Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In Lakewood Abuse Cases, A ‘Parallel Justice System’

Lakewood, in Ocean County, N.J., is home to some 40,000 Orthodox Jews. Court testimony offers rare public glimpse into religious tribunals’ handling of child sex abuse allegations; no reporting to police.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hella Winston - Special To The Jewish Week

Last spring in a New Jersey courtroom, a prosecutor and defense attorney battled it out in a series of seemingly routine pre-trial hearings. At issue was a narrow point of law: whether or not a social worker who had evaluated an alleged child molester would be allowed to testify at his trial.

Amid the legal wrangling, however, facts emerged that were anything but ordinary — ones perhaps amplified by the recent revelations about alleged sexual abuse scandals at Penn State and Syracuse universities.

The social worker’s evaluation had not been conducted on behalf of the courts or police. Instead, it was commissioned by a Lakewood, N.J., beit din, a Jewish religious tribunal operating as a kind of shadow justice system, adjudicating sexual abuse cases without the involvement of law enforcement.

Witnesses spoke of a world in which abuse allegations are typically “investigated” not by the secular authorities, but by rabbis lacking supervision by the criminal justice system. It is a world where victims and perpetrators alike are subjected to threats of social ostracism and, in some cases, physical harm for non-compliance with the “system.”

To anyone following the unfolding story of child sexual abuse in the haredi world, that these communities have a history of handling abuse allegations internally is hardly news. The longstanding and harshly enforced communal taboo against “informing” on another Jew to the secular authorities plays a key role in blocking victims from reporting abuse allegations to police and pressing charges.

In the past few years, aided by the Internet and blogs, a number of advocacy organizations founded by members, or former members, of these communities has emerged. Much of their work, centered mostly in Brooklyn, has focused on combating this taboo and providing support to abuse victims.

In addition, advocates have worked to shine a spotlight on many of the major social and political institutions in those communities, including yeshivas, social service agencies and even Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. (Hynes’ office launched a hotline to report haredi abuse cases in 2009, seemingly in response to criticism that his office has a history of “going easy” on haredi child molesters.)

The climate is different in Lakewood, acknowledged as the seat of non-chasidic haredi Judaism in the United States. Home to one of the largest and most prominent yeshivas in the world, Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG), and a community of close to 40,000 Orthodox Jews, Lakewood has not been spared the problem of child sexual abuse — an ill that plagues all communities, religious and secular alike.

However, there are no public advocacy groups in Lakewood helping victims and agitating for change. Further, unlike Brooklyn, which is home to myriad haredi groups with no centralized “governing” body, the Lakewood community, dominated by BMG — which boasts over 6,000 students and an annual operating budget approaching $25 million — is something of a company town, residents and observers say. Indeed, the brothers who run BMG, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler and Rabbi Aaron Kotler, exert considerable control over daily life within the community, with the bylaws of the Lakewood Jewish Community Council stating that the “community is centered around [BMG] … and [the council] functions at the pleasure of [the yeshiva heads] as represented by R. Malkiel Kotler.”

This control — bolstered by the geographically bounded and insular nature of the community — means that it can be even harder for Lakewood residents to overcome the communal taboo and report abuse to the authorities than it is for their counterparts in Brooklyn.

“Most victims of abuse and parents in Lakewood are afraid to speak up because [they fear being threatened by rabbis],” Debbie Rudin, a victim of childhood sexual abuse who now lives in Lakewood, told The Jewish Week.

“There are many Jewish communities that are controlled by the rabbonim [rabbis] of their towns that set certain standards, whether in regards to businesses, giving kosher supervision or allowing schools to open,” said Harold (Hershel) Hershkowitz, a Lakewood businessman who ran (and lost) for the Lakewood Township Committee on an anti-cronyism platform against the BMG-backed candidate. “But all of these are controlled in an open manner well understood by all that live there,” he said. “Lakewood, on the other hand, has a cabal that controls most Jewish publications, websites and of course the political arena, in order to exert full influence whenever it is necessary in order to keep their position of influence.”

Rubin and Hershkowitz are two of numerous Lakewood residents, therapists, educators, social workers and community activists, as well as seven abuse victims interviewed by The Jewish Week in the course of a months-long investigation into the abuse situation there and how it is being handled. An interest in maintaining communal control, they say, is a major factor in the rabbinic and lay leadership’s desire to deal with abuse in ways that do not involve law enforcement.

Indeed, the court testimony described above affords a rare public glimpse into what New Jersey Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson characterized as Lakewood’s “parallel justice system.”

The testimony itself comes from the only sexual abuse case in memory from the Lakewood haredi community to be prosecuted — something that came about because a family flouted, at great personal cost, communal norms and pressed charges against an alleged child molester, Yosef Kolko, in 2009.

The testimony raises many questions, especially in light of the Penn State and Syracuse situations, which have advocates across the country calling for tougher mandatory reporting laws. Prominent among them is whether the rabbis and others in the Lakewood community who participate in this parallel justice system are violating New Jersey’s mandated reporting law — not to mention alleged victims’ civil rights — and, if so, what is being done about it. The law requires “all persons” (including clergy) who have “reasonable cause to believe” that a child has been abused to make a report “immediately” to the Division of Youth and Family Services. (A knowing violation of this law could result in a fine and/or jail time.)

According to Marci Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil chair in public law at Cardozo and a leading church-state scholar, “The prosecutors in [situations] like this are doing the religious community no favors. Without enforcing the mandatory reporting laws, the poisonous abuse stays within the community, the perpetrator gets more opportunities to abuse and the victims continue to suffer.”

According to court papers and interviews with people close to the family of the boy allegedly abused by Kolko, a 34-year-old former teacher at Yeshiva Orchos Chaim in Lakewood who also worked as a camp counselor, the family decided to go to the authorities only after they had exhausted the options within the community and found no relief. Before doing so, they sought assistance from a community activist, Doniel Bernstein, and several prominent Lakewood rabbis, including Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon, the “mashgiach,” or spiritual adviser, at BMG, and the “go-to” rabbi for all manner of communal issues in Lakewood, sources say.

