Mordecai Tendler Part Two
Jewish Whistleblower summarizes March 28, 2005 from the RCA/Praesidium's report on rabbi Mordecai Tendler:
A non-Jewish cleaning woman who had worked for one of the alleged survivors of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler told several community members, that Rabbi Tendler was having an affair with her employer. The cleaning woman eventually told Jane Hickerson (the investigator hired by the RCA), and various newspaper journalists of these facts.
When the Rabbinical Counsel of America (RCA) began their investigation, they informed Rabbi Tendler of their rules. Mordecai Tendler was told specifically that he was not allowed to contact or intimidate any of the witnesses or alleged survivors in this case.
Recently, the RCA attempted to interview the (non-Jewish) cleaning woman in person. At that time they discovered that Rabbi Mordecai Tendler or his supporters had committed witness tampering. They contacted the cleaning woman, brought her to a bais din of four rabbis on January 4th 2005. She was under the impression that this meeting was being conducted by the RCA.
We have a tape of the cleaning woman stating she was brought to a court meeting, with rabbis and that Rabbi Tendler was present on that date. The RCA empahatically states that the meeting did not involve the RCA at all. Since that meeting the cleaning woman has somehow been pressured into retracting her entire story, saying “it was not this rabbi, it was another rabbi.”
Tendler supporters are claiming that the RCA case was based entirely on this woman’s testimony, which is completely untrue. The RCA could not use her testimony since she was tampered with.
It has been reported that Rabbi Mordecai Tendler also contacted and intimated other survivors whose names were on the investigator’s report, causing several of them to be too frightened to come forward with their stories and evidence.
The survivor who’s cleaning woman was tampered with previously admitted to many community members explicit details of her entire relationship with Rabbi Tendler before the out of court settlement was signed.
According to the accounts of those she trusted this survivor originally went to Rabbi Tendler seeking religious instruction and spritual counseling for some personal and marriage problems. Tendler was more then willing to offered to learn with her, and offered her his personal counsel for all of her problems.
At some point during the sessions, he moved close to her and kissed her. This eventually this led to a passionate sexual contact between them. Remember he was a rabbi who was helping her with personal problems. The survivor disclosed many explicit sexual details prior to signing the settlement papers.
Amongst the survivors disclosures are also claims that she went away with Rabbi Tendler to Boston, they also would perform sexual acts in the park, in his study on a sheet he placed on the floor, etc.
The Survivor stated that she had witnessed details of his bedroom, of “Tendler’s naked body” and that he told her that he” liked sex better when she was in niddah,” and that he was “going to leave his wife and marry her.”
When this survivor discovered from close friends that he had been having sexual relations with or trying to have sexual relations with other women, she was devastated.
She ended up being hospitalized. The affair ended, and she and her husband prepared to file a suit against the rabbi for taking advantage of her when she was in a vulnerable state.
Before the threat of the lawsuit, many rabbis heard the taped conversations between Tendler and this woman. Tendler also left voice messages for this victim on her best friend’s answering machine so the victim’s husband would not know they he was scheduling secret meetings. He also said that he loved her.
Because of the evidence, there was then a large settlement paid (over $100,000) by Tendler to the victim in exchange for promises for her to be quiet, hand over the evidence, and agree never to talk about the allegations again.
Michelle Tendler (Mordecai Tendler’s wife) acknowledged in a letter that payment was made to one of the victims (copy of the handwritten letter that was signed by her is available upon request).
Another alleged survivor went to Rabbi Tendler for his guidance and counseling to help her with personal and marriage issues. He asked her to “make out” with him, eventually asked this woman to have an affair with him. She refused, and when she and her husband came forward with allegations, her husband’s job was threatened repeatedly by Rabbi Tendler. Also, the husband was maligned by Tendler and his wife to the whole community with lies and half truths.
Years ago, a woman who was a prominent member of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler’s synogogue was kicked out. Congregation members claimed that she was stalking the rabbi, but in reality Tendler and her were seen together regularly. She went to the D.A. and community members with allegations of sexual misconduct against Tendler, yet at that time no one took her seriously. Since then, Tendler has attempted to destroy her entire life.
Another one of Rabbi Tendler’s alleged Survivors is a young woman. She disclosed to various rabbis and friends of a horrific experience with Mordecai Tendler. These disclosures included threatening her with physical violence and was stalked by Tendler after he disagreed with some of her life decisions. Until this day, she is petrified that he will seek revenge on her or her family members.
A woman confided in several community members and the RCA that she had sought counseling from from Rabbi Mordecai Tendler for marital problems. After several counseling sessions, his advice to her was that she could have some affairs if she wanted. Eventually, her marriage ended in divorce, and the husband and wife claim that Tendler pitted the two of them against each other.
A 15 year old girl told a group of people around a yom tov (holiday) table that she went to Tendler for advice, and he repeatedly asked her to lift up her skirt so that he could see a black and blue mark on her thigh. She refused, and he became angry.
A man stopped going to the synogogue after he asked Tendler a niddah shailah (a question regarding family purity laws), and his answer was to do as he does – to pray for Moshiach to come so that he could have many wives.
One of the alleged survivors is a woman who has serious psychological problems. She made claims to some rabbis that Tendler forcibly had sexual relations with her, and screamed that he was the Moshiach during the act. She was also discovered on one occasion in Tendler’s personal shower by his housekeeper, and was carted away by the police, with no questions asked from his synagogue members or his family.
One woman has claimed that she and her husband went to Tendler for marriage counseling, and during personal sessions with her, he obsessed over whether she was having an extramarital affair. This woman was not having an affair, but felt that Tendler was fixated over the issue. She was feeling very uncomfortable around him, and shortly became aware of another victim’s accusations, so of course, this woman terminated the counseling sessions.
One of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler’s alleged survivors was hit and physically abused on many occasions. She disclosed this information to several community members as well as medical professionals.
An alleged survivor who lived in the community around twelve -thirteen years ago, testified to the RCA, the press and other rabbis. She explained that she left the neighborhood, became non-religious. The reason had to do with the rabbinical sexual misconduct by Tendler. This survivor stated she originally had known him by telephone conversations, calling him occasionally for rabbinical advice. Eventually she moved into the neighborhood of the synoguge.
The survivor met with Rabbi Tendler many times for advice as well as counseling and guidance on dealing with marital problems with her husband. The rabbi offered to help her obtain a get from her husband, but whenever they would meet, he would lock the door to the office, and she reported that she always had a feeling that he was sexually excited, as he would breathe heavily. She ignored these feelings, thinking it was her imagination.
