Thursday, June 1, 2006

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Loving God With All Your Wallet

My friend Harry gave me a $54 gift certificate to Amazon.com for my birthday. So I used it to purchase:

* "Air Supply - The Definitive DVD Collection"

* Journey - Greatest Hits DVD 1978-1997

* "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists"

* "Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism"

* "The Ten Commandments of Character: Essential Advice for Living an Honorable, Ethical, Honest Life"

The birthday gift I've used the most this week -- Luke Y. Thompson's Air Supply: The Ultimate Performance DVD, which I've played about a dozen times.

I Love My Shul

Sometimes I have to bring a stranger with me to the place I pray to appreciate how wonderful it is.

I often think of my shul as a cold and unfriendly (I'm just seeing a projection of myself). I often feel jarred walking in and trying to pray (that's because my life is far removed from what I am about to pray for). But then I bring an obviously non-Jewish friend and he's treated with great kindness and he opens my eyes to the goodness of those around me.

It made me think that a poor woman could wear the same dress every Sabbath for a year to my shul and nobody would make fun of her. A poor guy like me can wear the same suit every Sabbath for five years (I have) and nobody makes fun of me.

I remember 12 years ago that I wore the same tie repeatedly to Stephen S. Wise temple until Dr. Stephen Marmer came in one Sabbath with a gift for me -- two bags filled with approximately 60 different ties.

We would have a potluck lunch every Sabbath but I was so poor, I couldn't contribute -- until Dennis Prager lent me money.

At Ohev Shalom in Orlando, I was in a Talmud group but could not afford to buy the next tractate. When the new volumes came in, there was one for me purchased anonymously.

At Young Israel of Century City, I davened every morning with tattered tefillin. One morning, Rabbi Muskin gave me a beautiful pair of new teffilin purchased with his own money. It was the most beautiful gift I've ever received but because of my sinful choices I had to give it back two months later.

And to think that in 1993 I had a girlfriend who gave me a book titled "The Givers and the Takers."

What To Do About Mordecai Gafni?

Yori Yanover writes:

For the record, I never met or spoke to Mordechai Gafni, and everything I know about him comes second hand. If you tell me he had illegal sex with two, rather than one minor, I must accept your version of the truth, because I don’t have a better, more direct source to rely on.

But I agree with you that the discussion of the ravages Gafni left behind, both earlier and later in his life, is overdue. Let me ask you then, what would you consider, in your personal case, to be the kind of arrangement after which you would feel that your grievance is satisfied?

Let’s line up the grievances as I’ve heard them, second hand:

  1. Sex with an under-aged person
  2. Sex with several women with false promises of marriage
  3. Sex with students impressed by Gafni’s charisma

A reliable arbiter should investigate and assess the extent of the damage sustained by each individual woman. I suspect the range of assessed damages might be as varied as the range of women who have had the bad luck to be swayed by Gafni. But my sense is that as long as none of them suffered physical damage, the dollar value set on their mental anguish would be limited.

Broken promises of marriage can bring in some monetary rewards, but since most of the sexual complaints are by adult women, who were, basically, consenting, the sums will not be large. But, of course, the better the lawyer, the higher the rewards.

But I must warn you that pursuing this case to the end will require a great commitment on your part; you’ll basically have to put your personal and professional life aside and commit to suing Gafni. And if you’re not the first one to sue him, he might be broke by the time you win.

Which brings me to the sad and real aspect of recovering from the kind of injury you sustained: It’s not about punishing the SOB who hurt you. It rarely is. It’s about rediscovering the powers within you to move on. You said I was “ranting and raving,” so I would assume that you don’t think I’m your friend. So I’ll tell you what I would have told my daughter, if, God forbid, she were in your situation: Let the guy rot, move on, get back into life.

I’ll share with you a personal experience.

Many years ago, my wife and I lost our one-year old baby. It was an opportunistic bacteria that ran through her body in one weekend. Our pediatrician was negligent. It was our first child, we depended on him for judgment, and he was basically ignoring us, even when we called in the middle of the night. By the time we finally brought her in, he was shocked by her condition and had us take her to the emergency room, where she passed away.

After the first month of mourning, we went to see our lawyer about suing our doctor. We sat with a battery of attorneys, and they began to prep us, set dates for depositions, etc., until it became very clear to us that pursuing the case, in which we were undoubtedly right and the doctor undoubtedly wrong, would require about a five-year commitment on our part. We would be deposed, we would appear in court time and again, we would be asked to re-live the most painful time in our lives, again and again.

We balked. And decided to put our energies in recovering from the tragedy. Which we did, slowly. Incidentally, the pediatrician’s wife lost her pregnancy shortly thereafter and he left the field permanently. So karma is still alive and well. The fact is that today the only thing I feel for that doctor is pity. I think my wife and I are in much better shape than he.

In my view it is inappropriate for anyone to write what Mordechai Gafni should do or not do. He is an addict who’s hitting rock bottom, and he will or will not seek recovery. The public discussion of the quality of his mia culpa, or the mia culpi of various Renewal movement leaders is embarrassingly prurient. As individuals we have the right to declare what our own needs are, not what other people’s needs should be. After all, what do you want him to receive? Jail? Not going to happen, not here, not in Israel. I’d be extremely surprised if it does. So, if not jail, then what?

Read more.

Serious Talk about Mating for Hetero-America

Luke Ford is the only heterosexual man of note who offers timely and meaningful advice on matters of the heart to heterosexuals from the male point of view. In this he is assisted by his imaginary alter ego Chaim Amalek, an Apostate New York Jew who can be seen on Myspace. Got a question? I've got an answer: just_ask_luke@yahoo.com.

Who Should Chaim Amalek Court?

Chaim Amalek of New York finds himself living in penury and in such dire social isolation that he is reduced to courting the "women" ( not all really are) of Craigslist. What follows are some personal ads from a few of the women he contemplates dating in New York. Consider this the internet’s first instance of "open source" advice on courtship. Dear readers, kindly chime in with your two cents and good sense by discussing here which of these women are worthy of a date with Chaim Amalek:

I. Let me wrap my hands around.... - 25
Reply to: your neck and squeeze till their is no more air. I want a weird man who gets turned on with women like me. Morbid, bitch and not all sane...

II. Dinner tonight with a medical professional and LTR - 31
Reply to: Date: 2006-05-15, 11:34AM EDT I just went to Guns N Roses last night and the concert didn't start until 11:30pm and was home by 2am. There was no way after drinking all day that I was going to make it to work and see 25 patients. I am very career oriented, have 2 degrees and also have another business in addition to my current job. About me: avid concert goer. Just picked up tickets for Madonna and Pink Floyd. I am also seeking a jewish hotster (or would seriously convert) who likes to wine and dine, around 6 feet owns an apt. like myself, and is available for intimacy daily. I am 31 and women's peak is 35 so if you think you can handle me let's get this party started THE DOWN SIDE TO BEING SINGLE IS NOT BEING ABLE TO GET ACTION EVERY DAY SEEKING A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP ONLY 33-40. FYI: PLEASE HAVE MULTIPLE PICS MY PICS WERE TAKEN 5/1/06 I PURPOSELY DO NOT PUT A CLEAR PIC ON HERE FOR SECURITY REASONS
this is in or around Ues

III. he who worships the big beautiful woman is KING - 46
Reply to: Date: 2006-05-29, 8:14AM EDT Its true.. most men leave us behind.. thinking our sexuality is something weird, but little do they know we are the great exploders of all time.. and the loudest, most passionate women who let men be kings in the bedroom (or outside).. I pitty the man who has never made love to a BBW nor who has been their husbands, boyfriends, lovers.... Me? I seek him...for completion, for passion, for sharing mind body and soul. Monogamous only, unattached...I AM NOT YOUR f--- BUDDY !!! I have a great job and a wonderful life but one missing ingredient is your humor and masculinity ......whether you're slim or husky or large....IT DOES NOT MATTER...

