CALL TO ACTION: Rabbi Moshe Eiseman's Removal From Ner Israel, Baltimore, MD
The Awareness Center - September 3, 2006
There have been serious allegations made against Rabbi Moshe Eiseman over the last several years of molesting boys at Ner Israel of Baltimore, MD. The allegations were first reported by a blogger by the name of Unorthodox Jew. These allegations have since been confirmed by various reliable rabbinic sources.
It has been over a month since the Ner Israel administration brought the allegations to Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer who made a decree that Rabbi Eiseman needed to leave the Ner Israel. To this day Rabbi Moshe Eiseman is still employed by Ner Israel and continues to lives on their campus. Each day that goes by puts another child at risk of harm.
The Awareness Center is demanding that Rabbi Moshe Eiseman be relieved of his duties immediately, move off campus and required to attend treatment at a residential facility for sex offenders. It is also imperative that all communities members in which Rabbi Eiseman has worked be made aware of the allegations. The goal is to prevent one more child from being harmed and also to make sure that all past victims get the help they need.
Those who have been sexually victimized deserve to be treated with respect and dignity by professionals who have the experience and training to work with survivors of sex crimes. It is also very helpful if survivors contact local rape crisis centers who have free legal advocates available to go with them to file police reports.
There is a realistic fear that Rabbi Eiseman will return to Russia or return to working with Russian immigrants. These communities also need to be made aware of the past allegations and that if survivors come forward that they be referred to local rape crisis centers.
The goal is to prevent on more child from becoming the next victim and to ensure those who have already been sexually victimize receive help.
Please contact the administration at Ner Israel and Rabbi Hopfer and demand that Rabbi Moshe Eiseman be removed today!
Ner Israel Contact Information:
Rabbi Aharon Feldman - Rosh Yeshiva (Head of the School)
Rabbi Beryl Weisbord - Dean of Students
Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger - President
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer Contact Information:
Shearith Yisrael (Glen Ave. Shul)
UPDATED CALL TO ACTION
Demand Rabbi Moshe EIsemann Do The Following:
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - September 5, 2006
Please contact the following administrators at Ner Israel and also Rabbi Hopfer. Demand that Rabbi Moshe Eisemann leave his position at Ner Israel aand move off campus immediately. He must also go to police in Baltimore and confess to his crimes. Please note that there is no statue of limitation on sex crimes against children in Maryland. Rabbi Mose Eiseman must also pay restitution to his victims and enter into residential treatment for sex offenders.
It is believed that Ner Israel has known about this case for some time, yet has refused to take action. Please demand that they change their policies immediately!
How many more children will need to be sexually victimized before they start to take this issue seriously?
Ner Israel Contact Information:
Rabbi Aharon Feldman - Rosh Yeshiva (Head of the School)
Rabbi Beryl Weisbord - Dean of Students
Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger - President
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer Contact Information:
Shearith Yisrael (Glen Ave. Shul)
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
When I was --- years old, I was a talmid of Ner Israel. At that time, the Mashgiach Ruchni was Rabbi Moshe Eisemann. I became close to him and trusted him totally like a father figure. He is a very sick man. He would tell me he loved me and would hug and kiss me inappropriately. In this day and age, what rebby does this? He tried to control me by telling me loshon harah against my friends and family, and by telling my best friend not to be friends with me, and other ways.
I was very uncomfortable, but thought I was crazy for thinking he was weird. One day, he felt up my rear end IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BEIS MEDRASH! I couldn't believe it. I was shocked, angry and dismayed. But I did not have the guts to even say excuse me, what the hell are you doing. I did have the guts to tell my parents that he was "bothering " me and my mom called him and told him to stay away. He did not listen at first, but had the nerve to approach me a couple more times and to write me a letter threatening that love can easily turn to hate. I may still have that letter.
I know that this story does not sound like much, but there is more. Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine had problems and was thrown out of the dorm. Rabbi Eisemann offered to take him into his house. One night in the middle of the night, thinking my friend was asleep, Rabbi Eisemann went in and put his hand under the cover, and groped my friend's privates. My friend was only ---. He was horrified. The next day he told ......., who went to the hanhalla. Rabbi Herman Neuberger, A"H, reacted by saying that the boy had to leave the yeshiva.
My friend was devastated. He came to me to ask me to come forward. Es Chatai Ani Mazkir Hayom, I wasn't ready completely. I told him if there was any other way to save his brother, he should do it, but if not I would come forward. He found another victim whose father was a huge gvir and who had also been touched inappropriately. So my friend was allowed to stay.
Reb Tzvi Berkowitz,the son-in-law of Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky of Philadelphia, told my friend not to tell anyone what happened because it could be bad for the yeshiva.
I have suffered for years. Only years later was I able to tell my parents what truly happened. I have still not been able to confront the yeshiva satisfatorily on this issue.A few years ago, I DID tell Shragi Neuberger about it. He is a rebby, and Rabbi Neuberger's son and we were close once upon a time. He did not deny the problem. There had been a bochur who told Reb Dovid Cohen a similar story (a Russian bochur with no political clout) but that the story was "unsubstantiated".
I'm here to substantiate the fact that R. Eisemann has a real problem. What to do, the follow up phone calls have gotten us nowhere. I want to go further, but am afraid of being hurt personally by the yeshiva.
What I would like to know from you is, do you have a way to investigate and find others who have been affected? I'm sure there are. I found another person who said that he was also was felt up on three occassions, and although he was not traumatized he decided to stay away from Rabbi Eisemann. His story happened several years after mine. He also knows of one other person. By the way, I was traumatized mostly because of the relationship I had with Rabbi Eisemann, and also by the covering up and complete lack of caring on the part of the yeshiva. It is true that what happened to me from a sexual standpoint was "not as bad" as some other stories. After all there was no penetration, right??? There might not be a lawsuit, but is that really necessary even at this point? Wouldn't you think that the thought of a scandal now would get them to act? But Rabbi Eisemann is still sitting on the dais at the recent Rabbi Neuberger memory dinner, and what's worse, still talks in learning with unsuspecting yeshiva boys on a daily basis. What is wrong with these people???? Ignorance is only an excuse up to a point, no?!
If you have any ideas or advice for me, I would be so grateful.
One last thing. I thought of you this yomtov. Take a look at the Yalkut Meam Loez on Rus on Vayehi Bimay Shfot Hashoftim. He says that the judges / leaders of Klal Yisroel were judged by the people for their corruption. He writes pages and pages about this. He says that when Moshe Rabeinu "criticized" the Jews saying , a little more and they'll stone me", it was not a put down but praise that the Jewish people don't stand for phony, incompetent, self-interested leaders, but demand integrity from them, no matter who they are. I felt like he was writing about you. Really, take a look, and let me know what you think.
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
I went to Gary Rosenblatt to ask advice. He's the editor of Jewish Week who did the expose on Baruch Lanner. He had been the head of the Jewish paper in Baltimore. He told me that Rabbi Neuberger had been involved in a case in the city (Eisgrau) where he insisted that it be kept quiet and nothing was done. It's as if there is some kind of Mesorah that he had that this is the correct thing to do in these situations. You know, chillul hashem, etc.
Shragi told people that Rabbi Eiseman has a heart condition, and this has to be considered in deciding to act or not. He also said that the Neubergers had been aware for years of Matis Weinberg's problems, but did nothing. He said "Everyone knows that the Neubergers and Weinbergs don't get along well, so they would not have believed us." Come again???
David Mandel from Brooklyn had started a Beis Din in Baltimore to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in the frum community.The Beis Din consisted of Shragi, Rav Heinneman, Rav Hopfer, Rabbi Hauer, and Rabbi Goldberger. Shragi said that when Rabbi Heinneman is at the meetings they can't really speak about it because he doesn't get it as well as the rest of them. How do you explain this? A rabbi on Beis Din who does NOT understand the sickness?
According to Rabbi Moshe Wolfson, "There are as many rabbis out there that will hurt you than will help you," and "There ARE no more Gedolim, veharaya, that people come to me with questions that they used to go to gedolim."
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
Did you hear about the two evenings that Ohel had entitled "let's talk about what never happened, but it really did"? The first one featured Rav Pam, Reb Shmuel and Reb Dovid Cohen and was emceed by Sruly Reisman. I gave them an A for effort, but their cluelessness caused, I believe, much pain to the victims/survivors in the audience. Reb Shmuel was asked by a lady what she should do about being molested 30 years ago and never telling anyone. She said that she was recently experienceing psychological symptoms. He told her to see a shrink, but to not tell her husband under any circumstances, because there is no way he would understand. This is in public and on tape. Rav Pam spoke about frum people with psychological issues like OCD, but didn't mention molestation, abuse of any sort, anything to do with sex or what the purpose of the evening was supposed to be. I wonder if someone told him, even? My favorite was of course, Rabbi Reisman, who after offering the caveat that he was not a psychologist, still felt that he had something intelligent to offer on the subject beacause of his experiences with victims. He then told two stories in which he went out of his way to point out that the molester was NOT Jewish. It did not take my years of leaning lamdus to make the diuk that apparently frum people of course don't molest, and that what had happened to many of the people in the room, really didn't happen at all according to the resident Navi expert. To "help" people even more, when asked by one survivor about the feelings of betrayal, he opined that this was not an issue at all, because like Don Rumsfeld said about the war in Iraq, "Stuff happens".