One day, she met with him and a group of rabbis to finalize the get arrangements. After the meeting, Tendler asked here to stay behind. When they were alone, he asked here to go with him to another location and have sex. She was shocked, and somehow put him off. During this time, she and her five children were living in a basement apartment, and did not have enough money for food, and were about to be evicted for inability to pay rent.
After the initial sexual proposition, Tendler proceeded to call this woman several times a week, speaking to her inappropriately, asking for sex, offering to come over and bathe her, etc. Somehow, this woman kept putting him off, telling him she wasn’t ready to think of any relationship until she received her get, that there was too much on her mind, etc.
On the day that she did receive her get, she ran out of the building a soon as the procedure was complete. The rabbi ran after her, yelling out her name, asking her if she was now ready to have an affair with him. She turned around, yelled at him with some choice comments, and left. She left the community and Judaism.
Since then, the Tendler supporters have drummed up false information that Tendler was not involved in this woman’s get proceedings, but the RCA discovered clear evidence that indeed he was very much involved in the get proceedings.
Rabbi Mordecai Tendler was investigated by the RCA for sexual misconduct and ejected from the RCA.
From the Forward August 27, 2004:
The main union of Modern Orthodox rabbis is investigating allegations of sexual harassment against the scion of a prominent rabbinic family, the Forward has learned.
Officials at the Rabbinical Council of America, an organization representing more than 1,000 Orthodox clergymen, confirmed that the organization is examining sexual harassment allegations against Rabbi Mordecai Tendler. He is a son of Yeshiva University professor Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a leading Orthodox arbiter of bioethical issues, and a grandson of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the Orthodox world's most respected religious arbiter for much of the 20th century.
Tendler has been hailed by some Orthodox feminists for his attempts to bolster the standing of women in the Orthodox community and for his efforts on behalf of agunot, or women who have been unable to secure a religious divorce decree from their husbands. A respected authority on his grandfather's writings and a part-time instructor at Yeshiva University, Tendler also has emerged as a leading defender of the increasingly beleaguered Modern Orthodox community of Monsey, N.Y., in its communal turf struggles against the dominant ultra-Orthodox majority.
Several women first brought their allegations to Rabbi Mark Dratch, a member of the RCA's executive board who specializes in religious questions regarding abuse against women and children. "After a while," Dratch said, "I decided, in the name of objectivity, to hand the issue over to the RCA." He did so in January. "I'm sure the conclusion will be considerate and sensitive to all sides concerned," Dratch said.
Here's a letter that was sent out in the summer of 2003 about rabbi Mordecai Tendler:
To Whom It May Concern:
The following was sent out to threaten those who were agitating against rabbi Mordecai Tendler:
We are a group of rabbis, mental health professionals, and physicians coming from a wide range of religious observance within the Orthodox world, who are very concerned about a serious situation in your community.
This is a letter to warn you to protect your daughters, wives, and other vulnerable women in the community from a very dangerous rabbi. This rabbi wears the clothes and publicly acts out the role of a very devout Orthodox Jew, presiding at levayas and simchos, answering halachic shailos, counseling individuals and families, abut in private has had numerous sexual affairs with many women - vulnerable, distraught, battered or emotionally disturbed women who had unknowingly come to him for counseling and guidance, for kiruv, or to learn more about Yiddishkeit. These women do not know each other, but doctors, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, as well a many rabbis in our community and even gedolim in Eretz Yisrael know who they are - for these women each sought their counsel as they were severely traumatized by having a sexual involvement with a rabbi of this stature - often in his study while his wife and children sleep or were not at home, and often while other women waited outside his office. Both married and single women, and even teenage girls have been stalked or propositioned, then were threatened and intimidated if they came forward.
There is a growing concerted effort by community rabbis, gedolim, professionals and lay people in the community who know or who have become involved with helping these women to prevent future occurrences. Many shul members have left or are moving away. There are many who know but are afraid to act, because others who did were threatened. This rabbi even paid a large sum of money to one of the women to be quiet, because she had a lot taped and written pieces of evidence and was "talking to much," but there is mounting evidence that cannot be discounted, and many more reliable and credible witnesses to these incidences are surfacing.
Because of this rabbi's heinous actions, there are people who have gone off the derech, marriages have been destroyed, weddings canceled. Some victims were so traumatized that they needed to be hospitalized. Many of the rabbonim in the area meet periodically to discuss this terrible problem within our midst. And are doing extensive research and compiling the evidence into a large written report, and are in consultation with gedolim in Eretz Yisroel. They have stated that it is a matter of pikuach nefesh to inform you of this problem, and is therefore not in the category of Lashon Hora.
We must protect the women in the community from the sick and evil behavior of this man who is himself a rabbi. His name is Mordecai Tendler. He continues to deny the allegations despite the mounting evidence that confronts him. But not only is he denying it, but he has gone to great lengths to cover up his tracks with lies, threats and pay-offs. Your shul must find a way to force this man to step down from his position as a community rabbi, and he must be pressured into seeking treatment. This should be done expeditiously ass we are trying to prevent certain outraged individuals from taking these stories to the Jewish Week, or even worst, more secular media, which would be a terrible Chilul Hashem, and would be even more hurtful to his poor family-although would be a worse Chilul Hashem to allow him to continue to harm more women and their families.
Do your own research! Speak to some of the other rabbis in the area, as well as some of the people who have left the shul - and therapists and doctors in the Monsey area, as well as in Brooklyn, Manhattan and even Israel. Not everyone in the Monsey area knows about this yet, but many do so don't stop your investigation with just one person who might have limited or no knowledge of this horrific situation.
To whom it may concern:
There is a great danger in our community that has no bounds to the potential harm that has been caused and may be caused in the future.
There are two women who present themselves as "mid-wives". They encourage those that are economically struggling that there is an alternative to the traditional safe and sterile environment of a hospital to deliver a baby they have solicited business among those that are desperate and believe they have no choices. They have lied, mislead, deceived and endangered those that were unfortunate enough to believe them. The results have been devastating.
On many occasions the environment where they delivered a child was not correctly sanitized or sterilized. Such carelessness has lead to infections and complications for both the mother and newborn child. On other occasions the instruments used by these "mid-wives" were not properly sterilized from the previous births. These unclean instruments caused additional infections and complications.
