"…I am the woman [Marc] Gafni molested when she was 13 years old. This is the first time I am telling my story in my own name. If …[abused] children are lucky, someone will notice there is something wrong. But too often, the police are not involved, and these children are unlikely to be protected. I wasn’t.…"
Rabbi David Wax was arrested for kidnapping and torturing a recalcitrant husband until the husband agreed to give his wife a Jewish bill of divorce known as a get. Wax later informed on Rabbi Mendel Epstein, leading to Epstein and nine others being arrested for a similar Jewish divorce kidnapping ring. Today, Wax was sentenced in federal court.
The two arrested haredim are accused of violating privacy laws and “insulting public servants in the performance of their duty,” police said in a statement, by publicizing their names and personal contact information in an effort to facilitate harassment of the haredi IDF soldiers and their supporters and to allegedly incite violence against them.
"…The first inclination of many observers is to label young people who seek out nativist causes like ISIS or the Hilltop Youth as “crazy,” “lunatics,” or “hormone-laden kids.” But behind this perceived lunacy is a certain philosophy, or a general tendency, that we can trace back to leaders who either taught fundamentalist and nativist philosophies or whose teachings have been interpreted to support violence and terror. One such leader affiliates with the Chabad movement in Israel. His name is Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and many Hilltop Youth attended the yeshiva Od Yosef Chai [which he founded and] where he serves as president…”
For years, the Sefardi haredi mayor of Beit Shemesh, Rabbi Moshe Abutbol, has refused to order city workers to remove illegal gender-segregation and modesty signs posted by haredim. Last year, a court was so fed up with Abutbol's behavior that it fined the city. Abutbol still refused to remove the signs and, because this is Israel where rule of law isn't always followed, nothing happened – until now.
The Satmar hasidic village of Kiryas Joel's illegally gender-segregated playground is still gender-segregated, as these signs show. The Yiddish sign warns men and women to stay on their respective sides of the park divider and not mingle or stop to talk with the opposite at the park's the dividers. The New York Civil Liberties Union promoted its out of court settlement with Kiryas Joel over this behavior – a settlement FailedMessiah.com immediately said would not hold. And it hasn't – despite NYCLU insistence that it was a good deal that would last. The English sign warns non-residents that the park is private and they are not welcome to use it. Failure to leave could result in an arrest for trespassing.
Rabbi Eliezer Berland, the head of the Shuvu Banim Breslov hasidic sect, likely now has “a kind of diplomatic status, making him criminally immune" and is holed up in the sect’s secret compound “somewhere between Midrand and Pretoria." Berland is wanted in Israel for a string of alleged sex assaults against female followers, at least one of whom was only 15 when the alleged assault took place.
Lincoln Square Synagogue, the iconic Modern Orthodox Upper West Side congregation founded decades ago by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, allegedly told Joseph Allaham, the owner of Prime Grill and several other high-end kosher eateries in the city, that if he doesn’t withdraw his $1.8 million civil suit against Lincoln Square Synagogue, it will make sure that all of those eateries and their related catering operations lose their Orthodox Union OU Kosher supervision.
Ex-rabbi Marc Gafni's alleged affairs (clergy abuse, according to some observers) and his earlier predatory sexual behavior toward two teen girls have put him in the hot seat again after the New York Times published an exposé on Gafni. But now Gafni and his team are talking about suing a publication for defamation to essentially warn other media outlets that writing anything but a fluff piece or praise of Gafni will cost you dearly. How do we know this? Gafni's team mistakenly sent a recording of Gafni's conversation with advisors, including his attorney, to the Forward. And that quickly led to a threat from Gafni's attorney to sue the Forward if it published the recording. The Forward published it anyway.
“This is a person’s life, we’re talking about very serious matters,” Ben-Or said after first describing the situation many people have found themselves in through no fault of their own: waiting for extended periods of time for the Chief Rabbinate to decide if they are Jewish enough to marry in Israel without the Chief Rabbinate even answering questions regarding the inordinate delays.“It is a right to start a family. I am ashamed that in a functioning state this information cannot be provided. It is an unprecedented scandal. It is not Jewish, and [is] inhumane.”
Rabbi Yosef Kolko will remain in prison. The former haredi camp counselor from Lakewood, New Jersey will serve the rest of 15-year sentence in state prison after a two-judge appellate court panel rejected his claim that he was coerced by members of the haredi community to falsely plead guilty to sexually assaulting an 11-year-old child in his care at the camp.
Based on recent reporting about ex-rabbi Marc Gafni and the people who still support him despite his history of predatory behavior, the founder of the Center for Jewish Feminism, writes about how guys like Gafni, especially rabbis still in the Orthodox community who are like Gafni, get and maintain community support despite allegations of sexual abuse.
Dudovitz has struggled with “fighting homosexual urges — not sexual predator urges,” his attorney told the court, echoing – perhaps unknowingly – the position of the late Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who allegedly attributed cases of child sex abuse to latent homosexual tendencies and told at least some Chabad rabbis not to report child sex abusers to police.
Israel’s Supreme Court issued a conditional order this afternoon against the recently passed Knesset amendment to Israel’s draft law that further pushed back mandatory military service for haredim and inserted various measures that would essentially ensure that few, if any, actual haredi yeshiva students would be drafted.
Over the last three years, police have opened a total of 1,562 investigations into right-wing price-tag hate crime attacks. But only 287 indictments – under 18% – have been filed in those cases. Almost 40% of those cases – 566 – were closed because police supposedly could not solve them. 275 others were closed due to “insufficient evidence.” And most tellingly, 105 of these Jewish hate crime cases were closed because of a lack of “public interest.” That supposed lack of interest is determined by police and prosecutors and is not subject to any reliable third party review.