Basically, the message was to victims: we want to help you to get over it... so get over it, ok?
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
I hope you took no offense that I called you meshuga. I think that anyone who is not made meshuga by the horrible world of hypocrisy that is called the frum velt has something really wrong with them. Anyway, sorry for the choice of words. Again, you are my hero.
One thing that impressed me about your approach, is that with the Gerrer situation (the gerrorists) you got the job done and didn't feel the need to "take them down" or to necessarily go after the yeshiva, etc.
I'm mentioning this, because although sometimes the situation calls for drastic measures like multimillion dollar lawsuits and possibly razing a yeshiva to the ground, each situation is different and this whole problem does require sophistication as well as passion. In my case of Ner Yisroel, maybe something subtle like a letter writing campaign, or a few choice phone calls asking politely for Rabbi Eisemann to be taken care of, might do the trick especially now that they see what the problem could lead to.
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
I do not think it is enough to dismiss these people from their jobs. Look at the two guys who were fired. They go to Israel and will most likely end up like Mattis Weinberg molesting again at a later date. What needs to be done is:
Rabbi Eisemann should be told that the community, i.e. hanhalla of yeshiva, will monitor him and talk to his therapist to be sure he is complying. He will be given a job doing something with no child contact, but if he does not comply, he will be punished with fines or something else. His passport should probably be taken away.
His treatment should be comprehensive at a place that specializes in sex offenders and should include objective assessment for pedophilia (lie detector test, sexual deviancy measures, etc.) group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy.
The yeshiva, as part of the change that needs to be made, should have to track down as many victims as possible and apologize.
Am I asking too much?
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
You have touched on many issues, and are right on target.
Firstly, Shlomo Gottesman at Torah Umesorah is a big part of the problem, he's known about these problems At Ner Israel for years and is deeply involved in covering up this issue.
The gedolim, at least the ones they call gedolim, are clueless outside their daled amos. As a general rule, the Europeans don't get it, and the great chachomim like R' Ruderman are gone.
The present rabbonim in America are either businessmen protecting their businesses, or shluchim from them. I can't think of one name today that can compare to the toes of a R' Ruderman.
What's worse is that they in their ignorance and self-interests are causing the destruction of authentic Orthodox Judaism. R' Moshe didn't know about N.Y. water? Romaine lettuce?
Chumras upon chumras...where's the beef??? kinderlach's lives and neshomas??????
The Neuberger's behavior come as a shock and will come back to haunt them. What about Tzvi Berkowitz?/ Is he out of his mind or just waiting for the rosh yeshiva's job? Eiseman is sick, he has molested me for years when I went for shabbes to his house. He said it is ok to feel good. How crazy is that???I'm at a loss to explain what's going on. Maybe this is the next dor hamabul...the rishaim seem to be everywhere. I need time to think of an aitza, right now, I'm shocked out of my mind.
Sincerely and all the very best,do not let the Neubergers fool you, they will do nothing.
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006.
I know five of us that Eiseman masturbated, but I'm not sure how many would agree to help or come forward. There is the Russian boy but only Dovid Cohen know who this bochur is. I'm shocked that Dovid Cohen did not do anything to get rid of Eiseman, he told people years ago that he spoke to the Neubergers and they agreed to fire him.
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
Oh, by the way, you know that Moshe Eisemann went for years and years to Russia to work with unsuspecting Jewish children there under Agudas Yisroel's plan for harbotzas torah.
I'm going to write Neuberger that he really needs to fire Eiseman, pronto. And if Eiseman takes the yeshiva to a din torah (sure) then I'm willing to back up the yeshiva. But I will not help them in any way until he's fired.
I have two more victims of Eiseman who might be willing to contact you anonymously. Maybe three. Reb Dovid Cohen was also approached by somebody about Eiseman a while ago. I'm sorry you are having health problems. I'm suffering a lot too. Will it be all over soon? Or will it take as long as YTT is taking? Have you gotten any response from Ner Israel?
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
I have an insider in Torah Umesorah...they ( Ner Israel) have no interests in doing the right thing at all. They're more concerned about finding me. I went to Herman 12 years ago and told him that Eiseman is sick, so they know full well and decided to do nothing. They learned NOTHING from the Margulies fiasco. I will be going public. Hopfer has been covering for Eisgrau...Eisgrau raped his own daughter, I'm in contact with her.
They're going to learn the hard way. I'll testify if needed!
The Unorthodox Jew Blog - July 7, 2006
Apparently someone calling himself UOJ told Reb Sheftel that they've got 10 days to act or else. I had been wondering if they would make the top 3. Suddenly, Shragi says to my friend they are ready to act. Not to botch it up like TT did. He wants to go to a beis din first with Rabbi Hopfer. Many people told him that that's a waste of time, totally unnecessary. All they need to do is retire Eiseman based on 2 credible complaints, period. My friend said what are you afraid of that Eiseman will sue?!! I told him not to worry about Eiseman's heart condition, the victims come first. I think he might have heard me, but we'll see. Either way, I think in 10 days it will all be done. I hope. Shragi asked my friend if you had other victims. You told me that you didn't want to name others to me about other victims. He was very puzzled about how the molestation had taken place in the beis medrash, and I clarified to him that for some very sick individuals, that is what gets their rocks off.
Yasher Koach and keep up the good work. Soon it will be done and you can take a real hiatus and recuperate, I hope.
I'm feeling better already, but it ain't over till its over.
On second thought, I don't trust Shragi at all to be looking out for my interests, I don't feel a need to confront Eiseman to his face, and I certainly don't want to have to speak to this guy Hopfer. So, I'm going to call off the charade and tell them to just do what you are calling for, which happens to also be the best thing for all people concerned. I truly hope they do what they need to.
A victim responds to a question that I pose about them calling for an immediate hearing:
No, they did not agree. In matter of fact my friend just got a call from Shragi from Eretz Yisroel, that when he gets back, he wants to have a meeting with me, my friend, any other victims, Rabbi Eiseman and Rabbi Hopfer. I'm not quite sure why they need his involvement. I'm not sure why they need anybody's involvement. It makes me nervous, but I'm willing to help do things their way for now. It's the bottom line that matters. I'm nervous about this too. Shragi now talked to my friend about making "restrictions" for Eiseman, it seems Eiseman is staying, and the talk of his dismissal is a charade.
Any victims of Moshe Eisemann please contact me. I am willing to assist you in legal action against Ner Israel and Eiseman.
The next yeshiva has one week to terminate their in-house sexual abuser!
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
There is no universal definition of child sexual abuse. However, a central characteristic of any abuse is the dominant position of an adult that allows him or her to force or coerce a child into sexual activity. Child sexual abuse may include fondling a child's genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, and vaginal and anal intercourse. Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact; such abuse could include noncontact abuse, such as exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography. Abuse by peers also occurs.
Accurate statistics on the prevalence of child and adolescent sexual abuse are difficult to collect because of problems of underreporting and the lack of one definition of what constitutes such abuse. However, there is general agreement among mental health and child protection professionals that child sexual abuse is not uncommon and is a serious problem in the United States.
The impact of sexual abuse can range from no apparent effects to very severe ones. Typically, children who experience the most serious types of abuse—abuse involving family members and high degrees of physical force—exhibit behavior problems ranging from separation anxiety to posttraumatic stress disorder. However, children who are the victims of sexual abuse are also often exposed to a variety of other stressors and difficult circumstances in their lives, including parental substance abuse. The sexual abuse and its aftermath may be only part of the child's negative experiences and subsequent behaviors. Therefore, correctly diagnosing abuse is often complex. Conclusive physical evidence of sexual abuse is relatively rare in suspected cases. For all of these reasons, when abuse is suspected, an appropriately trained health professional should be consulted.
Who are the Victims of Child Sexual Abuse?
Children and adolescents, regardless of their race, culture, or economic status, appear to be at approximately equal risk for sexual victimization. Statistics show that girls are sexually abused more often than boys are. However, boys' and, later, men's, tendency not to report their victimization may affect these statistics. Some men even feel societal pressure to be proud of early sexual activity (no matter how unwanted it may have been at the time). It is telling, however, to note that men who have been abused are more commonly seen in the criminal justice system than in clinical mental health settings.
Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
Education, Prevention, and Recovery
What are the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse?
Children and adolescents who have been sexually abused can suffer a range of psychological and behavioral problems, from mild to severe, in both the short and long term. These problems typically include depression, anxiety, guilt, fear, sexual dysfunction, withdrawal, and acting out. Depending on the severity of the incident, victims of sexual abuse may also develop fear and anxiety regarding the opposite sex or sexual issues and may display inappropriate sexual behavior. However, the strongest indication that a child has been sexually abused is inappropriate sexual knowledge, sexual interest, and sexual acting out by that child.
The initial or short-term effects of abuse usually occur within 2 years of the termination of the abuse. These effects vary depending upon the circumstances of the abuse and the child's developmental stage but may include regressive behaviors (such as a return to thumb-sucking or bed-wetting), sleep disturbances, eating problems, behavior and/or performance problems at school, and nonparticipation in school and social activities.
But the negative effects of child sexual abuse can affect the victim for many years and into adulthood. Adults who were sexually abused as children commonly experience depression. Additionally, high levels of anxiety in these adults can result in self-destructive behaviors, such as alcoholism or drug abuse, anxiety attacks, situation-specific anxiety disorders, and insomnia. Many victims also encounter problems in their adult relationships and in their adult sexual functioning.