Further harm has been caused by their questionable skill level and failure to continue their training beyond the minimum level required for certification. Their "delivery room" has failed inspection by the State of New York on two occasions in the last six months. Despite all of this, these women continue to practice their witchcraft totally unsupervised and accountable to no one.
These women are _________ and __________. They must be stopped.
Please spread the word to all that there is a great danger to those that rely on _______ and _______. the lives of both the mothers and newborn children are at risk. Help us save lives. Stop _____________ and _____________.
I understand the RCA wants to re-interview many of the women who first testified against Tendler as well as women who have yet to testify. I hear that the RCA believes that the Praesidium private investigators (Joan Hickerson) report on Tendler won't be sufficient to boot him from the RCA. Tendler has assembled a formidable legal team that is adept at describing the women who accuse Tendler as crazies, drug addicts, etc.
A legal letter relating to this case Part Two Another letter
August 4, 2003
From the law offices of Bradley J. Rephen, P.C.
17 Squadron Blvd., Suite 320
New City NY 10956
Dear Ms. [name deleted in my copy]
At the outset, please be advised that this office has been recently retained by Rav Mordecai Tendler and Kehillat New Hempstead.
It has come to our attention, by reliable third-party source(s), that you were among a small group of individuals that composed and/or promoted a certain letter detailing maliciously fictionalized allegations against Rav Mordecai Tendler and/or Kehillat New Hempstead.
Aware now of the vicious nature of your plenary defamatory campaign and your cowardly attempt to assume the veil of anonymity, please be advised that we are firmly insisting that you:
(i) Cease and desist from any further libelous and slanderous conduct referencing Rabbi Tendler;
(ii) Prepare a list of recipients of the aforementioned letter;
(iii) Coordinate with the undersigned a letter rescinding and retracting the defamatory allegations; and,
(iv) Cease and desist from the fraudulent and unauthorized use of the Kehillat New Hempstead name.
Note that if we do not get confirmation of the above within seven (7) days from the date of this correspondence, both Rabbi Tendler and Kehillat New Hempstead will pursue all the proper avenues to achieve the requisite recovery/restitution.
As a side note, in response to the willful and harmful nature of your labors, Rabbi Tendler and/or Kehillat New Hempstead are in the process of coordinating with the county's District Attorney's office the filing of a criminal harassment complaint to prevent further felonious assaults.
October 20, 2003
To: Ezra Glaser, Esq.
From: Bradley J. Rephen
Please be advised that this Law Firm no longer represents Rabbi Mordecai Tendler and Kehillat New Hempstead. All communications should be directed to Rabbi Tendler and/or the Board of Directors of Kehillat New Hempstead.
Me writes November 20, 2004:
This Shabbos, I had a rare free 30 minutes of quiet. I sat down with my 2 copies of volume 7 of Igrot Moshe, which is a volume of tshuvot by Rav Moshe Feinstein, undoubtably one of the greatest Poskim of the last century.
These volumes are widely read and used by Poskim of our generation.
I've posted before how the original version of volume 7 (large over-sized) differs from the newer Rabbi Mordechai Tendler re-edited version (smaller-sized book). I took 30 minutes to see how bad it was (I already knew from several Rabbonim).
As, the typesetting is similar, I was able to quickly find over a dozen alterations. None of which added anything to the tshuvot. If I was to extrapolate from the few pages I quickly inspected, I would have to estimate there are a lot of changes and alterations.
In some cases it is a mere unnecessary letter (in one case, gramatically wrong), a title change or an added quote of the source referred to. But most disturbingly I found a substantial alteration to an actual tshuva (page 180 bottom right column). I also found a paragraph added into the body of a tshuva praising Rabbi Mordechai Tendler (page 181 top right column).
2) New small-sized Rabbi Mordechai Tendler re-edited/altered version that Rav Feinstein was not well enough at the time to be involved with: ... d.Igrot moshe Tendler ver highres page koof fey aleph - page 181
Igrot moshe original printer page
Index: There are two sets of 4 pages each (a-d):
1) Original oversized version that Rav Feinstein was involved with when is was edited:
a.Igrot moshe original ver highres cover - cover and spine from this version (not great scan, materials don't scan well)
b.Igrot moshe original ver highres printer page - page with version printing information
c.Igrot moshe original ver highres page koof fey - page 180
d.Igrot moshe original ver highres page koof fey aleph - page 181
2) New small-sized Rabbi Mordechai Tendler re-edited/altered version that Rav Feinstein was not well enough at the time to be involved with:
a.Igrot moshe Tendler ver highres cover - cover and spine from this version (not great scan, materials don't scan well)
b.Igrot moshe Tendler ver highres printer page - page with version printing information (note Tendler version keeps the year of the original printing which causes further confusion, makes it look like original version)
c.Igrot moshe Tendler ver highres page koof fey - page 180
d.Igrot moshe Tendler ver highres page koof fey aleph - page 181
This is bad.
I fully understand why the Feinsteins have nothing to do with Rabbi Tendler. What he has done to their grandfather's legacy is despicable. He has taken one of the great works of the last century and distorted it. It is a monument to the ego of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler and the impotence of this generation's scholars.
It is not a subtle distortion. Take the two versions of Igrot Moshe, sit down and compare. It's so obvious and plain to see. Does Rabbi Mordechai Tendler really expect us to believe his grandfather wanted to insert his praise of (Tendler) in an already published tshuva (that had no such praise)? It's clear what has been done.
It's also incredibly painful. How could this have been done and in such a public way?
I understand that the Feinsteins don't want to take Rabbi Mordecai Tendler to a beis din. But where are the rabbonim of this generation? How could they allow this to be done to a gadol hador's work? How could they associate with someone like Rabbi Mordechai Tendler who did this?
I implore people to contact the RCA and demand this issue be addressed by the Beis Din HaKavod. The Rabbi Mordechai Tendler version needs to be removed from public circulation and Rav Feinstein's scholarship restored.
Steps must be taken to ensure a Chilul HaShem like this never happens again to any of our scholars and that charlatans like Rabbi Mordechai Tendler are no longer tolerated.
This is what is allowed to happen to the work of one of our gedolim?
Where is the outrage?
Major Rabbinical Council Slammed For Releasing Names in Sexual Abuse Case
The nation's leading Orthodox rabbinical organization is being accused of betraying women who say they were sexually abused or harassed by a prominent New York rabbi hailed for counseling women about their troubled marriages.
Critics of the Rabbinical Council of America are blasting the group for giving Rabbi Mordecai Tendler and his attorney, Arnold Kriss, a copy of an internal report on the sexual harassment allegations, including the names of women who claimed Tendler harassed them. Kriss has vehemently denied the allegations against his client.
