Aron Boruch Tendler
(born January 16, 1955) was the senior rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation
in North Hollywood, California. He resigned from his position in January
2006 under pressure (from his board and other Orthodox rabbis).
Aron's January 18, 2006 resignation letter had only one typo and was
probably composed by two Shaaray Zedek leaders, Jim Kapenstein and Jack
Yellin, who are high-powered lawyers at Disney -- the president of the
shul and the chairman of the board of directors.
The letter made no mention of the charges of sexual abuse levelled against
Aron by many of his former female students (as well as reports of consensual
sexual philandering with adults over the past 20 years).
a post to New Hempstead by a woman (a student of Aron's at YULA) who had
a flirtatious and phone sex relationship with Aron over many years while
she was an adult: "Several laywers over the years have asked
us to go to the Beit Din as recently as last year but the majority of
us are not religious and don't believe in this system and think it's a
bit hypocritical to turn to the beit din when clearly Aron is not a religious
man and neither are we religious."
fact-checked the following post with a reliable source (a former female
student of Aron's):
He has been cheating on his wife for 20 years. This is no loss to the
Jewish world. I personally had an inappropriate relationship with him
for 14 years. I have a friend who tried to commit suicide [overdosed
in 2003] because he molested her at the age of 16 [and had a sexual
relationship with her for more than a decade]. And yes, he told us he
was molested as a child. We tried for years to get rid of him and no
one would listen to us, not even the then president of the shul. He
knows it's ALL true and that's why he is resigning. For no other reason.
Aron Tendler served as teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal at
the (girls) Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School. He was known
as hip and cool by many of his students. His classes were more relaxed.
If kids wanted to have a few drinks over a Shabbaton, Aron would only
advise "Don't get sick."
Aron was replaced as principal of the girls YULA in 1987 after two underage
teenage girls made complaints to Dr. Bruce Powell (the principal of secular
studies and a non-Orthodox Jew) who became adamant that Aron had to go.
Dr. Powell told a reporter at the Jewish Journal Jan 26, 2006 (in an
unpublished statement) that he left YULA before Tendler left and that
the information on my website about him, Dr. Powell, was completely untrue.
I stand behind my story that Dr. Powell was adamant that Aron must go.
Dr. Powell and Rav Aron were at each other's throats at the time and their
dispute was known around YULA and around the Los Angeles Orthodox community
(and would be talked about for years afterwards by, among others, YULA
Instead of being called "Rav Aron," Tendler got the nickname
"Rub Aron" for his behavior (at YULA boys school, at YULA girls
school, at Shaaray Zedek, at NCSY, and elsewhere) with females above and
below the California age of consent of 18.
Nineteen eighty seven was a tumultuous year at YULA Girls High School
because of Aron's procilivities. There was constant and open conflict
between him and Dr. Bruce Powell. Aron was frequently absent. Talk about
these problems spread throughout the YULA community and beyond and never
ceased over the next 18-years (though LA's Orthodox community did next
to nothing to keep Aron out of positions of religious leadership).
In 1987, Aron Tendler was brought before a Beit Din (Jewish law court
composed of three rabbis) on the charges of two underage YULA girls (both
could be said to come from difficult homes but the girls did not have
credibility problems except under the extreme duress of the Beit Din)
that he sexually molested them. One girl said that he performed oral sex
on her. The girls were broken down by the brutal questioning of the Beit
Din (which, included, I believe, Aron's uncle Rabbi Shalom Tendler). Shalom
Tendler successfully argued that his nephew Aron should be moved to the
YULA boys school. Other than that, all Aron needed, according to Shalom,
was "to study more Torah."
The two girls were on the fringe of the Orthodox community. They were
worried about where they would go to college. They did not want to do
battle with the powers that be at YULA. They chose not to press charges
(either in Jewish life or in secular criminal court) after they were humiliated
at the Beit Din.
One of the YULA girls Aron messed around with attempted suicide in 2005.
Aron taught at YULA boys highschool until about 1995 when he devoted
himself to Shaarey Zedek and
deeds of loving kindness in the wider community (particularly with troubled
Two of Aron's female former students (both of whom had sexual interactions
with him, one while underage) estimate Aron had inappropriate relations
with about 20 underage girls at YULA (from writing sexual poetry to inappropriate
flirting to phone calls to rubbing himself against them repeatedly to
groping, one girl he almost had intercourse with before she went to Dr.
Bruce Powell, one girl said he gave her oral sex) and that he had forms
of consensual sex (from phone sex to more, in much of it he professed
an obsession with not spilling his seed as that is prohibited in the Torah)
with 30 or more adult women in the past 20 years.
