Tzedek shouldn’t be in the business of besmirching honourable people

Rabbi Kenneth Brander is beyond reproach. He has done probably 1000 times more for victims of abuse and beyond than our own Captains of Morality, and is well-known to be absolutely rock solid on moral issues, such as abuse. Yet, we have the Tzedek organisation, in a move which can only be described as approaching the level of the disgraced site run by Scott Rosenberg, expressing “concern”. To be sure, Rosenberg’s site, like Tzedek, performs some good; but it is an amoeba with an anti-Orthodox (especially Chabad) agenda. It isn’t at all dispassionate about fact finding, and is often twisting and sensationalising headlines like a desperate journalist trying to bring down organisations. Unlike Rosenberg, though, I would have expected Tzedek to have done its own solid research before they dare cast any real “concern” about Rabbi Brander. Tzedek have been tardy. If they have anything of substance, apart from discredited articles from the Forward and elsewhere which we can and have all read, then they should put up. Otherwise, let them shut up, and spend their time in the holy task of supporting victims and unmasking actual predators and their supporters.

Does Tzedek think the community are a pack of fools who need their imprimatur in order to determine moral issues? Do they think that the community and individual Shules haven’t seen the badly researched, journalistic hooey, flashing in neon lights? Rest assured, that members of this community involved in overseeing this visit include many people and Rabbis who are at least as moral, sensitive and aware as Tzedek, but perhaps less inclined to hang people on the basis of unproven innuendo or use over-inflammatory language. Yes, it is true, that some have not (thank God) been victims themselves, but you do not have to be a victim to loathe predators or support those who might come to you for help.

I have personally seen current correspondence from arguably the most respected professional experts in this arena, who are very well acquainted with a situation in which they support Rabbi Brander unequivocally based on personal knowledge of the facts.

Rabbi Brander is not only to be looked up to; he has demonstrated many times that he has zero tolerance for those who wish to sweep such issues under the carpet. He has demonstrated this many times in his career, well before it became de jure to do so. Tzedek would do a lot better to actually engage Rabbi Brander in an hour of private discussion. They would be most surprised, and less inclined to issue their “letters of concern”. I have every confidence that they will be most impressed and enthused.

Life isn’t that simple though, and forming a “connection” between Rabbi Brander and the current civil  proceedings over past issues at YU is, frankly, beneath contempt. Is everyone at the Yeshivah Center a supporter of predators because of past sins and ills? Of course not. If they are, then there are people who are directly or indirectly affiliated with Tzedek that can equally dubiously be accused of such “sins of association”.

Tzedek—many in this community do not consider you as our soul or sole moral compass, even though we admire many things you do. We do not consult you in respect of who we should and should not invite to our shores. We have our own access to facts and research, that you simply may not have, nor have discovered. As long as you sit on the outside and do not work within roof bodies all of whom equally abhor abuse, you are in danger of eventually becoming less relevant.

I urge anyone who can attend any and all of Rabbi Branders’ Shiurim and colloquia to do so, and this includes members of Tzedek. This is a unique opportunity.

Disclaimer: it was originally my idea to have the Centre for the Jewish Future  invited to Melbourne to aid Orthodox congregations and organisations in order to re-enfranchise ever increasing Jewishly unaffiliated youth to the holy covenant of Torah and Judaism.

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

89 thoughts on “Tzedek shouldn’t be in the business of besmirching honourable people”

  1. Rosenberg is a pathetic mud slinger.
    His obsessions are pathological and lack any sense of balance.
    Rabbi Kenneth Brander is doing excellent work through his Yeshiva University programs.


  2. Tzedek or for that matter any organization which set themselves up as the moral compass of a community undermine their potential to make a contribution to the betterment of that society.


  3. Isaac Kol Hakavod for bringing this up.
    I would have thought that an organization that espouses correct conduct by institutions would have contacted the Rabbi Brander’s hosts and asked them for information on the matter.

    To my mind the making of such a statement without getting all the facts throws into doubt the sincerity of the people in the organization in their efforts to help victims of abuse.