IV. Married lady that needs her lover - AND HE WONT DRIVE HER CRAZY! - 35
Reply to: Date: 2006-05-28, 11:19PM EDT If you want me.... I am here - but under my terms only! This was suppose to be posted in westcher - accidently posted in Manhattan. Ok.... here goes nothing but maybe something. I have read several postings from men to see you hate to have a woman have criteria to meet but feel it is only responsible for a person to be as specific as a person can be to find what is right for each person. My belief is - if your honest with yourself and the ones around you - you can find anything or anyone. I want to find a great situation and enjoy it for a long time. No harm in trying. I am a sexy voluptious woman with needs and desires to fulfill. I am blunt, silly and serious, affectionate, I personally have a rather fun kinky sexual side and a more sweet loving side. It depends on the lover and the situation but I am open to explore and enhance my sex life along with my everyday life. I am not interested in a person that is hung up on sex though. I am not looking to "f---" or to "f--- around". I want a lover. An affair. A friend. A man who is wanting to give attention to a woman that earns it and will deserve it. I want to find a giving man who is into treating a woman nice and loves to pamper but that is your call. Every person is diffent and each situation is diffent. I am attracted to over the age of 35, tall - over 5' 10" a must, strong, above average endowed, open-minded, funny, sexy, can have a firm hand sexually - and is only dominate in the bedroom (no subs or bi-guys) men - a real man. Decision making, educated, sophisticated, kind hearted, lover of a man. As I think more about the sexual man I am looking for - here is a more descript explaination.... A passionately dominate man who is not abusive but controlling. A thick long cock to keep me weak in the knees and wanting to worship it. I like rough sex. I like to be taken and have fantasies like everyone else. I have great big breasts that desire to be played with roughly. I like a man that is not afraid of a woman and knows a thing or 2 about the G-spot. Must love a voluptious woman with real cuves - round rear - big boobs. Toys are great, spankings are amazing and eagerness to please is always rewarded with eagerness in return. Attitude, personality and honesty are winners everytime. Does not matter how great a person thinks they are - a liar is a loser to me. The hottest snob is unattractive. And a drip of a personality is just no fun. I have some great qualities, some ok qualities and some bad qualities - I am human. I drink - socially, smoke and can be an attention needer. I do not want someone to change me and I do not want to change the right person. I like the be the center of a person universe when I am with them. I want to keep you wanting me as much as I hope to want you. I am married and am not looking to leave - my marriage is my business and am not looking to explain my seperate life to anyone unless there is a connection between myself and someone else. I would like to think that somewhere out there - there is a man who is looking for me. I can give the right man my attention, affection and devotion. I am not looking for a nightly encounter - just someone that understands or can be understanding and available for me when I need them. I am not looking to have a one nighter - so please do not think it will go anywhere if you are. I am not looking to "party", swing, no BS or liars. Just be honest with yourself and with me and if it is something we can do - lets enjoy a hot romance. I am not looking for long distance romance so be local - be in Westchester or very local to it - must be able to travel and like traveling.
this is in or around Upper Westchester

V. I've Been a Bad Girl - Oh Please Don't Spank Me.... - 44
Reply to: Date: 2006-05-30, 9:43AM EDT I am searching for a strong man who can handle an obstenate woman, someone who understands where the persons head is at when they behave like a total and complete brat. You would take control and give me a good spanking.... Not back down and be assertive. Know who you are and be able to handle who I am, a high powered executive who needs to be treated like a little girl at times and a woman at other times. An all around individual who knows how to treat a woman like a girl and a girl like a woman. If you can follow this, then you certainly will have my attention. I'm waiting for your response, tell me all about what you would do and how you would take care of me and how I would take care of your needs as well. Oh and by the way I am a BBW, so if this bothers you, please dont answer my posting. Thanks. send a photo and i'll respond with the same.

VI. May I Eat Your Arm?
Reply to: Date: 2006-05-31, 1:18PM EDT I'm looking for that special someone who would let me eat his arm if we were starving and lost in the wilderness. Thanks for the arm! That's what I would say. Oh actually, I would say I LOVE you AND thanks for the arm and yes, I still love you, despite your gnawed on arm. I think that's pretty cool of me to still love you when your arm looks like that.

Today I Am A Man

May 28, 2006:

Today I turn 40, an age when a man must put aside the things of childhood and assume the mantle of manhood. No more the playing of the Gameboy for me. No more giggling. No more reading the comic strip "Apartment 3G" or going to movies based on superheroes or trolling for age-inappropirate women at "Friday Night Live" or trying to impress young Jewesses who themselves are fated for desperate evenings on Craigslist. From now on, everything must be tight - my use of time, my muscles, my writing. Today I am a man.

Luke Is 40

Cathy writes:

Not long ago I was so pleased to find myself linked in the same sentence with Mark Steyn -- in John Birmingham's Sydney Morning Herald article about witty righties and humorless lefties -- that I immediately ordered Birmingham's out-of-print book, "How to Be a Man." I figured this would be the perfect 40th birthday present for Luke Ford, especially because of the Australian connection. And indeed it was, at least in my opinion. Luke isn't very gracious about presents, but I assume he'll at least learn something from it. It's a good book, as of course I read it first. (Along with Maia and Grandpa, who were both quite glued to it.)

...Someone else gave Luke some AMC movie passes, so Monday he took me and Maia to see "United 93," which we all liked very much, although Maia thought it was too sad and Luke had to march around my backyard afterward for a good 20 minutes, demanding that we all imagine him saying manly things like "Scramble those jets" and "I want action, not answers" and (of course) "Let's roll." He only stopped when my Dad finally came outside and distracted him with a dirty joke.

One good thing about Luke: He's an appreciative audience and when he laughs, he laughs so long and loud you think his sides actually might split. He also cackled happily for quite a while at the pre-movie commericial about some bed-wetting product.

Luke's "let's roll" dialogue fantasies were at least a relief from his conversation on the way to the movie, which consisted almost entirely of him saying things like, "Do you think I'm exploitative of women?" "Am I self-centered and narcisstic?" "People say I'm manipulative -- am I?"

He wouldn't let me change the subject, and just saying "yes, yes, yes" gets boring after a while, so eventually I reminded him that, you know, some women charge 95 cents a minute for these kinds of conversations.

I Take A Break Monday Afternoon From Chasing Sexual Predators To Become One

Justin Levine, Aria Lexxi, Eric Derrick, Lexxi Lexxi, Justin Levine Heather Veitch Martina, Luke Y. Thompson Martina, Luke Y. Thompson Heather Veitch, Steve Aria, Luke Y. Thompson Aria, Luke Y. Thompson Crystal Klein, Adam Grayson Jamie and her mom Lisa Crystal, Luke Crystal, Luke Crystal, Luke Crystal, Holly Crystal, Holly pic Crissy, Holly Lexxi, Luke Lexxi, Luke, Rich Lexxi, Luke, Rich Lexxi, Luke Holly, Derrick Luke Luke Y. Thompson, Justin Levine Derrick, Lexxi Crissy, Martina Derrick, Lexxi, Luke Luke, Crissy Martina Charlie, Onyx group Justine, Devan group Luke Luke Luke Jamie, Charlie (L-R) Martina, Lisa, Shay, Crissy Lexxi, Luke acting out his military commander fantasies Shay Luke Holly Holly, Luke Holly

(The last 20 photos were by my host Holly.)

Holly emails me: "I'm sorry I didn't have more time to talk to you or your friends (or anybody!) but I get like that when I'm hosting a party. It's like I go into work mode. Anyhow it was a good party and I'm glad I could feed you something you could eat."

Will Senger writes:

The recidivism rate among sexual offenders is not 100% and not near 100%. In Canada, it is between 2 and 5 per cent but one has to realize that this figure is based on legal recidivism, not just sexual offending. As an example: A released sex offender with a condition of release not to consume alcohol can be returned to the institution for drinking a beer and thus become a recidivist and part of that 5%.

The suggestion in this writing from your site that says sexual predators don't get better is basically true. The predator does not stop having the desire to submit to his/her deviant fantasies and will likely never stop being aroused by inappropriate thoughts - but the actual recidivism statistics obviously account for the fact that these urges can be controlled or dismissed.

Have you seen this week's Forward "Book Issue"?

Five books -- all by women.

Then she says, "You don't read women authors, do you?"
Least that's what I think I hear her say.
"Well", I say, "how would you know and what would it matter anyway?"
"Well", she says, "you just don't seem like you do!"
I said, "you're way wrong."
She says, "which ones have you read then?"
I say, "I read Erica Jong!"

