Thursday, April 29, 2010

What To Do When Leaders Go Bad?

Yagoda Commons
215 Lexington Ave. (at 33rd St.)
Yeshiva University, Beren Campus

Refreshments will be served - ["The Day The RCA Became Agudah"]
Free and open to the public with valid picture ID

RSVP: ethics@yu.edu or (212) 960-0826

This panel will examine corruption as a failure of public integrity, and will include both Halakhic and secular perspectives. Issues to be discussed include political corruption in Israel and the United States and misconduct by community and religious leaders as well as those in politics and government. Co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics at YU, Social Justice Society, YU College Democrats, YU College Republicans, and Political Science Society

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Change You Can Count On!"


April 27, 2010 -- Whereas we have become increasingly aware of incidents of the sexual and physical abuse of children in our community; and

Whereas, there have been a number of high profile cases in which Orthodox rabbis have been indicted or convicted for child abuse or child endangerment; and

Whereas the lives and futures of many of these victims and their families are harmed in significant ways: suicide, post traumatic stress syndrome, inability to form healthy relationships, inability to develop healthy intimate relationships, etc.; and

Whereas many victims of abuse in our community still remain silent and do not come forward to accuse perpetrators or seek help for fear of stigma, personal and familial consequences, or perceived halakhic concerns; and

Whereas the Rabbinical Council of America has resolved through past resolutions its condemnation of abuse and its censure of abusers, and has affirmed, under the guidance and direction of its poskim (Rabbinic decisors,) that the prohibitions of mesirah (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) and arka’ot (adjudication in civil courts) do not apply in cases of abuse and in fact, it is halakhically obligatory to make such reports; and

Whereas reiterating this long held position can serve to provide pastoral and halakhic leadership, support, direction and affirmation to abuse survivors and their families and advocates.

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America resolves that

• It reaffirms its unqualified condemnation of all forms of child abuse.

• It reaffirms its halakhic position that the prohibitions of mesirah and arka’ot do not apply in cases of abuse.

• It will regularly issue on its website and to the media appropriate statements of condemnation when public attention is drawn to a case in which Jews are either victims or perpetrators of abuse.

• It will regularly evaluate the competence of its members in understanding and responding to issues of child abuse and initiate training and continuing educational opportunities for all of its members in this area every year.

• The members of the RCA address the issues of child abuse in their communities in at least one sermon, lecture or article within the next twelve months, and that contact information for local abuse services be displayed in a public place in all synagogues, schools, and Jewish community institutions serviced by its members.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yeshiva Torah Vodaath Versus Lipa Margulies!

.... During the tenure and under the direction of the Rosh Hayeshiva - Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky ztvk"l:


Rabbi Malkiel Kotler & Lipa Margulies

Lipa Margulies left the employ of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath's office in 1956, where he had access to Torah Vodaath's donor list and all its proprietary information. He took the Yeshiva's name, raised money for his own enterprise under the guise of YTV; and it took R' Yaakov Kaminetzky 10 years to finally get Margulies to agree to come to Bais Din. The deed to 150 Ocean Parkway (Margulies' original child rape address) was held in Trust until Bais Din would render its ruling or "if the parties came to an agreement".

The agreement under R' Yaakov's stewardship of YTV, was that Lipa Margulies and all his "entities", would be subject to an audit by an agreed upon accounting firm, to ascertain that no money raised by Margulies, came from YTV's donor pool (as Margulies claimed).

It took another 11 years for this matter to be "resolved", all the while Margulies was still calling his "Hot KOLKO Club", "Yeshiva Torah Vodaath of Flatbush".

... And the Jewish community would do nothing about it, and trusted this miscreant with providing a "Jewish education" to its children, as well as securing their emotional and physical safety!

How, and under what circumstances was this matter resolved? Stay tuned for Part Two!


Monday, April 12, 2010




Brooklyn, April 12, 2010 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the sentencing of Baruch Lebovits, to 10-and-two-thirds to 32 years in prison for sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy on eight occasions in 2004 and 2005.

On March 8, Lebovits was convicted of eight counts of Criminal Sexual Act in the Third Degree, a Class-E Felony. Today he was sentenced to the maximum sentence on each count, one-and-a-third to four years, to run consecutively, for a total of 10-and-two-thirds to 32 years.

The victim knew Lebovits as a rabbi and prominent businessman in the Borough Park community, where they both lived.

Lebovits is also charged in two other cases of sexual assaults on minors. Those cases are pending.

The case was prosecuted by Miss Gregory, First Deputy Bureau Chief in the Sex Crimes Bureau. Rhonnie Jaus is Chief of the Sex Crimes Bureau.


