a development in South Fallsburg, N.Y., on June 12. Pines Estates, where he is renting, is a popular summer destination for Orthodox families and is also inhabited year-round by families connected to the well-known Yeshiva of South Fallsburg, nearby.

On Kolko’s first Friday night there, a summer resident aware of Kolko’s history confronted him in the shul during Maariv and told him to leave the neighborhood quietly, a witness said. When Kolko refused, the man interrupted the tefilah to announce from the bima that Kolko was a child molester and posed a danger to children. When congregants protested, the man at the bima, a student of Rav Dovid Feinstein, replied with multiple Halachic sources to support his action, one of which was Masechet Chullin 8a, which discusses the need to be strict when it comes to matters of danger.

The next day, Shabbat morning, at the Yeshiva of South Fallsburg nearby, the same witness said Kolko was welcomed and called to the Torah for an Aliyah.

Daniel Sosnowik, a resident of Pines Estates who has an eight-year-old son, was shocked. Sosnowik is a captain in the New York City Police Department.

“We have hundreds of kids here,” Sosnowik told the Jewish Star, “Kolko doesn’t belong here.”

When Sosnowik spoke to the gabbai of the yeshiva minyan he was told that Rabbi Tzvi Abba Gorelick, the dean and owner of Yeshiva of South Fallsburg, had declared Kolko to be “kosher.” That night, residents of Pines Estates visited Kolko and apologized for their neighbor’s actions the previous night. When Sosnowik met with Rabbi Gorelick to express his concerns Rabbi Gorelick maintained that the yeshiva must be “neutral” regarding Kolko, Sosnowik recalled. He quoted Rabbi Gorelick as saying that the issue was complicated by the “stigma” associated with child abuse.

One of Kolko’s sons attended Yeshiva of South Fallsburg, Sosnowik said he was told.

“Am I the only one crazy here?” Sosnowik asked, “How could parents do this? How could yeshiva leaders do this?”

Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel, the rosh yeshiva, vigorously denied that Kolko was welcomed.

“We just said we can’t throw him out; nobody knows him!” he exclaimed. “I don’t even know him! I met him for the first time!

People are making these assumptions [about the yeshiva's dealings with Kolko], they are making up things. I heard years ago about him [Kolko]. Some people say yes, people say no…”

Asked if he felt Kolko was a threat to children, Rabbi Wachtfogel replied, “I don’t know.”

“You can ask Binyamin Hirsch,” Rabbi Wachtfogel said, then hung up.

He was apparently referring to Ben Hirsch, president of Survivors for Justice, an organization that advocates for and assists victims of child and sexual abuse in the Orthodox community.

Chaim Bloom, who attends the Yeshiva of South Fallsburg Kollel and lives in Pines Estates said that he wasn’t comfortable with Kolko being around.

“I try to keep away from these things. To be honest, that’s why I live in South Fallsburg and not Lakewood,” he explained. “I didn’t welcome him. I’d never welcome a child molester.”

“I think people are paranoid or afraid of him because of the label he’s been given, which has never been proven in a court of law,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, the attorney who defended Kolko against three criminal charges. “That has nothing to do with any sex-related offense. He was not registered as a sex offender. He never did admit to any sexually inappropriate conduct to any child.”

Schwartz added that he believed that Kolko posed no danger and was “just a sick old man, and should be left alone.” He would let Kolko be with his own kids, he claimed.

Before moving to Pines Estates, Kolko lived in the summer-home community of Mesorah Woods in Woodridge, NY. On July 5, a community activist, Rabbi Levi Goldenberg, said he was asked by a concerned parent to help get Kolko out of the community. He described the parent as “very anxious.”

“They seemed afraid of the guy,” he said. “The women were very concerned, watching their kids and not allowing them out of their sight.”

Goldenberg said there were no legal means to force Kolko out of Mesorah Woods, since Kolko’s plea deal with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office did not require him to register under Megan’s Law, the registry of convicted predators.

“Maybe he did teshuva,” one resident told Goldenberg, “but let him do teshuva somewhere else.” Kolko was persuaded to leave Mesorah Woods and moved to the Pines Estates on July 12th.

Sosnowik, the NYPD captain, was disheartened by the entire episode.

“Kolko pleaded guilty to child abuse charges. He didn’t have to. He is guilty. If it’s good enough for the criminal justice system it should be good enough for us.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Next Generation Kolko - YUDI KOLKO ALERT

Yudi Kolko's nephew from Lakewood, Yossi Kolko, a thirty three year old single man, that taught in a yeshiva and was a counselor in an Orthodox Jewish summer camp, was arrested last week for child sex-abuse. The difference this time, is that allegedly, one of his many victims, is a very close blood relative of a faculty member of the Lakewood Yeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha, and they went to the police.

It was bound to become public knowledge, not that this is the first time a staff member of a yeshiva's family were victims of child sex-abuse by a rebbe or another adult member of the Jewish community. But...now it's slamming the door in Matisyahu Salomon's lying face for being the pompous putz that he is for claiming to be handling all these allegations (that don't exist) in a "dignified" manner for all involved. When push came to shove, and it was an "aigener kint", Rabbi so and so from the Lakewood Yeshiva told Salomon to let the door hit him in the tuchis, he'll take action that should be taken by every parent, going to the police.

