Sunday, January 06, 2013

Somehow, the victims never seem as important as the rabbi... "People shouldn’t know, in other words, that Jews are just like everyone else."...

No Religious Exemption When It Comes to Abuse

Yeshiva University High School in Manhattan let rabbis accused of sexual abuse "go quietly."

Just as we think we know what an abuser looks like, we think we know what an abusive religious community looks like.

We may think it is highly insular — like the Satmar Hasidic community in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, a prominent member of which was convicted last month of sexually abusing a young girl sent to him for help. Or it is hierarchical and bureaucratic: if the Roman Catholic Church did not have so many bishops and archbishops who refused to dismiss or defrock molesters in their ranks, would so many pedophile priests have been able to carry on for so long?

But we don’t know a thing. Consider Yeshiva University.

As Paul Berger reported last month in the Jewish newspaper The Forward, two rabbis at the Modern Orthodox high school run by the university were accused of sexually abusing students in the 1970s and ’80s. Leaders, Mr. Berger wrote, responded by “quietly allowing them to leave and find jobs elsewhere.” The university president at the time, Norman Lamm — until last month a titan of contemporary Judaism — told Mr. Berger that he had let the staff members “go quietly.”

“It was not our intention or position to destroy a person without further inquiry,” Dr. Lamm said.

But Yeshiva University is supposed to be modern, engaged, contemporary. Its rabbis are not treated as infallible demigods. The school’s graduates work and live in the secular world. The culture of Yeshiva is supposed to permit, even encourage, argument, not punish or ostracize critics. So surely there were no impious skeletons in the closet, right?

But the truth is, there are not two kinds of religions — the enlightened and the medieval. Every religion has evildoers stalking its corridors. They just survive, and thrive, with different strategies.

Take Zen Buddhism, the paragon of open, nonhierarchical spirituality. Anyone may practice Zen meditation; you do not have to convert, be baptized or renounce your old religion. Yet leaders of major Zen centers in Los Angeles and New York have recently been accused, on strong evidence, of exploiting followers for sex. This weekend, Zen teachers ordained by Joshu Sasaki, the semiretired abbot of the Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles, are holding a retreat to discuss sexual harassment accusations against Mr. Sasaki. The Zen Studies Society, in New York, is under new leadership after its longtime abbot, Eido Shimano, was forced out after he was accused of inappropriate sexual liaisons with students and other women.

Paul Karsten, a board member of the Rinzai-ji Zen Center, said the intense relationship between Zen teacher and student can be trouble. For example, in private meetings, some teachers touch students. The touching is never supposed to be sexual, but there can be misunderstandings, or outright abuse. “I know of stories I have heard,” Mr. Karsten said, “where people feel like this experience has been very important to them, and others where they feel like it has been the opposite.”

Mr. Karsten acknowledged complaints against Mr. Sasaki — largely on the Internet, some anonymous — that the teacher went beyond what most reputable teachers would consider appropriate. But Mr. Karsten seemed torn between valuing extremely close teacher-student relationships and acknowledging the dangers.

“People see there has been something going on with students that on the one hand has been remarkable, and on the other hand has been inappropriate in teacher-student practice,” Mr. Karsten said. “And consensual, or nonconsensual?”

Questions e-mailed to Mr. Karsten for Mr. Sasaki, who is 105, were not answered.

Some churches have checks and balances that discourage unethical behavior. “A lot of it is secrecy versus transparency,” said Hugh Urban, author of “The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion.”

“If you have a church like the Episcopal Church, with a fair degree of transparency, that is going to make a difference,” he said. “But Scientology — almost every aspect of it from early on has tended toward secrecy.”

Scientology is known for both secrecy and, at the highest levels, extreme insularity. Committed Scientologists may fear that if they complain about abuses, they will lose their friends, even their families. Mr. Urban mentioned one woman who had told him about human-rights abuses at the church headquarters in Clearwater, Fla.

“I said, ‘Why don’t you go down the street and talk to the police?’” Mr. Urban said. “Her answer was, once you are so deep in, invested in that community, it doesn’t seem like a real possibility to go talk to the police.”

Then there is the fear of bringing shame on the community, particularly prevalent in minority groups. “When I started in 1982,” said Phil Jacobs, the editor of Washington Jewish Week, “there was an 11th commandment — ‘Thou shalt not air thy dirty laundry.’ ” He learned that commandment in Baltimore, writing about the high percentage of Jews in a treatment program for compulsive gambling. “When I started calling people, they said, ‘You’re not going to put this in the paper, are you?’ So I found out Jews didn’t get AIDS, didn’t get divorced, didn’t abuse their wives or children.”