Rabbi Hershie Billet To The Rescue?
Young Israel of Woodmere rabbi Hershie Billet (past president of the RCA) is taking over the Rabbinical Council of America (centrist Orthodox body) investigation of rabbi Mordecai Tendler and is going to try to get the women who've complained about Tendler to interview over again (some of them have been through it with rabbi Mark Dratch and the Praesidium team, not the sharpest group around).
The RCA is run by Rabbi Basil Herring who bears responsibility for turning over the RCA's complete file on Tendler to Tendler.
The women who spoke to the RCA and its investigators believed that the RCA had assured them on anonymity, which is normal for these type of investigations, as opposed to criminal investigations where a person tried has the right to confront his accusers.
Rabbi Tendler then sicced his lawyers on to some of the women who complained that Tendler coerced them into bed in exchange for a divorce or some other favor.
The RCA's investigation into rabbi Tendler has run tens of thousands of dollars and is being paid for by special donations. The RCA doesn't have the resources (without special contributions) to do these investigations, especially not ones on powerful rabbis like Mordecai Tendler, who have their own fiefdom and their own expensive lawyers ready to get rough and dirty with their opponents.
I sent Rabbi Billet an email a few days ago to discuss rabbinical sex abuse. He did not respond.
Rabbi Mordechai Tendler and several Monsey colleagues impersonate the RCA in an attempt to intimidate witness
Gary Rosenblatt writes:
While the case has gone on for almost a year, the RCA committee heading the inquiry has been criticized for sharing with Rabbi Tendler information containing the identity of at least some of his female accusers, causing them to lose faith in the confidentiality of the process. More recently, there were reports that Rabbi Tendler helped arrange and took part in questioning, along with several Monsey colleagues, a non-Jewish woman who is a potential witness in the case. The woman was led to believe that she was summoned as part of the RCA investigation, which was not the case. The purpose of the meeting, it is said, was to dissuade her from testifying.
From the Forward:
The largest union of Orthodox rabbis has expelled one of its members from the organization, Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made by several women.
In a statement announcing its decision, the Rabbinical Council of America said that Tendler "has refused to cooperate with the vaad in its investigation, and has refused to appear at a hearing.” The RCA also stated that Tendler had "engaged in conduct inapporopriate for an Orthodox rabbi.”
Tendler Redux: Loses Shul AGAIN
This is not the first time that Rabbi Tendler finds himself at the center of a controversy. More than ten years ago, Rabbi Tendler issued a p'sak that he, and only he, was entitled to have a shul in New Hempstead and even Wesley Hills, though it is hard to imagine how he expected people to walk to his shul all the way from Wesley Hills. Yet, that was his "p'sak". Nevertheless, a vast majority of the original Tendler minyan "broke away" to form their own minyan, at first without a Rav, and then under the auspices of Rabbi M. Chill. Rav Tendler was left with just a bare handfull of members. Both Rav Tendler and the "breakaway" struggled to establish themselves. Rav Tendler fought the existence of the second shul with a full fury. It was an ugly episode in the history of New Hempstead. There was a bitter Din Torah, fought tooth and nail, which divided the community, broke car pools and drove neighbor from neighbor. Former friends stopped speaking, and children were forbidden to play with neighbor's kids. Some of Tendler's followers accepted as Das Torah Rav Tendler's statement that the other Orthodox shul had the status of a Reform Temple and that the Jews who davened there did so in vain.
Over time, however, Rav Tendler rebuilt his shul. Rav Tendler obtained a nice building and in time his minyan flourished again. People moved to New Hempstead to daven at Rav Tendler's shul. He re-established himself as a respected rabbinical leader. But now, in 2005 History repeats itself with a vengeance. Rav Tendler finds himself at the center of an amazingly sordid story, in a situation no man, much less an Orthodox rav, should find himself. This time, the controversy is not confined to a little village in Rockland County, New York, but fills the media from New York to Jerusalem to Australia. Rabbi Tendler has achieved a fame that most ambitious rabbonim can only dream of, but it is not the type of fame any man would want. And, in a type of harsh deja vu, Rabbi Tendler once again faces a break away situation. Only this time, his shul membership wants him to step down. As the flames of controversy engulf his universe, his empire crumbles beneath him, and he is seemingly powerless to do anything to prevent a total ruinous conflagration. Should he choose to linger on and fight, surrounded by a few dedicated followers, he will be like the fanatic Japanese fighters, dedicated to the vision of a mythical Emperor, holed up on a remote Pacific Island still fighting World War II years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Would you want Mordecai Tendler to be the halachic advisor of a mental health center you went to?
Check out Jewish Family Services of Rockland.
XXX writes: "Several of us have called the executive director there. He never returns our call."
RCA Statement On Expelling Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
Given the way the RCA, under the leadership of rabbi Basil Herring, turned over its investigation files to rabbi Mordecai Tendler (after telling some of the women who say they were victimized by Tendler that their reports would be kept confidential), you'd think rabbi Herring and the RCA would be less huffy and self righteous. But no. Here's the 4/12/05 press release:
In regard to The Rabbinical Council of America investigation and expulsion of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, the RCA determined that it would not issue any public statement beyond the formal findings of the Vaad and the Executive Committee. However, in light of a concerted campaign to mischaracterize, misrepresent, and distort both the process and its outcome, as well as to demean the eminent and distinguished rabbis who were part of the process, the RCA has elected to make the following statement:
1. The year long investigation took that extended time because the Vaad Hakavod made every effort to follow all the relevant halachic, legal, as well as moral, guidelines and laws, both as regards procedure and substance. The investigation benefited from the advice and guidance of recognized and respected experts in halachah, American law, and psychology. The findings were based on the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, both on the telephone and in person, and both by outside investigators and members of the Vaad itself. Accordingly, we stand by both the procedural fairness of the proceedings and, equally important, the substantive result reached by us.
2. The investigation was not, and never purported to be, in the nature of a Beit Din proceeding. The RCA constitution calls for a panel of peers to review the activities of a rabbi accused of misbehavior. This is called a Beis Din Hakavod, or a Vaad Hakavod, which has always been understood as referring to an administrative process, not a Beit Din proceeding. This was made clear throughout to the accused and his counsel. As mandated by our constitution, it was an administrative proceeding of a religious organization, entitled to determine in a manner it chooses, who is and who is not fit to be a member.