  4. In the United States, Shmarya Rosenberg and “Yerachmiel Lopin” (he uses a pseudonym) are highly regarded as excellent journalists. Rosenberg, in particular, has brought sunlight to matters that Chabad and the ultra-Orthodox community have worked incessantly to conceal. Were it not for Rosenberg and his Failed Messiah blog, few in the USA would know about e.g. the Yeshivah College matter. And “Lopin” has done an excellent job of publicizing the Brander/Andron matter, which is a scandal that every member of JBD and the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria should know about.

    Tzedek is doing an important service and those who have invited Brander to speak are not.


    1. If you think that people are not fully across these ‘revelations’ you are living in a hole. Responsible people perform due diligence and do not require second hand ‘research’ from Tzedek


  5. Shmarya Rosenberg at times lies,embellishes etc.

    He becomes extremely angry when someone points out his mistakes and responds in a abusive way.

    There is a psychopathology with Shmarya that peope know what to look for can identify.


  6. Isaac,
    Nothing that evil people with evil agenda’s do can be good. Stop acknowledging Tzedek and co.

    Look at Torah:
    Lavan: Don’t speak to Jacob good or bad.
    The Egyptians: We say to a bee; Not your honey and not your sting.
    Bilam: They don’t need your blessings.

    Any good that the haters of Israel do is bad for the Jews.

    The people you are trying to condemn have major psychological issues. They will never recognize and acknowledge any good that the religions community does.


    1. I don’t agree with you. They have good intentions, but sometimes its best to allow management by those who aren’t personally affected by issues. I see for example a ‘new’ issue with a so called ‘assault’ at Yeshivah on Shabbos. Well, I was there, didn’t see anything, Manny’s father (who we keep getting told has n children and has been at Yeshivah for m years as if that is in ANY way relevant) actually sat behind the said gentleman. Manny’s dad tends to stand and block the aisle and I have on a number of occasions almost been knocked over by said assaulter who is clumsy, oversized, and tends to walk in straight lines when going to kiss the Sefer Torah even if I or others happen to be in front of him. If something happened at 11:40am then many if us who were less than 5 meters away didn’t see it.


  7. Isaac,

    You are entitled to your opinion but I think you are being naive. Tzedek and co. have illustrated their true intentions many times.

    Regarding MW’s father, I’m not sure how by him blocking the aisle almost caused you to be knocked over?


  8. It is really good that you have pointed this out to Tzedek, and about Tzedek. If He persists in taking this path of besmirching and denigrating individuals who have an excellent record within the Jewish global community, then there is no way that I will ever consider supporting Tzedek financially.
    I am all for Tzedek Tzedek tirdoif, but pursuing it, and not chasing it away.
    Well done Mr Pitputim


    1. I’m rather dismayed at Tzedek. If they were my students I’d give them a fail for poor research. It is very easy to tar and feather people. I call THAT


      and whilst I doubt someone of Rabbi Brander’s stature would care about the unproven scare mongerers who do anything for a story or attention, one thing this episode has taught me is that Tzedek needs a board made up of people who are not themselves victims.

      By all means, they should have a sub committee if victim support and it could be chaired and run by Manny, but this incident will show them to be morally bankrupt.

      And Manny and his father both know VERY well that I have ZERO tolerance for the Menuvalim who are predators


  9. Isaac, I believe you are blinding yourself to the fact that the modern orthodox hierarchy feels duty bound to protect YU in a way that is immoral . They are doing the exact same thing they have criticized the Agudah for which is covering up for molesters so that the institutions are not harmed or besmirched. A long line up of modern orthodox leaders has taken your position that Rabbi Brander and other rabbis should not be criticized. I’m sorry to inform you that the walls of impunity will come crumbling down sooner than you think

    There is plenty of indication that Rabbi Brander was one of the rabbis aware of Andron’s proclivities and yet Andron was not only given refuge in Brander’s shul but allowed to continue working with children there. And Brander is now again an official of the very school that covered up for other child molesters. You are on really thin ice here in supporting such people.


      1. Isaac,

        YU’s Norman Lamm & Israel Miller “researched” very well how to bully victims into silence. Then Lamm’s cronies either turned a blind eye or helped protect the perpetrators. And today we have virtually the entire modern orthodox leadership (except for maybe an Avi Weiss lieutenant who is arguably not orthodox) shushing anyone who complains.

        At least the Charedi world has leaders not affiliated with Agudah who have written in halacha teshuvos the exact opposite position of the Agudah and have criticized the Agudah for not following the halacha in these matters.