And the attitude that is still prevalent today in these idiot circles of rabbis, is that they're immune from these horrific tragedies. Why do they believe that? Because somehow these hallucinating psychos, are so pathetic that they actually believe their own lies.

I want to be clear, any child that is victimized hurts my heart. But these insane parents who refuse to immunize their own children by having a "Faith Healer" tend to their children's urgent mental medical needs, will just have to learn the hard way.

When is enough, enough? When do you realize that if YOU don't do something about this pandemic of child sex-abuse, your own loved ones will suffer, that it's just a matter of time?

And to all the Matisyahu Salomons I say -- the damage you caused to innocent children and their families is unforgivable!


A friend of UOJ writes..

Yudi Kolko has taken up residence -- "for the rest of the summer", according to his wife -- at 162 Laurel Park Road, Fallsburg, NY, which is within the PINES ESTATES complex. His presence there has caused a bit of a stir....there are at least one hundred children there, and a number of parents -- are understandably concerned. Unfortunately, there is ample evidence to believe that the roshei yeshiva at the Yeshiva of South Fallsburg initially told their minions that Kolko is Kosher V'Yashar. While they have quietly moved off that position, it seems that he's unwilling to undo the damage the yeshiva did, by now rightly declaring him a menace to children.

I'm at a loss as to what to do. I think a warning should be posted to anyone with children that's even contemplating renting a place in the PINES ESTATES, advising them to go elsewhere......Maybe, if the kool aid drinking yeshivaleit are effected where it really hurts -- in their pockets -- they might actually rise up against this cancer and throw him out too. I understand he initially rented a place in a Chassidishe colony in Woodburne, but when they got wind of him, they packed his bags for him and threw him out.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Another spot-on post by Steve:

"An open letter has been sent from Rabbi Perlow requesting pidyon shvuyim funds for Sholom Rubashkin. After "divining" from the Torah that he must "vigorously" oppose the Child Victims Act which would protect Jewish children from sexual molesters, he has now "divined" that it is important to further support and protect the criminal element amongst us. He has "divined" that we must support the supporters of Chillul Hashem. To borrow Boog's terminology, does it get sicker than this?

This coming Shabbos is called Shabbos Chazon, the Shabbos before Tisha B'Av. It is called that because we read the haftorah of "Chazon Yeshaya" the first chapter of that sefer, where the navi rebukes the leadership of the Jewish people. The navi exhorts the people to do justice and to strengthen the downtrodden. He tells the masses not to follow the corrupt ways of their leaders. For the leaders had become wayward companions of thieves, who love bribes and illegal payments while they refuse to do heed the cause of widows and orphans. The navi commands the people to "Asheru Chamotz", strengthen the victim. The gemara in Sanhedrin further explains "Asheru Chamotz V'Lo Chometz", strengthen the victim, not the perpetrator.(Rashi: Hanigzal V'lo Hagazlan). Rabbi Perlow and the Agudah have followed the example of the leaders at the time of Yeshaya. They have prioritized supporting the criminals while thwarting any type of legislation to help the victims. Do you think Avi Shafran's love letter to Bernie Madoff was just a minor case of brainlock? It had to be sanctioned by the same group of chavrei ganovim!

When you read these words of the haftorah this Shabbos, you will realize why we are still in mourning and why we still have Tisha B'Av. It's time to wake up and face the reality: SARAYICH SORERIM V'CHAVREI GANOVIM!

It's not too late to rise up and say,....



Let's rise up and support the victims of child sexual abuse by "vigorously" supporting the Markey bill.

Let's rise up and protect our children from these sexual predators by exposing them, one at a time.

Let's rise up and condemn all types of criminal behavior in our community.

Let's rise up and condemn the rioting and Chillul Hashem that is taking place in Yerushalayim, which is burning yet again.

Let's rise up and condemn the apologetics of Pinny Lipshitz of the Yated who is now heading Rubashkin's pidyon shvuyim fund. The navi Yeshaya is once again calling upon us to act.

Let us listen this time."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camp counselor at private Lakewood school charged with sexually assaulting boy!


Camp counselor at private Lakewood school charged with sexually assaulting boy By Michelle Sahn • STAFF WRITER • July 20, 2009

LAKEWOOD — A camp counselor who worked at a program run at a Lakewood private school has been arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted a young boy.

Yosef A. Kolko, 33, of Gefen Drive, Lakewood, who worked as a camp counselor at Yachad, a summer camp based out of Bais Hatorah School on Swathmore Drive, was arrested Sunday, authorities said.

He was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Authorities said the criminal activity occurred within the past year, and the victim was a boy under the age of 13.

Bail for Kolko was set at $125,000 and if he is released on bail, he is not allowed to have contact with the victim or anyone else under the age of 18, according to the complaint.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Senior Investigation Colleen Lynch in the special victims unit at 732-929-2027, Ext. 2905 or Lakewood Detective Thomas D'Elia at 732-363-0200.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

But the greatest evil of Rosenblum's column lies less in what he says than in what he doesn’t say.