Anonymous Shnonymous

Yori Yanover writes:

Dear "Orthodox Rabbi Responds":

In a normative society, an accused has the right to face his accusers. It's an elementary component of fairness and justice.

There are cases when the accusing party stands to be harmed, either by the accused or by a related agency; or when the accusing party is under aged, when we promote the protection of the accuser via anonymity.

But a grown Orthodox Rabbi like you, who faces his God three times a day and is at peace with his conscience, what justification does he have to don the hood of the anonymous witness?

My views on Gafni? I understand he's been a brilliant teacher who couldn't keep it in his pants. He broke the social code regarding employing one's influence and status to get laid. He probably shouldn't go back to teaching for a while, because, as I was led to understand, once he's on a roll, he can't help himself. The women he had sex with were not minors, save for one experience when he was much younger. In my view, Gafni should make amends in a serious, honest and meaningful way to the women he took advantage off, or he'll never grow beyond this point of abuse and humiliation. If I were his spiritual consultant, I would recommend a detailed apology, including recanting his actions and a dollar value set on each offense. And then he gets forgiven and can start to seek the next step in seeking his spiritual wholesomeness.

I believe the prison system in every country is a horrible place which is against the spirit of Torah, degrading souls and subjecting human beings to daily abuse and torture. No crime at all should be punished with uprooting a person from his loved one and turning them into sodomized animals for a prescribed period of time. Prison is a crime against God and humans. Our Torah, as ORR knows well, prescribes the death penalty for intentional capital offenses, exile for unintentional capital offenses, and a detailed process of restitution for everything else. If a person is deemed chronically addicted to sexual assaults, we should probably consider long-term hospitalization. But advocating that Gafni, or any other human being, accept incarceration as justice, means turning a blind eye on the suffering and torment of the millions of incarcerated persons everywhere.

One last point, ORR says: "Or were the comments too strong and if I did put my name would he have looked for ways to attack me which is why he is frustrated at the anonymity."

That's pure nastiness. As someone who gets a litany of my journalistic history, as well as reams of attributed writings I never authored plastered over endless screens every time I post my opinion, I resent the underhanded insult. If your record makes you vulnerable in this debate, what right do you have to comment on the sexual proclivities of another? If your record is solid, stop whining, ORR, be a man, put your name under your statement and argue like a grownup.

Vicki Polin is a crazy lady, but at least she's out there, name intact. Anonymity is a convenient way to stab someone in the dark and run away without having to watch them bleed. It's cowardly and disturbingly pre-adolescent.

Jewish Whistleblower writes:

Luke, why do you give the time of day to hypocrite Yori Yanover. He allows anonymous comments on his blog and even he reposts them as posts on his blog (seee just the last few enteries), he has anonymous "affidavits" he uses to attack his named enemies, he posts anonymous email all the time, he posted numerous smears anonymously on Protocols and his best friend Yudelson has admitted he posts anonymously on the Jewish Survivors. Perhaps Yori, should out his anonymous friends before he lectures us. Or just change his first name to hypocrite.

Further, virtually all the material I post is sourced and has named sources. Virtually everything Yori posts on USAJEWISH is UNSOURCED and anonymous.

Larry Yudelson writes:

JWB typically misses the point -- Yori and I prefer to argue with names attached; JWB and other cowards don't. That hardly counts as rational, since Team Polin happily drags our families into the blog battles, but so it goes.

As to the half truths: You bet I've posted anonymously on JewishSurvivors, after I found that my signed posts were rejected by the moderator. The only time I recall actually posting, though (since I assumed that the moderator wouldn't let through any posts taking issue with her) was when Team Polin assembled a list of the most valuable players in the victim protection program (or whatever they called it) this past year, and the name of Luke Ford was missing. Given Luke Ford's role in the LA Tendler case, I found that a most surprising omission.

Incidentally -- there seems to be an interesting battle brewing in the sexual victim community; check out the comments from the past couple of days at the bottom.

Jewish Whistleblower responds:

For a Jewish Journalist and the head of an upstart publishing house, you would think that Yudelson would learn to read. He really needs to work on his reading comprehension.

I correctly made the observation that virtually all of Yori's posts are identical. He posts anonymous materials ALL the time as part of his posts and that Yori is a hypocrite.

As to the rest of Yudelson's response it is irrelevant and inaccurate. I personally have stated in the past, and will do so here again, that I believe that Luke Ford did a valuable service to the community by exposing sexual predator Gafni and his enablers.

I will note that Larry Yudelson now admits he was aware that the allegations were credible and removed a post attacking various people over their exposure of Gafni. The problem was he did nothing to speak out against Gafni and took no steps when his best friend Yori Yanover was promoting Gafni. Yudelson left the stumbling block in front of Yanover. Basically, that is the quality of friendship you get from Yudelson. He is a moral pigmy that stood silent in the face of evil that was Gafni while attacking those who stood up against him and even when he removed his post, he took no steps to correct the false impression he left or the damage to those who he wrongly attacked. His blog silence enabled Gafni, just as his silence in NJ enabled Rabbi Baruch Lanner. Yes, Larry Yudelson has a name but what is it really worth?

Luke how is your post quoting an Orthodox Rabbi any worse that Yori's posts that DO EXACTLY THE SAME. Here's just one of many examples.

Where in his revised "YOU RESTORED MY SOUL" post (the original of course had the quote "homosexual movement, the feminist movement and the psychoanalytical movement. All three movements have politicized the sexual, and with that, robbed us of the carefree availability of our sexual expression," which of course Yori has since removed) he quotes anonymous Yitzchak from Jerusalem. Why is Yitzchak from Jerusalem allowed anonymity? Is not Yanover a hypocrite of the first order? Enquiring minds demand to know if this "Yitzchak" is in fact Chabad Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsberg. The same one who wrote this terrible racist nonsense:

"Less than five years ago, Habad Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsberg of Israel stated publicly in the New York media that "Jews have different DNA than gentiles, and that Jewish life is infinitely more valuable than gentile life."

I hadn't realized that conversion also altered one's DNA. Disgusting.

Yori Yanover claims that "Vicki Polin is the most favorite Jewish author of both White Power and Muslim bloggers."

BUT IN FACT it is his alleged friend Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg a Chabadnik (a movement closely associated with Yanover who set up their internet presence) that can be argued is the most favorite Jewish author of both White Power and Muslim bloggers, with statements like: "Jewish blood and a goy's (gentile's) blood are not the same."

Israeli Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, Inferring that killing isn't murder if the victim is Gentile. Jerusalem Post, June 19,1989.

Will Yori Yanover openly condemn Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg? Demand Chabad rid itself of this racist? Unlikely.

Larry Yudelson writes:

I said: The only time I recall actually posting, though (since I assumed that the moderator wouldn't let through any posts taking issue with her) was when Team Polin assembled a list of the most valuable players in the victim protection program (or whatever they called it) this past year, and the name of Luke Ford was missing. Given Luke Ford's role in the LA Tendler case, I found that a most surprising omission.

JWB said: As to the rest of Yudelson's response it is irrelevant and inaccurate. I personally have stated in the past, and will do so here again, that I believe that Luke Ford did a valuable service to the community by exposing sexual predator Gafni and his enablers.

While JWB is welcome to his happy delusions, what I said was indeed relevant: JWB was making some sort of point about anonymous postings being hypocritical, and I explained that my "admission" of anonymous posting was in response to Vicki's not allowing me to post by name on her site, and then not giving you proper credit. Whether JWB gives you credit for Gafni is separate from whether or not "survivor" did -- isn't the party line that JWB and Vicki Polin are separate people? (Incidentally, Vicki has yet to respond to my query as to her relationship with "survivor"). By the way, Luke, I'd welcome your opinon on one thing: Isn't it a bit odd for a grown man to be tossing around the term "best friend" with such certain abandon? It's really not a phrase I've myself used since seventh grade. I wonder whether JWB has been spending too much time hanging around the schoolyard.

Another seemingly bogus claim. JWB claims "I will note that Larry Yudelson ... removed a post attacking various people over their exposure of Gafni." Really? Which post?

JWB replies:

Not bogus at all. The proof in Yudelson's own words.

