Monday, May 14, 2012

....But even Heaven is not above the law!

by Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — The New York Times has now published an article that carefully chronicles a disquieting, alarming social reality brimming inside the fundamentalist Jewish community of Brooklyn: adult members of the enclave who have reported the sexual abuse of youngsters on the part of rabbis, teachers, and other professionals are being shunned and excoriated by others in the area.

This kind of medieval syndrome, a sad blend of paranoia and sanctimony, is condemning innocent children and protecting evil people who need to be condemned. It rehabilitates no one in need of serious clinical intervention and perpetuates the stranglehold of power-hungry old men that have no concept of ecclesiastic privilege and responsibility. It is locking kids into a spiritual ghetto that has nothing to do with either American or Jewish enlightenment.

There isn’t much of a distance between the perpetrators of such heinous acts and those who are effectively complicit by actually ostracizing their informants. No amount of Torah-waving, self-righteousness, or pious rationalization can possibly whitewash the fact that this trend, this hypocrisy, is scandalous, immoral, and quite possibly criminal.

There is certainly nothing in the Jewish textual tradition that supports this shameless practice; it is simply an outgrowth of the growing fiefdom of hardline rabbis whose power is viewed by their devotees as unyielding, boundless, and which even flouts the laws of the state. A number of journalists are looking into the comfortable relationship that seems to exist among the rabbis in Brooklyn and other heavily Hasidic towns and boroughs and the local or regional district attorneys. The sages are steeped in prayer and in electoral privilege—this writer will leave it to others to figure out whether it’s about money or reverence.

In any category, it is horrifying and needs to be addressed. I learned a long time ago, while preparing for the rabbinate, that Israel is often compared to a lamb. When any part of the creature is hurting, even its paw, the whole being is affected. This aphorism is Talmudic, as is the signal declaration by Rabbi Hillel: “In a place where are no human beings, you strive to be human.” In other words, the insular, detrimental, reactionary mindset of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who regard state laws as somehow incidental to rabbinic edicts, who incredulously condemn their neighbors who have the integrity and courage to report sexual criminals to the authorities (so as to protect the community reputation) have turned their backs on Jewish values, on biblical ideals—and on their own molested children.

Brooklyn is an eclectic, vibrant, and increasingly diverse city. Two hundred fifty thousand fundamentalist Jews live there—they are as thick as blackberries in the streets and parks and storefronts. They study texts and sing psalms as old as God. They publish great books and maintain sacred traditions and they look to the heavens for their inspiration. But even Heaven is not above the law.

Ben Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego.


Pokeach Ivrim said...

Part One:

"Ban the sheitel macher, ban Lipa, ban the Internet: Aron Schechter's paranoid and menacing decline

Most people age gracefully and peacefully, but not Aron Schechter head of the Chaim Berlin yeshiva in Brooklyn and the one who pulls the strings at Agudath Israel of America, Torah Umesorah, the US Yated, and more.

With the decline and final demise of Rav Yitzchok Hutner in 1980, Aron Schechter took over Rav Hutner's slots in Chaim Berlin and the American Aguda. This was a "succession" born in sin, because it was contested in front of Rav Moshe Feinstein's bais din, but Aron Schechter refused his hazmona and thus remains a lo tzayis dino and mesarev ledin ("contempt of bais din"). Things quieted down since those tumultuous days in the 1970s and 1980s. But as Aron Schechter entered his ninth decade, he exhibited serious symptoms of his own decline as the 21st century has progressed.

It started "quixotically" enough a few short years ago when Aron Schechter "banned" a sheitel macher (ladies wig store) because some of his "sensitive" kollel guys were "offended" by a large photo of a fully-clothed woman wearing a sheitel (!) in the store owner's window that the owner refused to take down. Schechter went into full-court press and wrote a public letter condemning and "banning" the sheitel macher for having the "audacity" to display a photo of a clothed woman with a pretty face wearing a sheitel (!) in a store on Coney Island Avenue, when on that street women can and do walk as they please and a strip club or two flourish a few blocks down that he does nothing about (he knows better than to pick on the Cosa Nostra)!

This may have seemed odd, but it was soon followed by the very public banning of an already almost sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden by the popular Chasidic singer Lipa Shmeltzer. This outrage was orchestrated by the manic-depressive Avrohom Schorr, even though Schechter hated his father Gedalya, yet son Avrohom is no "joy" to his father as he kowtows and manipulates and does Schechter's bidding, such as lining up forged signatures to ban Lipa."

Pokeach Ivrim said...

Part Two:

"Ban the sheitel macher, ban Lipa, ban the Internet: Aron Schechter's paranoid and menacing decline

Now comes a new meshugas into Schechter's head, he wants to ban the Internet and is a key mover and shaker in promoting the upcoming gathering at Citifield on May 20th 2012.

But you know something, this is not the first time klal Yisroel has faced a challenge in modernity. And by now everyone knows in the frum world that if you don't like something because it's wrong in your opinion or immodest by your standards, then "just say no" and keep it out of your life. Simple! No bans or demonstrations required!