Speech By Father of Lebovits Victim to Sentencing Judge

by Yerachmiel Lopin on 04/12/2010

Below is the prepared text that the father of the victim shared with me yesterday and delivered to the judge in Brooklyn a few minutes ago. I will announce sentencing as soon it happens. The text has has been edited to remove names and other identifying information.

"I would like to thank the judge, The Honorable Patricia M. Di Mango, for giving me the opportunity to speak at the sentencing of Baruch Mordechai Lebovits.

King David wrote: ”I thank G-d with my whole heart in the assembly of the upright” (Psalms 111:1). There is no more righteous place than where justice is done and executed. The prophet Isaiah said, “Zion should be redeemed through justice. I would like to thank the Honorable Justice Di Mango for conducting the trial with truth and dignity. I have to admit that I had my doubts about the outcome, but I know that if you have truth on your side justice will prevail. As Shakespeare said: “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is”.

I want to thank Ms. Gregory and her staff and the DA’s office for endless hard work and sleepless nights to bring this case to trial regardless of the dark clouds, She directed those clouds at Mr. Lebovits so the sun should shine again on my son. It is said that in every dark place there is a spark of light that is called hope.

I thank Detective Steve for his tireless work and the fact the he was always available to us 24/7. I also want to thank Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg and the father of another victim. Without you I would not be here today. You were like Pinchus in the Bible.

I want to thank my wonderful parents and family who stood fast in the biggest crises facing them in and out of the community for giving our son emotional support, a hug, a laughter and sometimes, a tear. You kids are all standing tall as victory marches on and history was made.

It is said that you leave the best for the last. And so my beloved son, my heart is always with you. We are one soul in two bodies bonded forever. I am very proud of you as are all your friends, family and all those who took part in this case. You had the courage to bring to the authorities that evil man, who is a rabbi and a prominent businessman with many connections to top leaders in the community. You refused to be bribed to drop the case. You were subjected to mud slinging and character assassination in front of the entire community as you testified in the witness chair. But you persevered because you had one thing on your side and that is the truth.

The holy book The Zohar states that “Truth stands on its own feet and lies do not stand.” And so the jury gave it’s verdict siding with the truth.

My son, with your courage to come forward you made history, helping to put away this evil man. You made the community safer for other children. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.”

I want to look this evil a man in his eyes.

What this man did is not some tale or script in a horror movie. It is a real horror story of a man who lived in our community, was trusted by the children and the people. He went on to ruin so many innocent lives just to serve his own selfish sick pleasures. I ask you Mordechai Lebovits, where is your soul? After you had your sick fun you discarded these innocent children like trash. You wished to see them completely destroyed so they would not be able to testify against you. You never showed or had any remorse.

You tried to destroy our son and his testimony by bringing in a rabbi, Berel Ashkenazi, who himself is a alleged child molester, to testify on your behalf. But you just dug a deeper hole for yourself. As King David wrote “He who dug a pit has fallen into the ditch which he made. (Psalms 7:16).

But you cannot escape from the hands of G-D. Our son pulled himself out of the pit that you dug for him. He will go on with his life and G-D will give him strength and success while you will rot in a pit. .

Now, let me turn my attention and address the Lebovits family, friends and the so-called rabbis. You are not innocent either. You share the same guilt that Mordechai Lebovits does. You are just as guilty as he is because you all knew who he was, what he was doing and how he was destroying so many innocent children for years. You all came to support him while smirking and laughing at our son as he bravely testified.

Our great Sages said that the one who sees someone committing evil and is silent is just as guilty as the evil perpetrator and gets the same punishment from G-D as the evildoer. There were rabbis who called me form Israel and asked me not to prosecute him and just let him off the hook for his family’s sake. I told them that there is nothing in the Bible or the Talmud that tells us that justice should not be served for the sake of the family of the criminal. I ask those who pleaded mercy for this man, did Mordechai Lebovits ever have mercy on the children he molested? Did he ever ask for their forgiveness for ruining their lives?

I would like to give you a summary of a quote from the Chief Rabbi Strenbuch of the ultra-Orthodox Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem (II:627). “It is not only allowed to bring the criminal to the authorities but it is a command to hand over such a person to the authorities. By handing him to the authorities you will eliminate desecration of G-D. There is no greater desecration of G-D than allowing a criminal like this to escape justice.”

I have a message for all those children molested by this or any other evil man and to their families. It took a long time for this man to be brought to justice, but as a Russian poet once wrote “Justice is like a train that always arrives late”. It is better late than never. Don’t be afraid to bring a perpetrator to justice.

In conclusion, I would like to ask the Honorable Justice Patricia M. Di Mango to impose the maximum sentence for the crimes committed by Mordechai Lebovits as he inflicted maximum suffering on his innocent victims with no remorse.

Thank you very much Justice Di Mango. May G-D bless you and G-D bless America!"