        Your sparsely worded retorts that don’t answer the questions posed to you are not just simplistic but dishonest, and arrogantly so.


        1. I repeat. The advice I saw was from a world renowned professional who is fully across the issue with far more detail than the splash splash blogs.

          This has nothing whatsoever to do with others at YU and any civil case they may face.

          Some tend to conflate. It’s like saying if you attend Yeshivah Shule you support deeds X,Y,Z

          People need to be more sanguine and considered before they fire their bazookas


          1. Isaac,

            Who is this great professional luminary that has “cleared” Brander? Are you referring to Dr. David Pelcovitz? Pelcovitz has major ties to YU – hardly impartial – and has otherwise caved to protect the establishment in the case of Ohel’s cover ups. There is video proof on the internet of Pelcovitz standing idly by why Ohel’s top official advocates breaking mandated reporter laws on child abuse.

            part 1

            part 2

            The modern orthodox world will have reality forced on them if they do not themselves come to grips with the truth.

            The “bazookas” are ready and loaded.

            Get in line behind the Agudah and the Catholic Church.


  10. The ‘victim’ has become the ‘bully’. Manny’s comments on a concocted ‘assault’ are all over Facebook and Failed Messiah. What is next- The Age?? Without a shred of substantiated evidence. Scores of people want to comment on FB but are too scared because they will be ripped to shreds in the public eye.


    1. I wouldn’t call Manny a bully. I think he is affected understandably. His father is affected as well, but in a different way. For this reason, I think Manny should let Tzedek be run by professionals and that he should not be the face or mouth of that organisation. He can be effective as a support person encouraging victims to learn from his strength.

      As to Scott Rosenberg’s blog and similar toilet brushes, if you get into them you will pick up the excreta.

      I encourage MORE people to come and hear Rabbi Brander. My advice is from an impeccable source, a world renowned professional. On this basis, I will have nothing to do with the scuttlebutt and social media bullies


  11. Not entirely. Any time anyone comments with any comment that disagrees with Manny’s stand or that of his father, they are taken to task by no less than 30 people. And sometimes Manny blocks them too


    1. Sure. There is a vocal minority. Those who exceed their brief will eventually become an empty siren. Scott Rosenberg used to delete my comments a minute after I posted them because he couldn’t cope with logical disagreement.


    2. Big deal Esther. Stand up for what you believe and what you believe in. I’ve had an issue with Manny Waks for years and I with others have voiced our views.
      It has been claimed by some that he tends to overstep his role and appears to be a ‘self-promoter’ who is intent on bringing the entire Jewish Community in this country into disrepute.

      [Slightly edited]


  12. Isaac,

    The problem is with people like you that acknowledge Manny and Tzedek, publicly support them when it fits in with your agenda but get all upset when you are attacked by them.

    You are angry because this is a personal attack on you for your involvement in Rabbi Brander.

    About blocking the aisle, you have the choice to walk around.

    Regarding your comments about Leon that he is clumsy was simply not nice.


    1. My agenda?
      I will tell you my agenda. It is to enrich the unenfranchised by getting an expert in. That IDEA got support. Now, if you think for one minute that if the institution that was contacted was unable to supply a different person, then you are wrong! Furthermore based on what I saw there was no need to do so.

      So, my so called ‘agenda’ would have continued anyway.

      By the way, I’ve been asking Waks senior to not stand in the aisle for years and years. It was a friendly interchange not some anger. He, for reasons best known to himself likes to stand in the aisle and look back at the rest of the Shule as he is in the front row.

      As to the clumsy man, believe me, I often check where he is so I’m not in the road. It’s very narrow there and he is a big lad.


      1. You took the word “agenda” the wrong way.

        What was meant was:

        You are happy with what Manny does (and even publicly commend him) until he picks a fight with you.


        1. ????

          I’m not a Chosid of Rebbe Manny Waks

          I can agree with him and I am also free to disagree with him.

          Indeed, there are quite a few things I have disagreed with not the least if which is the rather inflammatory language and comparisons he has chosen to use in submissions and press releases, its just that I don’t always blog what I think ….

          I have many things I could blog about but then I’d get no work done.

