The UOJ Archives June 19, 2006
What has happened to good old-fashioned common sense? Most of us folk that make up the ranks of Orthodoxy crave the application of good judgment in our lives to the myriad of decisions that we are faced with every day. And when that judgment is applied to the welfare of our children, vigilance is the order of the day.
So how do we explain Kolko’s ability to stave off these persistent rumors that have dogged him for decades so effectively that he remained in the classroom until just a few weeks ago? We joked about our Cocoa Club and his Kolko Club. Rest assured, if these rumors reached the tender ears of a naïve thirteen year-old, they reached the hanhala of Torah Temimah as well. The previous failed bais din was more than enough for a thinking parent body to dispose of Yudi Kolko from the surroundings of children. Yet Kolko remained a rebbe, in class, enjoying unfettered access to young, vulnerable children entrusted to his care.
Lipa Margulies's crime was not only the lack of caring about your children, not only the pathetic trouncing of all that is sacred to mankind, but he literally spit in all the faces of his parent body, teachers, rebbes and the very foundation of Judaism; mentchlikeit. We were designated by God to set an example to the Nations of the world....oh what have we permitted to be done to us by one evil man?
Consider how this case would have played out if Torah Temimah were a public school. A complaint gets filed with the Board of Ed, and before an inquiry is conducted, Kolko is at the very least, removed from the classroom. Aren’t we supposed to be the smart ones?
Much of the blame lies in the basic human nature of people. We don’t want to believe that rabbis commit sins of moral turpitude. Nor do we want to find ourselves in the unenviable position of being betrayed by those we hope to admire and strive to emulate. It’s so much easier to shove aside the accuser because the alternative, acceptance, reflects so harshly on all of us, both as individuals and as a community. Had this gone on for a few months, or a year, perhaps such reason could be applied to the Torah Temimah hanhala.
But the sheer persistence of these rumors renders Marguiles and his minions absolutely responsible, as if they were in the room with Kolko b’shaas mayseh. Think for a moment what thirty years is. There is simply no excuse for not removing Kolko sooner. Sofek deorysah lchumrah should have been reason enough.
Ultimately, this cover-up may have occurred for no other reason than because it could. With the erosion of any sort of meaningful beis din process, until someone realized that catch phrases like “mesirah” and “rechilus” were just a smoke screen to pervert the truth and disguise the reality, there really is no hierarchy of accountability existing in Orthodoxy today. In fact, it’s become a joke. You don’t like a psak, buy another. For every rav that will tell you “no,” two more will not only tell you “yes” but tell you why the first rav is a lunatic. Sad, but the truth many times is.
I had a rebbe that once told me that mastering the four volumes of Shulchan Aruch were not nearly as important as the fifth – common sense. Our leaders, by failing to act sooner, have abrogated their thrones. We the people are on to them, and it will take more than reference to an obscure tosfos to regain our respect. There are more Kolkos out there. Let’s see who strives to fill the void at the uppermost echelons of Orthodoxy and exposes them.
Turning to the particulars of the case for a moment, let me state unequivocally that I believe David Framowitz. Common sense again dictates that a middle-aged man with a family doesn’t just come out of nowhere and make something like this up. And time does not dull every memory. I would venture that Framowitz remembers what happened to him in that old Plymouth like it was yesterday.
Indeed, Kolko’s belated removal from the classroom will reverberate through the Orthodox world the way Kennedy’s assassination changed the course of American history, and Framowitz is our Zapruder.
What Kolko’s removal says, regardless of the ultimate outcome of this case, to every Jew who has distorted our holy Torah to hide his behavior, to every Jew that fails to control the inclinations that drive them to sin at another’s expense, is that your days are numbered. We may take our licks for violating the laws of lashon harah. We may resort to profanity and less than sophisticated behavior. But we will not continue to enable those that prey on the weak by ignoring their cry. We will bring victims rights to the fore by aggressively pursuing those that prey on them.