When newspapers became popular, no one was forced to buy or read them. When radio became popular no one was forced to buy a radio and listen to it. When going to college came around no one forced anyone to go or not to go, there are no demonstrations forcing anyone to do or not do anything. When TV took off, no one has been forced to buy a TV and watch all the channels on it. If you are very frum, and if that is your choice, it's simple, all the yeshivas and rebbeim and hopefully responsible parents can "just say no" and keep all that out the house and away from their kids. The same goes for the Internet. If you don't want it in your family's life then "just say no" and don't buy your kids PCs, or lap tops, or any gadgets that you think or know will corrupt them. In Israel they have "kosher cell phones" by now. God bless them, if that works, then great.

But what is the point of spending hundreds of thousands to rent a huge stadium to preach the obvious, of what is already known, and for the rest (probably the majority), it is just a waste of time and they will pay no attention to the archaic rantings of the cranky rabbis, because it is not going to make a difference since we are living in the Information Age that is controlled by technology no matter which way we turn. If you don't like it and don't want it in your home, then "just say no" and don't allow tech devices into your home, period, and please don't make the world crazy with your paranoia and anger."

Shelo Asani Aved said...


Erev Yom Kippur 5750

To the Editor of the
Jewish Press

Dear Editor;

From the Jewish press of the 7th of Tischrei it is apparent that Agudath Yisroel recently promoted Rabbi Aron M. Schechter, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta R. Chaim Berlin, to the highest ranks of its rabbinical body, the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah. I protest this promotion because Rabbi Schechter together with Mr. Abraham Fruchthandler, the Chairman of the board of directors of the Yeshiva, has been summoned to appear before Beth Din several times, yet he has consistently refused to obey the Beth Din's hazmonoh and subsequent injunction, even when it was signed by Maran Hagaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, zatzal. Reb Moshe branded Rabbi Schechter a "lo tzais dino" because of his disobedience and then declared, "I summoned the saintly Rav Aron Kotler, zatzal, twice and he appeared before me right away, what do they think (Rabbi Schechter and Mr. Fruchthandler), that they are greater than him? But what can I do since they do not obey."

Rav Feinstein was universally recognized as the Gadol Hador, he was also Yoshev Rosh of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudath Yisroel. For the Agudath Yisroel to promote Rabbi Schechter to that august body whose principles he has flaunted and demonstrated his disregard for the greatest man who presided over it, is nothing short of chillul Hashem, promotes contempt for the institution of Beth Din and diminishes the stature of Agudath Yisroel and that of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah.

Besides the summons from Rav Feinstein which was issued in the name of Agudath Horabbonim and cosigned by Rabbi Ginzburg (a copy of same is attached for the editors perusal), four summonses were issued in writing by the Beth Din of Hisachduth Horabbonim, and oral summonses were delivered from Rav Schwab, shlita, and Rav Bick, shlita. All were ignored.

According to the ruling by Rav Feinstein the undersigned is the only legitimate Mashgiach and Menahel Ruchani of Yeshiva and Mesivta R. Chaim Berlin and Kollel Gur Aryeh and is the plaintiff in the Din Torah for which aforementioned summonses were issued.

I appeal to the other members of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, to the leaders and members of Agudath Yisroel and all Bnei Torah to join me in this protest and promote Bias Hagoel, like it is is written: "Zion bemishpot tipodeh veshoveho bitzdokoh."

Rav Shlomo Carlebach"


Shelo Asani Schechter said...

"Haredi Gadol Signs Anti-Internet Letter By Blessing God For Not Making Him A Goy

The Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin, Rabbi Aaron Schechter, signed his letter to students and alumni on the anti-Internet asifa, gathering, to be held at CitiField later this month, with the salutation "Baruch Ata shelo asani goy," Blessed are you [God, King of the Universe] who did not make me a goy," a blessing Orthodox and haredi Jews say every day in their daily prayers."

Anonymous said...

Margo fought this for 3 years before paying an out of court settlement of $720,000.

Kings Civil Supreme
Index Number: 016137/1997
Case Type: Other Torts Negligence
Track: Standard
RJI Filed: 06/05/1997
Date NOI Due:
NOI Filed: 01/26/2000
Disposition Date: 06/13/2000
Calendar Number: 2000-002223T
Jury Status: Jury At Plaintiff's Request
Justice Name: MURIEL HUBSHER (PT. 43)

Attorney/Firm For Plaintiff:
AVROHOM BECKER Attorney Type: Attorney Of Record Atty. Status: Active

Attorney/Firm For Defendant:
ABRAMS GORELICK FRIEDMAN JACOB Attorney Type: Attorney Of Record Atty. Status: Active
212 422-1200

John Doe #4 said...


Motion to compel Margo to produce more documents Jan 2012

John Doe #4 said...


Order to show cause April 2012

Anonymous said...

Kings Civil Supreme
Index Number: 038121/2006
Case Type: Other Torts Negligence

Is UOJ aware of this? John Doe #1 & Margo are back in court TODAY over attorney's fees. I'm not a lawyer but since it was the defendant who keeps filing motions post disposition, I get the impression that Margo is trying to get reimbursed from the plaintiff.

Shloyma Mandel said...

Kings Civil Supreme
Index Number: 027824/2009
Case Type: Other Torts

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