Aron's first two accusers to Dr. Powell had a falling out. One girl,
even though she knew better, told Dr. Powell once that the other girl
was lying about her fling with Aron.
Rabbi Aron Tendler has told people, including women he was sexually intimate
with, that he was sexually molested as a boy by a family member.
"We were at an all-girls school," says a female former YULA
highschool student from this time. "Our hormones were going nuts.
And Aron Tendler was there. He was flirty. He had two or three buttons
of his shirt unbuttoned, walking up and down the hallway. He provoked
it. Kids bored in school were flirting with him. I can't say he touched
people unwillingly. I think they did it and then afterwards asked, ohmigod,
"He wasn't someone who was going to force himself him on you. Years
later the girls woke up later and said, this was wrong.
"Before he'd have an affair, he'd discuss the halacha [Jewish law]
about wasting sperm.
"Whenever it gets down to it, Aron gets afraid and removes himself.
I heard he removed himself from the RCC. I'm surprised he isn't resigning
from Sharei Tzedek. He has to be crazy to want this all to go public.
"He was very careful in the girls that he picked. He always picked
girls who came from troubled homes, so that if we went public, he could
say that we're crazy.
"I don't judge anyone, but when you stand on a podium and portray
yourself as better than everyone else, and you say that we're crazy, that's
the issue I have. He's living a double life. He's been cheating on his
wife for 20 years.
"When you're in the Jewish world and you look at Aron Tendler, you
might think he's sexy, but when you're in the outside secular world, and
you look at him again, it's like night and day.
"Aron told one of the girls that he had had an affair while his
wife Esther was pregnant and she had a stillborn baby, and he always felt
it was punishment for cheating on her.
"He told me stories about a woman in Beverly Hills and when her
husband was away, he would go over to her house and they would just lie
in bed naked together. He was all into the halacha against spilling your
"He shouldn't be running a shul. If two adults want to have an affair,
then have an affair. It's morally incorrect but not worth tattling about.
"[For several years after highschool], I couldn't be at an event
where he didn't approach me. There could be 500 people in the room. He
would make it straight to me and ask me if I wanted to go outside and
talk. I thought, aren't people wondering what we're talking about? I realized
he was telling people I had problems and I needed to talk to him. But
really, he was flirting with me.
"When he'd walk away, he'd be standing with some single guy and
they'd be looking back at me and laughing. I remember saying to him once,
'Were you talking against me?' I was so naive. I thought, he's not going
to talk lashon hara [evil speech]. He's a rabbi. I must be imagining it.
"Then [fellow student and friend] would tell me things he would
tell her about me, and he would tell me things about her, so finally I
realized he was talking against me. When I'd bring this up to him, he'd
say, 'You know I love you.'
"SSS was much more damaged by him than me. She confronted him recently.
He said to her, 'I'd talk to you about it but I'm still sick.' He admits
"If I was him, I'd say, 'I need help.' Play the victim. Just stop
telling people that we're crazy and lying. That just forces people to
tell their stories.
"The Shaarey Tzedek board was told two years ago these stories and
all they did was blame the women.
"A letter was written to his wife Esther two years ago with everybody's
story in it. Esther got it and almost had a heart attack.
"The wife had to know that what was in the letter was true because
it was filled with intimate details about their marriage that he had told
all of us. Even a girl who stayed in their house and the situation she
had with him."
female former student of Aron's at YULA reports about Aron and one of
his YULA students: "They would meet, talk and touch [in a parking
lot and elsewhere]. The flirtation went on for two years. The sex was
planned for a school outing at Brandeis and when they were alone and she
was confronted with it, she ran out. At that point when they came back
from the trip, she went to Bruce Powell."
The stories about Aron's behavior have gone on for years. Every major
Orthodox rabbi in Los Angeles knows about the complaints against Rabbi
Aron Tendler, including Rabbi Gershon Bess, Rabbi Nahum Sauer, Rabbi Fassman,
Rabbi Avraham Union (though I do not believe that anyone did more to protect
Aron's positions of religious leadership than did his uncle Shalom Tendler,
who said Aron just needed "to learn more Torah" to overcome
his molestation inclinations).
No civil lawsuit has been filed against Aron Tendler in this matter (due
to its nature, the women who say that Rabbi Aron Tendler molested them
don't want to go public as most of them have familes of their own, and
communities tend to rally around their leaders and stigmatize those who
accuse the leaders of sexual misconduct).
Aron is popular with his peers who are loathe to discipline him. Aron
is a "nice guy." He's "humble."