          This one particularly riled me


  13. I think it is obvious from the number of comments here as compared to your other posts that people are distrustful (at the very least) of Tzedek’s motives and agenda. Unfortunately, a la Rosenberg, they do bully people who disagree with them and many people are reticent to say how they feel about Tzedek and Manny as they don’t want to be the “victim” of his sharp tongue.

    As to Manny’s father…I have heard the question many times as to where he was 20 years ago.


    1. I don’t want to turn this into a Waks enquiry.

      The issue is about proper process and fair decision making.

      It is foolish to think that in the current climate people don’t do their homework and are guided solely by unfettered social media with all its bad and good points.


  14. Menachem Waks has made an important some would say singular contribution to exposing the scurge of sexual abuse in the community.
    However it is now time for professionals to lead a Tzedek type organization.
    Victims are unable to make the dispassionate decisions necessary .


    1. I agree he has done the community a great service and believe the outcome should be services under organisations affiliated through roof bodies in the community and overseen by professionals with a passion for protecting children (women and whoever else) have suffered abuse. Most importantly we must ALL ensure that every organisation now knows and takes precautions because this is no longer the ‘quiet and misunderstood’ issue it used to be.

      It is an intolerable presence about which we all must be vigilant at all times


    2. Piffle and poppycock.

      “However it is now time for professionals to lead a Tzedek type organization.”
      Let them come, they are more than welcome. Trouble is NO-ONE will do it, they have had plenty of opportunity in the last 20 years, right up to today. That includes Rabbonim, In fact I am sure chareidi Rabbonim in Melbourne still hold by mesirah so will not do the job.

      “Victims are unable to make the dispassionate decisions necessary .”
      Even if the ‘professionals’ would get involved (never will happen), the victims are infinitely more motivated to get the job done properly.


      1. The piffle and poppycock will be revealed tomorrow and Menachem Waks will be shown to be completely unfit for his role. He has resorted to a set of untruths that he is well aware of as is his father, both of whom were in close contact. I’m too tired to respond to his new piffle and poppycock but will likely do so tomorrow.


  15. There was no altercation on Shabbos. Waks made the whole thing up. Completely unsubstantiated. He is looking to find further libelous incidents to use against the Yeshivah. The disturbing thing is that with this Manny,did as he did with Mr Brander- reported an unsubstantiated event that did not occur, posts it on FB and other sites,and his gullible supporters rush to support it. And a good man’s name and actions are besmirched all over the internet.


    1. I don’t know if there was or wasn’t but I was there, literally a few rows away and noticed nothing.

      I’m in Rabbi Brander’s Shiur as I write. It is packed. Manny has succeeded in making the trip better than people imagined. Furthermore he is happy to talk about any issue!


      1. A statement was issued by COSA that not only refuted the allegations against Rabbi Brander in relation to a particular incident-but also pointed out to Rabbi Brander’s overall reputation in the field of social activism. One would think in today’s environment that for COSA to take this stance , it must have had very solid foundations to do so . Indeed, one would have to conclude that it conducted serious due dilligence in both bringing out Rabbi Brander and issuing that statement becuase if it got it wrong , the reverberations would be enormous.

        This looks like a case of Manny getting it seriously wrong and we shall see if he is brave enough to say chatati.



    Manny Waks has never had any credibility in my eyes going back a good many years, long before this child abuse issue arose.

    Manny Waks is a self-promoter, a grandstander with a personality disorder. His reputation precedes him.

    He claims the ECAJ and the NSW Board of Deputies ignored him. I’d like to know why/how then did he manage to post all correspondence from them on the Tzedek Facebook page?

    (slightly edited)


    1. By the way, in case anyone is wondering who Emmanuel Newgant is, the forensic evidence suggests Mr Waks Senior, Tzephania (Let him deny it publicly and in front of a Beis Din of three). Someone sent me comments this “Emmanuel” posted on another website, and I must say that there is clearly something wrong with a psychology that attempts to paint someone (me) who actually outed the person who allegedly interfered with his son Manny, as some sort of compliant supporter. The mind boggles. There are a range of people I will keep in mind when I say Refoaynu in Shmoneh Esreh; the problem is that many of them hide behind pseudonyms because they are simply gutless. I guess I could say Ploni Ben Ploni but what good is that? The good thing is that Hanistaros Lashem Elokaynu. HE knows, and he knows very well.