3. The accused was given repeated opportunities prior to the issuance of the decision to respond to the charges as shared with him, as well as to appear in an appropriate hearing and face his accusers. However he, through his legal counsel, as well as through his wife, clearly and unambiguously turned down in writing such invitations to appear before the Vaad Hakavod. He requested instead that we rely on his written submissions, which we did, in addition to statements made by him in an interview by an independent investigator commissioned by the Vaad Hakavod. Only after the decision was communicated to him, did he offer to appear before the Vaad Hakavod.
4. Any claims or statements to the contrary, be they from rabbis in America or Israel, legal counsel, publicists, journalists, family members, or others, are based on either willful denial of fact or on ignorance resulting from one-sided representations.
Rabbi Mordecai Tendler Case
What do you do when someone has been manipulated into having sex with a religious leader, father figure and spiritual guide?
What do you do when a community attacks the victim for being brave enough to come forward?
What do you do when there could be concrete evidence a high-flying Orthodox rabbi had sexual relations with a woman other then his wife?
What should the survivor do if she fears for his or her emotional and physical safety if the evidence went public knowledge? Remember the survivor already feels like she's been victimized by their community. The survivor may feel humiliated that they were manipulated into having a sexual relationship. Especially when the survivor thought that the offender really loved her, and then later learned that it was only for the offender's own personal pleasure, and the need of feeling in control of another.
Now, the Orthodox Jewish world, which holds itself to a higher standard, and is particularly averse to desecration of the name of G-d, struggles with its own scandal, and it is an ugly sight. The public discourse has degenerated into a knock down drag out name-calling slugfest,fought in hysterical tones, mostly on the internet, with neither side looking very pretty.
We have a group of people on one side screaming for Rabbi Tendler to step down as rabbi of his shul and move out of his town. Where he would go is not clear. The Orthdox Jewish world is small, connected, and often as overheated as the screaming blogs. Unless he clears his name, there is nowhere in the Orthodox Jewish world that Rabbi Tendler can go to escape the opprobrium that now haunts him. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish religion has no central organization or bureacracy; the Jews have no Bishop, Cardinal, or Pope to make an executive decision to remove a rabbi from a pulpit and send him to an isolated monastary somewhere, to get him out of the spotlight, to punish him and protect him and the Church at the same time. Every shul rabbi is an entrepeneur, ultimately answering to whomever he chooses, if anyone at all. No, for better or worse, Rabbi Tendler is on his own and he is in the public eye, with nowhere to run. Every Jewish scandal is duly noted and recorded by the Jews and millions of Jew-observers across the globe. A rabbi, in particular, can not hide; he has no protection other than his good reputation. In the end, the only people who can decide that Rabbi Tendler must move on from his shul are Rabbi Tendler, and the people in his shul. No one else has the right to make that decision. This is a simple, but powerful fact. As long as Rabbi Tendler believes he can hang on to a group of True Believes in his shul, he will, struggling to ride out this storm.
On the other side of the controversy, the Tendler True Believers are butressed by a well-paid professional staff of political operatives, public relations people, attorneys, and loyal family members. They are working together to suppress the negative publicity. Rabbi Tendler has consistently denied all the charges against him. There is not even a hint that perhaps he made a mistake or two along the way. He has a right to take that position, and we are not here to take sides. But we must note that the pro-Tendler forces have employed the most reprehensible tactics. They have attacked the credibility of the accusers, who consider themselves victims of manipulation and abuse. After attacking the victims as a group of unstable nitwits, the Tendler machine unleashed its energies to do whatever it could to confuse the issues. They attacked the two midwives who first advocated the rights of the victims as unsanitary "witches" and "baby-killers". The Tendler forces then attacked the RCA rabbis as unqualified "mediocre" rabbis who were on "witchhunt". Why the RCA would conduct a witchunt against Rabbi Tendler, an RCA member for many years, is never stated. The True Believers attempted to impugn the integrity of the investigation because it was conducted by non-Jewish investigators, a truly primitive argument. And, in perhaps the most absurd agrument of all, the True Believers claim that the RCA investigation and decision to expel Tendler can't be respected because it was not the result of a formal legal process, or Jewish Beis Din. All this, in spite of the fact that Rabbi Tendler agreed to these very conditions at the outset of the investigation. The pro-Tendler forces have also tried to inundate blogs with endless amounts of spam, in order to suppress public discussion.
A woman who says she was abused by rabbi Mordecai Tendler posts:
We have been harassed and KNH [Kehillat New Hempstead, where rabbi Tendler is the founder and leader] members have said lies and describe us in very demeaning terms. There is No one really there to defend our images and no recourse for most of what is posted or the damage done. KNH members will always believe and support him no matter what. No matter what they claim of wanting to be convinced he is guilty. People still believe Laners’ innocence and in many other authorities who committed similar crimes. It’s a very sick whitewashing of the issue with his supporters like a Salem witch trial against the victims. RMT intention and schemed to damage the credibility of the women so that he would produce false witnesses and false testimonies and false reports from authorities to use against us if we spoke publicly. Even supporters of the sexually abused women have fed into these attacks confirming back with words like, “yes but he picks on crazies”, or “yes he picks on vulnerable”, etc. The one good statement I saw on your sites was that all human beings are vulnerable to someone who wants to manipulate and abuse them. This is not a sign of some psychological problem or weakness. I’ll add you can make any ones life look bad or some one like Scott Peterson could appear perfectly fine, like Tendler and they are a sick danger to women. RMT is the “crazy one”, if you want to use this term for the women and so are his supporters who cover-up for him by describing the women as the culprit and in a disgusting manner. Meet those who really know us. You’ll hear the real description and how normal we are. But “crazy” for him here means he needs help and should step down to get well. “Crazy” here for the women means what twisted take on us of the situation. RMT, his clan, president and close supporting members twisted the truth, did anything to cover up his image. Damaged any women who he either was inappropriate with or looked bad for his image as people were hearing from other abused women. And yes we have been intimated and threatened.
The RCA also victimized us. And Rabbi Dratch did. See Forward article. They gave RMT an internal report. Threw us to the dogs and responded back if you want the RCA to protect you from being threatened and harass then come forward. What? They are the cause of their deficient case. Protect? They made a statement without any details causing the ruling to be undermined then to rationalize the lack of details saves them? The second new statement proves again their boy club mentality to not mention the attacks made on the women but only on the good reputations of the Rabbis. The women have good reputations, just not from the Tendler, or the RCA because they can’t see either how good women are deceived?