From a Tendler perspective, one could view Rabbi Aron's behavior as bagging
trophies of the virgins under his care. He did it out of love. He initiated
them and prepared them for a mature relationship with their later husbands.
A Tendler could argue that these girls had emotional problems, and Rabbi
Tendler was curing them through bodywork and helping them appreciate the
physical dimension of life. This is what God intended in creating the
rabbi-brother Mordecai is also being investigated by the RCA for sexual
A male graduate of YULA Boys High School who knew the two girls who brought
the initial charges against Aron (he is no longer Orthodox) says: "The
good girls who bought the company line and stayed mainstream Orthodox,
they don't want to touch this. They want to get on with their Orthodox
lives. When hey were 20 or so, they were set up on shidduchim (dates)
with Orthodox men. They married Orthodox men and made Orthodox lives.
They have children going to Orthodox day schools. They belong to Orthodox
synagogues. They don't want to hear anything about the girls who were
outside the fringes. They respect people in positions of [power in Orthodoxy].
They don't know anything about the fringe and they don't want to believe
that that stuff happened.
"A couple of guys friends and I were friends with these two girls.
We knew what was breaking out. We tried to find out more. We talked to
our friends. The girls were traumatized. One girl went in there and said,
'How dare you preach morality when you have a rabbi who's making advances
"That sent Dr. Powell off. He said, 'What the hell are you talking
about? You better be serious about this.' That started an investigation
which culminated in the Beit Din. He got a slap on the wrist and moved
to the boys school. A few years later, he gets hired [as Shaarey Zedek's
rabbi] and he's teaching all these courses to women and counseling women.
"In those days , if you were a girl who admitted to sexual
activity, you would have a credibility problem [with the Orthodox community].
You were a bad girl. So the girls who brought charges against Aron were
regarded as bad girls [by the YULA establishment].
"These girls weren't bad girls. They were exploring life and questioning.
They weren't saying this about any other teacher or any other person in
authority in their lives.
"Aron would hone in on the girls who were attractive and problematic
and have his jollies.
"The stories about Aron were consistent, that he would cross lines.
"I remember one of my friends showing me the poem that he wrote
[to a girl]. It was inappropriate.
"Aron is a smooth talker. He's an intelligent man. He's studied
philosophy and psychology. Even if you caught him at certain things, he'd
say, 'Well, Kant and Freud say it's important to share your meaningful
experiences with the youth so that they can identify and appreciate it
and grow.' He has an answer for everything.
"Aron crossed lines with girls I knew. Though inappropriate, his
actions regarding the girls who came forward at that time could be, and
were, covered up and explained away. For example, who can prove the insinuation
of poems? And who can prove whether a touch was intimate or not? I believe
that the problem with the situation with the girls who came forward was
that in their case there was not enough solid evidence (nor enough sexual
activity) to make their charges hold up."
Beth Jacob Honors
Predator-Rabbi Aron Tendler
Aron Tendler was seated on the bima (elevated pulpit-like area in front
of the shul) at Beth Jacob Saturday morning. Rabbi Steven Weil (who's
kicked more than 50 people out of his shul since taking over about six
years ago to create, he says, a safe haven for his members) said a few
laudatory sentences about Aron Tendler. It's an annual thing for Rabbi
Aron Tendler to come to Beth Jacob (and perhaps say a few words in honor
of his grandfather Rabbi Moshe Feinstein).
Rabbi Aron Tendler delivered a lecture at YOLA entitled, "When was
the last time you really said I love you?" It's
available on 613.org: "The topic itself is one of my favorite
topics. I always wonder when was the last time I really said I love you
to my own wife."
He also gave a Purim class at
YOLA entitled: "In Search of Adam's Clothes."
Rabbi Aron Tendler
reminds me of Humbert Humbert, the protagonist of Vladimir Nabokov's novel
Lolita. In one scene, Humbert sees Lolita:
sitting in a study hall with a sepia print of Reynolds' 'The Age of
Innocence' above the chalkboard, and several rows of clumsy-looking
pupil desks. At one of these, my Lolita was reading … and there was
another girl with a very naked, porcelain-white neck and wonderful platinum
hair, who sat in front reading too, absolutely lost to the world and
interminably winding a soft curl around one finger, and I sat beside
Dolly [Lolita] just behind that neck and that hair, and unbuttoned my
overcoat and for sixty-five cents plus the permission to participate
in the school play, had Dolly put her inky, chalky, red-knuckled hand
under the desk. Oh, stupid and reckless of me, no doubt, but after the
torture I had been subjected to, I simply had to take advantage of a
combination that I knew would never occur again.