Sorry, JWB. I'm not standing up for Gafni now, and I didn't stand up for him then. In fact, it was a phone call from Gafni a year or two back that lead me to take down a blog devoted to you and Vicki: I very much did not want to be on Gafni's team. ...
Comment by Reb Yudel - May 26, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

Larry responds: "Here's the misunderstanding. JWB thinks I was criticizing him for going after Gafni. No; I've criticized Team Polin for their ongoing mixture of prurience and prudity. And yes, that obsession with Frankist cults, ritual abuse and recovered memory."

JWB responds:

The only person in this dialogue that got a call from a sexual predator thanking him for his efforts in attacking his enemies is a man named Larry Yudelson.

As to obsession, Larry Yudelson should read his best friend Yori Yanover's blog.

Further, as far as I'm concerned, by linking Yanover's blog and parroting his smears, Yudelson should be considered a member of Team Worch and an enabler of Rabbi Jeremy Hershy Worch. I hold Yudelson 100% responsible for whatever comes.

The Fire Of Holiness

An Orthodox Jew writes me:

There is a connection of lineage spiritually between the Aish Kodesh and the Izhbicer, as they all represent a current of Polish Hassidut through to Kotzk, etc, which tended towards more radical readings of text, and some very attractive ideas about theology. The fact that any liberal and progressive theology can be easily distorted is not a fair critique.

There is no connection between Aish Kodesh, written by R. Kolonymous Kalman Shapira, the Piaczezna Rebbe, in the Warsaw Ghetto and the Izhbitzer. Other than Rav Shlomo taught both. There could be a pun with sacred fire – or it could be a coincidence – a guy like Worsh probably believes that it is Divine providence.

Izhbitz is interesting – I have the books at home very difficult very obscure – you can claim that he is saying almost anything. He writes tersely and expects the reader to understand. He has some strange claims in the book which have gotten him in trouble – for example in Parshas Pinchas in the Mei Shiloch he says Pinchas was wrong for killing Zimri – who was actually performing a mitzvah by having illicit sexual relations (in public?) with kozbi. Pinchas the student of Moshe (prototype of the well meaning zealous yeshiva student) doesn’t understand the deeper spiritual Zimri, who has mystic calculations for his sordid behavior. Interesting that Gafni and Worsh may be attracted to such a Rebbi

The Rehabilitation Of Sexual Predators

Rabbi Mordecai Gafni writes:

To my holiest friends, I want to say I understand I have made grave mistakes. I made choices that clearly hurt people I love. I am infinitely saddened and profoundly sorry for the pain I have caused.

I take full responsibility for all the pain I have inflicted. Clearly all of this and more indicates that in these regards I am sick. I need to acknowledge that sickness and to get help for it. That is what I am doing in this letter.

I want to state clearly and unequivocally that I now recognize that I am sick in these ways and I am committed with all of my energy to check myself into the appropriate programs that will get me healing on this. I have already turned to a leading figure to guide my treatment program and am entering treatment immediately.

I want to enter into the most appropriate healing process with both myself and where appropriate with the others involved. I promise you from the bottom of my heart and in the name of everything that is holy, I am taking this crisis with utmost seriousness. I am making healing the number one priority of my life. I must act now to discover what led to me to make these damaging choices that hurt people I care about, hurt my community, and hurt the people who have supported me for years in building Bayit Chadash.

In light of all that has happened I am leaving all of my rabbinic teaching capacities. I am looking now, together with a professional team, for treatment centers where I can go and learn about what led me here, where I can grieve for all the pain that I have caused, and where I can heal so that this never happens again. I apologize with all of my heart and soul to everyone.

With love and pain beyond words, MORDECHAI

An Orthodox rabbi responds:

He is getting good at this; while he claims to have taken responsibility – he takes no responsibility – he claims to have an illness, he is sick, illness can be treated he is seeking treatment. The implication is that soon he will be healed and life can go on.

If he is taking responsibility then why doesn’t he get on the next plane and go back to Israel and turn himself in at the closest police station, at least give a statement – see if they wish to press charges, if they do plead guilty to spare these women from testifying, and if the court finds him guilty sit in prison. He writes “I promise you from the bottom of my heart and in the name of everything that is holy, I am taking this crisis with utmost seriousness. I am making healing the number one priority of my life.” That is not called taking responsibility, it is called working on a defense. Curious no mention was made of his previous victims – he is only admitting what the public already knows. He says “I am taking this crisis with utmost seriousness.” Good thing he just got fired and publicly humiliated – imagine if he didn’t take this seriously! Amazing.

The odds of Mordechai getting a paying gig in the foreseeable future is nil – yet he is taking responsibility so he writes “In light of all that has happened I am leaving all of my rabbinic teaching capacities” did he have a choice? Can he continue the charade as rabbi?

Mordechai made a similar statement when he left his second wife to be with a woman he claimed he loved and wanted to spend the rest of his life with – he stood up in a synagogue in Kfar Saba and said that was leaving the rabbinate. Unfortunately he has since pledged his love to numerous women has been engaged numerous times and has promised many people to spend his life with them. Unfortunately he forgot his declaration to leave the rabbinate and snuck back in. Of course by this time nary an orthodox congregation would have him. After his “counseling” a young woman, led to his leaving his wife – her irate father went right to the chief rabbi of Israel. After an investigation, the chief rabbi’s office declared him a “non-rabbi” he would never practice in Israel in an official position.

Mordechai couldn’t stay away, had he stayed a computer software salesmen – he could have been as sleazy as he chose (no offence intended to people in that field of work) and when he got caught in his indiscretions it wouldn’t have caused this public spectacle. But Mordechai in a perverse way is so narcissistic that he is probably enjoying the publicity – the same man who shaved his rabbinic beard and publicly announced that he was leaving the rabbinate 10 years ago stood up again and wrote an apology – because he is taking responsibility. He is getting good at this.

When he could no longer serve in an orthodox congregation on any continent – despite his name change, Mordechai became new-age, he even created a philosophy that could provide his libido with victims. If he is sincere about his taking responsibility, about dealing with his sickness, I would assume that he would move far away from this new-age philosophy. Return to his orthodox roots. Deal with the real sickness – his need for power and publicity. But this won’t happen, Mordechai will not have the guts to take that much responsibility. If he did he would have to apologize to the scores of woman he told he loved, to the scores of woman he forced himself upon.

To all the people he stepped on making his way to the “top”. To all the rabbis he ripped off and claimed their Torah as his own. To the people who wrote his books for him and did his research. To all the people whom he paid off over the years - buying their silence. To all the listeners on radio and television to whom he would have to admit that his programs were bought airtime – in an attempt to satisfy his insatiable need for power fame and recognition.

If Mordechai really takes responsibility for all of this what would be left? Mordechai is a talented orator a charismatic teacher, he is not the great philosophical thinker that some of his fans think he is – can he admit this? Can he move away from the lime-light? Can he lead a life without adulation? Can he stop lying and abusing? Will he seek forgiveness from the victims of his youth – for the abuse and the years of emotional pain that followed? For causing them to lose their faith in Judaism? For destroying their sex lives and future relationships? Will he apologize to Rabbi Yosef Blau who years ago identified Mordechai for what he was - a slick talking dangerous abusive con-artist?

When Mordechai returns to Israel, seeking his penance, when he swears he is leaving the rabbinate and public life forever. When he returns to G-d with sincerity, not to perform a tango with the Schechina - which he deems to be in pain, because of the pagan Eros, which he declared to have been exiled from Judaism. When he leaves his narcissism, his self serving manipulative philosophy and sits in prison I will believe that he has taken responsibility. But I won’t hold my breath.

A psychiatrist emails me about sexual predators:

They don't get better even though they may earnestly try to repent. Okay, I'm being too harsh, some do. But we're talking like 3-7% who don't go on to repeat the same sort of crime. It's absolutely tragic, but if some one is prone to that sort of crime, especially those prone repeatedly by history, you're talking about a recidivism rate that's close to 100%.

There's a huge difference between someone who has an off color fantasy and someone who acts that fantasy out in reality.

The rabbis you've been mentioning shouldn't ever again be around the type of victims that they've preyed upon in the past. It's both not fair for their future victims as much as for them. It's just too much of a temptation for those guys to repeat their behavior no matter how much repentance they've been through.