Revictimization is also a common phenomenon among people abused as children. Research has shown that child sexual abuse victims are more likely to be the victims of rape or to be involved in physically abusive relationships as adults are.
In short, the ill effects of child sexual abuse are wide ranging. There is no one set of symptoms or outcomes that victims experience. Some children even report little or no psychological distress from the abuse, but these children may be either afraid to express their true emotions or may be denying their feelings as a coping mechanism. Other children may have what is called "sleeper effects." They may experience no harm in the short run, but suffer serious problems later in life.
Can Children Recover from Sexual Abuse?
In an attempt to better understand the ill effects of child abuse, psychologists and other researchers have studied what factors may lesson the impact of the abuse. More research needs to be done, but, to date, factors that seem to affect the amount of harm done to the victim include the age of the child; the duration, frequency, and intrusiveness of the abuse; the degree of force used; and the relationship of the abuser to the child.
Children's interpretation of the abuse, whether or not they disclose the experience, and how quickly they report it also affects the short- and long-term consequences. Children who are able to confide in a trusted adult and who are believed experience less trauma than children who do not disclose the abuse. Furthermore, children who disclose the abuse soon after its occurrence may be less traumatized than those children who live with the secret for years.
Some researchers have begun to look at the question of whether someone can recover from sexual abuse, and, if so, what factors help in that recovery. Children and adults who were sexually abused as children have indicated that family support, extra-familial support, high self-esteem, and spirituality were helpful in their recovery from the abuse.
It is important for victims of abuse to relinquish any guilt they may feel about the abuse. Victims also report that attending workshops and conferences on child sexual abuse, reading about child sexual abuse, and undergoing psychotherapy have helped them feel better and return to a more normal life. Research has also shown that often the passage of time is a key element in recovery.
Counseling and other support services are also important for the caregivers of abused children. One of the strongest predictors of the child's recovery from the abuse experience is a high level of maternal and family functioning. (This, of course, assumes that the abuser was not a member of the immediate family or, if so, is not still living within the family.)
Protecting Children From Sexual Abuse
|•||The typical advice "Don't Talk to Strangers" doesn't apply in this case. Most sexual perpetrators are known to their victims.||•||Do not instruct children to give relatives hugs and kisses. Let them express affection on their own terms.|
|•||Teach your children basic sexual education. Teach them that no one should touch the "private" parts of their body. A health professional can also help to communicate sex education to children if parents are uncomfortable doing so.||•||Develop strong communication skills with your children. Encourage them to ask questions and talk about their experiences. Explain the importance of reporting abuse to you or another trusted adult.|
|•||Teach your children that sexual advances from adults are wrong and against the law. Give them the confidence to assert themselves against any adult who attempts to abuse them.||•||Make an effort to know children's friends and their families.|
|•||Instruct your child to never get into a car with anyone without your permission.|
|•||Teach your children that their bodies are their own. That it is OK to say they do not want a hug or that certain kinds of contact make them uncomfortable.||•||It is important to remember that physical force is often not necessary to engage a child in sexual activity. Children are trusting and dependent and will often do what is asked of them to gain approval and love.|
|What To Do If You Think a Child You Know Has Been the Victim of Sexual Abuse|
|•||Give the child a safe environment in which to talk to you or another trusted adult. Encourage the child to talk about what he or she has experienced, but be careful to not suggest events to him or her that may not have happened. Guard against displaying emotions that would influence the child's telling of the information.||•||Reassure the child that he or she did nothing wrong.|
|•||Seek mental health assistance for the child.|
|•||Arrange for a medical examination for the child. Select a medical provider who has experience in examining children and identifying sexual and physical trauma. It may be necessary to explain to the child the difference between a medical examination and the abuse incident.||•||Be aware that many states have laws requiring that persons who know or have a reason to suspect that a child has been sexually abused must report that abuse to either local law enforcement officials or child protection officials. In all 50 states, medical personnel, mental health professionals, teachers, and law enforcement personnel are required by law to report suspected abuse.|
|Where To Go for Help|
|Several organizations can provide information and advice about child sexual abuse, including:|
|American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children |
407 South Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60605
|National Center for Missing and Exploited Children |
Charles B. Wang International Children's Building
699 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3175
24 hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST
Child Help USA
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
Prevent Child Abuse America
Israeli women battle a culture of harassment
Case of Rabbi Yoram AberjilNetivot, Israel A not-so-saintly rabbi in Netivot
By Tamar Rotem firstname.lastname@example.org
Haaretz - December 11, 2006
It was a normal evening in early November. In Netivot, the town of memorial celebrations for saintly rabbis, quiet is something tangible - actually rare. Perhaps this was the reason why there was something disturbing about the quiet that prevailed outside. The little ones were already lying in bed in their pajamas when suspicious shadows were seen in the garden outside S.'s kitchen. Looking through the window, she made out three figures, and she felt something bad was about to happen. She knew these were the thugs of Rabbi Yoram Aberjil. At that very moment, her husband, A., was at the police station, filing a complaint of attempted assault by people he identified as the rabbi's followers. She was alone with her small children. "I knew that the outer door of the kitchen was not locked. That's how it is in Netivot. My whole body trembled."
S. pushed the stove against the door and ran to the "safe" room (reinforced against rocket attacks). She frantically emptied the wall closet and put the children into it. Meanwhile, the thugs entered the building. They hammered wildly at the door and shouted over and over for her to open it. A neighbor yelled from above: "What do you want here?" They said: "We've come to kill her."
"I took a carving knife and held it ready. The children started crying. I told them: 'Quiet. If you cry, it will be the end of us.' I held my hand over the mouth of the youngest child. One of the children said: 'Mommy, it's like in the Holocaust.'" The intruders continued to bang on the door and shout. Someone called the police, and when they heard the sirens, they ran off. "That night we packed our bags and fled," she related.
Until a few months ago, Rabbi Aberjil was the rabbi of S. and her husband. The two are in their late 20s, and, like all the members of the community, are newly religious. Over the last year, they decided to move away from the crowded community. They found an apartment outside of the area in which the community is concentrated, and moved the children to schools not identified with Rabbi Aberjil.
In the second week of September, S. relates, the telephone rang, and it was Rabbi Aberjil on the line. "I want you to know that your children are precious to me," he said. "I won't let anyone pick the fruit I planted. The next conversation will be really painful. I will follow you. I have ways of making you disappear in a hit-and-run accident. I will curse your children. I'm telling you, I have powers. Your children will be orphans."
At the end of October, they asked for help from a series of rabbis, among them the town's chief rabbi, Rabbi Pinhas Cohen. They unwittingly opened a Pandora's box. Other families of yeshiva students also came to Rabbi Cohen and told of threats made by Rabbi Aberjil. As a result of conversations with women, two files of evidence were compiled about what could be regarded as sexual harassment. Rabbi Cohen passed the complaints on to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (the country's leading Sephardic rabbi) and to the Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Yosef gave instructions to establish a special religious court to examine the complaints.
This is not the first time Rabbi Aberjil has found himself in trouble. Some 10 years ago, there was another wave of complaints by women against him, which were examined by a religious court. He reacted strongly against the current accusations. "The town was seething. People I know who merely spoke with the women who complained were threatened with murder," said one rabbinic source in the town. Rabbi Cohen received threats by phone. His car and that of his wife were vandalized, and he lodged a complaint with the police. Other complainants were ostracized and expelled from Aberjil's study center, as was anyone who was in contact with them. Two of the complainants were beaten up. As a result of the various incidents, the young men and their wives lodged complaints with the police.
In early November, Rabbi Aberjil gave a speech that could be described as incitement to murder. It was circulated on ultra-Orthodox Web sites: "Whoever mentions my name, create a riot; tell him 'shut up, you sinner' ... If you have a prayer book, throw it at him; if you have a shoe, throw it at him; if you have a stone, throw it at him ... Take a stick and beat him until the man has to get to Emergency ... anyone who harms us. Because if he dies, nothing will happen; he died of wickedness."
According to the complainants and rabbinic sources who supported them, the police's handling of the matter was inadequate. They were abandoned by the rabbis, and this week the special rabbinic court decided to close the case for lack of evidence.
Rabbi Aberjil is an enigmatic character. He developed a kind of new stream in Judaism: Sephardic Hassidism, which draws from both the Chabad (Lubavitch) and Bratslav Hassidic traditions. In a town of "courts" and holy men, he has been able to create a unique image, and draw in the newly religious with magical cords. Both his admirers and his enemies agree that he is a deeply knowledgeable scholar. In his youth, he learned at an Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox (but not hassidic) yeshiva. His style is that of a preacher, spiced with stories of miracles and frightening tales. A rabbinic source in the town explained that it is easy to turn the newly religious into followers: "They revere him. He says he has a connection to G-d, and the newly religious are excited by that. It would not make an impression on those who grew up ultra-Orthodox."