If Orthodox "leaders" won’t say it, then the Orthodox will say to our so called leaders – zero tolerance. If we are going to call ourselves the am hanivchar, then we are going to start acting like the am hanivchar.
We will start reforming the yeshiva system as the next phase of our crusade, as we know full well that this would never have happened in a public school. Mitoch shelo lishmah, bah lishmah. The fact that Torah Temimah put Kolko “on leave” only after the suits were filed is pathetic and shamefully irrelevant at this point. What is highly relevant is that UOJ has demonstrated that late is better than never!
What remains to be done immediately, is to have Lipa Margulies removed from this yeshiva if it wants to recapture the name of a makom Torah. There is no room among our arba koslei hayeshiva for an evil opportunist to be present.
The leadership of the Jewish people must do just that; lead..... or the rishaim among our community will view this as just another story that they think will go away in time.
It will not; the lawsuit against Torah Temimah will be ongoing, making headlines in the national and international media.
Ridding our community of Lipa Margulies is not optional, it is no less than a chiyuv D'oraisa...ubeartah hara m'kirbechaw.
Monday, February 03, 2014
An Ontario judge has decided to uphold a ruling removing 14 children from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Lev Tahor.
Children to be removed from ultra-Orthodox Jewish community
About 200 members of a Jewish sect — the Lev Tahor group have moved from Quebec to Chatham, Ont. The group is working at setting up their new homes.
MONTREAL — An Ontario judge has decided to uphold a ruling removing 14 children from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Lev Tahor.
The ruling at the Chatham-Kent Courthouse upholds a Nov. 27 ruling in St-Jérôme by Youth Court Judge Pierre Hamel, who ordered the children be placed in temporary homes for a period of 30 days.
On Monday, Ontario Judge Stephen Fuerth ruled the Quebec Court had jurisdiction in this case, and said not to uphold the decision would "create jurisdictional chaos."
The children were ordered back to Montreal where foster families have already been identified. Fuerth exempted the oldest of the 14 children, a 17-year-old mother of an infant from the judgment.
However, the ruling won't take effect for 30 days, so the families can have a chance to appeal the judgment, Fuerth ruled.
Ahead of the Nov. 27 court date, about 200 members of the 240-person community fled Ste-Agathe-des-Monts for Chatham-Kent. The case has been tied up in Ontario youth court since that time.
The Quebec hearing, which was carried out in the absence of Lev Tahor members, had heard from a witness, a former member of the sect, who said children were hit in the sect's schoolhouse with wire hangers. The witness also described how children were routinely taken away from their parents and placed with other families as a form of punishment.
Social workers from Quebec's Youth Protection Department had also described how one of the children targeted to be removed was married at age 14, two years younger than the minimum legal age in Canada. Social workers also noted fungus on the feet of most of the girls, ostensibly caused from adhering to strictly modesty rules that they always wear socks, stockings and shoes.
Known as the Jewish Taliban, because of the full-body cloaks warn by women and the sect's anti-Zionist ideals, Lev Tahor has been widely criticized as an extremist cult in Israel. Most of the community's members are either born in Israel or Monsey, N.Y. The sect relocated to Ste-Agathe in 2004 after Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans was granted refugee status in Canada. He claimed he would be persecuted in Israel if he returned there.
Francine Campeau, a spokesperson for Quebec's Youth Protection Department, said she was pleased with the ruling.
"We're happy the judgment was recognized, but we continue to be concerned for the children while they remain with their families," Campeau said.
A spokesperson for Montreal's Jewish community said back in November that several families came forward to act as foster homes for the children. The families are from ultra-Orthodox communities in and around Montreal, and they speak Yiddish, which is essential since Yiddish is the predominant language used in Lev Tahor.
"We welcome the ruling itself," said David Ouellette, the public affairs director at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the community is anxious to help. "This is the course of justice. They have the right to appeal. That can't be denied to them."