Yori Yanover writes: "Luke -- With all due respect, the casual observer might jump to the conclusion that Vicki Polin and I are the only people you know who aren't anonymous. This is best shown by the most recent rush to kick Mordechai Gafni while he is conveniently on the ground. I don't mind the fact that his public apology, as well as the letters from Reb Zalman and several other Jewish Renewal folks be critiqued, even maligned. But must it all be done by anonymous rabbis and psychologists? Are we fresh out of people who can insult their fellow man and not hide behind the shield of anonymity? What's the justification for this protection, in the case of the two most recent rabbi and psychologist duo, for seeking to remain anonymous?"

The Orthodox rabbi responds:

While Yori takes offence at the form – namely anonymous emails – though he should recognize that much of blogging and comments is an anonymous endeavor – what does he think about the content? I would assume that an astute social commentator as himself would have some response to the comment – and the authors identity should really be secondary. Or were the comments too strong – and if I did put my name would he have looked for ways to attack me – which is why he is frustrated at the anonymity. Was there any inaccuracy in my email? If yes he should point it out. If no – then why is the identity an issue? There have been hundreds of anonymous comments on this issue on blogs all over cyberspace – so I chose your blog which doesn’t take comments – which forces one to send you emails – why is this an issue?

An Orthodox Jew writes me:

I agree that its a charade, but at least he 'fessed up. Sobel just claims "teshuva" as though there were no victims, and that he's holy enough to proclaim himself ready for prime time again, his serial attacks were just an error on his part for which just some teshuva and therapy will be adequate.

Philosophically, this issue of "pardon" has been raised with Nazi crimes. Is there pardon without the victims granting it? In Torah there is no other route; crimes of this sort require not the OK of other rabbis (or even of Gd) but of the victims. And something tells me that we aren't going to see it in either of the cases.

Here's what R. Hutner said about Teshuva: The background is that the Rambam changes the Gemara's language- when the Talmud talks about the three books (in which one is inscribed for life or death, as it were, depending on the person's actions), it says "zachu" "if one has merits", whereas the Rambam states "im asah teshuva". So R. Hutner notes (pachad yitzhak derush 18) that the Rambam recognized, that contrary to the usual way of thinking about merit, its not a quantitative issue (this many sins, this many mitzvot).

Rather: Teshuva is not in the heftza, but in the gavra. That is, its not the tally that counts, but the individual transformation that determines Teshuva. And you know that Rambam was pretty severe on the matter of Teshuva.

Rabbi Jonathan Chipman posted this on his blogsite, which has Gafni defending his views.

Here is Sobel in his own words. I assume since we all know that he's really at heart a big tzadik, that this applies to him:

In righteousness shall you judge your neighbor" (Vayikra 19:15).

The Torah commands us to give people the benefit of the doubt when we are not sure whether or not their actions were permissible. For example, if someone sees a Jew driving on Shabbos, and he doesn't know whether he is desecrating the holy day or taking a seriously ill person to the hospital, he should judge him favorably and assume the latter.

Actually, it depends. If the one whose actions are in doubt is generally known to be an extremely pious, G-d fearing person, then, even if his actions are most probably forbidden, yet, if there is even a one percent chance that it is permissible, we are required by the Torah to judge him favorably.

If, however, the fellow is someone who is average in his observance, sometimes succumbing to sin, then the Torah requires us to give him the benefit of the doubt only if there is at least a fifty per cent chance that it was OK. If the odds that it was forbidden outweigh the chances that it was permissible, then the Torah allows us to regard it as questionable - but certainly not to rule that it was forbidden. According to the Rambam, even in such a case it is an act of piety to judge him favorably.

Only if someone is a known desecrator of the Torah, should we assume that what he did was forbidden.

In practice, this commandment is difficult to obey. We are quick to assume that others are misbehaving (although we almost always assume that we are perfect or close to it) and we rarely give even tzaddikim (righteous people) the benefit of the doubt. When we judge ourselves, on the other hand, we instinctively assume that we are righteous.

Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel - How Does One Know When A Predator Has Truly Repented?

I'm a sexual predator as much as the next guy. I don't pick on kids. I don't pick on guys. But if an attractive (or even a homely woman) is the slightest bit interested in me, I am putty in her hands.

If I ever have a secretary, I'm going to make sure she's either a guy or old and ugly. Otherwise I'll spend my time wondering how to get her into bed.

You should know that I stopped a rapist last night. Yes sir. I stopped chasing this woman.

Frankly, I think every man would rape if he could get away with it (unless he's timid or ethical).

What's my ethical direction? I tend to do what is easiest. When people (appropriately) reprimand me for doing wrong, I find it easier to do right.

I don't spend my life watching sexual predators. It just seems that way.

Let me take that back. I am spending my life watching sexual predators.

Originally from New York, Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel (in the mid eighties) ran a yeshiva for troubled kids -- Neve Yohoshua (which became Neve Zion) in Israel.

He was pushed out in 1987 after (sexually and otherwise) abusing (many, perhaps most) of his male students. I've heard of at least one suicide following this and other yeshiva bochers giving up on Judaism. Many kids disappeared from the radar screen of the Orthodox world.

At that time, rabbis in such a position were pushed out quietly.

Sobel did not go willingly. He only left his position of religious leadership when he was forced out.

Soon after, he claimed he had done teshuva (repentence) and spent thousands of dollars getting psychiatric help.

It seems like most rabbi-predators claim the same thing.

"The people I trust in Israel," says an Orthodox rabbi who's been a leader in combatting rabbi-predators, "none of them trust him at all. Rabbi [Yitzchak Dovid] Grossman [aka the Disco Rabbi] would not be the first person to be taken in by someone who's said he's done teshuva. Sobel is good at this stuff. They're all good at this stuff. If they weren't good at it, they'd be long gone.

"For many years, [Rabbi Sobel] has been doing things to get himself back in business [as a religious leader]."

L.A. Gafni Event Canceled

Julie Fax writes in the Jewish Journal:

Revelations about sexual misconduct have led to the cancellation of an upcoming local event featuring prominent Rabbi Mordechai Gafni [with Dennis Prager].

Gafni had been scheduled for a public talk at Stephen S. Wise Temple on June 9. Over the past two years, since being appointed to the Wisdom Chair in September 2004, Gafni has returned every few months to the Bel Air shul, where he's had a loyal following.

Herscher said he had discussed the rumors with Gafni and, after investigating them on his own, found them baseless.

[senior Rabbi Eli] Herscher was in good company defending Gafni, as some of the country's top Jewish thinkers, of all denominations, called Gafni a remarkable teacher who was the target of a malevolent campaign.

Herscher also decried Jewish newspapers for printing lashon harah (malicious gossip). "Rabbi Gafni coming to teach here makes a deeply important Jewish statement - that if rumors and allegations and innuendo are allowed to destroy someone who only wants to teach, Jewishly, that is tragic," Herscher said in October 2004.

Precisely what investigating did Herscher do? What investigating did Berman and Telushkin and company do? I know that about 18-months ago, Saul Berman did not return calls (one from a woman who says she was molested by Gafni, another from a rabbi with information on Gafni's sexual conquests of those under his religious leadership). What made Herscher, Berman and company believe they were qualified to investigate such matters and then declare Gafni safe?

From the case of Gafni, it appears that much of religious Jewry's leadership is more concerned with protecting their own reputations and those of their fellow leaders than in confessing the bad they have done and atoning for it. I've yet to see any Gafni-supporting rabbi attempt to do any teshuva (repentance).

As a convert to Judaism, I've always believed that rabbis were better than any other group of people and less likely to act like sexual predators. In particular, I was (and in many ways still am) a huge fan of Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Dr. Stephen Marmer and my former Gafni-supporting friends at my former temple, Stephen S. Wise (I was a Mountaintop Minyan member there from 1994-97 while I was also equally involved at Aish HaTorah and various Orthodox shuls). I was naive.

For more than a decade, I looked at Rabbi Telushkin and Dr. Marmer as role models. I admired their combination of Jewish commitment and universalist interests.

Despite Gafni, I still think they're great guys. Just stupid in this area. They're apparently learned nothing.

Luna Batzri Picks Up Her Divorce (Get) May 24

This was Orthodox LA's most discussed divorce in years (there was media coverage in Israel and Los Angeles). Both sides to the divorce (and the 15yo son) have been damaged by the fallout. Rabbi Batzri can't find work. His ex-wife teaches at a Sephardic school in Pico/Robertson.