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"How can we maintain that faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?”

A UOJ Issru Chag original riddle - What's the difference between a Catholic "leader" and priest - and a present ultra-orthodox Jewish "leader" and rabbi?

Catholic leaders wear red clothing and black underwear - current ultra-orthodox Jewish leaders wear black clothing and red underwear - Catholic priests wear white collars on their black shirts, current ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbis have black collars on their white shirts!

Op-Ed Columnist
The Church’s Judas Moment
Published: April 6, 2010

I’m a Catholic woman who makes a living being adversarial. We have a pope who has instructed Catholic women not to be adversarial.

It’s a conundrum.

I’ve been wondering, given the vitriolic reaction of the New York archbishop to my column defending nuns and the dismissive reaction of the Vatican to my column denouncing the church’s response to the pedophilia scandal, if they are able to take a woman’s voice seriously. Some, like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, seem to think women are trying to undermine the church because of abortion and women’s ordination.

I thought they might respond better to a male Dowd.

My brother Kevin is conservative and devout — his hobby is collecting crèches — and has raised three good Catholic sons. When I asked him to share his thoughts on the scandal, I learned, shockingly, that we agreed on some things. He wrote the following:

“In pedophilia, the church has unleashed upon itself a plague that threatens its very future, and yet it remains in a curious state of denial. The church I grew up in was black and white, no grays. That’s why my father, an Irish immigrant, liked it so much. The chaplain of the Police and Fire departments told me once ‘Your father was a fierce Catholic, very fierce.’

My brothers and I were sleepily at his side for the monthly 8 a.m. Holy Name Mass and the guarding of the Eucharist in the middle of the night during the 40-hour ritual at Easter. Once during a record snowstorm in 1958, we were marched single-file to church for Mass only to find out the priests next door couldn’t get out of the rectory.

The priest was always a revered figure, the embodiment of Christ changing water into wine. (Older parishioners took it literally.) The altar boys would drink the dregs.

When I was in the 7th grade, one of the new priests took four of us to the drive-in restaurant and suggested a game of ‘pink belly’ on the way back; we pulled up a boy’s shirt and slapped his belly until it was pink. When the new priest joined in, it seemed like more groping than slapping. But we thought it was inadvertent. And my parents never would have believed a priest did anything inappropriate anyway. A boy in my class told me much later that the same priest climbed into bed with him in 1958 at a rectory sleepover, but my friend threw him to the floor. The priest protested he was sleepwalking. Three days later, the archbishop sent the priest to a rehab place in New Mexico; he ended up as a Notre Dame professor.

Vatican II made me wince. The church declared casual Friday. All the once-rigid rules left to the whim of the flock. The Mass was said in English (rendering useless my carefully learned Latin prayers). Holy days of obligation were optional. There were laypeople on the heretofore sacred ground of the altar — performing the sacraments and worse, handling the Host. The powerful symbolism of the priest turning the Host into the body of Christ cracked like an egg.

In his book, ‘Goodbye! Good Men,’ author Michael Rose writes that the liberalized rules set up a takeover of seminaries by homosexuals.

Vatican II liberalized rules but left the most outdated one: celibacy. That vow was put in place originally because the church did not want heirs making claims on money and land. But it ended up shrinking the priest pool and producing the wrong kind of candidates — drawing men confused about their sexuality who put our children in harm’s way.

The church is dying from a thousand cuts. Its cover-up has cost a fortune and been a betrayal worthy of Judas. The money spent came from social programs, Catholic schools and the poor. This should be a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance. I asked a friend of mine recently what he would do if his child was molested after the church knew. ‘I would probably kill someone,’ he replied.

We must reassess. Married priests and laypeople giving the sacraments are not going to destroy the church. Based on what we have seen the last 10 years, they would be a bargain. It is time to go back to the disciplines that the church was founded on and remind our seminaries and universities what they are. (Georgetown University agreeing to cover religious symbols on stage to get President Obama to speak was not exactly fierce.)

The storm within the church strikes at what every Catholic fears most. We take our religion on faith.

How can we maintain that faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?”


Vatican blasts anti-Catholic 'hate' campaign

By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer Frances D'emilio, Tuesday - April 6, 2010

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic "hate" campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Vatican Radio broadcast comments by two senior cardinals explaining "the motive for these attacks" on the pope and the Vatican newspaper chipped in with spirited comments from another top cardinal.

"The pope defends life and the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, in a world in which powerful lobbies would like to impose a completely different" agenda, Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the disciplinary commission for Holy See officials, said on the radio.

Herranz didn't identify the lobbies but "defense of life" is Vatican shorthand for anti-abortion efforts.

Also arguing that Benedict's promotion of conservative family models had provoked the so-called attacks was the Vatican's dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano.