Rabbi Salomon, along with Rabbi Shmuel Blech, served for a time on a formal beit din, created by Salomon several years ago specifically to hear sexual abuse allegations.

After hearing the allegations about Kolko, Bernstein, on behalf of the rabbis, commissioned a paid psychological evaluation of Kolko by a social worker, Gavriel Fagin. Fagin, who at one time worked in the sex offender treatment program at OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services in Brooklyn, now maintains a private practice in which he specializes, among other areas, “in the evaluation and treatment of sexual deviance.”

Fagin testified in New Jersey Superior Court that he was contacted by “The [Beis] Din … in charge of following up on allegations of inappropriate sexual contact between individuals in the community” and asked to “evaluate an individual for their purposes to be able to determine how to proceed further.” Fagin stated in court that he saw Kolko five times to administer computer-based tests and that he did not “have much knowledge of the situation” that brought Kolko to the beit din in the first place. Fagin did not interview the alleged victim.

The mere act of commissioning an evaluation — which was apparently damning enough for the prosecution to argue (successfully) for Fagin’s ability to testify at trial — would seem to indicate at least a reasonable cause to suspect abuse. Even so, none of those made privy to these allegations reported them to the authorities.

After Kolko was arrested, the victim’s family was threatened and the alleged victim was denied admission to schools.

After the arrest, a widely distributed proclamation signed by nine Lakewood rabbis, including Chaim Ginsberg and Shmuel Katz, both employed by BMG, warned that “no one … may … bring any accusations to the secular authorities” and that “it is prohibited [for anyone] to assist and participate with the secular authorities in their efforts to persecute a Jewish person.”

Rabbis outside Lakewood sought to apply pressure as well. Yisroel Belsky, a prominent Brooklyn-based rabbi and yeshiva head who has also served in a senior position with the Orthodox Union for over 20 years, sent a letter to Lakewood residents. In it, he wrote of the “horrific news that one of your fellow residents in town informed upon a fellow Jew to the secular authorities.” He added that “all who have the ability to influence the informers to retract their terrible deeds should do so.”

Shortly after the Rabbi Belsky letter was sent, a 31-year-old Lakewood resident named Shaul Luban allegedly sent out text messages urging residents of Lakewood to try to pressure the victim’s father into not testifying.

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Luban with witness tampering. The nine Lakewood rabbis and Rabbi Belsky have not been charged with any crime.

The victim’s family has since left Lakewood, but has not backed down and the prosecution is moving forward.

In addition to information directly relevant to the Kolko case, testimony from the hearings indicates that there have been other abuse allegations apparently deemed credible by rabbis, but that nonetheless went unreported to the police.

In testimony in New Jersey Superior Court given in May of this year, Lakewood rabbi and activist Micky Rottenberg alludes to such a case, which The Jewish Week has learned involved allegations against the husband of a woman who ran a local children’s playgroup. The beit din found the allegations to be credible and publicized them, effectively shutting down the playgroup. However, the authorities were never notified and the accused remains in the community today.

In his testimony, Rabbi Rottenberg also sheds light on the beit din’s inner workings.

According to him, “[The Secretary] of the beis din [would contact] the victims … [and the] alleged perpetrator, discuss with them … beg them to do certain things. And if they don’t do it, [the secretary would say] ‘I’m going to report [to the beit din] that you don’t listen to us, and then we are going to … Take away your job. Send away your kids from schools.’ Whatever measures they would feel they have power to be able for the person to submit and accept the verdict of the beis din.”

Rabbi Rottenberg also testified that he felt the beit din favored the accusers and was in fact involved in disbanding it at the behest of Rabbi Malkiel Kotler for this reason. Rabbi Kotler, through his brother, denied making any such request.

In arguments at a court hearing, Kolko’s attorney, Michael Wilbert, refers to a Rabbi Shmuel Vogel who, he claims, was “charged with a violation” by Bernstein and “required to go to a social worker in New York ... Mr. Sternstein.” Sternstein is Hillel Sternstein, coordinator of trauma services at OHEL, and a social worker with a private practice in Long Island.

Even those who do not attempt to report to police, but seek to publicize allegations within the Lakewood community, are often intimidated. A 2009 article in the Asbury Park Press described how the home of Rivka Finkelstein, the mother of a sexual abuse survivor who died of a drug overdose, was burned down after a letter written by her son excoriating the Orthodox community for its failure to deal with the problem of sexual abuse was made public online after his death. (According to the story, which cited several other examples of such intimidation, police believed arson was the likely cause of the fire.)

Of the 32 people on the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry living in Lakewood, there appears to be only one member of the Orthodox community, convicted of endangering the welfare of a child. According to a therapist in Lakewood with knowledge of the situation, “he was arrested in another township [for exposing himself to non-Jewish children], which is why [he was prosecuted and] made it onto the list.”

Calls Doniel Bernstein were not returned. Attempts to reach Rabbi Blech and Rabbi Salomon were unsuccessful.

A source close to Rabbi Salomon’s beit din who consulted with its members on behalf of this reporter told The Jewish Week that they would not speak to the paper out of concern that “the ‘forces’ that led to the disbanding [of the beit din] are still ever present. They expressed fear that speaking about these forces will lead to personal reprisal.” The source acknowledged Rottenberg as one of these so-called “forces.” A call to Rottenberg was not returned.

An e-mail to Rabbi Aaron Kotler seeking comment on Rabbi Salomon’s beit din resulted in a reply from Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, president of the Lakewood Community Service Corp.

While Rabbi Salomon is employed by BMG, Rabbi Weisberg said he was responding because “[these questions relate] to Orthodox community issues and not [BMG].” He told The Jewish Week that “The Lakewood community leadership has zero tolerance for any sexual abuse and is actively committed to following the law. Our community policy, which is in full compliance with applicable law and our [halachic] guidelines, is to report any reasonable suspicion of abuse to the proper law enforcement authorities.”