Luna Batzri put up flyers denouncing her ex-husband. Then her son put up flyers denouncing her and what she was doing to his father.

Since his remarriage in February, until May 24, Rabbi Batzri, according to some rabbis interpretation of Jewish law, has had two wives.

Luna Batzri's side said Rabbi Batzri would not give her a divorce. His side says she would not pick up her divorce.

She sued him in civil court (for spousal and child support, even though their son lives with their father) and refused to go to the Orthodox Jewish court because she says she won't get a square deal. It is the norm for Orthodox Jews to settle things within the community (by a Beit Din, Jewish law court, if necessary) and not take things to secular court.

May 25, there was a late-afternoon pushing incident between Luna Batzri and Rabbi Batzri's new wife at Pico Glatt Market and a police report was filed. From what I heard, Luna initiated the pushing.

'What's The Latest On JDater Amy Klein?'

A friend calls. "I know you have a satellite on her."

Luke: "She's the happiest I've seen her. I spotted her with an older man at the Israeli Independence Festival."

Jews, please beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing

From a post on Craig's List:

There is extreme anti-Semitism in “La Voz de Aztlan” http://www.aztlan.net

It may not be obvious at first. You have to scroll down or poke around their website a bit… but check out some of these links:

Viva Palestina Libre!
Delagacion Especial en Mexico
Fallujah: American Guernica
Palestinian Woman Martyrs Against the Israeli Occupation
Sign Petition to Stop US Military Aid to Israel
The “Kosher Nostra Scam” on the American Consumer by Ernesto Cienfuegos
The Petition to End Kosher Certification Labels
Betsy Rosstein’s New U.S. Flag!
STOP US Military Aid to Israel
STONE vs. ARMOR, Palestinian boy defends his hometown of Beit Hanuao in Northern Gaza 2003
BOYCOTT ISRAELI PRODUCTS In Solidarity with the Palestianian Sruggle (their misspelling)

'Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel spoke of how each individual child is loved as much as the next and that they are all a family, in the true sense of the word'

From John Hagee Ministries:

A $1,000,000 check was presented to Migdal Ohr, which is a home in Israel to over 4,000 Jewish children. Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel spoke of how each individual child is loved as much as the next and that they are all a family, in the true sense of the word.

Pastor John Hagee gives sodomizer Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel a fat check.

A reliable source writes me:

Here's a picture of the bastard getting money from the Christian Right. Now Migdal Ohr is a fine institution, but this is so painful to see.

I was disgusted by someone's defence [of Sobel]. How primitive is it to maintain that a serial sodomizer of minors under his care can "do teshuvah" and be cured enough to be trusted among young sephardic boys who wouldn't be believed if they complained. And the fact that he had a string of similar activity in Baltimore years earlier and did teshuva, as it were, is encouraging. I just wonder if that right wing Christian leader in the photo I sent you knew that he was shaking hands with a rapist and molester of boys?

Everyone in Neveh Yehoshua was a high school student, and if you think about the planning- the sicko sets up a yeshivah in a remote area outside of Netanya so that he can easily molest boys. As "rosh yeshiva," he was hanging around the swimming pool with the kids. I can't imagine a more horrible story, all those shattered kids, and somehow just by chance he's up north in the remote Migdal Haemek in a little boys school, and I'm supposed to believe that he's cured of gay pedophilia? That's pretty progressive.

Migdal Ohr is a home/school for wayward and underpriviledged boys, and far from Jerusalem and Feldheim. I don't know what he does, but even if he has an office job there, he has ready access, and remember, the way these guys operate is that they use their "holy rabbi" status as a force and a legitimizer (such was Gafni's approach, and I know for a fact that it was how Sobel used to work, since his victims were not gay, but he would transfix them with some religious argument that it was what God wants, etc (remember, his victims were... classmates of Gafni).

The way the story broke [about Sobel] was fabulous and well known. He used to come to the US every year to recruit students, he would always try to be "with it." I remember once he went around quoting some Billy Joel song. Anyway, he had his driver with him, who was also a student at the yeshiva who was supposed to also represent the yeshiva. When in California, a local rabbi gave him use of his house while the rabbi was away for some family business. Apparently the trip was cut short and when he returned he found Sobel and his student in a, well, compromising position. Quickly the story got around, the yeshiva took out ads that Sobel was no longer there, and relocated to Jerusalem, now Neve Zion.

Rabbi Grossman is a good man. Still, one doesn't have to be a Freudian to figure out Sobel's enthusiasm for the job, and it doesn't excuse the way he's been covered for, having done far more bad stuff than Lanner or Gafni combined. We used to joke that it was because of the Haredi world's disdain for women, so that if someone spent time with women he should be punished, but with other yeshiva boys, well that's more understandable...

[Sobel] did manage to work his way through that group [sent by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin]. One of them was running around trying to tell people, but the kid was not that frum and no one believed him (he has long hair and the other guy is a Rosh Yeshiva, the people would say). His defender on your site should be embarrassed. Particularly since it was this kind of "honor to Rabbis" that covered for him in Baltimore and allowed him to prey again. I don't know what he's like today, but you know about the rate of "cure" in these guys. As good as Gafni's is likely to be.

I feel like finally justice may be served. I've been carrying this sore for a long time. Sobel deserves a page like some of the others, being worse than all of them. The sheer number of victims and the calculated depravity is mind boggling. Setting up a yeshiva specifically set up for his sick needs? Not even Gafni went that far (although he certainly worked his way through Bayit Chadash, and even there at least they weren't confused 17 year olds away from home in a foreign country for the first time).

Never underestimate the power of teshuva! You can't really know if you've done repentence until you place yourself in the same position where you once sinned.

"The true lesson is really the reverse: The power of appearing to do teshuva is that it gives one a vicious opportunity to get back to that place again."

Yediot May 23 Article On Gafni

Here's the translation I received of the last paragraph:

One of the complainants told police that Rabbi Gafni wanted me to hit him and to curse him. He cursed me. He called me a prostitute, a bitch, and said I was his slave.

Rabbi Kenneth Hain's Part in Protecting Rabbi Mordechai Gafni

By Survivor of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, May 23, 2006:

In 1986 soon after I was a victim of Mordechai Gafni's attempted forced sexual advances, a sixteen-year J.P.S.Y. (Jewish Public School Youth) girl, Judy, confided in me that Mordechai Winiarz (his name prior to his name-change to Gafni) had been sexually abusing and threatening her on several occasions. I realized immediately that I needed to bring these serious concerns to people who would stand up for what was right and put an end to his abuse of power and people. I had seen myself what he was capable of, and I was not going to stand idly by and let him abuse others.

Among people from whom I sought help and guidance, I turned to Rabbi Kenneth Hain, the current Rabbi of Beth Sholom in Lawrence, NY, who had connections with Yeshiva University (which funded JPSY) and who knew Mordechai personally. I called him to tell him my fears and concerns regarding the details of the sexual abuse of and threats made by Mordechai to Judy as well as the experience I had had with Mordechai when he attempted to seduce me. Rabbi Hain listened to everything and said to me, "You weren't there, so you don't know if this is true." When I told him the details of Mordechai's sexual advances towards me as well as his subsequent threats to me and to Judy once he knew that she and I had spoken, Rabbi Hain responded, "Sometimes the bigger person is the one who can just let things go."

Although twenty years have passed, I will never forget his exact words and how they shocked me. Here was yet another enabler of Mordechai--someone who had the responsibility to be as courageous as Rabbi Yosef Blau and at least investigate these allegations and follow-through with a proper course of action; yet, all Rabbi Hain did was quash me and insist that I "let things go." Rabbi Blau listened to victims and acted responsibly to ensure that the many accusations against Mordechai be taken seriously and that Mordechai not be allowed to continue in his position as leader of JPSY.

Mordechai was eventually ousted from J.P.S.Y. I later heard from reliable sources that it was Rabbi Kenneth Hain who had furnished Mordechai with a letter of recommendation that he travelled with. With this reference, Mordechai fled to Boca Raton, Florida where he managed to dupe the Boca Raton community into accepting him to serve as rabbi of Boca Raton Synagogue in Montoya Circle. Well, it wasn't long before scandal befell the community and allegations of serious sexual improprieties as well as misappropriation of funds shook the community. Changing his name to Gafni, Mordechai fled to Israel, and his string of sexual abuse and lies continued--with support from his enablers--until now, twenty years later—when we finally heard his "confession."

