Avrohom Mondrowitz, the alleged haredi pedophile who fled Brooklyn for Israel more than 20 years ago, lived openly and safely in Jerusalem all that time, without fear of arrest.
Largely because Brooklyn's District Attorney, Charles Hynes, did not actively seek his extradition.
Hynes has a bevy of excuses for this, none of which stand up to scrutiny.
What kept Mondrowitz safe was politics – the bloc voting of American haredim combined the dirty coalition tactics of Agudath Israel, the sometime independent political party, sometime faction of the United Torah Judaism party in Israel.
Agudath Israel is controlled by the Gerrer Rebbe (pictured at right), and it is no secret Ger has shielded Mondrowitz for decades.
But how would this have any serious impact on Brooklyn? Why would the whims of an Israeli political boss carry any weight with the Brooklyn D.A.?
There may be a one acronym answer to this question: C.O.J.O.
C.O.J.O., the Council of Jewish Organizations of Borough Park, was formed in the mid-1970s as an umbrella organization for Borough Park's Orthodox Jewish organizations. In 1988, the New York Times covered it as an extremely powerful organization. It was so for one reason only – the ability of its constituent groups to deliver the bloc votes of their followers. These groups were, in the estimation of an unnamed longtime Brooklyn political operative quoted by the Times, "the last deliverable bloc in the city," "[Chicago's notorious] Mayor Daley would be proud of them."
Who controlled much of C.O.J.O. then?
Rabbi Naiman was later convicted of bribing Dov Hikind, who himself was bizarrely acquitted of bribe-taking charges.
(The jury believed Hikind accepted what he thought were "innocent gifts" from C.O.J.O., including yeshiva tuition for his child. There is no record to my knowledge of C.O.J.O. giving similar gifts to others.)
Hikind later got a huge chunk of cash from the state to pay for his legal bills, even though it seems he was not legally entitled to this payment.
C.O.J.O. collapsed as a result of this scandal and was replaced by the Borough Park Jewish Community Council 2 1/2 years later, in mid-1999.
But from the mid-1970s through 1996, C.O.J.O. ran Borough Park. (How did C.O.J.O. run BP? Like this.)
Mondrowitz fled Brooklyn for Israel in late 1984. Then-D.A. Elizabeth Holtzman tried to have him extradited. But when Holtzman left office in early 1989, the newly-elected D.A., Charles Hynes, stopped pursuing extradition.
Hynes took office when C.O.J.O.'s political influence was at its height.
Did Rabbi Elimelech Naiman use his influence to protect Mondrowitz?
It is likely that he did.
Rabbi Naiman would not be the only Brooklyn rabbi to go to bat for Mondrowitz. Indeed, one powerful rabbi, Herbert Bomzer, a member of Hynes's so-called Jewish Council, told the Forward in 2006 that he did not support Mondrowitz's extradition:
When asked if he would now support extradition proceedings, Bomzer, president of the rabbinical board of Flatbush, said: "If he has managed to get to Israel and is protected by the law there — then leave it alone."
Others certainly echoed Rabbi Bomzer's position.
Perhaps Mondrowitz's upcoming extradition will shine some much needed light on the men who sheltered him from justice.