An 18-year-old Jewish alleged extremist from Ma’aleh Adumim, a moderate West Bank Jewish settlement just outside Jerusalem, was released to house arrest from from administrative detention, where he was held by the Shin Bet in connection with a church hate crime arson. Two minors confessed to the crime several days ago.
The independent group of parents and their supporters that helped bring resignations of many Chabad lay and rabbinic leaders who covered up child sex abuse (or supported those leaders who did so) have asked Chabad's Melbourne Yeshivah Centre trustees for transparency, transparency Chabad promised months ago. But the group, PFYM, had to ask for this transparency in an open letter to the entire local Chabad community because Chabad leadership has consistently refused to answer private correspondence from PFYM or provide any real transparency at all. That stonewalling began in earnest just after lead abuse victim Manny Wax agreed to promote Chabad's efforts at 'reconciliation' with abuse victims – efforts that do not include reconciliation with the advocates, supporters (like PFYM) parents and other family members of those victims.
Earlier today, Israel's Supreme Court rejected the Sefardi haredi kabbalist’s appeal of his one-year prison sentence for attempting to bribe top police officers and obstruction of justice – a sentence given him as part of plea bargain. That sentence is half of the minimum the law calls for. Pinto appealed it anyway.
One of Rabbi Barry Freundel's self-made voyeurism videos was unlike the other 51. Rather than being taken in the mikvah (women's ritual bath), it had the backdrop of an apartment. Who was this woman? Whose apartment was this? And how did Freundel have the access to secretly video record her naked in her most private intimate moments?
It's almost a year since the Royal Commission exposed decades of child sex abuse and coverups at Chabad's Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Chabad promised Yeshivah Centre restructuring, which was due to be completed by last week at the latest. But it still isn't finished. And that may be because some of the worst offenders – at least in terms of nepotism and abuse coverups – are still in power, as a new letter from the centre's board of trustees shows.
The five were also indicted for the hate crime attempted arson of a Palestinian taxi in the West Bank village of Yasuf, setting fire to a grain silo in the West Bank village of Akraba, two instances of tire-slashing in the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, an assault on a Palestinian shepherd near the West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar, and even more acts of violence against Palestinians.
After the arson-murders, Ben-Uliel and his wife and 1-year-old daughter reportedly moved to Jerusalem and became, so they told friends, followers of Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s Breslov hasidic movement, Shuvu Banim. Berland has been on a more than two-year flight from justice, running from country to country to avoid deportation and extradition to Israel, where he is wanted for questioning in the rapes and sexual abuse of several young female followers, most of whom were married at the time of their alleged assault, and at least one of whom was a minor at the time the alleged sex assault took place.
The soldier is seen on a video from the wedding celebrating the arson-murder of a West Bank Palestinian baby and the baby’s sleeping parents. Revelers danced to Dov Shurin’s racist song Zochreini Na and waved machine guns, knives and a mock Molotov cocktail in the air which they lit and used to burn a photo of the murdered baby – but not before they took their turns stabbing and slashing the photo with their knives.
The former couple’s divorce was recently finalized and she quickly became engaged to a man the divorced couple’s rabbi had assigned to them as a (likely unlicensed) marriage counselor meant to prevent them from divorcing. The engagement caused widespread anger in the Gur community and even in the woman’s own family.
Martin Vegh wanted his sex offender status ranking reduced from the Level 2 status he was given. A New York State appellate court ruled against Vegh's appeal today. Vegh's case is perhaps best known because it was allegedly discussed on an illegal recording made by a PI working for haredi child sex abuser Baruch Lebovits. The recording was allegedly heavily and deceptively edited and spliced with other recordings in order to falsely incriminate hasidic anti-child-sex-abuse advocate Sam Kellner.
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The New York Times: "The legal conflict has revealed a deep tension within the Orthodox community that has been reported in the Jewish weekly press, and has been the almost exclusive topic of discussion on some Orthodox Jewish Web sites like failedmessiah.com and unorthodoxjew.blogspot.com in the months since Mr. Hikind brought up sexual abuse."
The New York Times: "In Postville, residents were dismayed by a report posted on a Jewish Web site, FailedMessiah.com, saying that Sholom Rubashkin held a celebration in Postville last week after he was released from detention on $1 million bail."
THE COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW: "[Jeff] Abbas passed the video to Shmarya Rosenberg, a blogger in St. Paul, Minnesota, who has provided some of the best coverage of the raid and its aftermath; a few days later, the video was referenced in The New York Times."
The Forward: Postville’s City Council initially voted to support the idea of a community benefits agreement, but later voted to withdraw support for such an agreement — a development first reported on the blog Failed Messiah.
Samuel Freedman in the Jerusalem Post: "[T]the scandal of Agriprocessors has been chronicled from Stephen Bloom's book Postville to Nathaniel Popper's investigative reports in the Forward to Julia Preston's coverage in The New York Times to the muckraking blogger FailedMessiah.com."
Religion In The News: "So authoritative has Rosenberg become that he is now regularly quoted by the Register; and his site has been referenced by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and both the Forward and the JTA."
Tablet Magazine: “If you’re Jewish and you were married five years ago, you have not confronted the problem that exists today,” Rosenberg says. “The problem is much worse for anyone who isn’t Orthodox. As the Haredi strength grows and their control grows, that’ll become clearer.”
Religion Dispatches: "The best collection of articles I’ve found can be perused at failedmessiah.com, the blog of Shmarya Rosenberg, who, with the perspective of insider turned disillusioned outsider, has been probing the nuances and hypocrisies of the ultra-Orthodox establishment since 2004."