When asked whether the community has a process for determining what constitutes “reasonable suspicion,” Rabbi Weisberg replied, “I guess a common sense evaluation of the evidence determines reasonableness.” To the question of whether or not those who have a reasonable suspicion of abuse must first take their concerns to a rabbi, Rabbi Weisberg told The Jewish Week that “individuals are encouraged to follow the law.”


To be sure, the idea of using rabbis or a formal beit din to vet sexual abuse allegations has its defenders, among them Agudath Israel, which takes the position that all allegations of sexual abuse must first be reported to a rabbi. The president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Moshe Kletenick, has noted that religious courts can be used to investigate allegations, screening out false ones and referring those with “substance” to the secular authorities.....


....And in related news today: Blago gets 14 years in the slammer - Sandusky re-arrested for child-abuse as two new victims come forward:

The Role of Institutions in Reporting Child Sex Abuse

Published: December 8, 2011 - The New York Times

As “Reporting Abuse” (editorial, Nov. 29) underscores, it is far too easy for powerful institutions to cover up incidents of child and adolescent sexual abuse at the hands of people in positions of trust. There is a marked contrast, however, between the respective states’ response to the Pennsylvania State University and Syracuse University scandals.

The State of Pennsylvania has powerful tools to investigate aggressively and criminally charge those responsible for covering up abuses. New York does not. Since 2003, I have introduced legislation that makes it a felony for mandated reporters to systematically fail to report abuse.

It is also clear that the list of those mandated to report abuse needs to be significantly expanded. Sadly, recent incidents once again raise the question: How many abuse scandals will be tolerated before the New York State Legislature gets serious about the issue and passes meaningful legislation?

State Senator, 29th District
New York, Nov. 29, 2011

To the Editor:

Your editorial sends a critical message about institutions and their response to child sexual abuse: it must be treated as a crime and reported immediately to outside authorities, including the police. Delay is risky for the well-being of the child and allows the perpetrator continuing opportunities to victimize others.

If protecting children — and not reputations — is the highest priority, administrators and boards will have no doubt where their duty and interest lie.

Child rape is a hideous crime. Reporting the crime is the single most effective and proactive first step that institutions can take in the aftermath of child sexual abuse. The very best step institutions can take is to create a culture where abuse and crimes against children and youth cannot occur.

President and Chief Executive
Massachusetts Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Boston, Nov. 29, 2011



Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, accused of child sex abuse, has been taken from his home in handcuffs amid new charges filed against him, NBC News reports.

Anonymous said...

Ernst & Young Sued for $900 Million Over Madoff

By Reuters

Monday, December 05, 2011

Anonymous said...

Long overdue but very poorly written. It's not clear if she casting Mickey Rottenberg and Shmuel Vogel as the good guys or the bad guys. What is she saying?

Hella Winston by the way has a big bias against the frum. It's nice for a change that she writes evenhandedly in this article about frum & secular.

Professor Marci Hamilton is a machshayfah. I'm not sure if her primary kavonna is to protect kinderlach or to bash frum Yidden. Whenever self-hating Jews are trying to stop an eruv, she jumps in to help them stop it with phony legal arguments.

The Anti Foreclosure Revolution Comes To Brooklyn NY 1 said...

UK Guardian:

"Occupy Our Homes: protesters bid to move families into foreclosed houses

Occupy activists descend on Brooklyn on first day of campaign to move homeless people into buildings foreclosed by US banks

Ryan Devereaux
7 December 2011

[Photo caption: The opening of the foreclosed home marked the beginning of the movement Occupy Our Homes campaign. (Sign reads: 'FORECLOSE ON BANKS NOT PEOPLE')]

On Tuesday afternoon, Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York – along with a coalition of activist groups and members of a Brooklyn community – opened a foreclosed home to a struggling family of four.

For Doyle Coleman, the action was a welcome relief. The 57 year-old lives two doors down from the newly-occupied property in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of East New York. Sitting on his front porch on Tuesday evening, Coleman pointed to the property, calling it by its address. "702, where they're putting this family in – it's been empty for three years. If not more."

The property was allegedly foreclosed by Bank of America. On Tuesday it became the home of a young New York family that includes an autistic nine-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy.

Coleman – who's lived in the neighbourhood for over two decades – says he's watched the property steadily deteriorate over the years. Like many foreclosed homes in the neighbourhood, he says the building has become a magnet for East New York's endemic problems of drugs and crime.

It's also been treated as dump, Coleman claims. He says demolition contractors from other neighbourhoods have repeatedly used the front yard of the home to empty truckloads of debris.

"They would bring it over here, 2 in the morning, and dump it. So when we would wake up in the morning we'd have a yard full of debris. Smashed toilets, smashed sinks, bathtubs, tile. I mean, you name it," he says.

"I would clean those yards," he adds. For Coleman, the motivation to do the work was simple: "We care about our block."

Coleman said that the hundreds of protesters gathered in his neighbourhood on Tuesday also cared. Inspired by their efforts to move a family into the neglected house, Coleman and his wife opened their home to activists needing a space to work or to use the restroom.

"We applaud it," he said."

The Anti Foreclosure Revolution Comes To Brooklyn NY 2 said...

"Tuesday's move was part of a national day of action targeting the issue of foreclosures and marking the beginning of Occupy Wall Street's Occupy Our Homes campaign. Various demonstrations were carried out in over 25 cities, including Seattle, Washington, Atlanta, Georgia and Riverside, California.

New York City's action kicked off with a brief tour of East New York, which last year had the highest foreclosure rate of all the neighbourhoods in the city. Nationwide, an estimated 4m homes have been seized by banks since 2006, according to RealtyTrac, a California-based real estate data firm. Roughly 300 marchers made stops at several foreclosed homes along the route. Filling the stoops of dilapidated Brooklyn houses, members of the community joined with local lawmakers and religious figures to denounce widespread foreclosures.

