Gafni - Let The Healing Begin?
Hilarious posts 5/17/06 from Gafni's friend Ken
Wilber of Integralnaked.org. He's all shocked that someone who teaches
for something called Integralnaked could commit "sexual improprieties."
Here are excerpts
...I do not believe that somebody with an acknowledged emotional illness
or sexual pathology is competent to be a public spiritual teacher. Therefore,
at this time, Marc will not be involved in public teaching or presentations
of any sort at Integral Institute.
...Sending all of you much Love, Light, and Life,
Rabbi Yosef Blau responds on
Some critics of Jewish Renewal are responding to the accusations against
Mordechai Gafni by criticising the movement. This should not lead to
the defensive response of refusing to reevaluate the tragic dismissal
of earlier accusations.
I have known Mordechai for at least twenty five years starting when
he was a student and during the years that he functioned as an Orthodox
rabbi. The young women who complained then and have never modified their
stories, did not receive much of a hearing then from an Orthodox rabbinate
that was impressed by his charisma and talent. A number of us, followed
a career of short periods of brilliance as a head of an outreach program,
a teacher and a congregational rabbi each ending suddenly with rumor
of scandal. After changing his name and moving to Israel the pattern
repeated itself. The only thorough investigation of the accusations
was made by a private investigator in Israel in 1997 and it did not
clear him. Based on my ongoing conversations with women who had made
accusations, which was only a portion of the dossier prepared by the
private investigator, the supposed investigations by various rabbis
two years ago were minimal and their testimony not heard. I suggest
that all the defenders read the long interview with Rabbi Gafni in the
magazine (sof hashavua) of Maariv Oct. 15, 2004. If he is sick, then
it is not the kind of illness that suddenly strikes someone in his mid
forties and his earlier behavior should reevaluated accordingly.
Whether one supports Jewish Renewal or not is irrelevant to the fundamental
issue of protecting women from abuse from an authority figure.
Micha Odenheimer writes:
Ken Wilbur has an unfortunate history of turning a blind eye, or “rehabilitating”
even the most egregious offenses of people he considers “brilliant”–usually
those whose ideas conform in some ways to his own. This history includes
fawning praise of Da Free John, but even more significantly, continuing
association with “enlightened spiritual master” Andrew Cohen, whose
history of severe, ungoing and systematic psychological abuse of his
followers is well documented in two books: “Enlightenment Blues” written
by Andre van der Braak, a student of Cohen for 11 years, and the other,
Mother of God, by Cohen’s own mother, Luna Tarno, who was also his disciple
until understanding the tyrannical and narcisistic nature of Andrew’s
guruship. There is also ongoing documentation on www.whatenlightenment.blogspot.com.
The Gafni connection is that, through Wilbur, Gafni met Cohen and invited
him to tour Israel together with him as a guest of Bayit Hadash. I personally
contacted Gafni and warned him of Cohen’s systematic humiliation of
his followers, and his creation of an almost fascistic hiearchy of people
“in favor” or “out of favor” with Cohen–to no avail. Gafni continued
to promote Cohen in Israel. Wilbur continues to benefit from his association
with Cohen and to appear with him on the pages of Cohen’s magazine “What
is Enlightenment”. So there is a triangle of abuse here, with Cohen,
Gafni, Wilbur, with Wilbur acting as enabler of both–and with both Cohen
and Gafni returning the favor by continuing to promote Wilbur as a great
philosopher and theologian of the New Age. Will Wilbur learn from the
Gafni incident and reexamine the copious evidence of Cohen’s continued
and extremely severe psychological abuse of followers? I doubt it.
Incidentally, as my friend Shefa Siegal has pointed out, one of the
aspects of both Wilbur and Jewish Renewal’s promotion of Gafni and failure
to truly investigate accusations against him despite repeated warnings
is that Renewal, and I assume Wilbur’s organization, made good money
from Gafni. Gafni, a facile “charismatic” speaker, was a good draw for
Renewal events and for retreat centers such as Elat Chayim associated
with Renewal. Whether consciously or not, I assume this was part of
what kept the whole kit and kaboodle running forward.
I am more than a little disturbed by Ken Wilbur’s assumption that Gafni’s
sincerity is meaningful. People with pathologies like Gafni’s (I am
assuming he has a personality disorder of some kind) are frequently
sincere in their apologies once they get caught. I have personal experience
with this through a family member, who has issued more than eight deeply
sincere and moving apologies but hasn’t been able to stop his behaviot.