Aberjil gathered strength in Netivot by collecting these scattered souls under his authority. Aside from his community in Netivot, he has been able to attract other groups, among them businessmen who come to consult him. "He knows how to appeal to them. He keeps talking about negating oneself. It's like brainwashing, and they become dependent on him, like robots," said one of the female complainants. Some 300 men learn at the study center in Netivot, but about one third of them do not define themselves as his followers. The real disciples and their wives are a separate group. They get up early on Shabbat to pray with the rabbi, and to take part in his study session. On the eve of Shabbat, the women, dressed in white, walk considerable distances from their homes, wheeling strollers, in order to receive a blessing. "The women admire him," said the wife of one of the yeshiva students. "They behave like lovers." Students tell of long counseling conversations Rabbi Aberjil has with their wives. According to the complaints, these talks sometimes become intimate, and slip into the realm of sexual harassment.
"Yoram Aberjil presumes to be a marriage counselor," says journalist Yossi Bar-Moha, who has published investigations into the courts of kabbalists. "Neighborhood rabbis tell me that he destroys families. To this man he says, 'Your wife is no good,' to that woman he says, 'Don't marry him.'"
Many students relate that Rabbi Aberjil expresses himself as if he is blessed with supernatural powers. His powers captivated settlers, many of whom came to consult with him before the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. One of them, from the settlement of Morag, told Haaretz that he bought a house in the settlement one month before the evacuation, because of the advice and blessing of Rabbi Aberjil.
Another young man related that Aberjil despises other rabbis, with the exception of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and forbids his followers from listening to "Radio Hakodesh," the pirate station of the newly religious. "Don't believe any rabbi," he likes to say. "I alone have holiness. I alone am G-d-fearing."
According to rabbinic sources who supported the complainants, Aberjil threatened that he would shut down his institutions if he got as much as a reprimand. "The rabbis and the religious court judges have relationships of mutual loyalty, and they had no intention of seriously investigating the matter," said the source. There was an intervention by the chairman of the Shas party, MK Eli Yishai, who treats the rabbi - regarded as an exceptional vote-getter in the south - with kid-gloves. Last week, the complaints and the cassette recordings of the alleged incitement were handed over to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
"We innocently believed that we would find a cleaner life in the ultra-Orthodox community," said one of the female complainants. "For us this is a very strong crisis of faith. We expected that at least the chief rabbis would see the truth, but we were bitterly disappointed."
Rabbi Aberjil's secretary, Erez Reuven, said in response that no force had been used against any of the families. "Not one of us lifted a hand against them. The families should not have left in the first place, and of course they can come back to the town." Referring to the study session whose contents included incitement to murder, he said: "The rabbi educates toward 'ahavat Yisrael,' love of the nation; and by the end of the session he explained that he was against violence."
The Negev sub-district of the police gave this response: "The complaints were dealt with efficiently and sensitively. Proof of this can be found in the calm that is being preserved. The complaint against the rabbi regarding incitement to violence was lodged at the Netivot police station. Once testimonies have been collected, the cassette and the material from the investigation will be given to the attorney general, who is the person authorized to determine whether it is a matter of incitement, and whether to instruct the police to launch a [full] investigation."
=========================================Call To Action: Locating Rabbi Mordechai Gafni and His Return To Israel
Back in May, 2006 new allegations were made against confessed child molester Rabbi Mordechai Gafni . This time the allegations were made by three twenty-year-old women who filed a complaint with the police in Haifa (Israel). The new claims were of professional sexual misconduct. The alleged offenses occurred during Torah lessons given by Gafni.
Immediately after the charges were filed Rabbi Mordechai Gafni confessed and then fled Israel for the United States. He first landed in Boston, MA, where it is believed he stayed with one of his many female friends. There were rumors that soon after arriving in Boston he continued on to Boulder, CO and stayed with a colleague and then moved on to Utah. It is unknown where he is today. It is believed that he is in hiding and will attempt to reinvent himself again as he did back in the 1980's after the first allegations were made against him of child molestation.
The Awareness Center is seeking justice for all of the survivors of Rabbi Mordechai Winiarz (past and present). If you have any information regarding the current location of Rabbi Marc Gafni please notify The Awareness Center, Inc. at once.
The Awareness Center, Inc.
(© 2006) By Vicki Polin
Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out - June 16, 2006
Early in 2003, while The Awareness Center, Inc. was in its infancy, several orthodox rabbis (who had a connection with the Rabbinic Council of America and Agudath Israel) started calling to request our organization to do something about Marc Gafni (AKA: Mordechai Winiarz). In order to comply with wishes of the rabbonim, our board and volunteers attempted to track down three known survivors of this alleged sex offender.
We had very little difficulties tracking down the second and third survivors, yet had trouble locating the first. Gary Rosenblatt was the link to finding the first survivor.
During our initial conversation with Winiarz/Gafni's first survivor, we learned that several years prior, she had provided Rosenblatt with her story. Back in the 90's Gary had heard rumors and tracked her down. The first survivor stated that she was not seeking an opportunity to share her abuse history, but was convinced by Rosenblatt that sharing the story might spare future women the pain of abuse at Winiarz/Gafni's hands.
This survivor shared every painful detail with Gary Rosenblatt. Gary promised that he would publish a story right away. Years went by, there was no further contact and a story was never published. The survivor felt exploited and betrayed.
In 2004 finally Gary Rosenblatt reestablished contact with the first survivor, providing her with the contact information for The Awareness Center. The survivor was apprehensive, yet followed through and made the initial call.
I'll never forget the day Survivors two and three communicated with the first survivor. It was amazing to watch; a day filled with old terror and pain transforming into tears of healing, joy and empowerment.
Amazingly the three survivors were eager to work with Gary Rosenblatt. The intention was and always has been to prevent any more women from being victimized by Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni. The Awareness Center did it's best to work with Gary Rosenblatt as well, and provided him with names of individuals who had first hand knowledge of Gafni's past.
Gary had ample information and factual content from highly respected rabbis and members of the community. The original story Gary wrote was to be published in the spring of 2004, yet nothing happened. Every week Mr. Rosenblatt told the survivors it would be published the following week, yet nothing happened. It wasn't until September 24, 2004, that an extremely watered down version of what was originally written was published.
In Gary Rosenblatt's most recent article "Deconstructing The Gafni Case" he wrote:
"They felt they were the victims, that they had suffered enough and did not want to go through a public scrutiny of past abuses and humiliations. His former wives and the other women had new lives to live and reputations to protect."
The problem with this statement is; Gary ceases to mention that in the code of journalistic ethics created by the US department of Justice, one should never publish the names of victims of sex crimes. Three women spoke directly to Rosenblatt with the understanding that thier names would not be used, all of whom were quoted in his original article. It is common journalistic practice to have unnamed sources. Remember Watergate?
"But for a journalist probing these accusations and knowing that the resulting expose could destroy the subject's career, professional standards require offering up real people and real names to make those charges. That is why I spent three years on the Gafni trail, interviewing dozens of people about the allegations of sexual misbehavior, before publishing anything. And at that point, in September 2004, I wrote an opinion column rather than a news story because I still did not have anyone with firsthand experience of abuse speaking on the record."
"And I offered up Gafni's denials, and other rabbis defending him. They said that even if these things had happened, it was a long time ago and he had done teshuva (repentance). . . I think I should have written at the time that I found the women far more credible than Gafni. . . One thinks I should have acted on my instincts and been tougher on Gafni, even though I had no firsthand accounts on the record. Another said I was right to have held out for on-the-record attribution."
The survivor who was thirteen at the time of her abuse stated that it wasn't until years after her initial contact with Mr. Rosenblatt that he connected her with The Awareness Center. The survivor had already given a detailed account of her sexual assault directly to Rosenblatt, yet she requested that her name be withheld from the story. From the point this survivor contacted The Awareness Center, it was another six months before Gary's watered down article was published. He promised the survivor years before that he would publish the story the week following the initial interview, yet nothing ever happened.
Back in 2001, survivor number one received a telephone call from Winiarz/Gafni supporter Naomi Mark, ACSW. Naomi's goal was for a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to meet with her offender. Naomi told this survivor that Marc Winiarz/Gafni wanted to make amends. She told the survivor that Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni had wrote a letter stating: "he thought the survivor was hurting because he ended their relationship instead of marrying her". He wanted to apologize for "breaking her heart."
The survivor told Ms. Mark that she would not meet with the man who raped her. The survivor disclosed that she let Naomi Mark know that "the relationship" Winiarz/Gafni was referring to should be called RAPE. A far cry from what Winiarz/Gafni called a "heartache, or a fallen romance."
The Survivor believes the reason Winiarz/Gafni wanted to contact her at the time was because he learned of the interview she had given to Gary Rosenblatt. The survivor was sure that Winiarz/Gafni was worried about what Rosenblatt would publish. Winiarz/Gafni wanted the survivor to say that she had forgiven him for the assault. Marc Winiarz/Gafni neither acknowledged that he had sexually abused a child, nor admitted to any violent acts.
It appears Gary Rosenblatt's attempt to re-create history has been influenced by his long time friend, Rabbi Saul Berman -- who to this day is believed to be a defender of Mordechai Gafni.
If Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni has done teshuva, why has he not contacted the other women whom he victimized? Why didn't he ever offer to pay for the pain and suffering all three women endured because of his offenses?
Once again Rosenblatt's affiliation with Rabbi Saul Berman influenced his ability to get the facts straight. Gary Rosenblatt had firsthand accounts. He spoke to three women who were sexually victimized by Mordechai Winiarz (AKA: Marc Gafni). Two survivors had sexual contact; the third was a survivor of inappropriate sexual advances by an orthodox rabbi, who was also a married man.