      1. I have never tried to work out who anonymous commenters are on blogs, but instead try to analyse what they are saying. If it sounds like rubbish or contains vitriole or loshon hora I stop, roll my eyes and move on to the next comment.

        However, IF Emanuel Newgant (one ‘m’ – you can google his comments) is ZW then I am a bit disappointed as some of Emanuel’s comments are a bit over the top and not very objective (putting it mildly), and this would take away from ZW’s case of victimisation and also taint the good efforts of Manny Waks, as they have testifed together a couple of times. Emanuel should politely keep to the facts, stay objective and let the ‘saga’ unfold, as it will, by itself, anyway.

        PS I am not sure if getting shoved a little, which may have been an accident, is newsworthy, let alone going to the police about and making a big fuss on FM.
        PSS There a very few ‘secrets’ these days and commenters should keep in mind that all computers have IP addresses.


    1. If this proved to be the case, it will cast a serious palour over the intentions of those who pursue “Tzedek” as they will have re-interpreted this word into “Revenge at all costs”.
      Time will tell whether they tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or engage in unproven innuendo and besmirching as a means towards an ignominious end.


  17. The issue is not whether Tzedek should or should not be in the business of besmirching honorable people. The issue is whether a rabbi who has serious allegations hovering over his head should be invited to speak in Melbourne. All the argument about the greatness of his capabilities and his scholarly stature are irrelevant. We either make a stand and denounce people who have failed in exercising their moral responsibility or we don’t. If we don’t, at least be up-front about it and avoid hiding behind grand excuses. Very basic Google search is required in order to unearth a number of serious allegations to which, to-date, no credible answer had been given. I, for one, would not want to have anything to do with this man until he clarify and justify his behavior on this matter.


    1. Tzedek should do the proper research and not rely on Scott or that other website which actually now knows there is absolutely no issue but has been pressured not to retract!

      More importantly, Tzedek should be run by people who are NOT SEEN to have an axe to grind.

      It does the organisation no good whatsoever when half the community no longer take its CEO seriously and the reasons have NOTHING to do with the ‘establishment’ or those who are sympathisers of some institution that has been accused. My admittedly anecdotal experience is that the average Joe and Mary want the ROLE of Tzedek to continue but they would like to see it as part of a community based organisation such as the Taskforce or under the umbrella of the JCCV or similar. It’s no good just being anti establishment especially when the vitriol, hyperbole and accusations are beyond the pale on many occasions


      1. Dr. Balbin,

        If the community based organizations in various places had done their job in the first place, there would not be a need for Tzedek or similar organizations. There would be much less Chillul Hashem, and Scott Rosenberg would not have anything to post on his blog.

        Dorron Katzin
        Chicago, IL, USA


        1. That’s not sensible. Everyone knows that there is a new awareness and with that much more than Tzedek, schools, Shules and organisations have professional training to recognise and try to prevent these cataclysmic events. We will never get rid if it, sure. And, Tzedek pioneered the outing of some perpetrators and encouragement of victims etc
          A community though needs to build on that. We don’t really want the pointing of fingers at the CEO and his father. There is much more than the eye sees and hence my call for a professional and community wide and accepted approach at this time, lest we damage the greater issue at stake here.


          1. Dr. Balbin,

            What you cite is welcome, IF there is the proper follow through. But what you cite is all recent. I was referring to the years of “sweeping under the carpet”. Not just in Australia, but in the US, Israel, and elsewhere.

            Even to this day, the Orthodox Union has not fully dealt with the Lanner affair. I recently met with survivors who still fell the wounds.

            Dorron Katzin


            1. On the Lanner affair I heard the humbling and completely ‘I was wrong’ from Rabonim in a public forum

              Just to cite one example: I saw that the Taskforce has brought out the WORLD renowned expert Dr David Pelcowitz. Not for a schmaltz tour. I saw the schedule of professional development organised for one School and it was incredibly vast and intense. Having heard him before, I wish I was a teacher just so I could attend!

              Remember, when there was Trauma from the Tsunami, Obama sent Pelciwitz to advise and help out.

              I think the world (outside of lunatic insular charedi types) has changed indelibly.

