The JTA reports:
The Orthodox Union reversed course and extended the contract of Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, its executive vice president, for two more years. Weinreb’s contract was to expire this summer and a search committee had been established to find a replacement. The committee has since disbanded.
O.U. President Stephen Savitsky told JTA that the change was prompted solely by the need to undertake a strategic planning effort before hiring new leadership. But sources at the group said a groundswell of support for Weinreb, which began after it became clear that his departure wasn’t entirely voluntary, led to the extension until summer 2009.…
So far, so good. But now we enter into JTA outerspace:
…Weinreb was brought on in 2002 to help the Orthodox Union, the largest Orthodox umbrella group in the United States, recover from allegations of sexual misconduct by a youth group leader.…
That would be Rabbi Baruch Lanner, who was convicted and is now serving prison time. Why not name Lanner or mention the conviction? Who knows. The JTA is normally sloppy and insipid, so this might be a simple editing errror from a bunch that makes dozens every week. Or, it could be intentional.
The JTA report continues:
…Weinreb, a rabbi and psychotherapist, is widely admired within the organization, but some feel he lacks the business acumen to lead the Orthodox Union, which runs the largest kosher certification business in the world.…
Rabbi Weinreb has steadfastly refused to kowtow to the kashrut establishemnt, and made enemies there when he appeared to have sympathy for Rubashkin's detractors. Rabbi Weinreb has tried to do the honest thing, even if that is not the most politically correct option.
I have been told by a reliable source close to the Lanner investigation that there are many OU employees and lay leaders who knew of Lanner's child abuse but who remained silent. Some, presented with clear evidence of Lanner's actions,, chose to attack the victims and protect Lanner. Most of those people are still employed by the OU or serve as lay leadership. The OU's house was never swept clean.
Rabbi Weinreb is a thorn in the side to these people. A trained psychotherapist, Rabbi Weinreb knows what abuse is and knows what needs to be done to combat it – and its enablers.
All of this appears to have played a role in forcing him out.
The good news is that public pressure, a lot of generated from blogs like this one, forced the OU to backtrack.
We need to keep pressure on the OU and on other rabbinic and Orthodox umbrealla organizations. Change will only come if we – or the government – force it. That means your voice matters, perhaps more so than you realize.
Kudos also go to the Forward for originally breaking the story of Rabbi Weinreb's ouster.