The march ended at two-storey house with a large yellow sign mounted above the front door. In all capital letters it read: "FORECLOSE ON BANKS NOT ON PEOPLE."

With media anxiously crowded at the gates to the property, city council member Charles Barron opened the front door to reveal a young man and a little boy. The man was 26 year-old Alfredo Carrasquillo and the boy was his five year-old son, Alfredo Jr. The two were then joined by Junior's mother, 30-year-old Tasha Glasgow. Tasha's nine-year-old autistic daughter, Tanisha, made an appearance soon after.

Occupy Wall Street press representatives said the family had been living off and on in New York City homeless shelters for the past 10 years. Glasgow was reportedly rendered homeless most recently after her housing voucher was revoked, shortly before she was scheduled to move into a permanent space. Occupy Wall Street organisers say austerity measures imposed by Michael Bloomberg, New York's mayor, caused Glasgow to lose the home she planned to have.

Glasgow and her two children have not yet moved into their new house, but plan to after volunteer renovation teams make a series of improvements to the space. In the meantime, crews of demonstrators are working in shifts to keep the location guarded around the clock.

Tuesday's action was the result of weeks of preparation and co-ordination between Occupy Wall Street and local activist organisations. According to Occupy Wall Street organiser Nelini Stamp, activists began scouting locations roughly a month and a half ago. After being barred from at least two promising properties due to construction, the activists found what they were looking for in East New York. According to Stamp, a receptive response from the community and easy access to the space, made the home the ideal site for an action. Stamp says organisers first set foot in the home on Sunday. The following day the family was shown the space for the first time.

With encampments across the country being cleared out, many viewed yesterday's action as a strategic shift in the Occupy movement; one that could be replicated nationwide. Stamp was enthused by the co-operation of various actors in pulling off the operation.

"I think this is a really great model for the future," Stamp said.

Tuesday's march featured a minimal police presence, though an apparently bloody encounter with the police took place several blocks from the planned demonstration. Prior to the conclusion of the march, a young man told the crowd he expected to be foreclosed upon that day. This prompted approximately 100 protesters to gather at his nearby home.

According to Occupy Wall Street organizer Lorenzo Serna, who witnessed the incident, a protester suffered a bleeding head injury when police kicked a door open to enter the home. According to Serna, the protester – who reportedly declined a ride to the hospital – was the only person arrested in the altercation."

Anonymous said...

The only one they don't control is Yudel Shain, he's at www.yudelstake.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Who were the 9 that signed the letter to protect Yossi Kolko besides Katz and Lazer Ginzberg's brother from the Kodshim chaburah? Maybe Asher Lipner knows. Are you reading this? I'm surprised no one made a copy and blogged it.

Something not right with Kardashian and Kleinman weddings said...

Celebs Gather.com:

"Kim Kardashian Wedding: 'There Was Something Not Right'

December 07, 2011

by Linda Shaw

Kim Kardashian [Yossi Kleinman] is getting backlash about her [his] wedding from everyone. The latest person to jump into the media with claims about the wedding is Kris Humphries' [Leib Tropper's] ex girlfriend, Bianca Kamber [Shanon Orand].

Bianca [Shanon] spoke with Inside Edition [Jewish Bloggers] about the gay rumors surrounding her ex and also spoke about how Kris [Leib] is doing after the media firestorm began.

"No. He's not gay. That's funny, absolutely not. That's crazy," she said, referring to the gay rumors. Of course, she should know since she dated him for quite a while. The rumors are probably just made up to make Kim Kardashian [Yossi Kleinman] look good and Kris Humphries [Leib Tropper] look bad.

Bianca [Shanon] also said that "there was something about" the wedding and marriage that "wasn't right." Pretty much everyone can agree on that fact!

Kris Humphries [Leib Tropper] will be better off once the divorce or annulment is finalized. Then he can get on with his life and forget about all the drama that came along with the Kardashian [Kleinman] family.

"I'm sure he wants it all to be over with. He's a real honest, sweet kid ... It's unfair he's painted as a bad person," she said.

Do you think Kris Humphries [Leib Tropper & Yossi Kleinman] is [are] being portrayed badly in KKTNY [OUJNEWS]?"

Judge orders Citibank and SEC to go fly a kite 1 said...

Atlanta Journal Constitution.com:

"Judge lambastes deal in Wall Street fraud case

November 30, 2011, by Jay Bookman

It always drives me nuts to see stories to the effect that “Corporation X agreed Thursday to pay a $500 gazillion penalty to settle federal fraud charges, but the company admitted no wrongdoing.”

Apparently, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York agrees with me.

In a sharp rebuke to such deals, Rakoff this week rejected a $285 million proposed settlement between Citigroup and the Securities and Exchange Commission, calling the deal “neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.”

As Rakoff lays out the allegations against Citigroup in his opinion:

“… after Citigroup realized in 2007 that the market for mortgage-backed securities was beginning to weaken, Citigroup created a billion-dollar fund that allowed it to dump some dubious assets on misinformed investors. This was accomplished by Citigroup’s misrepresenting that the fund’s assets were attractive investments rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser, whereas in fact Citigroup had arranged to include in the portfolio a substantial percentage of negative projected assets and had then taken a short position in those very assets it had helped select.”

In other words, it knowingly created and peddled a bad investment to its clients, and then bet against those clients that the investment would fail.

Which of course it did.

Investors lost $700 million in the deal, while Citigroup made a tidy profit of $160 million.
Under the settlement negotiated with the SEC but rejected by Rakoff, the company would have to cough up the profits it earned and pay an additional $95 million fine to make it all go away."

Judge orders Citibank and SEC to go fly a kite 2 said...