"By now, it's a cultural contrast," Sodano told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. "The pope embodies moral truths that aren't accepted, and so, the shortcomings and errors of priests are used as weapons against the church."

Also rallying to Benedict's side was Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who heads the Vatican City State's governing apparatus.

The pope "has done all that he could have" against sex abuse by clergy of minors, Lajolo said on Vatican radio, decrying what he described as a campaign of "hatred against the Catholic church."

Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based minister in the United Church of Christ who is faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, described the cardinals' comments as "diversionary counterattacks" that are an affront both to the victims of clergy abuse and to gays and lesbians.

"It makes me heartsick," she said.

Sex abuse allegations, as well as accusations of cover-ups by diocesan bishops and Vatican officials, have swept across Europe in recent weeks. Benedict has been criticized for not halting the actions of abusive priests when he was a Vatican cardinal and earlier while he was the archbishop of Munich in his native Germany.

The mainland European scandals — in Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland — are erupting after decades of abuse cases in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and other areas.

In Germany, nearly 2,700 people called the church's sexual abuse hot line in the first three days it was operating, a Catholic church spokesman said Tuesday.A team of psychologists and other experts have spoken with 394 people so far, ranging from several minutes up to an hour, Trier Diocese spokesman Stephan Kronenburg said.

"Most callers reported cases of sexual abuse," he told The Associated Press.

Benedict has ignored victims' demands that he accept responsibility for what they say is his own personal and institutional responsibility for failing to swiftly kick abusive priests out of the priesthood, or at least keep them away from children.

But he has been protected by a vanguard of senior Vatican prelates who are fending off what they contend is an orchestrated attempt to attack the leader of the world's more than 1 billion Catholics.

The Vatican No. 2 official, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, rebuffed questions about the pontiff's silence on the topic, indicating that Benedict was standing firm.

"He's a strong pope," he told reporters after arriving Tuesday in Chile. The Italian news agency ANSA quoted him as calling Benedict a "great prophet of the Third Millennium."

Bertone, now the Holy See's secretary of state but formerly Benedict's deputy when the future pope, then-called Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Vatican's morals office, has himself been swept up in the scandals.

During a May 1998 meeting at the Vatican, Bertone told Wisconsin bishops to halt a church trial against an ailing priest who was accused of sexually abusing 200 deaf children, according to a Vatican transcript. The priest died soon afterward.

"It's not true, it's not true! We have documented the opposite," ANSA quoted Bertone as saying in Chile. "Let's not talk about this topic now, because otherwise we'll be here all day verifying precisely the action taken by me and by his eminence."

On Easter, the most important day in the Catholic faith, the Vatican broke with tradition and began its service in St. Peter's Square with a ringing defense of Benedict delivered by Cardinal Sodano.

The Vatican newspaper quoted Sodano on Tuesday as saying the church is "certainly" suffering because of pedophile priests but he asserted that "Benedict XVI has apologized several times."

"But it's not Christ's fault if Judas betrayed" him, Sodano said. "It's not a bishop's fault if one of his priests is stained by grave wrongdoing. And certainly the pontiff is not responsible."

"Behind the unjust attacks on the pope are visions of the family and of life that run contrary to the Gospel," Sodano said. "Now the accusation of pedophile is being brandished against the church."

He noted that past popes have also been criticized, including the "offensive against Pius XII for his conduct during the last World War as well as that against Paul VI" for his encyclical against birth control, the cardinal said.

Pius has been accused by Jewish groups and some scholars as not having done enough to save Jews from the Holocaust, although the Vatican contends he used behind-the-scene diplomacy to help them. Benedict has hailed Pius as a "great" pontiff, who is being considered for possible beatification.

Vatican Radio, presenting listeners with some of the most vehement counterattacks yet, depicted the church as a victim.

"There are those who fear the media campaign of anti-Catholic hatred can degenerate," Vatican Radio said.

It noted anti-Catholic graffiti on walls of a church outside Viterbo, a town near Rome, and reminded listeners that a bishop was attacked by a man during Easter Mass in Muenster, Germany. The bishop fought back with an incense bowl.

The radio likened the recent campaign to the persecution suffered by early Christian martyrs. "The crowds, incited by the slanders of the powerful, would lynch the Christians," the radio said.

In Munich, meanwhile, an independent lawyer hired by the Catholic church wrapped up his investigation of abuse allegations at the southern Ettal monastery.

"The investigation clearly shows a system of abuse that lasted for decades," Thomas Pfister told The Associated Press.

There were some cases of sexual abuse at Ettal but most victims who came forward were physically abused and most cases took place before 1990, Pfister said in a telephone interview.

The lawyer declined to elaborate as his final report will be published next week.