[This Post Will Stay At The Top Of The Blog For A few Days. Newer Posts Are Immediately Below This Post.]
A 14 1/2 year old girl from a Conservative Jewish home has a school project, of sorts – the requirement to do community service. She volunteers at her local Chabad House and quickly becomes the babysitter for the the rabbi's infant and toddler. Over the years, she spends much time alone in the Chabad House with the rabbi and two tiny children while the rabbi's wife works or is out of town. The girl's parents grow suspicious. They wonder how this type of yihud can be allowed. The rabbi blows them off.
The girl claims to have been raped on a local (non-Chabad) outing not long after she started helping out at Chabad. The parents got her therapy. The girl claimed not to know the boy(s) that raped her. She has been in therapy since then. And there is more to this story that can be told, if necessary.
This girl is an honor student at an exclusive school. She has a large college scholarship waiting for her. Despite her trauma, she seemed to be holding her life together and doing well. But her parents rightly worried about her involvement with Chabad – specifically the yihud issues with the rabbi, rampant underage alcohol use at the weekly kiddushes and special occasions, and less-than-Orthodox behavior of the Lubavitch yeshiva students introduced to her by the rabbi. They warned the rabbi (including written warnings) and asked for change. Yet they reluctantly allowed her to continue contact with Chabad, unable to believe the worst.
The girl's mother is a convert, converted by a Conservative rabbi and later by an Orthodox (but non-Chabad rabbi). The girl was also converted as a young child in this manner.
The Chabad rabbi tells the girl she is not Jewish because she did not reaffirm her conversion when she turned 12. He tells her he will arrange a new conversion. However, she will need to go to Crown Heights and study for two years first. He drills this into her, constantly urging the girl – a minor – to leave for Crown Heights.
At the same time, the rabbi introduces the girl to Lubavitch yeshiva students visiting the area. Over the years the parents find evidence of trysts with these yeshiva students, in once case literally pulling a Lubavitch yeshiva student off their daughter as they lay in her bed, partially clothed and about to cohabit.
A few months ago, the girl, then 17, begins acting erratically. Parents find more evidence of trysts, including four negative pregnancy tests. When confronted the girl tells her parents that "We," i.e., Chabad-Lubavitch, Orthodoxy, "do not use contraception." When pressed the girl claims she has been with an "older" man.
Two weeks before graduation with honors from her exclusive high school, the girl – who had turned 18 two weeks before – fled for Crown Heights without telling her parents. A Chabad boy she met through the rabbi paid for her ticket. The rabbi's sister picked the girl up at the airport and took her to Crown Heights. The rabbi arranged housing for her and found her a job.
The parents have evidence of illegal alcohol and drug use involving their daughter and several Chabad boys, both before and after her flight to Crown Heights.
The parents contacted Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the titular head of Chabad, first on the 18th of May and then several times thereafter, including more attempts at contact yesterday and today. Rabbi Krinsky has consistently refused to speak with them or answer their emails.
The rabbi exerted undue influence over this girl when she was a minor. He plied her with alcohol, spent many hours alone with her in his home, disregarded her parents' wishes and, it may well be, committed clergy abuse.
This rabbi is a known problem in Chabad. But Chabad – more interested in protecting its image before Tuesday's ceremonies honoring the 13th yartzeit of the Rebbe than it is in this girl's welfare – refuses to deal with the problem.
It is Shabbos now in NYC. I had hoped to post this before Shabbos started, but was unable to. Still, I'm sure word will filter into Crown Heights. So let me get personal.
Rabbi Krinsky, people know about this, more people than you realize, bigger people than you realize. You cannot cover this one up. But you can deal with it. Do the right thing. Withdraw the rabbi in question and keep him away from children and college students. That means keep him out of outreach entirely. Do this any way you see fit but please do it.
Saturday night, Sunday morning at the latest, call up this girl's parents and broker a deal. Get the girl back home. Let her doctor and therapist examine her.
If she wants to reaffirm her conversion after a reasonable amount of time away from Chabad (and I mean away from Chabad) – let her. I think three to six months with no Chabad contact would be about right.
Rabbi Krinsky, do you remember another time when you would not take a phone call? That did not work out very well for you. Thing is, you could have talked your way out of it. Look at the lag time between the publication in Israel and the eventual publication here. Does that look like someone who was, then, "gleefully" running to publish "dirt" about Chabad?
The point is, not everyone with a complaint is out to hurt the organization, but that quickly changes when the organization hurts them. Some people just want their daughter back, safe, and a certain rabbi removed so he cannot hurt others. This does not seem an unreasonable request. I'm sure you can find a way to honor it in full before Monday morning.