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May 18, 2006

Rabbi Yosef Blau On Accused Rapist Rabbi Mordechai Gafni

Rabbi Yosef Blau, perhaps the only serious advocate for rabbinic abuse victims who is active in the Orthodox rabbinic world (aside from Rabbi Mark Dratch), writes about Rabbi Mordechai Gafni:

… I have known Mordechai for at least twenty five years starting when he was a student and during the years that he functioned as an Orthodox rabbi. The young women who complained then and have never modified their stories, did not receive much of a hearing then from an Orthodox rabbinate that was impressed by his charisma and talent. A number of us, followed a career of short periods of brilliance as a head of an outreach program, a teacher and a congregational rabbi each ending suddenly with rumor of scandal. After changing his name and moving to Israel the pattern repeated itself.

The only thorough investigation of the accusations was made by a private investigator in Israel in 1997 and it did not clear him. Based on my ongoing conversations with women who had made accusations, which was only a portion of the dossier prepared by the private investigator, the supposed investigations by various rabbis [i.e., Berman, Telushkin and leaders of the Jewish Renewal movement] two years ago were minimal and their testimony not heard. I suggest that all the defenders read the long interview with Rabbi Gafni in the magazine (sof hashavua) of Maariv Oct. 15, 2004. If he is sick, then it is not the kind of illness that suddenly strikes someone in his mid forties and his earlier behavior should reevaluated accordingly…

If this is true, it means Rabbis Berman and Telushkin did not act with due diligence and did not seek to ascertain the truth; instead, they acted to protect the abuser while endangering those women Rabbi Gafni would go on to rape and abuse. If Rabbi Blau is correct, both should be removed from public Jewish life immediately and permanently. That neither has, and that neither to my knowledge has issued any type of apology, is shameful.

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