Rabbi Aron Tendler is famous for speaking out against domestic abuse
(like many predators, he loves to portray himself as the protector of
women and children):
Bringing Jewish domestic violence out of the closet
Fine, Arlene. The Cleveland Jewish News. Cleveland: Feb 6, 1998.Vol.68,
Iss. 20; pg. 32
"The safest place for a woman should be in the arms of her husband,"
says Rabbi Aaron Tendler of Shaarey Zadek Congregation in North Hollywood,
Calif. "If she doesn't feel that way, she must immediately get out of
the relationship and seek help. If there is no kindness between a woman
and her spouse, the sadness can be overwhelming. No one deserves that."
Rabbi Tendler's comments on domestic abuse and those of several other
leading rabbis, plus poignant testimonies from formerly abused Jewish
women, are brought into sharp focus in the recently released videotape
on domestic violence, "To Save A Life: Ending Domestic Violence in Jewish
The worst advice a rabbi or professional can give a woman in an abusive
relationship is to simply return to her husband and forgive and forget,
says Rabbi Tendler.
"Certain sins just can't be forgiven. When a woman is being abused,
no one should tell her to go home, cook a nice supper and then things
will get better. Things do not work that way. Without professional help,
there is no way an abusive relationship can suddenly turn into a loving
Area rabbis learn about domestic abuse:
Multi-denominational workshop spurs dialogue on a difficult topic.
Rzepka, Susan. The Cleveland Jewish News. Cleveland: Oct 30, 1998.Vol.70,
Iss. 6; pg. 18
Last week, a group of rabbis from all denominations gathered at Green
Road Synagogue to broaden their knowledge and raise their collective
awareness of domestic violence. They listened intently to the remarks
of Rabbi Aron Tendler, spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarey Zedek
in Los Angeles, who has become an expert in the field, and to Marcia
Burnam, a survivor of domestic abuse. But many questions remain.
Many Jewish women feel reluctant to come to their rabbis with the problem
of domestic abuse, admits Rabbi Tendler. They assume that rabbis, who
are usually men, will automatically side with their husbands. They fear
rabbis will disapprove of them ending their abusive marriage through
separation or divorce.
Women feel the burden of responsibility for shalom bayit, or household
harmony, and see the admission of disharmony at home as a public shonda,
or shame. The woman's abuser may be an outwardly charming, successful
and religious man, and she fears that the community, let alone her rabbi,
will not believe or support her.
This, says Rabbi Tendler, is the challenge facing rabbis: To let our
congregants and communities know that our doors are open; that we can
and will provide "a compassionate and empathetic ear who will listen
and say, `I believe you,' when a woman seeks counsel."
"The greater the awareness, the greater the healing," says Rabbi Tendler.
The most important thing a rabbi can do for a battered woman, say both
speakers, is to listen, confirm, and edge her slowly toward getting
the help she needs. Give her the hotline number (216-691-SAFE, for Project
Chai, JFSA), a local provider of services for domestic-violence victims,
and encourage her to call.
Jewish Journal January 30, 1998:
"When I counsel couples, I tell the woman, infront of her intended
husband, that if he ever raises a hand to her, she should pick herself
up and leave until the problem is resolved," Tendler said. "And if a
woman is unsafe, it is incumbent upon every rabbi to pull out all the
stops, including saying from the bimah that a man is not welcome in
the community, because he abuses his wife."
the Jewish Journal April 3, 1998:
The close-knit North Hollywood community offers many advantages to
Rabbi Aron Tendler, associate rabbi for Shaarey Zedek, said the primary
reason for rebuilding the shul is that thesynagogue can hardly keep
up with requests for new classes. Inaddition to his job as an assistant
principal at Yeshiva UniversityHigh Schools of Los Angeles, Tendler
gives about five community lectures a week.
"There's no question we're benefiting now from the'settled' ba'alei
teshuvah movement, those who have [become Orthodox]and are now looking
for a community for their kids," he said.
Tendler characterizes Shaarey Zedek's congregation as "eclectic": "Here
you'll see black hats, knitted kippot, the newlyobservant and the converted
all sitting together. We have a real emphasis on maintaining open lines;
we're not into judging people."
the Jewish Journal March 28, 2003:
Rabbi Mattis Weinberg, who founded Yeshivat Kerem in Santa Clara in
the mid-1970s, counts as some of his strongest supporters — and detractors
— former Kerem students and faculty members who now live in Los Angeles.