People like this may mean what they say, but will often cycle through
the behavior again, and then offer more sincere apologies when they
get caught again. Sadly, sincerity is not a benchmark for success in
Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen Enlightenment, Evolution, and the Future of
Rabbi Marc Gafni is not your average Rabbi. He's an unorthodox Orthodox
Rabbi, a passionate Kabbalist, a popular Israeli television host, and
the founder of Bayit Chadash, an international spiritual community and
retreat center committed to Jewish renaissance. Yet no matter how far
from the established order he may travel, Gafni never loses sight of
those most basic Judaic tenets: pray to God and live a moral, ethical,
and generous life, because this life is the one that matters most!
In this videotaped conversation between two spiritual masters, Andrew's
original conception of an evolutionary enlightenment engages with Rabbi
Gafni's soul-level understanding of Judaism's timeless mystical teachings.
Together, these two free-thinkers propel an enduring ancient tradition
into the exhilarating and uncharted terrain of the future.
Rabbi Fired Over Sex Claims, Defenders Offer Mea Culpa
Jennifer Siegel writes
the first article (I can find) in the Forward 5/18/06 about Gafni:
...At least five female students and staff members have come forward
to accuse Rabbi Mordechai Gafni of luring them into sexual relationships
through intimidation, psychological manipulation and deception.
"The saddest part of the story is that there were these women from
the past who had the courage to speak up despite their isolation and
their own pain, despite being threatened by him repeatedly, and nobody
came forth to give them support," said one of the current accusers at
Bayit Chadash, who did not want to be identified by name. "People in
this culture [chose] to support the male predator rather than...the
women's voices that were alone."
That's nonsense. Plenty of people offered support to Gafni's past accusers
and there were those like me who published their stories. Any woman who
chose to get involved with Gafni after Gary Rosenblatt's article in 2004
chose to get involved with a sexual predator. It's hard to cry for them.
In the weeks after Rosenblatt's column appeared, several Jewish communal
leaders vigorously defended Gafni in letters sent to The Jewish Week
and attacked the newspaper for running the story. Berman, Telushkin
and Firestone wrote a joint letter stating that together they had conducted
a thorough investigation and found all the accusations against Gafni
"totally unconvincing." This week, in a statement to the Forward, the
three rabbis said that they are "deeply regretful of our prior support
of Rabbi Gafni."
In a subsequent e-mail to the Forward, they argued that "it is vital
to distinguish between past accusations against Rabbi Gafni and the
Green, who in 2004 penned one of the most vociferous letters in defense
of Gafni, agreed that the new batch of allegations were different from
the ones that plagued the rabbi two years ago.
"The stories were from long ago, and he had rejected and outgrown that
side of himself," Green said in an interview with the Forward. "These
are now new cases and new investigations."
In a 2004 letter to The Jewish Week defending Gafni, Green said that
he had not investigated the allegations and had "no interest in doing
so." This week, Green told the Forward that he felt "victimized" by
Gafni's lies and actions, while acknowledging that the accusers have
Less than a month after the four rabbis wrote their letters to The
Jewish Week in October 2004, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv reported
allegations, dating from 1994, that mirror the current accusations against
Gafni. According to an Orthodox couple interviewed for the lengthy Ma'ariv
profile on the rabbi, he sexually preyed on their 23-year-old daughter
while serving as a visiting rabbi in Kfar Saba. He went so far as to
tell her that he wanted to leave his wife and marry her.
The Bayit Chadash accuser contacted by the Forward said that the five
women who recently came forth had all been told by Gafni that he wanted
to marry them — and the accuser said that all the women had been dumped
shortly after being told he was committing himself to celibacy.
In response to an e-mail from the Forward asking if he ever contacted
anyone connected to the Ma'ariv story as part of his investigation,
Berman wrote that the "article was no more than a repetition of earlier
allegations which had been part of our original inquiry."
Rabbi Saul Berman Must Be Removed From Public Jewish
blogs in response to the Forward
Rabbi Berman found these allegations to lack credibility, even though
it now seems clear that he did not
speak to Gafni's victims, and even though the 1994 allegations mirror
earlier allegations against Gafni. (As the story notes, they also mirror
the new allegations against him.) Now, Rabbi Berman "regrets" his support
for Gafni. But he has not issued an apology to Gafni's victims, and
seems far more concerned about the damage done to his own reputation
that the damage done to the bodies and psyches of Gafni's victims.
Also note the following line; "it is vital to distinguish between past
accusations against Rabbi Gafni and the current situation." It is vital
for Rabbis Berman, Telushkin and Firestone that this artificial distinction
be made. With it, their deplorable conduct can be whitewashed.
Gafni has a 30 year history of abuse, a history these scum in rabbis'
garments still seek to deny. If the board of Edah does not remove Rabbi
Berman, all of us should remove Edah from our checkbooks.
Again, note the lack of concern these "spiritual leaders" have for
Gafni's victims. I don't know who is sicker – Gafni the rapist or Berman