We have been victimized by all you against Tendler including AC (The Awareness Center). You are so politically motivated to get him and your agenda is to do everything for that purpose you have thrown out all ethical and moral rules. You have forgotten the women. We have a right to privacy. We have the right to want to go forward or not; if we want to tell what happened or not. You compromised our confidentiality and privacy in order to get him and prove he is the sexual predator that he is to back up what you revealed publicly which was privately told to you by those he abused. It didn’t matter that we are victimized by you because all is fair game, so you think. To get out of this for us you justify will mean great you’ll be verified and promoted, we will have to defend and protect ourselves, so let’s throw their info in. No true supporters of women would do this. If you want to help then open doors for women to come to. If the women you know don’t want to be public accept it, get others. Have faith in God, you did your tachlis, he’ll continue. You harmed us. You victimized us. I can’t see women I know who have also been victimized by him looking at what you did, seeing the way we were spoken about from all sides on the blogs containing very few truths wanting to come forward, definitely not to you. You have also hurt our claims.
A Letter About Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
The following letter is an unpublished letter sent by Batye Seigel (who say she was sexually abused by Rabbi Mordecai Tendler) to The Jewish Press as a response to one of their articles. The letter is reprinted here with permission.
I was once again dismayed at the comment made in your editorial posted 4/6/05 posted in the Jewish Press regarding the latest Rabbinical abuse case.
Take note that in our present judicial system, there is not disclosure of the names of the victims. It is considered highly unethical and also illegal, as seen in such high profile cases, Michael Jackson, Koby Bryant, and the Catholic priests, to name a few.
I myself was a victim of Mordecai Tendler. I testified to the investigator of the RCA, the Rabbi's of the RCA, and some prominent and well respected Rabbi's in Monsey, NY I also spoke with several newspapers.
While in the process of trying to obtain my get, I was consistently and repeatedly sexually harassed by this rabbi over a period of many months. At a very difficult and trying time in my life with five small children, I also had to deal with refusing his aggressive sexual advances.
After the get was obtained, I cut off all ties with him.
A while back your paper printed an editorial stating that this rabbi was not part of the Bais Din for my get. I can't possibly remember which rabbi actually signed the papers, but I can assure you that this rabbi was present and pretended to play the "supportive" role.
Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I am forthright and brutally honest.
Your paper is choosing not to believe any of the women's accusations without speaking to any of us, or the rabbi's who have spoken personally with the women or the witnesses involved. Your paper's objectivity is in serious question, being that you obtained all of your information from this rabbi's supporters, perhaps because of a personal relationship between his family and your staff.
Part of the Jewish community is intertwined with politics and the other is truly "erlich", or so it appears.
This unfortunate experience with this rabbi had a profound and devastating impact on myself and my children, being that shortly after this, I and my children went off the derech.
However, being that I was always spiritually inclined, I still have a great love and reverence for Judaism, my Creator, and the authentic and genuine people I have encountered over the years.
Batye Seigel (Rockland County, NY)
Why Do Tendler Supporters Have It In For Rabbi Blau?
I called rabbi Moshe Tendler for comment on this story and left a message on his RIETS answer machine Friday.
YU's Rabbi Yosef Blau had nothing to do with the investigation of rabbi Mordecai Tendler (MT) and MT's ejection from the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America). So why have supporters of MT attacked rabbi Blau on Blaufacts.com and elsewhere?
It has to do with rabbi Blau's wife. She wrote a letter in 2004 to Shifra, the wife of Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler (daughter of Reb Moshe Feinstein and mother of MT) saying that the women accusing Mordecai have found each other. Their case will build steam. It will hit the newspapers. You can avert the whole thing. Let Mordecai apologize to the women he hurt and make restitution. Get him help or it will be all over the newspapers.
The day after rabbi Moshe Tendler received this letter, he showed up in rabbi Blau's office and told rabbi Blau he was going to get him.
As Susan Cheever said, "Revenge is like eating poison and hoping the other person will die." Instead of getting his son psychological help, it appears that rabbi Moshe Tendler is going after rabbi Yosef Blau.
Blaufacts.com is not a Berman/Telushkin thing to do. It is a Tendler thing to do.
From a post to Jewish Whistleblower:
As a people what can we do to help Moshe Tendler face the facts regarding both of his sons. There are allegations that his son Aron has molested teenage girls, and then there are the allegations agains Mordecai. Those who are in denial regarding Mordecai's behavior have not answered any one of these important questions:
1. Why is it that over 10 women would conspire against this allegedly pious rabbi?
2. What do they have to gain from making allegations of sexual misconduct?
3. How many women do you know have no issue with the man they are involved with having relations with other women at the same time?
4. How many women in orthodox circles will have relations with a married man? Especially if they are also friendly with the woman's husband?
The pure volume of women who have come forward should be enough to make anyone open up their eyes and pay attention. Focusing on anything else is just a distraction.
It's much easier for Moshe Tendler and the rest of Mordecai Tendler's relatives to attempt to distract from the real issues.
Moshe, if you read this please start reading books about sex offenders. Look at the symptomology of those with antisocial personality disorders. If you really want to do something to help your chldren, help them get the psychological help they need.
Tendlers Vs Blaus Vs Polin
My sources say: What Mordecai Tendler needed was psychological/moral/religious help. He has big problems. He thinks he's above the Torah. He gave permission to people who are a Cohen to marry a divorcee. It is in this week's Torah reading that a Cohen can not marry a woman who is divorced.
He was freeing women from their marriages on flawed and questionable grounds. One woman was warned by several people about marrying a particular guy. She married him anyway. It was exactly as predicted. She was abused in every way. Then, when she wanted a divorce, he wouldn't give her a get. She went to Mordecai Tendler. He knew that she was warned before the marriage but he dissolved her marriage on the basis that she had married without knowing whom she married. It was taking something by mistake.
People who have analyzed the things Mordecai Tendler has said on behalf of his grandfather Reb Moshe Feinstein are about to come out with a study showing that Mordecai's rulings are at variance with things his grandfather said. At the end of Reb Moshe Feinstein's life, when Mordecai Tendler was put in charge of his apartment and his ailing grandfather, his grandmother was afraid of him. He was rude to people who came to see Reb Moshe Feinstein. Mordecai has problems. It's a shame that the family did not deal with these problems.
Mordecai Tendler did something outrageous 12 years ago. Rabbi Yosef Blau spoke to his father Rabbi Moshe Tendler, who said that "Mordecai was a strange kid. He's always been a strange kid. He does idiotic things."