"Amazingly, the SEC chose to charge Citigroup only with negligence, rather than outright fraud. Not only was the fine it proposed insufficient, Rakoff wrote, the deal ensures that the American public “is deprived of ever knowing the truth in a matter of obvious public importance.”

“In any case like this that touches on the transparency of financial markets whose gyrations have so depressed our economy and debilitated our lives,” Rakoff wrote in his opinion, “there is an overriding public interest in knowing the truth. In much of the world, propaganda reigns, and truth is confined to secretive, fearful whispers. Even in our nation, apologists for suppressing or obscuring the truth may always be found. But the SEC, of all agencies, has a duty, inherent in its statutory mission, to see that the truth emerges.”

Rakoff went on to note that it was hard to determine what the SEC was getting from the settlement “other than a quick headline.” Citigroup was a repeat offender in such cases, “and yet, in terms of deterrence, the $95 million civil penalty that the Consent Judgment proposes is pocket change to any entity as large as Citigroup.”

To some degree, I can sympathize with the SEC’s position. The agency is grossly underfunded and has to deploy its limited resources carefully. Getting involved in a lengthy court fight with a deep-pockets defendant such as Citigroup would eat up a lot of staff time. The temptation is to cut a deal and move on.

And while the Obama administration has requested additional funding for the SEC and its sister agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, House Republicans have refused to approve that request, preferring to keep the Wall Street watchdogs toothless and on a short leash.

Personally, I think we ought to consider solving the funding problem by giving the SEC and CFTC a cut of the money that they recover, just as other law-enforcement agencies get a cut of what they recover in drug-trafficking cases. That’s “running government like a business,” right? If you want them to do a good job, you give them a financial incentive to do their job more aggressively.

Furthermore, since the money being recovered would by definition come from law-breakers rather than those who do business honestly, it could hardly be considered a tax increase.

But as we all know — Judge Rakoff included — that isn’t going to happen."

BANKSTERS BEWARE as tide turns AGAINST bank fraud said...

The Boston Phoenix:

"Coakley's true grit

In a move that sparked national applause, the Attorney General goes after five financial giants for subprime fraud

By EDITORIAL | December 7, 2011

Three recent developments suggest that the worm is turning and that the criminal behavior of the nation's huge money-center banks might finally suffer something approaching real justice.

Exhibit one: two weeks ago, Federal Judge Jed Rakoff of the United States District Court in Manhattan kicked the backside of the Securities and Exchange Commission for allowing the financial giant Citigroup to pay a $285 million settlement without admitting that it had either broken the law or even done anything reprehensible.

In fairness to the SEC, it accepts these bogus "pleas" because it does not have adequate resources to fight the Wall Street behemoths through the courts. If big government is the problem Republicans claim it is, why doesn't Washington have the money to prosecute big bankers who are clearly guilty of monumental fraud? Because Washington is Wall Street's lackey, that's why. Rakoff clearly did not get the memo.

Exhibit two: at approximately the same time that Rakoff rejected the SEC/Citigroup settlement as a moral insult, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley won a round that will benefit more than 700 local subprime borrowers. Coakley squeezed $52 million from the Royal Bank of Scotland for its role in the subprime mortgage meltdown. Coakley's office had previously nailed two other giants, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, for their roles in similar scams.

Exhibit three: shortly after her victory over the Bank of Scotland, Coakley returned to the ring. This time, she earned national headlines by walking away from a coordinated but unfruitful attempt by a group of state attorneys general seeking justice for victims of alleged foreclosure fraud by five of the nation's mortgage biggies: Bank of America, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and GMAC.

This was a welcome and gutsy move. Simply put, Coakley tired of the mortgage monsters trying to weasel out of their responsibility for evicting already ruined owners from their houses.

The banks routinely cut corners and engaged in shady practices when there were quick billions to be made during the housing bubble. In plain English, Coakley's suit contends that, once the bubble burst, banks — in a sleazy campaign to limit their own losses — once again played fast and loose with procedure and the law, sometimes foreclosing on property they no longer even owned.

If ever there was a criminal conspiracy to defraud Americans, the housing bubble was it. Why the federal government is not pursuing criminal charges against the pinstriped perpetrators is a mystery.

In Coakley, Massachusetts enjoys the services of one of the nation's most thoughtful and committed attorneys general. Her two-fisted approach in pursuing the malefactors of mortgage fraud — not only for wrongs committed as the bubble swelled, but also for rip-offs perpetuated after the bubble burst — should become the gold standard for similar prosecutions."

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see Elly Kleinman leading that left wing piece of garbage Eric Schneidermann by the hand around Boro Park to convince the oylam to vote for him? I feel a little better now knowing that Schneidermann is not Jewish. His mother is a shiksa named Haig even though the zaydah was Meyer Schneidermann in Williamsburg.

Gorbachev who put nails in the USSRs coffin starts putting nails in PUTINs coffin said...

UK Guardian:

"Gorbachev calls for Russian elections to be declared void

Former Soviet president says Kremlin must send people to the polls again or face long-term unrest over alleged voting fraud

Associated Press in Moscow
Wednesday 7 December 2011

[Photo caption: United Russia supporters rally in Moscow as opposition Yabloko party promises to contest the election result in court]

Russian authorities should annul the parliamentary vote results and hold a new election, the ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has urged, as popular indignation grows over alleged election fraud.

Thousands of Russians have rallied in Moscow and St Petersburg in the past two days, facing off against tens of thousands of police and interior ministry troops. Hundreds of protesters have been detained in both cities.

Gorbachev told the Interfax news agency that authorities must hold a fresh election or deal with a rising tide of discontent.

Vladimir Putin's United Russia party won less than 50% of Sunday's vote, a steep fall from its earlier two-thirds majority, according to preliminary results. But opposition parties and international observers said the vote was marred by vote-rigging, including alleged ballot-box stuffing and false voter rolls.

"More and more people are starting to believe that the election results are not fair," he told Interfax. "I believe that ignoring public opinion discredits the authorities and destabilises the situation."