In 2004, I spoke with another survivor of Mordechai's sexual abuse. She had been quashed at every attempt to plea for someone to stop him, but her pleas went unanswered. In The Jewish Week in September 2004, Gary Rosenblatt quoted Mordechai's acknowledgement of a sexual relationship with this then thirteen year old girl— (though he claimed it was consensual) and he STILL succeeded in obtaining support from the enablers mentioned above while this now young woman cried out that she had been sexually assaulted by him repeatedly over so many months.…

In addition to Rabbi Kenneth Hain every single person who supported Mordechai despite the numerous, substantial, and growing allegations--and quashed victims' experiences --claiming that there had been investigations that never took place--should be forced to realize the effects of their actions and inaction.

...Because of these Jewish community leaders' blatant dishonor to the rabbinate, negligence and inaction-- many women have become victims of Gafni's sexual abuse. This is a true Chillul Hashem--that supposed representatives of Judaism who should have cared about victims' claims and pleas chose not only to shut their ears but to lend support, encouragement , and financial assistance to the abuser--Gafni. These individuals must be held accountable for enabling Mordechai to add more victims to his list . These individuals need to issue public statements of apology to the survivors whom they ignored and to society at large for endangering all the people Mordechai Winiarz/Gafni encountered over the past twenty five years.

Why Can't We Have An Open Discussion Of Sexuality?

Larry Yudelson writes:

It has been very interesting this week to see the inherent anti-sex agenda of various bloggers begin to surface.

"Survivor" invents rumors of BDSM involving Gafni, seemingly out of thin air. Presumably, the connection is that she doesn't like Gafni, and she doesn't like BDSM. And Steven I Weiss, who foisted JWB and Luke Ford on the blogging world, finally reveals why Protocols couldn't play host to a grown-up conversation on sex and Judaism. He out-and-out conflates a gay guy making a pass to child molestation and rape.

Here's the truth: Steven Weiss, like the JWB morality goons, are as scared of sex as is Ismar Schorch. There's no sexual desire which motivates them to say, hmmm, that's not my speed, but it's interesting; it's a part of the human experience I'm not familiar with, but am willing to learn about and discuss.

Ultimately, the literary character known as "Luke Ford" plays a similar game, ogling the ladies but maintaining a strict pretense of "I'm saving myself for marriage."

It's all a shame. The Jewish community very badly needs an open discussion about the interface between halacha and sexuality; given the Conservative Movement's staunch refusal to confront the topic, the blogosphere seemed to offer an opportunity to begin thrashing it out. Instead, we have the same tabloid trash, combining prudery and prurience in a very vile dish.

My Loss Is The Predator's Gain

Over the past three months, I've developed tendonitis aka tennis elbow on my right arm (I'm right-handed) and the pain shoots up and down my arm and into the right-side of my back. I understand the only cure is rest. So I'm learning to use my mouse with my left hand. It takes me forever. I feel awkward.

So if I'm not much of a conversationalist on IM or via email, I'll trust you'll understand.

Ken Wilber, Mordecai Gafni - Birds of a Feather?

Mumon blogs:

...[A] "Ph.D. minus thesis" is not a Ph.D. simply put, because doing a doctoral thesis in this country at least, and having it approved (a practice that goes back hundreds of years) is a verification that you are able to do original research and have it peer-reviewed, and that peers in the profession find it original and verify that it does indeed illuminate something new. It may be where Wilber's life is, but in no way should he be confused with a Jean Paul Sartre or Jacques Derrida. Say what you want about their philosophy, but they were philosphers, who wrote real theses and real research.

Rabbi Mordecai Gafni's BDSM Angle - It Was Practiced Against Him

In his latest escapades, Rabbi Gafni was the one who wanted to be tied up, punished and told he was a bad boy.

Larry Yudelson writes me:

It's odd that your "report" of Gafni BDSM involvement, without actually quoting anyone. How unlike your usual meticulous self. Are you just parroting made-up stuff the "JewishSurvivors" blog, designed to turn the Gafni affair into an opportunity to go after Vicki and Nancy's object of obsession, Yori ? Or do you have any real source (preferably one who does not have a track record of delusions)?

I first reported, not Jewish Survivors, that the women who filed reports on Gafni a couple of weeks ago said that their sex was on the BDSM continuum. I have a source who's read the depositions.

Then I got and published the clarification about the direction their power exchange played out, which appears to be on the opposite end of Rabbi Hershy Worch and his women. I am not claiming any end of the BDSM spectrum is better or worse, nor am I claiming that there is anything bad about BDSM, nor am I linking Worch to Gafni or making any moral comparison between them.

I remember a big practicioner of BDSM, Ira Levine (husband of Nina Hartley), was getting pushed into Judaism by a major Chabad rabbi in Denver. Ira was not interested. He tried to blow the rabbi off by saying he was into BDSM. The rabbi stroked his beard, thought about the matter, and finally remarked, "BDSM [between a married couple] is not prohibited."

I got emails after my publishing on the BDSM angle of Gafni's latest fiasco wondering if there was a nefarious link between Gafni and Worch. There is none that I know of aside from them teaching Torah together a few weeks ago.

A reliable source writes:

I think you had and have the Gafni story correct from the beginning, so it’s a shame that detractors might be able to pull one line out of context against you -- you state that “any woman who could get involved with Gafni has no one to blame” (not an exact quote, but it's late). Seducers such as Gafni have a hypnotic power over people that makes them somewhat not responsible for their actions, and it is unfair to blame his victims in this way, who he certainly targeted and seduced with all his strengths. This line makes you seem callous and not understanding of sexual offenders; it would be in your benefit to strike it and thus keep your focus on the true criminal, not the victims. And one accusation was of rape, which is generally non-consensual…

There are people who have been keeping files on Gafni/Winiarcz since the early 80s; for example, the Orthodox Union did a cover story on him for one of their newsletters, and it had this great quote attributed to him about there not being any non-Orthodox Jews, only not-yet Orthodox Jews, which whether or not one cares for the sentiment, was a direct (and well known) act of plagiarism from Rabbi Riskin, which was who he used to steal from before becoming a New Age Carlebach/Schachter-Shelomi rip off. People have collections of these kinds of things, which were pretty frequent and at the time amusing for being pathetic.

Incidentally, Ken Wilber mentions a "PhD thesis", though Gafni's only formal degree is from Thomas Edison College, a diploma-for-cash mail-in racket. [Luke: I've confirmed that Gafni received an MA from Bar Ilan University.]

We all have a betting pool on how he will reinvent himself now. Born again Fundamentalist Christian? Hindu/Buddhist meditation yogi? Lubavitch? Satmar Chassid? He's fun to watch (unless you are one of his victims).

People were called in to try to dissuade his poor third wife from marrying him. She too was quite the victim, only 23 at the time (while he was publically giving a younger age for himself; he is 45-46 now), he took a ride on her attempted English degree at Oxford and turned it into his own "graduate studies," while ultimately she was unable to finish and had to sneak her stuff out of Israel to not create a scandal for him at the time of their divorce (which was prior to the 2004 Maariv article, so he was lying about their non-separation at the time).

The guy has been a snake oil salesman since high school, but the rabbinical types seemed to love a "young, dynamic mover" and the New Agers loved this "deep thinker".

There's not an original line in his book Soul Prints.

But how come you have nothing on the worst offender of all time, Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel, who convinced Itri Yeshiva to open a yeshiva for wayward American students for him in Neve Yehoshua, which he famously used to serially sodomize perhaps 30 or more victims? Then it turned out he had done it before in Baltimore as well, but since he was a "rosh yeshiva" they couldn't just leave him without a job, so they gave him a cushy position at Feldheim Publications where he still works, apparently, while many of his victims, who were not gay (shows you the power of seduction) had to be institutionalized when the story broke. The yeshiva did renounce him and reopen as Neve Zion in Jerusalem.

The guy they found him cuddling with was his driver.