Kerem, which existed for seven years, employed some well-known rabbis
in Los Angeles, including Rabbi Shalom Tendler, now rosh yeshiva at
YULA; Rabbi Aron Tendler of Shaarei Tzedek Congregation; Rabbi Daniel
Lapin, formerly of the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice; and Rabbi Eliezer
Eidlitz, now director of development at Emek Hebrew Academy.
From the website of
his shul Shaarey Zedek:
Rabbi Aron Tendler has been teaching high school since 1976. His first
position was in Phoenix AZ. as Dorm Supervisor for Ohr Hamidbar. From
1977 to 1980 Rabbi Tendler taught in Kerem Yeshiva, Santa Clara, California.
He moved to Los Angeles in 1980 and has been a teacher, Assistant Principal,
and Principal at Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles. This
past June, Rabbi Tendler retied from YULA to assume the position of
Senior Rabbi at Shaarey Zedek Congregation.
This past December, Rabbi Tendler was awarded the coveted Miliken Foundation's
Distinguished Educators Award.
In 1985, Rabbi Tendler became the Associate Rabbi at Shaarey Zedek
Congregation in North Hollywood, California, the oldest and largest
Orthodox congregation In the San Fernando Valley.
In 1996, Rabbi Tendler's position was advanced to Rabbi of Shaarey
Zedek, and this past July he became the Senior Rabbi.
For the past nine years, Rabbi Tendler has been the Chairman of the
Yeshiva Principals Council.
For the past six years, he has been a member of the Executive Board
of the Rabbinical Council of California and currently holds the position
of Chairman of the Vaad Hakashrus of the RCC.
Rabbi Tendler is author of the very popular Rabbi's Notebook and Parsha
Summary, a weekly essay and review of the Parsha that is posted on the
Project Genesis website. More than 11,000 subscribers receive his weekly
presentations via e-mail.
Rabbi Tendler was featured in eight segments of Mysteries of the BibIe,
a program that is produced by Roos Films and aired on the A&E cable
More recently, Rabbi Tendler has received national recognition as a
champion and voice combating domestic violence. He is a member of the
Jewish Family Services Domestic Violence Task Force. The nationally
distributed video, "To Save A Life" produced by the Center for the Prevention
of Sexual and Domestic Violence features Rabbi Tendler's passionate
and encouraging views.
Rabbi Tendler was married to Esther Shapiro in 1976, and has raised
their five children here in Valley Village.
1976 - Smicha - Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
1976 - BS Political Science, Johns Hopkins University
1976 - BA Talmudic Law - Ner Israel Rabbinical College
1986 - MA Guidance and Counseling - Loyola
Such Shaaray Zedek leaders as four-year president Irving Steinberg (2001-2005)
as well as (Vice-President for Facilities) Robert Schacht and his wife
Joni (nee Hofstedter) Schacht have been aware of the specific and credible
allegations against Rabbi Aron Tendler for at least two years. A letter
detailing Aron's philandering was sent to his wife Esther near the beginning
of 2004. Rav Aron called Joni Hofstedder and asked her to tell his wife
Esther that the accusers were crazy. Joni agreed and did that (even though
at least one of the accusers was a longtime friend, and Joni's actions
ended that friendship).
No fan of Aron, Joni later explained she wanted to protect the shiduchim
(marriage) possibilies of Aron's children.
A Former Female YULA Student Of Aron Tendler's Faxes
His Shul Shaaray Zedek 1/24/06:
Please tell Esther [Aron's wife] that perhaps she should finally apologize
for all the horrific things she has been saying about the victims of
Aron all these years. And she knows who we are speaking of.
Just so you know, Joni Schacht has been aware that your husband has
been cheating on you for 20 years and never said a word to you. She
is some friend to you.
This has already made it to the internet but in case you haven't heard,
Esther, your husband contacted Joni after you received the letter from
his victims and asked Joni to lie and tell you that a certain someone
wrote the letter who "didn't" write the letter and to say that this
person is nuts. She then went to this victim's home uninvited to admit
to what she has done and said she lied to you in order to protect your
This victim that your husband claims is nuts, had phone sex with Aron
many times while he was at shul. And was propositioned by him for over
10 years to have sex.
Phone messages have been saved that can validate this.
Do you have any idea what he was doing to your 16 year-old house guest
in the 1980's when you were sleeping at night? Maybe you should ask
I think it's YOUR husband that is nuts. NOT the victims.
Lashon Harah! I guess something you didn't learn Esther when you decided
to put on a tichel and pretend to be religious…just like your husband.