Gary Rosenblatt spoke to numerous rabbis and other credible individuals who backed the survivor's stories. What more evidence did he need?
If Rosenblatt really wants to make amends to the survivors of Winiarz/Gafni, he should put an advertisement in the New York Jewish Week calling for the extradition of Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni, and have all those who have blindly supported Winiarz/Gafni sign it.
Lukeford.net - June 27, 2006
(Ex-Wife #3 divorced Marc Gafni in August of 2004. This was before Gary Rosenblatt's article the original article was published on Mordecai).
(Third Wife) Gafni Email Deposition
May 9th , 2006 (revised version)
The following is my personal testimony of what it was like to be married to Mordechai for almost 7 years. I share what I have known of Mordechai's drastic and tragic dark side. I focus upon the shadow aspects of our marriage and his personality, for I believe they are crucial to share, given what has unfolded in these past weeks. Please keep in mind that I could also write pages worth of testimony about the light side of Mordechai – from the beauty of his teachings to his ardent dedication to making a contribution in the world and helping others. May his light side and his dark side know full integration.
Also, while you can pass this testimony on to other concerned parties, please do not share my name with the press or in public. I have been advised by lawyers not to let my name to appear in public. Thanks.
I was 19 years old when I first encountered Mordechai. I was studying in Jerusalem the summer after my freshman year of college. I was an eager baalat-teshuva, newly "turned on" to the beauty of Jewish practice. I devotedly went to his classes at Isralight and other venues. We went on our first date the spring after I graduated college. I was 23 and star-struck. He was 15 years my senior. We got married at the beginning of 1998, less than 8 months after our first date. Several people warned me about Mordechai's past. He adamantly insisted that the bulk of the rumors were lies, exaggerations and the evil workings of other people's jealousies. I believed him.
He told me early on about some of his sexual misdemeanors as well as affairs he had on his 2nd wife. He assured me that he had done teshuva, changed, and that things with me would be different. I was all too ready to believe this as well. Plus I thought that I could help him, fix him; that my love could help him become the great man he had the potential to be. As soon as we started seriously dating, he pulled me into working for him full-time on writing and organizational projects. I was dedicated to his "mission" of Jewish Rennaissance and gave it all of my time and energy. His emotional abuse and manipulations began immediately upon our marriage. I was so dedicated to the mission that I endured it. Also, the nature of the his manipulations was such that I did not feel I could leave. The years that followed were a strange mix of great excitement, activity and purpose, as well as huge despair, confusion and pain. On the outside I seemed to be living a fairy tale of success. Behind closed doors I was living a life of enslavement, debasement, manipulation and verbal abuse. On top of the abuse, Mordechai was having numerous affairs on me; lying to me on a daily basis.
Finally, I found out about one of the affairs. Finally, my eyes were opened and I started to see through the fog of falsehoods. I fled Israel in February of 2004, only to be lured back in June 2004 by Mordechai's promises of change and commitment. But nothing changed. By early August of 2004 I demanded and received a divorce.
Soon thereafter, Mordechai came "under attack" by his enemies in America. In the fall of 2004, articles about his sexual misconduct and questionable reputation came out in America and Israel. He begged me to keep our divorce a secret until all of this bad press died down. I reluctantly agreed – mostly because I believed that the work that was going on at Bayit Chadash was valuable and I did not want to jeopardize it. Mordechai lied to the reporters and all who asked, saying that we were still married. He also lied to the Rabbinic supporters who helped wage a campaign to protect him. Mordechai refused to publicly tell the truth about our divorce until Pesach of 2005 (March/April). I am ashamed to admit that I was manipulated into also remaining silent and covering up to protect him, as I had done myriad times during our marriage.
Now that I see the damage that Mordechai has caused in so many people's lives I deeply regret that I did not speak out earlier about the abuse that I suffered at his hands and the abuse that I knew that he inflicted upon others. I also deeply regret that I did not speak out about the countless lies and manipulations that I witnessed him engage in on a regular basis. I sorely regret that I led people to believe that we had a good marriage when in actuality it was most often a hell. I have been studying, practicing and engaging in psychotherapy these past two years since I left Mordechai. The more I have learned the more clear it is that Mordechai is a dangerous sexual predator and sociopath. He hurt me in deplorable ways and I fear that he will continue to hurt others if he is not stopped. Indeed, I have already heard first-hand harrowing accounts of his abuse and manipulation of women (many of them friends of mine). In many ways, my story is mild in comparison to theirs. Hearing these tragic stories was the central motivator for my sharing my own. I pray that my speaking out now can help to thwart any and all future abuse at his hands.
1. Information about Sexual Abuse/Molestation of a Minor:
Before we got married, Mordechai shared with me that he had indeed had a sexual encounter with a minor. Her name was Judy – a teenager who was in his JYPSY youth movement. He explained to me details of their encounter and how he went about covering it up and discrediting her. He told me that she had seduced him. He said that they did not have intercourse, but that they had at least been undressed, sexually physical and that he had ejaculated. After Judy reported this, he lied to everyone involved, saying that she was emotionally unstable, jealous and had made it all up. He even received a document signed by a Rabbi attesting to his innocence. Judy was under-age, a student of his, and were it not for the statute of limitations, he could go to jail over this.
2. Mordechai also told me stories about various teachers and staff people connected withYeshiva University with whom he had struggles. He told me how he blackmailed a teacher (one of his "enemies" at YU) who tried to block him from studying/teaching there after the Judy incident. He had information about this particular man and threatened to share it if the man continued to try to block him. The man stayed quiet.
He also told me of several affairs that he had in Boca Raton while married to his second wife. These affairs were with women in his Congregation (the name of one woman was Fern Weisman). At least one of them was a married woman (whose name I don't recall, though I can find it). There was a scandal at the synagogue over rumors about his sexual misconduct. I do not think that his second wife ever found out about these affairs. They eventually left Boca to move to Israel. I believe that the main reason for this was that he needed to flee before people found out the truth (though he never framed it that way to me).
One of the reasons (among many) that I divorced Mordechai was because he had an affair while we were studying in Oxford. It was with a woman named Stutti at Wolfson College. He lied to me on a virtually daily basis to cover up this affair. This went on for approximately 10 months (from December 2002-Sept 2003). It was an agonizing time for me even though I did not consciously know what was happening. I finally convinced him to tell me the truth about the affair when we left Oxford and moved back to Israel. I was devastated, and realized that all of my hopes that he was a "changed man" were baseless fantasies.
I also was racked with suspicion that he was having another affair – with his "teaching partner", Erica Fox. On countless occasions I begged him to stop teaching with her and to pull back from their "friendship". He refused. Also on countless occasions I point blank asked him if they were having an affair. In response, he consistently told me how crazy, jealous and insecure I was. I have finally found out that they were indeed intimate with each other while we were married, as well as after. (All of this went on between 2002 until our divorce in August of 2004). I also have heard that he had affairs with two other women while we were together – one a young woman in Israel and the other in America. Since that I time I have found out that he has been having numerous sexual relationships with a variety of women – employees, students and funders (many more than have been reported in the press). At least one of these women is married to another man.
Mordechai was consistently verbally demeaning to me, particularly in our sexual interactions. Additionally, he viewed pornography on a regular basis; paying money to have memberships to certain sites. Eventually his computer and email were so full of pornography that he paid tens of hundreds of dollars to get it cleaned, for fear that someone may see it and that he would lose his job. I understand from formal depositions made with lawyers and the police in Israel that he had much more "extreme" sexual interactions with other women after our divorce; which involved S&M and also played heavily on themes of debasement.
7. Stealing Intellectual Property:
Mordechai used other people's stories/teaching (making slight changes) without attributing them properly. (The story in Soulprints about Eitan giving him a soulprint box was, for instance, based upon a story in one of Robert Fulghum's books.) Furthermore, I worked full time on both books "Soul Prints" and "The Mystery of Love". There are entire sections of these books which I myself wrote – with no public recognition given as to the depth and breadth of my contribution. Just a few of the numerous examples of this are the poem/invocation at the beginning of "Soul Prints", as well as the Parable of the Royal Wine in "The Mystery of Love". I insisted that I wanted at least these pieces to be attributed to me. He refused. Seeing I had no real choice, I gave in in the end and allowed the pieces to be used without attribution.
8. Verbal Abuse & Emotional Manipulation:
This is one of the main issues for me about the danger that Mordechai poses to others. Emotional abuse and manipulation was a constant throughout our marriage. I have pages and pages of journal entries describing entire scenes and dialogues full of emotional abuse. His yelling explosions, full of demeaning putdowns and blame, were virtually a daily occurrence. I eventually stopped fighting back and would just dissolve in tears after each explosion. He needed to always be right, always in control. If I didn't agree with him on something then he would burst into a rage and tell me how stupid I was. - But more than that, he would tell me how unloving, insensitive and selfish I was. Convincing me that I was the evil, selfish, unloving one was one of his most powerful tools of manipulation. He capitalized on my natural desire to be loving and giving. My goodness was a knife in his hands with which he carved his sick designs into me. I was utterly bewildered by his manipulations; the way he would turn everything around and make me the bad one. These turn arounds rendered me powerless time and again. In fact, I was so distraught by the nature of his putdowns and manipulations that I had regular fantasies of doing violent and suicidal acts against myself. My most recurrent fantasy during his abusive tirades was of slashing my throat. I was not "allowed" to express or feel anger towards him and so I turned all of my anger at him back upon myself. I had never in my life been suicidal before this time and since I left him I have not had suicidal or violent thoughts at all.
