Ohr Somayach Rabbi Banned From South Africa, Having Affairs With Many Women
Writing on Jewschool, David Kelsey reports on a leading Ohr Somayach rabbi, Lewis Furman tossed out of South Africa because he is a "serial philanderer." His liaisons are said to include married women. One woman's husband, on discovering the affair his wife was having with Rabbi Furman, confronted the rabbi and beat him up. That confrontation – not what appears to be years of private complaints from spouses and friends – is what got Rabbi Furman exiled. Before that, it seems the rabbis covered up for one of their own.
What interests me most about the story is not the human failings of this rabbi – what interests me is the lengths South Africa's rabbis went to cover up the story. They allowed the rabbi to flee to Israel to seek unspecified "treatment," and blocked publication of the story in the Jewish media.
Rabbi Goldstein also cited the laws of lashon hara (gossip), claiming these laws prevented him from talking about the case:
A source close to the chief rabbi said Furman’s behaviour was “not criminal” and the Rabbinate’s comments were constrained by the Jewish prohibition on gossip, loshan hara. Literally translated, it means “evil tongue” . But outraged members of the Jewish community, speaking on condition of anonymity, have accused the Rabbinate of “sweeping the matter under the carpet” and failing to be “transparent” about it.
Of course, the chief rabbi's position could not be further from the truth. The correct application of Jewish law in this case is to publicize the rabbi's misdeeds. But, as is all to common, rabbis opted for the less honest approach – and approach that protects their colleague while it endangers Jews.
Thankfully, the Times of South Africa printed the story. Now there is a chance that, if this rabbi seeks employment elsewhere, Jews will know about his problem and be very careful about hiring him.
It should be noted that South Africa's chief rabbi, the man who apparently brokered the deal allowing Rabbi Lewis Furman to flee, is Warren Goldstein, a 34 year old kiruv (outreach; missionary) rabbi who formerly worked for Ohr Somayach.
Rabbi Goldstein's doctoral thesis is an apologia of Jewish law attempting to make it seem advanced and modern compared to western law. To this end Rabbi Goldstein extols Jewish law's treatment of women, apparently never mentioning the very real problems of agunot, for example.
This type of dishonesty is central to kiruv theology.
So rabbis circle the wagons again and protect one of their own. Not much new there.
Above right: Rabbi Lewis Furman.