Gorbachev added that authorities "must admit that there have been numerous falsifications and ballot stuffing".

Sunday's parliamentary vote suggested Russians are tiring of Putin and his United Russia party, which has dominated all other political forces in the country for a dozen years and earned a reputation for corruption.

Putin, meanwhile, officially registered on Wednesday to run for the presidency in March, but the unusually sustained protests of the past two days suggested his drive to retake the job he held from 2000-2008 may not go as smoothly as he had expected.

More opposition rallies were expected, along with another new pro-Putin gathering in central Moscow."

Rabbonim overlook plague of alcoholism and smoking in their midst said...

The following report brings up the plague of alcoholism and smoking that has infested the youth and young people of the frum world.

Young boys are sent to yeshiva with healthy lungs by their parents and before anyone knows it the kids are addicted to buying and smoking cigarettes. Same thing for drinking, the shtieblach, shulls and simchas are offering varieties of fancy booze that no one saw years ago and the kids latch on and get addicted and become alcoholics, meaning uncontrolled urges to drink booze.

But the rabbonim would rather talk about the problems of "technology" and "ban" the Internet and cell phones instead, talk about "texting on Shabbos" (which is bad) but don't say a word about all the booze that gets drunk by young men on Shabbos kiddushes and lechaims during the week:

Yeshiva World News:

"Time To Face The Issue: Yeshiva Bochur Arrested For DWI

(Wednesday, December 7th, 2011)

A Yeshiva Bochur returning from his friends Chasunah was arrested for DWI, Tuesday night.

According to our sources, the boy was stopped by officers from the NYPD in the Flatbush area, after displaying signs of being intoxicated. The 19-year-old Bochur, who is a student at a prominent Yeshiva was taken into custody, and will now need to face the consequences of his irresponsible, and potentially deadly actions.

Thankfully, he did not hurt or kill anyone – including himself – while at the wheel.

YWN spoke with a leading Rov on Wednesday morning to hear his thoughts on this story.

“It’s time people dig their heads out of the sand, and deal with this issue head-on”, he said.

“This story should be a wake-up call for Klal Yisroel, and no I don’t mean to discuss it at an Agudah Convention. I mean to DEAL WITH THE ISSUE, and once and for all eradicate this plague of Yeshiva Bochrim drinking at weddings, vorts, shabbos meals etc.”

He added that “Klal Yisroel should give Shevah V’hodaah to the Robono Shel Olam that this Bochur ended up in police car, rather than in an emergency room or worse, Chas Veshalom”.

Click HERE to read a letter YWN has previously published [Booze & Drugs At a Brooklyn Chasunah] on February 15, 2010 – written by a guest at a wedding in Brooklyn, where he describes what he witnessed.

(Dov Gordon – YWN)"

Booze and Drugs At a Brooklyn Chasunah said...

Yeshiva World News:

"Out Of The Mailbag – Booze & Drugs At a Brooklyn Chasunah

(Monday, February 15th, 2010)

Dear YWN,

I am not the “letter-writing” type of person, but after what I witnessed last evening felt that this must be brought out in public.

On Sunday evening I was a guest at the chasuna of a frum young couple B”H. The wedding was held in a Brooklyn wedding hall. The Simcha was beautiful, dancing was lebidig, and the simcha was felt in the air.

The first dance was over, and I found a seat at the ”Bochrims Table”.

What I then saw, shocked me to the core, and prompted me to pen this letter to YWN.

I noticed that some of the boys were acting a little rowdy and inappropriate, but I simply brushed it off as they were teenagers (with & without hats).

Then it hit me. The amount of alcohol that was on the table was mostly brought in by the boys themselves. I watched as they pulled bags from underneath the table and opened bottle after bottle of hard booze.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for a L’chaim at a simcha, but bringing your own hard liquor and making “homemade hard lemonade”!?!?

It didn’t stop there….. One of the boys walked in with a small box, the box contained a significant amount of marijuana and a scale!

Now I don’t know if he was planning on selling it to the other boys on my table or various other “yeshivalight”.


I promptly got up and left the wedding as I knew if I confronted this boy it would not end well for either of us, but I ask of you…………


Call the police ?

Tell a rebbi ?

A parent ?

A menahel ?

Name withheld upon request."

Troppenstein's monster said...



Karin Barnard’s quickie conversion - and her marriage to construction tycoon Saul Berman - have exposed fault lines that are threatening to split South Africa’s Orthodox Jewish community ...

Agudah Fresser said...

These are the hayliga hachonos for the Agudah fresser convention.


Kosher Critic: Struggle for civility in the food industry

By Zechariah Mehler

At this year’s Kosherfest, I couldn’t help but notice that the behavior of many of the attendees was slightly akin to that of your average kleptomaniac. There was the press, distributors, food industry workers or and members of the public that come for some unknown reason it certainly seemed that this year more than others the groupthink was dead set on stealing products (not just giveaways and samples mind you) from the booths that where there to showcase their wares.

I saw men walking down the tightly packed aisles totting canvas bags packed with food. Display booths that had wrapped packages torn open, pillaged by some overzealous Kosherfest goer who felt that he or she needed to stock up for a long winter on gum, jam, or soy sauce. What was truly shocking is that this Black Friday experience was on the first hour of the first day of Kosherfest.

Needless to say this behavior is unacceptable. If these were children, they would be reprimanded without hesitation. Wine bottles intended for sampling were missing from the shelves, likely to be opened at a Shabbat table.

UOJ gets results said...


Identity theft may have reached a new low over the weekend when an employee of a Jewish community organization was arrested on charges of selling Holocaust survivors’ identity information for a sum of $1,000.

Crystal Thorne, 23, who worked as a coordinator at the Jewish Community Services of South Florida office in North Miami, was arrested Saturday on identity theft charges.