9. Verbal Abuse/Manipulation of Others:
I witnessed Mordechai being verbally abusive and manipulative with many other people. I saw it happen most with Dafna, his main staff person, but also - tragically – also saw it with his sons. I found his neglectful and insensitive treatment of his sons to be deplorable. Seeing him with his sons was another big factor in my wanting a divorce. The thought of him mistreating any future children that we would have was just terrifying to me.
As I mentioned above, Mordechai lied about our divorce, his past and other essential issues to the numerous Rabbis who supported him when he was being attacked in the press and at various teaching institutions. The Rabbis he lied pointblank to include R'Danny Landes, R'Joseph Telushkin, R'Art Green, R'Eli Herscher and R'Saul Berman, as well as others. He likewise lied to the press and the entire Bayit Chadash community and Board. Of course, Mordechai was lying to me on a daily basis about the affairs he was having.
Beyond the examples above I witnessed Mordechai lying routinely in most every type of setting. Whether it was in a speech, at dinner with friends, teaching, or in talking to donors. He was consistently aggrandizing himself by exaggerating his successes, popularity, power and connections. He would get furious with me when I myself did not join in on telling these inflated stories about him; saying that I was selfish and unloving for not also telling these tales. Time and again he falsely claimed to be a spiritual/holy person. During his writings and teachings he would claim to pray, meditate, exercise, eat healthy, etc. None of which he did in the least. He led entire meditation retreats without ever having meditated himself. In my opinion, all of his frequent claims to spiritual enlightenment were (and are still) dangerously misleading fabrications.
12. Dishonest Financial Dealings:
Mordechai also lied to me (and others) about financial matters. For instance, I have recently been informed that he hid approximately $37K in the Bayit Chadash accounts so that it would not be factored in to our divorce settlement. I understand that he is trying to retrieve and further hide that money so that I can not access it. Who knows what other money he had hidden away so that it would not be factored in. He also hid money from his 2nd wife so that he would not have to give it for child support. She took him to Israeli court over his dishonest financial dealings with her (with their divorce settlement as well as with child support). She won the case. He fought hard against this case being leaked to the Israeli press. Additionally, before I met Mordechai he was fired from Milah for inappropriate financial dealings (although I do not know the details). Whatever the case, he clearly has a spotted history around financial matters.
13. Psychological Sickness:
I think it is crucial to share that based on all that I have known of Mordechai I see that he clearly has 2 psychological disorders which are evident and expressed in numerous ways. The most obvious is a narcissistic personality disorder. He exhibited the following characteristics which correlate with the DMS-IV diagnosis of narcissism. In the DMS, at least 5 of the following attributes are requires for diagnosis. Mordechai exhibits them all. I could give numerous examples in each category, but will refrain for lack of space and because they are just so very obvious to anyone who knows Mordechai.):
has a grandiose sense of self-importance – exaggerates achievements and talents.
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance.
Believes that he is "special" and unique and can only associate with other special or high-status people or institutions.
Requires excessive admiration
Has a sense of entitlement – expecting especially favorable treatment or compliance with his expectations
Is interpersonally exploitative; taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
Is envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
As for the antisocial (or sociopathic) personality disorder. He exhibits the following of the criteria for the DSM (of which 3 are needed for diagnosis):
failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors (such as his sexual harassment in the workplace and sleeping with students and employees)
deceitfulness, repeated lying
irritability and aggressiveness (as is known by anyone who has ever worked under Mordechai, or crossed his path politically)
reckless disregard for safety of self or others (such as endangering himself by juggling numerous affairs at once, given his history)
lack of remorse; indicated by rationalizing having hurt, or mistreated others
Unfortunately, with Axis II Personality Disorders the chances for change via treatment are extremely slim; as opposed to Axis I disorders which are considered more treatable. Mental Retardation, for example, is also on Axis II, because no amount of therapy will be able to fully `treat' retardation. The same is understood for Personality Disorders – they are not entirely treatable. Thus, in my opinion, the belief that Mordechai will one day be able to return to being a teacher/leader of any sort is a dangerous one. I personally (and professionally) do not think that he should be "allowed" to return to any such roles at any point in the future. A tragic loss, perhaps, but in the end we as a culture and as a people need to reassess the traits that we value and pull forth from our leaders. May this whole fiasco pave the way for new standards of humility, sincerity and a genuine care for others.
By Survivor of Mordechai Gafni
Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speaks Out - May 23, 2006
"Sometimes the bigger person is the one who can just let things go." -- Rabbi Kenneth Hain
In 1986 soon after I was a victim of Mordechai Gafni's attempted forced sexual advances, a sixteen-year J.P.S.Y. (Jewish Public School Youth) girl, Judy, confided in me that Mordechai Winiarz (his name prior to his name-change to Gafni) had been sexually abusing and threatening her on several occasions. I realized immediately that I needed to bring these serious concerns to people who would stand up for what was right and put an end to his abuse of power and people. I had seen myself what he was capable of, and I was not going to stand idly by and let him abuse others.
Among people from whom I sought help and guidance, I turned to Rabbi Kenneth Hain, the current Rabbi of Beth Sholom in Lawrence, NY, who had connections with Yeshiva University (which funded JPSY) and who knew Mordechai personally. I called him to tell him my fears and concerns regarding the details of the sexual abuse of and threats made by Mordechai to Judy as well as the experience I had had with Mordechai when he attempted to seduce me. Rabbi Hain listened to everything and said to me, "You weren't there, so you don't know if this is true." When I told him the details of Mordechai's sexual advances towards me as well as his subsequent threats to me and to Judy once he knew that she and I had spoken, Rabbi Hain responded, "Sometimes the bigger person is the one who can just let things go."
Although twenty years have passed, I will never forget his exact words and how they shocked me. Here was yet another enabler of Mordechai--someone who had the responsibility to be as courageous as Rabbi Yosef Blau and at least investigate these allegations and follow-through with a proper course of action; yet, all Rabbi Hain did was quash me and insist that I "let things go." Rabbi Blau listened to victims and acted responsibly to ensure that the many accusations agains Mordechai be taken seriously and that Mordechai not be allowed to continue in his position as leader of JPSY.
Mordechai was eventually ousted from J.P.S.Y. I later heard from reliable sources that it was Rabbi Kenneth Hain who had furnished Mordechai with a letter of recommendation that he travelled with. With this reference, Mordechai fled to Boca Raton, Florida where he managed to dupe the Boca Raton community into accepting him to serve as rabbi of Boca Raton Synagogue in Montoya Circle. Well, it wasn't long before scandal befell the community and allegations of serious sexual improprieties as well as misappropriation of funds shook the community. Changing his name to Gafni, Mordechai fled to Israel, and his string of sexual abuse and lies continued--with support from his enablers--until now, twenty years later—when we finally heard his "confession."
In 2004, I spoke with another survivor of Mordechai's sexual abuse. She had been quashed at every attempt to plea for someone to stop him, but her pleas went unanswered. In The Jewish Week in September 2004, Gary Rosenblatt quoted Mordechai's acknowledgement of a sexual relationship with this then thirteen year old girl— (though he claimed it was consensual) and he STILL succeeded in obtaining support from the enablers mentioned above while this now young woman cried out that she had been sexually assaulted by him repeatedly over so many months....
In addition to Rabbi Kenneth Hain every single person who supported Mordechai despite the numerous, substantial, and growing allegations--and quashed victims' experiences --claiming that there had been investigations that never took place--should be forced to realize the effects of their actions and inaction.
The letter below was signed and distributed to "The Jewish Community Worldwide" in 2005 in defense of Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni:
To The Jewish Community worldwide:
In this letter we the undersigned ask the Jewish community worldwide to reaffirm its commitment to the Torah, and to the ethical principles of Judaism. Although the specific focus of our discussion is Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, whom have known collectively for many years, the issues we address are universal and timeless.
A group of several people – none of whom know Rabbi Gafni personally in any real way, and none who has had any contact in the past twenty years – have undertaken a systematic campaign to besmirch his name. Their primary method has been to keep alive and distort two very old and long discredited stories. Their attacks have recently increased in volume and intensity. He has consistently and generously offered to meet with them, but they have refused.
Many people who know Rabbi Gafni well, as all the undersigned do, have individually and collectively examined the accusations about him that this group has been spreading. We have found their rumors and accusations to be either wholly without substance or radically distorted to the point of falsification. We conclude that the false and malicious rumors against Gafni constitute lashon hara – and that the dissemination of such lies is prohibited by the Torah and Jewish ethical principles.
Thus we must address and to make right the wrong that has been attempted in regard to Rabbi Gafni, and affirm our support of him as an important teacher and leader in the Jewish community.
We have worked with Rabbi Gafni in many contexts, ranging from colleague to employer. We have published his works in our collections, co-taught with him, and known him in a host of other close relationships. Over the years, we have also extensively discussed with him the different stages of his life and the decisions he has made in relationships, professional choices and more.
We affirm without reservation that in addition to being a person of enormous gifts, depth, and vision, Rabbi Gafni is also a person of real integrity. He possesses a unique combination of courage and audacity coupled with a genuine humility that comes only from having lived life fully – with all of its complexity, beauty and sometimes pain.