We hope Aron leaves earlier than the yom tovim. To have to listen to
a child molester speak every Shabbos will be a bit nauseating.
I first published about the allegations of Aron Tendler molesting underage
girls in late 2004. If I hadn't done that, I believe he would've continued
in his position of religious leadership with the acquiescence of Los Angeles's
Orthodox leadership (who, while they had no direct power over Shaaray
Zedek and Aron Tendler, could've made an effort to remove him and shun
him but chose to do next to nothing).
The most powerful group of Los Angeles Orthodox rabbis is the Rabbinical
Council of California.
On this page, Rabbi
Aron Tendler is listed as the chairman of the Kashrut Committee of the
The RCC's administrator is Rabbi Avraham Union.
Eshman writes in the Jewish Journal February 14, 1997:
During Passover 1992, Union, the Rabbinic administrator of the Orthodox
Rabbinical Council of California, telefaxed some colleagues a letter
circulated by Toronto rabbis criticizing the KLC. In his fax, Union
suggested the RCC send the letter out to all Southern California rabbis.
When Union arrived at the RCC offices at 1230 S. Bedford the following
day, he found a severed sheep's head at his doorstep. Several young
men appeared at his home that evening and asked, in Hebrew, "Did you
get our message?"
Union said that he was certain the men were from the center. He filed
a police report, and detectives visited the KLC. They found no evidence
of wrongdoing. Union interpreted the incident as a threat to his life.
"Of course, [Rabbi Philip] Berg didn't put it there," he said. "There's
no proof anybody from the Kabbalah Center put it there. But we never
sent out the letter."
LA's Orthodox rabbinate tends to have little moral backbone, be it fighting
cults or getting sexual predators out of the pulpit.
It's time to develop the definitive list of those people who enabled
Rabbi Aron Tendler to keep access to vulnerable women for more than two
decades. And let's also draw up a list of those who tried to do something
about it. The first name on that last list is Dr. Bruce Powell, who got
Rabbi Tendler fired about 15-years ago from his position as principal
of the YULA (Yeshiva University Los Angeles) girls highschool.
Listing Those Who Honor Predator-Rabbi
Yaakov Menken's Torah.org
publishes his Torah essays.
The Orthodox Union
(a group of Modern Orthodox synagogues throughout North America) had Aron
Tendler as a speaker on February 27, 28, 2004. The topic? "Strengthening
the Jewish Family"
And what was the title of Aron Tendler's talk? "Ethics in Marriage:
How it Enhances Your Marriage"
The OU writes: "Rabbi Aron Tendler...is a recognized champion against
domestic violence. He is a member of the Jewish Family Services Domestic
Violence Task Force."
Aron Tendler is listed as
a faculty member of Netivot: "Netivot, Hebrew for Paths, is an
independent center of Torah dedicated to enhancing women's intellectual
and spiritual growth through intensive textual study in an inclusive and
What could be more enhancing to a woman's intellectual and spiritual
growth than a good grope from a holy rabbi?
Aron Tendler endorses:
"Oorah, which means "Awaken," was founded in 1980 with the goal of
awakening Jewish children and their families to their heritage."
After the murder of Yaakov Aminov, 46, on July 4, 2002 at LAX, Aron
appeared all over the news media as the dead man's rabbi: "How can
it be," said Rabbi Aron Tendler, "that this righteous man was taken, that
a mother of five sits alone, that he will no longer make kiddush on Friday
A former YULA (Yeshiva University of Los Angeles) high school student
Mr. Ford, Your information is consistent with the information I received
while attending YULA. I was a senior in High School when the information
regarding his behavior towards underage female students first came to
light. Two of my friends were affected by Aron's actions. Your depictions
are perfect with respect to his behavior, his modus operandi, and the
women who he molested. At the time, they were quasi-willing participants.
I use the term "quasi-willing" because adolescence, hormones, desires,
and rational decisions don't quite walk hand-in-hand. The women who
he molested possessed attractiveness and were not mainstream. Often,
they were experiencing trouble at home and struggling with organized
religion. Often, these struggles led them to experiment with behavior
that was considered rebellious in the eyes of the orthodox Jew. Thus,
the stage was set: An attractive woman whose credibility is labeled
'suspect' based on her innate struggles between her desires to explore
and discover things that are natural for adolescents to explore (marijuana,
sexual activity, non-mainstream thought and actions) and the doctrine
of Orthodox Judaism being spoon-fed to her daily. A young attractive
teacher/rabbi/psychologist/youth leader(he held all of these positions)
approaches them with compassion and answers based upon Religion, Philosophy,
Sociology and Psychology. He gains their trust, manipulates and fosters
their desires, and engages in a sexually taboo experience.