That fear of embarrassment may be why Dr. Lamm — who is still at Yeshiva and declined to be interviewed — stayed quiet about the abusive rabbis at Yeshiva. Perhaps he loathed what they had done, and wept for their victims. But, he also may have thought that people shouldn’t hear bad things about Jews. People shouldn’t know, in other words, that Jews are just like everyone else.

That is everyone else, not just religious people. The Satmar Hasidim may have wanted to protect a beloved member, the Modern Orthodox administrators probably worried about their community’s reputation — and the Penn State loyalists enabled Jerry Sandusky.

Somehow, the victims never seem as important as the rabbi, the Zen master, the coach. In the words of a once-revered rabbi, Norman Lamm, may as well let the perpetrators “go quietly.”



Anonymous said...

Police are skilled, trained, and equipped to conduct unbiased and balanced investigations, but only if they have the information they need from victims who are encouraged to contact them. WHY WAS A REPORT NOT FILED? Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

Why You? said...

UOJ should look into this.

I heard this from a rabbi who was a bochur in YU in the 1960s.

There was a children's group on Shabbos under YU auspicies where the kids were being molested during those years. It was covered up at "very high levels" by YU with the excuse that the molester is a convert to Judaism and therefore "doesn't know".

"DOESN'T KNOW" ????? That's right, as absurd as that excuse is, a very high up YU figure actually said it.

Dam rayecha said...

I don't know if this is an answer to Rabbi Rosenberg's question.

It does say that during a time of hester panim / tochacha that Jews will illogically submit to be slaughtered "k'tzon letivcha", literally like sheep (who don't fight back).

This was true for the most part under the Nazis.

Suffice it to say that molestation of children, Rachmana litzlan, is a holocaust of sorts considering how the victims are damaged for life.

Of course this is no excuse for parents - or anyone else - to stand idly by when they know.

Anonymous said...

All these organizational machers didn't fight back against molesters and/or other corruption because they didn't want to jeopardize their 6 figure salaries.

Ohel - David Mandel & Derek Saker

Agudath Israel of America - Avi Shafran

Lubicom - Menachem Lubinsky

Torah Umesorah - Shea Fishman & Shlomo Gottesman

Torah Temimah - Yaakov Applegrad & Shlomo Feivel Schustal

Vaad Harabbonim of Queens - Chaim Schwartz

OU - too many people to name

Chofetz Chaim - Aryeh Ginzburg

Satmar - Duvid Niederman

Brooklyn District Attorney's Office - Charles Hynes

New York City Council - Lew Fidler & David Greenfield (covering up for Agudah / Satmar / Catholic Church & their surrogate Vito Lopez)

New York State Assembly - Shelly Silver

And there is at least two 7 figure salaries:

YU - Norman Lamm

Lewin & Lewin - Nat Lewin

Anonymous said...


Gun owners and advocates are fond of saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

This might be a more useful aphorism: Smart-guns don’t kill the wrong people.

Technology exists, or could exist, that would make guns safer. The idea of a safe gun might seem to be the ultimate oxymoron: guns are designed to kill. But something missing from the gun-control debate that has followed the killing of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., is the role of technology in preventing or at least limiting gun deaths.

Biometrics and grip pattern detection can sense the registered owner of a gun and allow only that person to fire it. For example, the iGun, made by Mossberg Group, cannot be fired unless its owner is wearing a ring with a chip that activates the gun.

But you would be hard pressed to find this technology on many weapons sold in stores. “The gun industry has no interest in making smart-guns. There is no incentive for them,” said Robert J. Spitzer, a professor of political science at SUNY Cortland and the author of four books on gun policy. “There is also no appetite by the government to press ahead with any kind of regulation requiring smart-guns.”

Why can we open our front doors with our iPhones and have cars that drive themselves, but we can’t make a gun that doesn’t fire unless its registered owner is using it?

“We can,” Dr. Spitzer said. “These safety options exist today. This is not Buck Rogers type of stuff.” But gun advocates are staunchly against these technologies, partly because so many guns are bought not in gun shops, but in private sales. “Many guns are bought and sold on the secondary market without background checks, and that kind of sale would be inhibited with fingerprinting-safety technologies in guns,” he said.