Leaders of his caliber and depth who are committed to ongoing personal development are few and far between. From our dual commitment to him as an individual, as well as to the most profound ethical teachings of the Torah, we urge you as the reader of this letter to reject the false reports about Rabbi Gafni, and to give him your full support, as we all have done and continue to do.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact any one of us directly.
Metuka Benjamin, Director of Education, Stephen S. Wise Temple
Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Former Director Elat Chayyim summer program
Rabbi Saul Berman, Director, Edah
Zivit Davidovich, Executive Producer, Israel Channel 2 Television
Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Congregation Nevei Kodesh
Rabbi Shefa Gold. Director C-Deep, composer and teacher
Rabbi Arthur Green, Dean, Hebrew College Rabbinical School
Rabbi Eli Herscher, Stephen S. Wise Synagogue
Arthur Kurzweil, former Director, Elat Chayyim, Jewish Book Club,
Avraham Leader, Leader Minyan, Bayit Chadash
Stephen Marmer, M.D., Psychiatrist, UCLA Medical School
Jacob Ner-David, Board Chair, Bayit Chadash
Peter Pitzele, Ph.D., Bibliodrama Institute
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbinic Chair, Aleph
Don Seeman, Ph.D. Emory University
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author, Jewish Literacy and Jewish Wisdom
Rabbi David Zaslow, Havurah Shir Hadash
Noam Zion, Hartman Institute
Because of these Jewish community leaders' blatant dishonor to the rabbinate, negligence and inaction-- many women have become victims of Gafni's sexual abuse. This is a true Chillul Hashem--that supposed representatives of Judaism who should have cared about victims' claims and pleas chose not only to shut their ears but to lend support, encouragement , and financial assistance to the abuser--Gafni. These individuals must be held accountable for enabling Mordechai to add more victims to his list . These individuals need to issue public statements of apology to the survivors whom they ignored and to society at large for endangering all the people Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni encountered over the past twenty five years.
From: Chaia Lehrer, Elat Chayyim Jewish Retreat Center
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006 5:29 PM
Subject: Announcement from Chair of Elat Chayyim Board
Dear members of the Elat Chayyim community
I am very saddened to share with you a situation about which I have recently learned. Mordechai Gafni, a talented rabbi who has taught at Elat Chayyim and in many other places, has been accused of sexual misconduct by women within his spiritual community in Israel, several of whom have filed complaints with the police. He has not denied the allegations. These are serious offenses because although these relationships were apparently consensual, there is no place for relations like this between a rabbi and his students or between an employer and his employees.
Some of you may have studied with Mordechai Gafni, or participated in other events with him. For others he might be a complete stranger, and this letter may be irrelevant.
I am writing to you because experts who deal with abuse of power indicate that the first thing that must happen after the revelation of sexual abuse and/or abuse of power by clergy is full and honest disclosure to the community of the facts, as accurately as they are known.
It is in this spirit that I am passing on to you the information that I received from Israel, and informing you that Mordechai Gafni will no longer teach at Elat Chayyim. Those who have registered for his classes have been notified, and may either choose another workshop or receive a refund.
The Program Committee of Elat Chayyim had, in anticipation of our move to Isabella Freedman, begun to review our Code of Ethics, which all teachers are required to abide by. This unfortunate incident has strengthened our determination to maintain our high standards and continue to create an environment that is safe and heartfelt for all our guests.
The Committee continues to work in this regard.
This situation is only beginning to unfold. As always, at moments like this, there is a tendency to want to share and speak about what has happened. I urge all of us to do so with the highest awareness of what our tradition teaches about lashon harah, negative speech. We have both the obligation to know and to teach about abuse of power, and the obligation to strive to refrain from gossip -- and any harm that we may cause others by our speech.
This is also a moment to send our love and support to those women who have been harmed, and to acknowledge their courage in coming forth.
May we each send forth our blessings for healing, for all those who are involved in this situation and for each of us as we face our own shadows in the journey through our lives,
Chairperson, Board of Directors
Elat Chayyim Jewish Retreat Center
by Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor
Jewish Journal of Los Angles - May 26, 2006
Revelations about sexual misconduct have led to the cancellation of an upcoming local event featuring prominent Rabbi Mordechai Gafni.
Gafni had been scheduled for a public talk at Stephen S. Wise Temple on June 9. Over the past two years, since being appointed to the Wisdom Chair in September 2004, Gafni has returned every few months to the Bel Air shul, where he's had a loyal following.
Last week, four women in Israel — students and staff members at Tel Aviv's Bayit Chadash, the Jewish renewal center that Gafni co-founded — filed complaints of sexual misconduct with Israeli police. In a public letter, Gafni, 46, admitted to being "sick" and promised to seek therapy. Leaders of Bayit Chadash immediately dismissed him.
Gafni was appointed to the Wisdom Chair at Stephen S. Wise two years ago — despite anecdotal allegations that he had a history of sexual misconduct. The temple's senior rabbi this week issued a short statement denouncing Gafni.
"It is with a deep sense of shock and disappointment that I have learned of the sexual misconduct that has led to Rabbi Mordechai Gafni's dismissal from Bayit Chadash," senior Rabbi Eli Herscher said in a written statement responding to an inquiry from The Journal. "His actions, including vast deception, are indefensible."
Herscher declined further comment, but the temple canceled Gafni's June participation in a public conversation with commentator Dennis Prager.
Before being appointed to the Wisdom Chair, Gafni had been a regular scholar-in-residence at the 3,000-family Reform synagogue since 2002. His lectures and sermons attracted thousands.
Congregant Alan Finkelstein said he remembers Gafni's 2003 Rosh Hashanah sermon as, "my finest moment in shul. He involved the crowd, He helped you connect with the person next to you. It was one of the best sermons I've ever heard."
Finkelstein said he was moved to go back to hear Gafni on several other occasions.
But Gafni's popularity was undermined by persistent rumors that he had, in the past, manipulated women into sexual relationships. In October 2004, The Jewish Journal reprinted a Jewish Week article exploring allegations that Gafni had inappropriate sexual contact with students when he was 19.
Attendance reportedly decreased at Gafni's events following the publication of the article.
At the time, Herscher said he had discussed the rumors with Gafni and, after investigating them on his own, found them baseless. Herscher was in good company defending Gafni, as some of the country's top Jewish thinkers, of all denominations, called Gafni a remarkable teacher who was the target of a malevolent campaign. Herscher also decried Jewish newspapers for printing lashon harah (malicious gossip).
"Rabbi Gafni coming to teach here makes a deeply important Jewish statement - that if rumors and allegations and innuendo are allowed to destroy someone who only wants to teach, Jewishly, that is tragic," Herscher said in October 2004.
This week, Hersher's sympathies lay elsewhere.
"I pray that all who have been misled and hurt by him — first and foremost the women he has harmed — will soon recover," Herscher wrote.
May 26, 2006
Jewish Whistleblower :
Zalman-Schachter Shalomi statement on Mordechai Gafni - note no apology, no acceptance of responsibility for treatment of Gafni's survivors.
Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence:
Marc Gafni has lost his ordination from both Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Zalman-Schachter Shlomi. Does he have a rabbinic ordination from anyone else? Do we still have to refer to him as "rabbi"?
May 28, 2006
WARNING: To all of the survivors of Gafni.
Be very careful accepting money from any organization. Consult with an attorney first. By accepting money raised you may become ineligible to file a civil suit against them. If you need help finding an attorney call The Awareness Center at 443-857-5560.
From Vicki Polin, Executive Director
The Awareness Center, Inc.
I want publicly state that at this time the Bayit Chadash community and those connected with Jewish Renewal movement have not apologized to the three survivors of Mordechai Winiartz/Gafni who came forward back in 2004.
Various leaders in the Jewish Renewal movement, Rabbi Saul Berman, Rabbi Yosef Telushkin and several other individuals attempted to silence the voices of three women when they attempted to warn everyone that Marc Gafni was a sexual predator.
Can you imagine the psychological damage our community leaders and other members of our communities have caused the three survivors?
These three brave women also NEED and deserve to be financially compensated! Remember their voices have been ignored for over 20 years.
Helping Gafni's Victims
This just in from the Jewish Renewal movement, on how they've set up a fund to help pay for treatment of the victims of abuse at the hands of Rabbi Mordecai Gafni, and an e-mail address to send messages of support to those victims.
There's plenty of blame to go around. Here's a way to actually help.
In response to numerous inquiries as to what people can do to help the victims of abuse in the Bayit Chadash community, we contacted the folks over there to find out what is actually needed. The women who came forward to give depositions, and others also hurt by this terrible betrayal, have sustained great economic hardship and are greatly in need of financial assistance.
In response, the ALEPH Board has authorized setting up a "BAYIT CHADASH CHESED FUND." People wishing to contribute to this fund can do so via ALEPH's secure server. Just go to our member/donor page www.aleph.org/join.html and give by credit card exactly as if you were making a donation to ALEPH, but flagging it for the Bayit Chadash Chesed Fund by putting "Bayit Chadash" in the second address line. If you do not do this, we have no way of knowing your intention and your gift will be automatically processed as a donation to ALEPH's general fund.