If caught, Aron would use the student's status of outcast against her.
He would pit his reputation as rabbi against their reputation of outcast.
In other words, the very reason they sought his counsel (their manifest
troubles) were used to discredit the veracity of the experience. In
other words, he's not dumb, he's just sick, and twisted.
I heard the stories as they happened. I heard the girls cry. I read
the poems he wrote, laden with sexual undertones. Their experiences
were forwarded to the administration at YULA. The girls were angry and
felt exploited. The administration pressured them with the consequences
of what would happen to them if they went public. They were told that
they could lose their acceptance into college, and were reminded of
the shame that this would bring to their families. In the face of public
humiliation and for fear for their academic and professional futures
being taken from them, the young women acquiesced, and withdrew their
accusations. That was highly irresponsible of the administration. Their
intimidation enabled his behavior. Aron was relegated to teach strictly
at the boys’ school. Nothing meaningful was done. Aron was told he has
to learn more Torah, and it would all magically go away. It wasn't long
before other stories began to surface of Aron’s sexual advances and
machinations. Lo and behold, Aron became the head of a congregation
and, I am told, was particularly adept at assisting women in troubled
Aron does not deserve to be called a Rabbi; He is a sick predator,
preying on the trust and insecurities of women. The basis for these
acts are of little significance. If he was molested as a child, then
let him seek therapy through conventional channels, as opposed to infecting
innocent and trusting people with his illness. I am told that the Orthodox
community has been made aware of his actions on many occasions, and
has failed to act upon it. It is comforting that Dr. Powell, the one
non-orthodox Jew in the administration at YULA at the time, has the
decency to leave and distance himself from the cess-pool of orthodox
politics which included the pacifying of a molester.
Aron is resigning, but not until the High Holidays. I am certain that
this is a tactical maneuver to buy him more time to save his job. He
should leave immediately. He should be banned from the rabbanut. He
should write personal letters of apology to each of the families he
has harmed. He should do Kapparah in the form of true atonement to the
women whose faith he has shaken and whose psychology he has permanently
damaged. And, he should issue a public statement of Kapparah to the
community. Aron is resigning, and expects a pat on the back for "stepping
down." Aron seems to have a lot of options for someone who sexually
preys on the fragility of his students and congregants. Having been
placed on “Notice” of Aron’s behavior, the congregation allowed him
to stay on for an additional eight months. Let’s see, 30 incidents in
about 18 years. That averages out to one every 7.2 months. That congregation’s
Board better pray REALLY hard that his lawless intimate familiarities
don’t follow the law of averages, or they may find themselves becoming
intimately more familiar with a law suit. I guess after all this time
the sage approach remains ignoring reality and just learning torah.
Worked for Aron, didn’t it?
If G-d’s sense of justice is as poetic as Aron, Aron will be faced
with the same credibility problems that his victims faced years ago,
as he seeks to utilize his charlatan services elsewhere. He has caused
more people than he knows to turn away from Judaism. Aron is a blight
on the spirituality of Judaism, whose actions were never dealt with
properly. Though quite charming and, to be sure, quite a glib speaker,
it is difficult to imagine how the rabbinic community has done nothing
to inhibit his actions, aside of course from having him learn more Torah.
Though hardly a scholar, it would seem to me that he still seems to
be having trouble with commandments 6-10.
The Orthodox entities that were aware of his actions and did nothing
to correct it should be ashamed of themselves. Standing idly by while
knowing that a diseased person is in the position of power to carry
out his manipulations and crimes against innocent minors and women,
is itself criminal. Perhaps one day they will value Jewish wives and
daughters as much as they value whatever it is Aron represents.
I don't care who his grandfather was. My ancestry goes back to a different
Aron--the high Priest. Please inform me if this entitles me to carry
out unconscionable acts against my fellow human beings. They must have
skipped that chapter in school. "Thou CAN commit adultery and molestation
if thy ancestry is impressive."
Please help me understand why the Orthodox Jewish community has continued
to pay this molester 100s of thousands of dollars a year to spread his
sickness? As Churches and Priests are charged and paying dearly for
their horrific molestations and acquiescence, I wonder if this is what
my rabbis had in mind when preaching Or L'Goyim---be a light onto the
nations. You need not be an Orthodox Jew to recognize the illegal and
depraved behavior of Aron. But, apparently you need to be an Orthodox
Jew to condone it. Aron Tendler and his supporters make me proud to
not consider myself an Orthodox Jew. If there is anything I can do to
help, please let me know. Unlike Aron, I am ashamed I haven't done more
The granddaughters of rabbi Moshe Feinstein appeared in Penthouse circa
1983. Their mother is the sister of Mordechai and Aron's mom. They posed
after their father (Reb Shisgal) died.
tourists claim police prejudice
The Jerusalem Post:
A group of Orthodox Jews visiting Israel from Los Angeles said Israeli
police discriminated against them on religious grounds by preventing
them from entering the Temple Mount Sunday.