Daily Show asks Bondi to 'pee in a cup;' she hands them a cup

Bondi pranks urine-seeking Daily Show prankster

by Dara Kam | December 8th, 2011

A reporter with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” came up empty-handed when he asked Gov. Rick Scott for a urine sample yesterday.

But Attorney General Pam Bondi was ready when Aasif Mandvi demanded the same of her Thursday afternoon. The former FOX News legal analyst handed Mandvi a small plastic cup labeled with her name containing an amber liquid.

“Wow. That’s very interesting. Well, that’s very interesting that you should say that. Because as attorney general, I’m always prepared,” Bondi told Mandvi after he asked her to fill a pee cup. The exchange took place inside the basement Cabinet meeting room in the Capitol after Bondi participated in an anti-casino press conference.

“You have a sample of your urine?” an apparently surprised Mandvi responded. “How do we know it’s your urine? How do we know it’s not just apple juice?”

“Thank you. Have a great day. Have a great day. My name’s on the top,” Bondi said before heading back to her office.

Outside the conference room, Mandvi uncapped the clear plastic container and discovered the AG had pranked him.

“Yeah. It’s apple juice. She gave me apple juice instead of urine,” Mandvi told a gaggle of Capitol reporters. “So I guess she’s saying that her drug habit is more important than the Florida tax payer…knowing where their money goes.”

Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Meale said Bondi’s staff knew the Comedy Central crew were crawling the Capitol.

“We certainly tuned in to Gov. Scott’s press conference yesterday announcing the budget and when we knew Comedy Central was here we anticipated they would be interested in attending our press conference as well and planned accordingly,” Meale said.

On Wednesday, Mandvi interrupted Scott’s budget unveiling in the same meeting room to ask him to take a drug test. Mandvi was referring to drug testing Scott wants to require of all state employees and welfare recipients.

Scott didn’t comply with Mandvi’s request, but a few House members did, including Palm Beach County’s Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, according to The Daily Show crew. Other lawmakers who provided urine samples include Democratic Reps. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg and Scott Randolph of Orlando and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami.

Both of the drug-testing laws are being challenged in court. Scott’s administration is defending the law requiring state workers to get tested and appealing a federal judge’s injunction against drug testing of welfare applicants.

HAHAHAHA said...

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — The wife of ex-Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky said Thursday that her husband is innocent of the child sex abuse allegations against him and that his accusers are making up their stories.

Dottie Sandusky's comments were the first she has made since her husband was arrested last month and accused of molesting boys he met through a charity he founded for troubled youth.

She released the statement through her husband's lawyer a day after a grand jury report said one alleged victim screamed in vain for her to help him while Sandusky attacked him in a basement bedroom.

Dottie Sandusky said she is devastated by the accusations and that no such incident occurred.

"I am so sad anyone would make such a terrible accusation which is absolutely untrue," she said. "We don't know why these young men have made these false accusations, but we want everyone to know they are untrue."

She added that she and her husband love children and have always tried to help and care for them, and would never do anything to hurt them.

Sandusky faces more than 50 charges stemming from what authorities say were assaults on 10 boys in his home, on Penn State property and elsewhere. He has maintained his innocence.

Edith Kolko said...

Vos lacht men?

Rebbitzen Shaindy Pinter, Principal Masores Bais Yaakov said...

I think Dottie Sandusky is following the lead of Hillary Clinton and Carmela Soprano that you don't leave your lowlife husband if you get a much better lifestyle by staying with him.

Michelle Tendler said...

Edith & Shaindy,

Sometimes there are cheshbonos to stay, even when you are a very independently successful woman like myself who owns the biggest real estate brokerage in town.

Correcting Troppenstein 1 said...

Yeah, but you got it wrong time-wise because it's a dated story, take a look, it's from almost TEN years ago!!!


Issue #41, 1st November 2002

Karin Barnard’s quickie conversion - and her marriage to construction tycoon Saul Berman - have exposed fault lines that are threatening to split South Africa’s Orthodox Jewish community"

That's what happens when you leave out dates, didn't your English teacher every tell you that?!

But it's an interesting story all the same, take a look, it was some rabbis in PARIS who "converted" her and they got married in ROME and it was approved by yankee-doodle American "rabbi" (Steinhorn) and they were all condemned by all the South African Orthodox rabbis there it seems especially its Chief Rabbi and Beth Din:

"Jewish Journal.com

November 28, 2002

Cape Town Clash

South Africa's Orthodox establishment opposes the modern path a congregation is taking.

By Moira Schneider

A controversial conversion has reignited a dispute over Orthodox Jewish standards between South Africa's Orthodox establishment and one of the largest Orthodox congregations in the Southern Hemisphere.

Attempts to paper over the cracks between the beit din, or the Jewish law court, the Union of Orthodox Synagogues and Cape Town's Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation had been made in August. At that time, Sea Point members, who had been considering pulling out of the union to set up their own rabbinical court, decided instead to give the parties six months to work things out.

However, the issue has erupted again as the result of an article in the latest issue of Noseweek, a South African publication known for investigative journalism. The article focuses on the validity of the conversion that Karin Berman underwent before her marriage to construction magnate Saul Berman, a prominent Sea Point member.

Karin Berman was married to the late Christiaan Barnard, who performed the world's first heart transplant in 1967.

Members of the beit din reportedly told Karin Berman that they do not recognize her conversion or marriage and said the child she is expecting will not be recognized as Jewish. The credentials of the Paris rabbi who converted Berman were withdrawn 20 years ago, when he was discredited for having certified conversions for a fee, Noseweek reported.

However, Sea Point's U.S.-born rabbi, Elihu Jacob Steinhorn, insisted that the conversion was valid. Noseweek reported further that the rabbi who married the Bermans in Rome said that he had accepted everything as kosher, based on an introduction from Steinhorn. Steinhorn denied the rabbi's statement.

Correcting Troppenstein 2 said...