              It too Germaine Greer to burn her bra in order to attract attention to the cause of discrimination against women. Unfortunately it has taken some SHOCKING occurrences to shake up the Australian community. It’s happened. Germaine isn’t relevant now … people see her as a self promoting narcissist even though her original intentions were honorouble.

              Thanks for your respectful comments!!!


      2. I think we need to slow down here. I am not interested in what Tzedek did or did not do. I am interested in the topic they raised and not how they raised it. We can waste our time debating the merits of that the did and why they did it, etc. but this will not address the real issue. The real issue, as I outlined in my original comment is as follows: Does a rabbi who has serious allegations hovering over his head should be invited to speak in Melbourne. As indicated in my comment, the allegations are real, and have received coverage in other media while no adequate response has been forthcoming to address them. On that ground I question the rationale of bringing him to Australia to speak.


        1. There is no credible evidence suggesting this Rabbi tolerates abusers and the like. Quite the contrary, the evidence we saw and which was looked at by communal leaders who are also leading lawyers, suggests that we actually invited a champion of morality and decency. You can be assured that if that wouldn’t have been the case, the visit would not have materialised.


        2. Are the allegations you refer to the ones described here? Tzedek (Manny Wax?) describes this as “hushing up serious sexual abuse allegations”, but the report that his website links to doesn’t actually say that he did anything of the sort. The allegations seem to amount to this:
          1) Rabbi Brander was the rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue (BRS) from 1991 – 2005.
          2) One of his congregants was Richard Andron, who allegedly molested boys at Yeshiva University in the “1970s and 1980s”.
          3) Two people allegedly contacted Rabbi Brander to tell him about Richard Andron’s behaviour in YU, but he apparently took no action.
          4) It is not alleged that Richard Andron subsequently abused anyone in Boca Raton or elsewhere.

          This is a remarkably thin scandal, unless there’s something I’m missing.


          1. Joe, we’re not discussing a scandal but rather an attitude by a community leader to serious allegations of a sexual nature that could have an impact on children within their community. Is it not your expectation that upon receiving an information suggesting that a member of the community is a pedophile, that the person receiving this information (especially someone in a leadership position) will take an immediate action – some action – rather than ignore the topic altogether? Would you then call the incident a ‘remarkably thin scandal’ or would you opt to use a more appropriate term like ‘abdication of responsibilities’?


            1. Indeed, and the attitude is NOTHING like what was implied in those blogs. This was determined beforehand, and anyone who attended his talks and workshops came away with ‘I wish WE had Rabbis like this’

              Tzedek had the gall to imply that *I* am tolerant or less active about such things , but they have ZERO credibility because not only do I know that they are very very aware it’s not true, Tzedek ironically can’t bring themselves to say sorry …

              They lost me completely when their CEO came out with that drivel


            2. Of course we’re discussing (whether or not there is) a scandal. That’s what the word means! You claim that there are “serious allegations hovering over [Rabbi Brander’s] head”, allegations that make him an unfit guest lecturer. Apparently this allegation (not allegationss) is no more than a sentiment that whatever Rabbi Brander did was insufficient. Not insufficient in the sense that there were actual bad consequences, but insufficient to quell some people’s outrage ten or twenty years later.

              Seriously, is that a reason to say that someone should be treated with contempt? And how could you possibly describe this as “serious allegations hovering over his head”? That’s nothing more than an ungrounded slur. You should be ashamed of yourself!


  18. You said “My admittedly anecdotal experience is that the average Joe and Mary want the ROLE of Tzedek to continue but they would like to see it as part of a community based organisation such as the Taskforce or under the umbrella of the JCCV or similar”

    Would you say JCCV has lost some credibility by keeping a CEO who is married to someone who is charged with the very offences you are talking about? How impartial would the JCCV have been? The best people to pursue molestation are the victims themselves not people on a wage who may want to choose an easy path whilst making the least waves.

    You said “That’s not sensible. Everyone knows that there is a new awareness and with that much more than Tzedek, schools, Shules and organisations have professional training to recognise and try to prevent these cataclysmic events.”

    I think everyone agrees that everyone wants to prevent this. What is contentious and what Tzedek is all about, and what you don’t mention, is that there are many Rabbonim who still hold by mesirah and will do everything they can to cover up these crimes and send the offenders somewhere else, when they should clearly be in jail where they cannot reoffend.