But police said the group failed to produce identification and were,
therefore, not authorized to enter the Temple Mount area until they
A group of eight, all congregants of the Sha'arey Zedek Synagogue,
San Fernando Valley's largest orthodox synagogue, who were in Israel
for a Bar Mitzva, blamed the police for discrimination.
"About 30 seconds after we were detained a group of about 50 non-Jews
were allowed to enter without ID," said Rabbi
Aron Tendler, the rabbi of the synagogue.
Tendler, grandson of the famous halachic authority Rabbi Moshe Feinstein,
said that he and his congregants did not bring ID or other valuables
with them because they had been at the mikveh [ritual bath] and were
afraid that while they were immersing themselves their valuables would
be left unguarded.
Tendler Resigns Under Cloud
Klein, Religion Editor, writes March 7, 2006
Rabbi Aron Tendler has stepped down six months early from the pulpit
of Shaarey Zedek, an Orthodox synagogue in Valley Village, because “it
was no longer appropriate for Rabbi Tendler to continue,” shul officials
Tendler, 51, first announced his resignation in a January letter to
congregants. At the time, he said he planned to remain leader of the
synagogue until the High Holidays in September. But in a March 6 letter
to congregants, shul president Jim Kapenstein and board chair Yacov
Yellin wrote that Tendler would be stepping down immediately in light
of “new matters which had recently been brought to our attention.”
The letter offers no specifics and shul officials declined to elaborate.
Separately, The Journal has learned that Tendler was once accused of
inappropriate conduct at the Yeshiva of Los Angeles (YULA), an Orthodox
high school in Pico-Roberston where he had worked from 1980 through
June 1999, first as a teacher and then also as a principal. The 1987
investigation was inconclusive, but Tendler transferred from the girls
school to the boys school, which is located on a separate campus.
Allegations against Rabbi Tendler surfaced on Jewish blogs — web logs
— more than a year ago, citing anonymous sources who alleged the rabbi
had behaved inappropriately toward women and girls. These rumors were
alluded to briefly in articles published in two East Coast newspapers
about problems facing the rabbi’s brother, Mordechai Tendler, who is
currently defending himself against accusations of sexual misconduct.
Tendler is regarded as a charismatic leader and an inspiring teacher
and speaker — someone who could turn around troubled youths, leading
them to more religious, more successful lives. In 1999, he received
an educator’s award from the Milken Family Foundation.
“We intend to uphold appropriate conduct not only in sexual abuse but
other types of conduct,” said Rabbi Avrohom Union, the rabbinic administrator
of the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC).
July 10, 2006
Aron Tendler sent out a single-page letter (which hit mailboxes July
10, 2006) to all the members of Shaarey
Zedek, where he served as a rabbi for about eight years until he resigned
earlier this year over charges of sexual misconduct, announcing that he
was no longer a rabbi in any capacity and should not be asked to decide
halakhic questions or to do marital therapy.
Aron has numerous supporters at Shaarey Zedek who've continued to treat
him as a rabbi over the past few months.
Full disclosure by Luke Ford:
I had dealings (the RCC has the most prestigious conversion program in
town) with Rabbi Avrohom Union in 2001, which ended after three months
in my ejection (as though as they heard about lukeford.com, which I then
sold in August 2001). It was reported back to me at the time by a friend
that Rabbi Union told him I was the most evil person he'd ever met.
As many rabbis regard me as the most evil person they have ever met,
I don't believe that any of this has affected my coverage of Rabbi Aron
Tendler or Rabbi Union or the RCC (though I understand many people would
I've had no dealings with the other rabbis I've mentioned in this article
(aside from attending their lectures a few times).
I was ejected
from three Pico-Robertson Orthodox synagogues in 2001 (Young Israel of
Century City, Beth Jacob and Chabad's Bais Bazalel, in that order)
article on my Young Israel expulsion) and one
(Aish HaTorah) in 1998. Many
in the Orthodox community (and elsewhere) say that my writing on rabbi-predators
is motivated by my hatred for rabbis. I don't agree. I believe I try
to follow the truth wherever it leads.