The Tendlers hired Hank Sheinkopf as a fixer/publicist.
Mrs. Blau was always unhappy with The Awareness Center (TAC) and she told her husband exactly why she did not approve of TAC. Mrs. Blau saw no reason to post those profiles. Just the names of people who should not be hired. That would've been enough.
Mrs. Blau told rabbi Blau that Vicki Polin went overboard, that Vicki was sensationalist, and that there was no way of controlling her. Mrs. Blau didn't like the Tendler family page on The Awareness Center website (recently removed but can be found here). She saw no reason to bring in the names of the people related to Mordecai Tendler. Why mention that Mordecai was Moshe Feinstein's grandson? Why is that part of the story? Why is that Vicki's place to put that on the internet? Though rabbi Blau was on TAC board, there was no telling Vicki what to do.
Mrs Blau told rabbi Blau: It can't be both ways. You can't cover for everything she's doing while she's doing her own thing. Mrs. Blau was very upset. Every time she sees an Awareness Center email, which come several times a day, she deletes it immediately. Mrs. Blau asked her husband -- what is accomplished by reading in the United States that someone in Netanya, Israel, is accused of something? To carry every report from around the world would make one think that sexual perversion has run amok in the Jewish community.
Rabbi Blau said that even though Vicki made mistakes, she was doing more good than harm, and if he was to leave TAC, it would be open season for sexual predators. Such predators need the fear of exposure in addition to the fear of G-d.
Mrs. Blau predicated Rabbi Blau's taking the RZA (Religious Zionists of America) presidency on his leaving TAC.
Rabbi Berman and Telushkin's crusade against rabbi Blau and TAC is to save Mordecai Gafni. Why they are protecting Gafni? Who knows? Saul has a blind eye and a deaf ear on this matter. Otherwise, Saul is wonderful.
Rabbi Yosef Blau's son was married to a disturbed woman. Therefore, the divorce was protracted and bitter. The civil divorce was quick. It was the Jewish divorce that she did not want to accept. If the Blaus gave out the papers on the divorce, the divorced woman's family would be shamed.
The Blaus will go to a wedding and people will turn away from rabbi Blau and say hello his rebbetzin. They shun rabbi Blau because of his role in TAC.
Mrs. Blau said that Vicki was the wrong intermediary for the community on this issue. She has a checkered past (that 1989 Oprah appearance) and she remains a loose cannon.
On the other hand, I've been getting calls and email from women who are profoundly grateful to Vicki Polin for the help she's given them in rebuilding their lives. This help has been far more important to them than whatever Vicki said on Oprah in 1989.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY FROM THE RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF AMERICA
20 Sivan 5765
Over the past weeks and months a few Jewish media outlets have presented a one-sided version of the facts concerning the expulsion of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler from the ranks of the RCA. The RCA has considered a variety of responses to this situation. As part of this response, the RCA secured an agreement from the Jewish Press to provide a full page in the paper to present, in open letter format, an RCA account of the Vaad Hakavod process leading to that expulsion. Unfortunately the paper would not print the letter without significant changes to it; changes that, in the interests of fairness, the officers of the RCA are not willing to accept. Therefore such a letter will not appear in the Jewish Press. The exact text of the open letter is as follows:
In recent months, the Rabbinical Council of America's (RCA) investigation and deliberations on the allegations of misconduct raised against our colleague, Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, have been the subject of much misinformation and inaccuracies throughout the Jewish community.
We remain loath to publicly address the methods employed in the investigation of Rabbi Tendler and his subsequent expulsion from the RCA. However, in light of the proliferation of these inaccurate and one-sided reports, and especially the recent steps taken by Rabbi Tendler in a Jerusalem Bet Din and elsewhere, that have served to confuse many in the Jewish community, the RCA now feels it would be both professionally irresponsible and morally remiss not to correct the public perception of the allegations and investigation that informed our decision.
Allegations Against Rabbi Tendler
Over a year ago, the RCA was formally presented with complaints from various individuals alleging misconduct by Rabbi Tendler. Faced with these accusations, the RCA's executive body immediately appointed an internal ethics committee, a "Vaad Hakavod," to investigate these allegations and to provide Rabbi Tendler an opportunity to respond before undertaking any definitive action. Despite the refusal of Rabbi Tendler to participate in the proceedings, certain of the individuals’ allegations were determined to be credible. On March 15th, 2005, the RCA Executive Committee decided unanimously to expel Rabbi Tendler from the RCA.
Rabbi Mordecai Tendler’s removal from the RCA has been both personally and professionally painful for all involved – the Jewish community at large, Rabbi Tendler, his family and loved ones, and the membership of the RCA. It is only with extreme regret and trepidation that we are called upon to investigate any of our members in response to any complaints of misconduct. How much more so when they involve allegations against an individual admired by many as a scholar, educator and community leader. Accordingly, those of us involved in the investigative proceedings deeply desired to find Rabbi Tendler innocent of the misconduct charges leveled against him, and we sought to provide him with every opportunity to present his response to these complaints. Sadly for all parties, Rabbi Tendler refused to attend the hearings of the Vaad Hakavod or to confront his accusers.
Ultimately, the findings supported certain charges of misconduct. As such, the RCA was compelled to come to our painful judgment, as the Jewish community would expect us to, and not stand idly by.
The RCA as an Independent Organization
There are a loud and select few who have publicly challenged and criticized the legitimacy of the Vaad Hakavod, which was appointed to investigate this matter, and the procedural means used to conduct the hearings. The RCA is a professional organization that is governed by a constitution, which was composed and ratified by its membership in 1935. All of our activities, throughout our 70-year history of Rabbinic leadership, are governed by our constitution. As such, this governing charter provides that any charges brought against an RCA member shall be investigated by our internal ethics committee – a Vaad Hakavod. Well-known and respected rabbinic leaders from throughout the world, many not even members of the RCA, have emphatically stated that our membership may be governed in the manner of other private organizations. As with all other professional organizations and societies, the RCA is permitted to establish its own criteria for its membership, legislate rules of member conduct, investigate in a manner of its choosing possible violations of its rules, and suspend or expel those members it deems in breach of those rules. The constitution of the RCA strictly follows the Halacha and respects all local and national laws.