Donors will receive a computer generated e-receipt for tax purposes. The receipt will be from ALEPH since we are the legal entity receiving the donation, but the proceeds will go to the Chesed Fund.
REMEMBER: YOU MUST EARMARK YOUR DONATION BY PUTTING "BAYIT CHADASH" IN THE SECOND ADDRESS LINE.
Dispersal of funds: The Bayit Chadash leadership in Israel will set up a confidential process whereby therapists treating the victims will apply to a panel on behalf of the clients without revealing their identities, and funds will be dispensed on the basis of need. The panel will report back on the use of the funds for the purpose of accountability, but preserving the privacy of the recipients.
Those wishing to send prayers and messages of support can contact the women directly at email@example.com. This is a special address set up for these women only. It is not a general address for Bayit Chadash or their staff. Please be mindful in your contact with them, allowing them the dignity of their own process at their own pace and respecting what is left of their privacy.
I'm glad ALEPH took this step, glad that they gave the rest of us an opportunity not just to opine but to assist in the very beginning stages of the healing process. I hope they can oversee this fund in a fair and efficient way.
Again, Shabbat shalom.
Campaign Against Edah
May 28, 2006
Jewish Whistleblower is launching a Campaign Against Edah for Justice for Survivors of Rabbi Mordecai Gafni.
For the past years, Rabbi Saul Berman has proclaimed Rabbi Gafni's innocence, claimed publicly that he conducted an investigation despite refusing to speak to key parties and has attacked publically both the allegations of brave women who came forward and the names of anyone who supported them.
To this day, Rabbi Berman has refused to make any public apology or done anything resembling teshuvah.
As such we call on Edah contributors to pull their financial support for Edah and Edah directors to either demand Berman do public teshuvah or fire him.
by Paula Amann
Washingtong Jewish Week - June 1, 2006
In early April, Rabbi Mordechai Gafni brought his supercharged teaching style to a weekend retreat at the District's Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.
Two weeks ago, the Shabbaton's featured speaker resigned from Bayit Chadash, the spirituality center he founded and led in Jaffa, Israel, amid allegations of sexual misconduct by five women students and staffers there.
Three young women in their 20s filed a complaint in early May with Haifa police against Gafni, claiming he sexually harassed them during Torah lessons conducted at his center, reported YNet, a Web site for which Gafni had written a weekly column. The thrice-married rabbi, who is in his mid-40s, allegedly pledged each of the trio that he would marry her if she had sex with him.
After fleeing Israel for the United States, the Orthodox-educated Gafni confessed his guilt and apologized in a public letter to his followers, saying he would seek treatment for his "sickness." The U.S.-born Gafni, who hosted a TV show in Israel and had appeared in a special on PBS, had been dogged by sexual abuse allegations throughout his career.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat, had ordained Gafni, but revoked that ordination in 1994, according to The Jewish Week in New York. That took place, the paper reported, after Gafni had been quoted in Ha'aretz as calling for restoring balance between the erotic and the spiritual.
The author of Soul Prints: Your Path to Fulfillment and The Mystery of Love, Gafni had appeared in D.C. April 9 under the auspices of the Am Kolel Sanctuary and Renewal Center and the Bethesda Jewish Congregation.
Rabbi David Shneyer, who directs Am Kolel, reacted to Gafni's forced departure from Bayit Chadash via voice mail.
"It's really sad," Shneyer said. "I just wish healing for everyone involved."
The current president of Ohalah, the Jewish Renewal rabbinic association, Shneyer notes that the group was already readying ethics training for its conference next January when the news surfaced about Gafni, who does not belong to Ohalah or to Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the corresponding lay organization.
"Before this all broke, we had planned a track on ethics and relationships and boundaries in our community," Shneyer said in a later interview.
BJC's spiritual leader Hazzan Sunny Schnitzer said he had been aware of 25-year-old charges of sexual impropriety with teenage girls.
"He had personally refuted all the allegations," Shnitzer said of longtime rumors of such misconduct that swirled about Gafni.
The situation, he added, spotlights the tension between twin Jewish injunctions in Leviticus 19:16 to avoid lashon hara, or gossip, and yet not stand idly by when people are being hurt.
"You shall not go about slandering your kin," reads the verse, which goes on, "You shall not stand over the blood of your fellow man." (Translation from Robert Alter's The Five Books of Moses)
The silence around Gafni's alleged misdeeds, said Schnitzer, represents "the downside of the Jewish rules of lashon hara because on the one hand, we refrain from anything that is rumor or hearsay, but on the other, there is an obligation to protect the community."
An Aleph spokesperson, Rabbi Daniel Siegel, stressed that his organization had long maintained both ethical guidelines and trainings for all teachers at its biennial Kallah, or retreat week.
"No romantic liaison can be undertaken under circumstances between a teacher and a student," Siegel said.
Aleph's director of spiritual resources and the group's former executive director, Siegel also noted that no complaints of sexual misconduct about Gafni had emerged when he taught at the Kallah.
"Mordechai's relationship to us was as a popular teacher," Siegel explained, noting that the Israeli rabbi did not ever join Aleph. "There has always been a certain caution around him. When he has in the past stepped over lines set by mutual agreement, we have called him on it."
Gafni also co-led a two-week session, "The Maggidic Journey: Developing Jewish Spiritual Literacy," last August and previous summers at Elat Chayyim: The Jewish Retreat Center in Accord, N.Y.
Bennett Nieman, the center's executive director, said his group had checked on 25-year-old rumors of sexual impropriety and could not substantiate them.
"There were some complaints that he was like a televangelist," said Nieman, but no complaints of sexual abuse by Gafni were leveled by Elat Chayyim participants, he said.
Both Aleph and Elat Chayyim have nearly identical guidelines that mandate "refraining from beginning a sexual relationship with any participant in our class, group, workshop, prayer group or healing session" at any of the events the groups sponsor.
Roni Posner, a District resident and board member of Elat Chayyim, which moves to Connecticut in September, said retreat center leaders were working to strengthen existing ethics guidelines, in light of the Gafni scandal.
"The ethical issue at the heart of this is ... the issue of the abuse of power that can happen in any teaching environment, whether in a formal school setting or retreat setting," Posner said. "Especially now, as we look at whole new era for Elat Chayyim, as we look at a move, we're reviewing all our policies, including our code of ethics."
Bethesda's Judith Dack, a summer staff member at Elat Chayyim, saw Gafni evoke strong, contrasting emotions from Renewal leaders and students there.
For some participants, Gafni Æ born Marc Winiarz Æ seemed "deeply inspired" and "brought people back to Judaism," recalled Dack.
Other observers, she noted, were "seriously concerned and frightened by this energy he was churning up."
At Aleph, Siegel said he would be preparing a document in the coming month on the difference between "true channeling" of the divine by spiritual leaders and the "shadow side" of religious charisma.
"We want to raise this issue into a public discussion because it's clear there's a need," Siegel said.
Schnitzer, meanwhile, flagged the pitfall of elevating a spiritual leader above his or her message.
"Guruhood is a really toxic place when it's all about the teacher and not the teaching," Schnitzer said. "We need to keep our eyes wide open and when the inconsistencies show up, we need to be aware enough to step back."
By Ahiya Raved
YNET News - May 18, 2006
Three women file complaint with Haifa police against modern-Orthodox rabbi, claiming he sexually harassed them during Torah lessons, promised to marry them; Gafni meanwhile flees country to US
Three young women in their twenties who reside in the heart of Israel filed a complaint several days ago with Haifa police against Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, claiming he sexually harassed them during Torah lessons conducted at his Jaffa center.
The women's attorney, Tami Olman, told Ynet that the police did not take the allegations seriously, allowing the rabbi to meanwhile leave the country.
Rabbi Gafni (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
Haifa police officials admitted they have collected the complainants' testimonies, in which they claim the rabbi promised each of them separately he would marry her if she had sex with him. Some of the women were Gafni's students.
According to Attorney Olman, the complainants accused Gafni of rape, sexual harassment and indecent assault and notified police that once the rabbi learns of the complaint against him he is likely to try to flee the country. However, Olman said, no measures have been taken to prevent Gafni's departure.
To make matters worse, Olman said that once in the United States, Rabbi Gafni sent a letter addressed to his congregation in which he apologized to its members for what he had done.
Attorney: Police failed in handling case
In a letter Attorney Olman sent to the officer in charge of the investigation, she stated: "It is curious that the suspect, whom you said there was no hurry to interrogate, confessed to the allegations against him in a letter from the United States, after he fled the Israel Police's 'effective investigation'... the manner in which this affair has been handled does no honor to the police, to say the least."
Olman also said she intends to demand that an investigation be launched against the relevant elements at the Haifa police who neglected the treatment of the complaint.
Chief superintendent of the Haifa police Ahuva Tomer told Ynet in response that although the complaint itself was not filed with the Haifa police, officers at the station were willing to make an exception and collect the testimonies in Haifa, in order to save the women the trip to Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Gafni, 44, was born in the US and educated at Modern-Orthodox yeshivas. He made aliya to Israel 12 years ago and served as rabbi of the West Bank settlements of Tzofim. Over five years ago he opened the Bayit Chadash spiritual center in Jaffa, where he resided, teaches Torah and ordinates to the rabbinate.
Gafni, who studies and teaches Kabbalah, published several books, hosted his own television show on channel 10 and wrote a weekly column for Ynet.
Avi Cohen contributed to the report.