I called several major gun makers and the National Rifle Association. No one thinks a smart-gun will stop a determined killer. But I thought Smith & Wesson and Remington, for instance, would want to discuss how technology might help reduce accidental shootings, which killed 600 people and injured more than 14,000 in the United States in 2010. The gunmakers did not respond, and neither did the N.R.A.

A Wired magazine article from 2002 gives a glimpse of the N.R.A.’s thinking. “Mere mention of ‘smart-gun’ technology elicited sneers and snickers faster than a speeding bullet,” the magazine wrote. It quoted the N.R.A.’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, as saying, “Tragic victims couldn’t have been saved by trigger locks or magazine bans or ‘smart-gun’ technology, or some new government commission running our firearms companies.”

After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December, Mr. LaPierre created a new aphorism: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” He said violent video games and movies were part of the problem, but he didn’t mention smart-guns as a solution.

TriggerSmart, an Irish company, has patented a childproof smart-gun. One feature is a “safe zone” that can be installed in schools and acts as a force field, disabling any TriggerSmart gun that enters a designated area. Robert McNamara, the company’s founder, has been trying to persuade gun makers to adopt the technology. He isn’t having much luck. “One gun manufacturer told us if we put this technology in one particular gun and some kid gets shot with another gun, then they will have to put them in all guns,” he said.

“We believe we could have helped prevent the Newtown massacre.”

Baltimore, the city that breeds said...


According to Hauer’s letter, Levitt is not allowed in any orthodox synagogue except for Shearith Israel Congregation (also known as the Glenn Ave. Shul), which is under the leadership of Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer. The letter continued by assuring the Baltimore community that Stanley Levitt would be closely monitored when going in the hallways and or the restroom, that he was mandated to be accompanied by another adult.

Recently, a Hillel rabbi from Baltimore came into possession of a Torah (Jewish bible) from the holocaust. He was looking for someone who was trained to repair the scroll. Rabbi Stanley Levitt is a trained sofer stam (scribe) and had the qualifications needed to do the repairs. According to standard policies an individual who handles a Torah has to do so within the guidelines of purity, which includes going to a mikvah (ritual bath), prior to doing the work.

When Levitt applied to do the repairs on the holocaust Torah, he was interviewed three times prior to his application for the work was sent off the information to a Vaad in London (Jewish religious court). Immediately a member of the Vaad did a "Google search" of him, and learned of the allegations made against him along with the pending court case, which was found on The Awareness Center’s website. This was enough information for the Vaad to choose someone else to do the work.

Even though the Vaad of Baltimore has been aware of the allegations made against Levitt for several years it took the son of the Hillel rabbi to have the letter sent out by Hauer to be sent out.


Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer - Child Molester Enabler

Shmuel Borger said...


Shmuel Borger is alleged to have molested young boys. There are some prominent Rabbis including Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon who are aware of these allegations and who know the identity of the victims.

Aryeh Goodman said...


Newly alleged molester in Crown Heights

Leib Tropper said...


Who converted Jamie Aguiar? Tevila with a sheretz

Several years ago when I was fighting the Eternal Jewish Family and problematic conversions - one of the issues that came up was Guma Aguiar - the billionaire nephew of the billionaire financier of EJF Tom Kaplan. The questions regarded his wife Jamie - that Guma was very upset to have criticized - since she was a convert and he didn't want her Jewishness questioned. Before he forced me to remove any mention of him or his family by threatening me with a lawsuit - I had a long telephone conversation with him. One of the things I asked him point blank was whether his wife kept Shabbos. I had been told by a person who claimed to be a Chabad rabbi that she had been given a quickie conversion - even though she refused to keep Shabbos - because Chabad needed the money. [I have no independent verification of the truth of this assertion about Chabad]. His reply was "Well she does the best she can." Now it seems that not only was she not observing Shabbos properly - but she continued to observe Christian holidays after her conversion - and in fact she still does.

Sun-Sentinel The holiday season in the Aguiar home was always about celebrations, with the family observing both the Christian and Jewish rituals for this time of year.[...]

Despite her husband's absence, Jamie said she has continued the family's holiday routines.

"We do both Christmas and Hannukah, just as I always have," she said. "We have a Christmas tree and I celebrate with the children and light the menorah, too. It's a really special tradition this time of year." [....]

Before their lifestyle became grand, the couple met at Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, when Guma was a born-again Christian. They later converted to Judaism.