Jonathan Rosenblum’s recent attempt to wish away child sex abuse allegations in Ramat Beit Shemesh (“Think Again: Those Primitive Haredim – Yet Again,” Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2009) is so full of false assumptions and disingenuous gibes aimed at anyone audacious enough to challenge Orthodox rabbis on the issue (critics just don’t like the haredim, he suggests, even when the critics are themselves haredim) that no short response can do justice to them all.

But the greatest evil of his column lies less in what he says than in what he doesn’t say. For in Rosenblum’s head-in-the-sand world, when a fact reflects poorly on haredi rabbis, it doesn’t even get to see the light.

You’d never know, from Rosenblum’s writing, that anyone had made more than a few careless accusations about child sex abuse in Ramat Beit Shemesh. But of course they did: the complaints – all quoted in the Ha-aretz article Rosenblum responds to – were both specific and severe. A mother complained that when she reported her own child’s abuse (with “proof,” according to the article), the rabbis in Ramat Beit Shemesh “called me a liar and said that this kind of thing does not happen here.” Another parent, whose abuse allegation was supported by professional evaluators, spoke of “a combination of denial, protecting your good name and not involving the secular world” which, he said, characterizes his community’s rabbinic leadership. In fact, he told the reporter that “his family was threatened and pressured by community leaders not to pursue the matter with the police,” and even the abused child was “ostracized by most former classmates.”

How does Rosenblum deal with those charges? Simple: he doesn’t.

Nor does Rosenblum, who boasts of his acquaintance with Ramat Beit Shemesh’s “young, worldly and energetic” rabbis, ever tell the reader what those vigorous sages actually know about child sex abuse. One of them is quoted as prescribing “vigilance”; but all their energy and worldliness combined cannot give Rosenblum’s readers a single clue about what they look for in an alleged child sex abuse case, or how they look, or whom they consult, if anyone.

Rosenblum is even silent on what may be the most important question of all: whether these rabbis encourage their congregants to report to police without first seeking a rabbi’s specific approval. Rosenblum suggests vaguely that they must favor police reports on suspected offenders because a prominent haredi rabbi has authorized the practice. (He doesn’t name the rabbi, perhaps because – if Rabbi Elyashiv is the one he means – he misrepresents Elyashiv’s published view as more pro-reporting than it really is.) But if, in fact, the Ramat Beit Shemesh rabbis insist on being the ones who decide whether an allegation may move on to secular authorities, Rosenblum’s defense only means that the rabbis may support reporting a given case, assuming that they themselves are persuaded of the sufficiency of the evidence. How is that standard to be satisfied? Again, Rosenblum doesn’t say.

The disingenuousness of Rosenblum’s silence on these critical points is particularly offensive when juxtaposed with his sanctimonious outcry against the critics of Ramat Beit Shemesh’s rabbis. In attacking the parents, and David Morris, who has supported them, Rosenblum is uninhibitedly nasty: he accuses Morris, for instance, of making a “wild claim” and demanding that “a teacher should be automatically fired the first time any student complains of untoward behavior, and he and his family stigmatized for life.” Of course, Morris never demanded any such thing.

But more important, Rosenblum’s choice of targets – his selective invective – exposes the real point of his defense. It really doesn’t matter to Rosenblum, finally, whether the rabbis deny the reality of sex abuse charges, cover up for the guilty, and blame the victims. If they do all that, it’s simply proof to Rosenblum that blaming victims for telling the truth really can be better than taking action against those they accuse. The only thing certain is that one cannot criticize the rabbis.

Rosenblum even strengthens this bizarre implication with one of the strangest claims I have ever seen in print: that rabbis choose to stand between victims and law enforcement for the victims’ own good:

The rabbis’ preference for working behind the scenes derives . . . from a considered philosophy about what is best for victims, their families and the community. The knowledge that incidents will be publicized can keep victims or their parents from coming forward. In addition, publicity can lead to hysteria . . .

Well, there you have it, folks: the reporting of child sex abuse cases actually inhibits the reporting of child sex abuse cases. Even worse, it can cause “hysteria.” Wouldn’t want that, now, would we?

All in all, Rosenblum’s column – which claims to disprove the existence of child sex abuse cover-ups in Orthodox communities – is itself a kind of cover-up. Not only does Rosenblum refuse to discuss any of the key questions, he simply assumes they don’t exist.

As a contributor to the first book-length treatment of child sex abuse in Jewish communities (Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities & Child Sex Scandals, Brandeis University Press, 2009), I must add that Rosenblum’s denial is depressingly familiar. But if our communal spokesmen don’t start doing any better than this, we can only be headed for disaster in the long run. The political philosopher Leo Strauss once said of such empty theorizing that it amounted to “fiddling while Rome burns” – and he added these ominously relevant words: “It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.”

Michael Lesher
22 Leitch Place
Passaic NJ 07055
(973) 470-0212