That's all he got on your pages? He's done far more damage than Gafni, and was more protected by the system. If he indeed is working in a boy's yeshiva among underpriviledged youth, well, that's like the move Chinatown or Gary Glitter's removing himself from the music scene to move to Southeast Asia...

[Before Rabbi Baruch Lanner got busted] NCSY [had] the operative standard "make the girls fall in love with you so that they'll become religious."

I stay far away from these charismatic types. It's sad to see how easily people set themselves up for victimization.

I first published about Ben Zion Sobel on October 24, 2004 on Protocols:

Here's another shady rabbi from Ner Israel in Baltimore -- Ben Zion Sobel. He ran a yeshiva Neve Zion in Israel. He quietly and quickly left in 1987 after a scandal between him and some of his male students.

I've heard of at least one suicide following this and other yeshiva bochers giving up on Judaism.

There's a link between Sobel and Matis Weinberg that goes back 30 years. Sobel is charismatic and strong-willed. He's convinced people over the years that he's a big Torah scholar and beyond reproach.

I believe that Sobel is working in book editing. One of the big book publishers [Feldheim Publications] hired him.

He's tried to get out of the book business and to get back into teaching boys. He says he's rehabilitated.

You can sign up for parsha lessons from R. Ben Zion Sobel.

Un-Orthodox Jew writes:

Telz-Stone was his first stop in Israel. When the allegations started over again...he started another yeshiva elsewhere. Finally, Rav Shach and R' Elya Svei got a hold of him and threatened him with police involvement unless he left chinuch. He is now working in a bookstore.

I got an email forwarded to me about Sobel in early 2006:

There is a piece [Luke's piece on Protocols] about Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel which has very little truth to it. I happen to know the man personally. He has absolutely no links to Mattis Weinberg, whatsoever, and never did. He does not even come from Baltimore. No one committed suicide because of him. He never claimed to be beyond reproach, although he is a big Torah scholar who has given sacrificially to help hundreds - perhaps thousands - of students around the world.

It is to his credit that he left quietly and quickly in 1985 because of his unfortunate problem. He immediately went into intense therapy and spent thousands of dollars for treatments.

After about half a year, his doctor signed a document for the Bidatz, saying that he was cured. He then underwent a very intense teshuvah process, asigned to him by the greatest Rabbis and Mekubalim of the generation (I think he's still involved in teshuvah things like fasting and the like).

It has been 20 years since then and I know that he is being watched very carefully. If he had done anything wrong since then, we would surely know about it. Although he has been given written permission from the Bidatz and other great Rabbis to return to teaching, he has not yet done so. He wants to be 1000% sure that he is not a hazard for anyone.

I don't think it is fair to him or his family to publicize now, 20 years after the scandal, what happened then - especially using wrong information. He poses no threat to anyone and he and they have suffered enough for his mistakes.

The Torah commands us to accept the ba'al teshuvah (see Rambam, Hilchos Talmud Torah 4,1) and without teshuvah we all are lost. I believe that that when a Jew has a problem, it is very easy to just kill him and rid the world of the problem. But the Torah wants us to help that person overcome his problem and continue to live and benefit the world with his good qualities.

Sometimes publicity is beneficial, but in this case, at this point, I think it is wrong. Whenever people search for his name on Google (he writes very inspiring Torah on the Net and many people are benefiting from him in this, safe way), some degrading lines from Protocols pop up and stare them in the face.

I call another source who believes that Rabbi Sobel has done teshuva (repentence). "What do you do with a guy who's smart, talented and believes he should not be near kids? Feldheim is a private publisher. They stuck him in a room and made him an editor. Does Rabbi Sobel have a right to support his family? Would it be better for him to be a cab driver picking people up at random?

"Years ago, Aish HaTorah hired him to do research. He wasn't teaching kids."

Israel's 'Disco Rabbi' brings meals, hope to children

Charity work helps some 6,000 immigrants and orphans find a life outside crime, drugs, and alcohol.

Amelia Thomas writes for the Christian Science Monitor Nov 23, 2005:

...It's not all smooth sailing for Migdal Ohr. Recent budget cuts have led to a cut in government financing of the charity to the tune of $4 million per year.

"We receive financing from a number of government departments," explains Rabbi Ben-Zion Sobel, executive director of Rabbi Grossman's Jerusalem office, "from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Welfare, and others. So we were on everyone's list when the budget cuts came through. We were afraid to answer the phone, and every letter began 'We regret to inform you.'"

The result is that Migdal Ohr, whose annual operating costs are roughly $25 million, is relying more heavily than ever on its supporters around the world.

"But because of the crisis in the Israeli economy, more and more families are sinking below the poverty line, and are turning to Migdal Ohr for help. And 'no' isn't a word in Rabbi Grossman's vocabulary," says Rabbi Sobel. "He told me 'If I don't take these kids, they'll end up on the streets.' So on one hand, our financing's been cut, and on the other, we've just taken in 700 more needy kids."

Grossman is, as ever, undaunted. "As soon as I finish one project, God gives me another one," he laughs. "The problems never stop, so the answers never stop.... But this is my raison d'être - to keep children from the streets."

Rabbi Grossman and Rabbi Sobel used bad judgment in having Rabbi Sobel speak to the press. If Rabbi Sobel is living an honorable life, that's great, but he should not be speaking to the media (unless he's OK with getting heat for his previous bad behavior), and he particularly should not be speaking publicly on behalf of an organization for children. He just makes himself, his superiors, and his organization look bad.

Rabbi Grossman saw Rabbi Sobel davening at a shul with incredible fervor, tears streaming down his face. Rabbi G. walked over and introduced himself at the conclusion of the prayers and asked Rabbi S., "Why are you praying like this?" Rabbi Sobel then told him the whole story and that he's trying to do teshuva.

Rabbi G. took him to various places for rehabilitation and gave him a job away from kids.

A reliable source says: "Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel is not the all-time worst rabbi-predator. It's Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz.

"He called himself a rabbi and a psychologist. He'd speak at highschools. He was a cool hip outgoing rabbi before kiruv (outreach) became a household name. This guy was going out there in the trenches and working with kids no one else was working with. Apparently he was working them to his own satisfaction.

"He told this yeshiva high school that Judaism said masturbation was absolutely fine, which is weird as almost no Orthodox rabbi will say that and the Torah has traditionally been interpreted as condemning masturbation.

"When Rabbi Mondrowitz worked a room, he knew right away which kids he should go after -- the kids who were lonely, he befriended them.

"Rabbi Mondrowitz worked with the orphanage Ohel in Brooklyn. He was counseling for them. Eventually there were charges brought against him and about 20 years he ran away from America to Israel. When he got to Israel, signs went up all over the place warning people against him. There were counter-protests that the charges were not true. That you should not spread gossip. And Rabbi Mondrowitz settled down to a nice life in Israel. He can't go back to America without facing arrest.

"When Rabbi Ben Zion Sobel left Neve Yehoshua, the case was brought to Rabbi Shach. The official announcement was that Rabbi Sobel embezzled money, because that was a respectable Jewish sin.

"Rabbi Sobel at Neve Yehoshua had an office door that locked. If a kid walked in, the door automatically locked behind him. Rabbi Sobel would tell the kid to lie down on his couch and close his eyes. Rabbi Sobel would say to him, 'I know it is very hard to be a yeshiva bochur [student]. It's hard to grow. What difficulties are you having?'

"The kids would often say, 'Being away from girls is very hard.' Rabbi Sobel would say, 'I'll give you strength to deal with it,' and put his hands on the kid's crotch and help him.

"Rabbi Sobel would get them in a vulnerable state and do what he wanted."

Rabbi Sobel apparently still teaches classes (at least as of 2001):

Date: Sun Mar 11, 2001 10:40 pm
Subject: Parsha Shavuah Shiur with HaRav Ben Zion Sobel

Pnei Shmuel is pleased to announce the popular, topical Shiur by HaRav Ben Zion Sobel, Shlitah Tonight, Monday night at 8:15 pm. At Pnei Shmuel Nachal Refaim 21/1, Ramat Beit Shemesh. The Rav comes to Ramat Beit Shemesh especially from Ramot, Yerushalayim to enlighten us with deeper insights and understanding of the Parsha Shavuah, including aspects of Hashkofa and Mussar. For details, contact Yechiel Lewis at 9994938 Yechiel_Lewis@icomverse.com