The Investigatory Process
The Vaad Hakavod was duly convened in March 2004. It consisted of five leading rabbis from diverse backgrounds – Chairman Rabbi Hershel Billet, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz (Av Bet Din of the Beth Din of America and the Beth Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council,) Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi Kenneth Auman, and Rabbi Basil Herring. At each step of the way, the Vaad examined what the halacha required, and acted accordingly. We also appointed four lay professionals to review the allegations and advise the Vaad during its investigation.
To deal with this highly sensitive matter, and as an initial step in the investigation, the Vaad hired an independent, non-partisan and respected professional investigator with experience in cases such as this.
The 75-page long, final report and findings determined that the allegations made by a number of complainants were credible, despite the denials raised by Rabbi Tendler.
Upon the advice of our legal counsel, we sent Rabbi Tendler the complete report to apprise him of the details of the allegations, findings, and conclusions and to enable him to prepare his response for consideration by the Vaad. We wanted to afford him every opportunity to obtain the necessary information and evidence to defend himself.
To our dismay, Rabbi Tendler responded within days in writing, saying that he did “not think it necessary to meet in person.” Instead he insisted that we rely upon his written denial of the allegations, together with various written submissions that accompanied his letter.
In December 2004, the Vaad sent Rabbi Tendler a letter informing him of the intention to proceed with a formal hearing and with a full opportunity for him to cross-examine and confront witnesses, except, as the halacha provides, for those who might be intimidated by his presence. Rabbi Tendler, through his wife, responded in writing that “to reiterate, we are not going to participate in any hearings. Period.” Some weeks later we received a formal letter from Rabbi Tendler’s attorney stating, “Rabbi Tendler will not participate in any hearing.” Upon receipt of this letter, the Vaad concluded that in the absence of Rabbi Tendler's participation we would not be able to hold a formal hearing.
Even then, the Vaad did not wish to rely exclusively on the external investigation. Thus it proceeded to have certain key accusers and witnesses interviewed by a Vaad member and by counsel to the Vaad, to assess their credibility and report to the Vaad.
The statements and allegations of those interviewed were found to be credible. The witnesses' statements conformed with the details contained in the investigator’s report. Overall, we were convinced of the truthfulness of the witnesses' statements. We did not find Rabbi Tendler’s written submission to be sufficient to rebut what had been told to our investigators and interviewers.
A Painful Decision
The Vaad sat for one final meeting. Only after somber and careful review of the facts and the history of the investigation, our distinguished rabbis unanimously recommended to the Executive Committee of the RCA the expulsion of Rabbi Tendler. The Executive Committee then met and reviewed the findings of the Vaad Hakavod committee, and voted unanimously that Rabbi Tendler’s membership in the RCA should be revoked because he refused to cooperate with the Vaad in its investigation, refused to appear at a hearing, and had engaged in conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi (which is the precise language of the RCA’s Constitution.) To minimize any embarrassment to him and his family, and to the complaining witnesses, we purposely did not describe our findings in detail, and we will not do so here.
Despite numerous calls from journalists and requests for an explanation from the officers of Rabbi Tendler’s synagogue and other communal leaders, the RCA declined public comment. This was consistent with the policy of the Vaad throughout its deliberation that it would make no public statements on the investigation.
Bet Din and RCA
Subsequent to our actions, a regional Bet Din in Jerusalem issued an injunction regarding the RCA’s expulsion of Rabbi Tendler. This Bet Din stated that the RCA was enjoined from undertaking any actions that would damage “serarato u-misrato” (his rabbinic authority and position.) In this regard it should be noted that the RCA has not and did not seek or attempt to cause injury to Rabbi Tendler in any way beyond removing him from its membership. The matter of Rabbi Tendler's employment remains entirely up to the members of his congregation. More recently the RCA and certain individuals received a summons from a regional Jerusalem Bet Din to respond to allegations made by Rabbi Tendler. The RCA takes this matter very seriously, and will reply appropriately in full accordance with both the letter and the spirit of halacha.
Responsibility and Leadership
Throughout this entire difficult process, we have taken concrete steps to assure accuracy and fairness to Rabbi Tendler. We repeatedly offered him an opportunity to personally confront his accusers and to testify directly before the Vaad Hakavod. Each time, Rabbi Tendler declined the opportunity. The record shows that we acted in complete accordance with halacha, both in process and outcome.
Leadership is not determined by those who must make the easy choices – it’s the difficult decisions that should be commended and applauded. Presented with this difficult dilemma, the RCA took deliberate action and remains completely confident that despite the misgivings of a loud and outspoken few, our entire rabbinic leadership is not mistaken. We believe that Rabbi Tendler was given every opportunity to defend himself. Most importantly, we believe that our action was necessary.
This painful decision was made with heavy hearts, but also knowing that these allegations needed to be addressed. In recent years, we have learned from the experience of others that we cannot ignore allegations against members of the rabbinate.
We hope that we have here provided some measure of understanding of our process and decision to the members of the Jewish community, and we further hope that any future discussions of the RCA's decision concerning Rabbi Tendler will be carried out with the proper dignity and seriousness that it deserves, and will not result in any further Chillul Hashem.
RABBI IN SEX-GOD SCANDAL
David Hafetz writes in the New York Post:
December 25, 2005 -- A prominent rabbi is being accused of unorthodox and disturbing behavior — seducing a troubled woman in his congregation by telling her he was "the Messiah" and giving her "sex therapy" to help her find a husband.
According to a lawsuit filed last week in Manhattan, Rabbi Mordecai Tendler of Rockland County promised the woman, who was seeking advice, that "doors would open" and "men will come" if she had sex with him.
The rabbi, a father of eight, allegedly told the woman that he was her "only hope." The woman says the rabbi held liaisons in his rabbinical study from 2001 to 2005 and threatened her to remain silent about "the sexual therapy."
Adina Marmelstein, 43, who lives in Manhattan, accuses Tendler of deceiving and violating her and going "beyond all bounds of civility and decency" while he acted as a trusted counselor and spiritual authority.
"He had a tremendous amount of power over her," said Marmelstein's lawyer, Lenore Kramer.
Marmelstein says she first met Tendler — the son of a Yeshiva University professor and the grandson of a highly respected religious arbiter, the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein — through his "work on behalf of women" in 1994.
In his career, Tendler has advocated for the rights of Orthodox women and assisted Jewish wives obtain religious divorces.
...According to her suit, Tendler warned that he would "have her placed in a straitjacket" and "banned from the shul" if she told anyone about the sex.
Kramer said it was difficult for her client to accuse the rabbi. "It's an embarrassment to the family, a terrible thing."
Mordecai Tendler Part Two