"The conversion squabble, however, masks deeper issues that have been dividing the South African Orthodox world for some time. Steinhorn told Noseweek that the conversion was "the least of the issues" involved in the dispute.

The heart of the dispute centers on whether Sea Point must observe the standards of halacha demanded by the country's chief rabbinate in Johannesburg, or whether it can adopt looser standards.

"The fact of the matter is that in the Orthodox world today outside of South Africa, which is very provincial, very closed and very British, there's a whole world called modern Orthodoxy," Steinhorn said.

"We in Sea Point are its only representative in South Africa," he continued. Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris "can say what he likes, but he does not represent modern Orthodoxy."

Steinhorn disputed claims that the fervently Orthodox community was growing stronger in South Africa, dismissing them as "public relations." The fervently Orthodox, he said, are "disenfranchising most of Judaism."

The Noseweek article mentioned that Harris objected to an invitation that Sea Point extended to Tzili Reisenberger, an Israeli-born theologian at the University of Cape Town, to address the congregation.

"We see nothing wrong with inviting a professor who teaches Bible at the university to come and give a shiur [lesson]. That's part of modern Orthodoxy," Steinhorn said.

A statement attributed to Harris in Noseweek, charging that Reisenberger officiated at same-sex marriages, was "baldly untrue," said Clive Rabinowitz, Sea Point vice president. Harris later apologized to Reisenberger and retracted the accusation, admitting that his statement had been incorrect and defamatory.

But Harris described as "patent nonsense" the notion that the beit din was being "unnecessarily harsh" and using the controversial conversion to "coerce" Sea Point into stricter observance. At issue, he said, is the fact that "there's a lot of cheating going on here," with Sea Point congregants defining for themselves what modern and centrist Orthodoxy are.

"Modern or centrist Orthodoxy is observant," Harris said. "The only differences between it and ultra-Orthodoxy lie in attitudes to non-Jewish people and attitudes to general scholarship. They are not differences about the observance of Torah, and this is where both Steinhorn" and a prominent congregant, Judge Dennis Davis, "have got it wrong."

In that sense, Harris continued, Sea Point "is cheating by putting their own definition on modern Orthodoxy."

Harris described as nonsense the article's assertion that Sea Point was "the last outpost of 'liberal Orthodoxy,'" resisting "the flood of 'fundamentalist pietude' washing south from Johannesburg."

"They are defining Orthodoxy in their own way, and no one else in the Orthodox world will accept it," Harris said.

Rabinowitz, who proposed the resolution to disaffiliate from the union in August, said the public spat was "extremely unfortunate."

Negotiations between Sea Point and the union are "limping along," said Rabinowitz, who predicted that the talks "may yet lead to a resolution of the problems."

Steinhorn said he was not optimistic that things would be resolved between the beit din, the union and Sea Point. "We want unity," Steinhorn stressed, "but I don't think they can live with modern Orthodoxy," he said."

Ten years ago said...


"Karin Barnard to tie knot with Cape executive

November 26 2001 at 01:18pm

By Helen Bamford

Karin Barnard, the former wife of heart transplant pioneer Chris Barnard, is set to marry Cape Town businessman Saul Berman.

Berman said he and Barnard had become engaged on Friday. They had known each other for two years.

He said a date for the wedding was still to be set but for the moment he was simply "feeling fantastic".

Karin, a fashion model, was married to Chris Barnard for 13 years before they divorced in March last year. They had two children, Armin, 12, and Lara, 4.

Barnard, 78, died in the Cypriot resort of Paphos after an asthma attack on September 2.

Karin is one of the main beneficiaries of Barnard's will and one of only three trustees administering his estate. Barnard's first wife Louwtjie will receive a regular income from the Chris Barnard family trust.

His second wife Barbara Silva died of breast cancer three years ago."

Nore than ten years ago said...


"Dr Chris's Karin engaged


Cape Town - Karin Barnard hasn't yet set the date, but when the big day arrives, she'll definitely be dressed in a wedding creation from her friend, Cape fashion doyen, Errol Arendz.

"I really didn't expect this," Karin, 37, said on Monday about her engagement to Saul Berman, 32, an old family friend on whose arm she was regularly seen since the beginning of last year.

The couple were spending the weekend at the Marine Hotel in Hermanus to celebrate her birthday on Friday when Berman, owner of a construction company in Seapoint, asked her that same evening to marry him. According to Barnard it was a "complete surprise".

Her engagement to Berman comes at the end of an emotionally challenging year for her. Her controversial marriage to the South African heart pioneer, Chris Barnard, ended on March 15 after she had already filed for divorce in 1999.

She was 24 and he was 65 when they were married in 1988. It was his third marriage. They had two children, Armin,12, and Lara, 4. Prof Barnard died in September this year.

When Karin's friendship with Berman hit the headlines last year, she said she has been friendly with Berman for years but that they've been seeing each other regularly since January last year.

Museum collection

Meanwhile Prof Barnard's estate has been estimated at more than R2,5 million, but some movable assets and bank accounts have not yet been finalised.

Among the items not yet included, is the collection in the Beaufort West museum - which will nearly double the estate - and a Swiss trust designed to keep his youngest children in the style to which they are accustomed to.

According to the inventory handed in at court, the Chris Barnard Family Trust touches the R1,5 million mark. Barnard's apartment in Oranjezicht, worth R750 000, was bequeathed to his daughter Deidre Visser in gratitude for her support during his divorce from Karin.

Items on the inventory that have not yet been valued include various bank accounts, including a Swiss one, as well as livestock and game on Prof Barnard's farm near Outshoorn.

- Die Burger"

Anonymous said...

JWB says:

Part of the problem is that the Agudath Israel leadership equates pedophilia whith homosexuality and these leaders believe in junk science that such people can be treated, cured and married off.

See the December 2011 issue of the Jewish Voice and Opinion: http://jewishvoiceandopinion.com/

Anonymous said...

Ain't but one way to stop this. Stop donating to BMG until they clean up their act.