    1. The JCCV and the CEO saga was an episode but you can’t simply sack people on that basis!

      There will always be Rabonim with divergent views on a range of matters. It’s much much worse in Israel, for example. The key is that the organisation of Rabbis is firmly against it. Furthermore, we all know that ANY school isn’t going to behave like they did 20-30 years ago.


      1. How about Adass Yisroel Melbourne? Wasn’t 20 years ago. I don’t know why you are protecting Rabbonim and schools. Yes, and you are going to say no one came forward to make a complaint. And then I say that nevertheless, instead of doing a Kramer on her, Adass should have called the police, they would have investigated the best they could, and then Adass is totally yotza and squeaky clean. If Leifer reoffends, whose fault will it be?

        “The JCCV and the CEO saga was an episode but you can’t simply sack people on that basis!” – was an episode and is that an excuse or reason or what?? You don’t have to sack people but in the real world people can be stood down temporarily due to conflict of interest. Not rocket science.

        “There will always be Rabonim with divergent views on a range of matters.” What nonsense are you talking Isaac?? Is this a reason or excuse or what?? All I am talking about is mesirah and the need to go to the police immediately. Are you condoning those Rabbonim who unequivocally say not to go to the police?? All Rabbonim must hold by calling the police. Surely I don’t have to prove that point to you??

        40 suicides from two priests and counting!!


        1. Edith,
          You KNOW my views on Mesira, Rabbis, Abuse etc
          They are on my blog.
          You KNOW that I am intolerant of these types of things and I’ve even blogged about Adass and Laufer (see here for one example)
          Notwithstanding that, and the horrible article I saw in the AJN about yet another abuse case, this time involving Macabbi, I do sense a sea change in views across the community. I acknowledge that the right wing will take longer, too long, to come to it, but the momentum is definitely there. The visit of Professor Pelcowitz to Melbourne is very welcome, but I don’t think you will ever ever see “Tzedek” congratulate the Taskforce, or even Yeshivah for the incredibly comprehensive program he will be undertaking.
          We’ve got to take the politics out of Tzedek. It’s way too adversarial in terms of the rest of the community, and I would say that it should maintain its rage against perpetrators and support victims, but in terms of organisations restructuring themselves to deal with this scourge, that is something that should be from a roof body or an organisation that is not SEEN TO BE brandishing a revenge axe.

          In the end, you and I actually agree on 99% of the issues, but I think it’s time for the MISSION of Tzedek to be taken up by a roof body organisation that everyone should be answerable to. That’s my 2c.

          By the way, you CANNOT sack people on the basis of what you wrote. Even the conflict of interest thing isn’t an issue. One could excuse themselves from anything to do with that issue and still function. The courts would have a field day if you tried to sack someone because she married a then charged (not yet guilty) abuser. For all I know, she thinks he is innocent. That’s her right, of course. Best we don’t talk about that particular case though as it’s before the courts and there is a suppression order.

          As to Rabonim, please don’t take my words out of context. I’m on the record. Look up my post about the RCA position versus Aguda.


  19. PS If you think all Rabbonim are now “twenty years later” on the same page, have a look at Scott’s blog (admittedly half the comments are putrid). The latest heading is “Leading Zionist Orthodox Rabbi Asks Convicted Sex Abuser To Continue Teaching In Yeshiva” and if you read it, it says his current students are the same age as the ones he was convicted of molesting”. This is an example of what Manny is trying to highlight and stop.


    1. Manny can’t stop that! Nobody can!
      What would be more interesting is to find out why Rav Druckman took this view. Rav Druckman is no fool and will have a cheshbon

      … and I knew this without going to Scott’s toilet bowl. I had read it before. I was thinking I’d need to ask someone to go to speak with him directly


  20. Speaking from an American perspective, I would respectfully suggest that the US Jewish community – the Modern Orthodox World, the Chareidi world, and perhaps the other branches and less affiliated as well – has not fully come to terms with the legacy of abuse and cover up. Far from it.

    Let’s take the Lanner case. Baruch Lanner, arguably the most notorious abuser in Modern Orthodox history. When he remarried, he had no less than Rabbi Herschel Schachter serve as one of his Eidei Kidduehin. And Lanner has been hosted on multiple occasions ober the last three years as the public guest at the Shul and home of a rabbi in Teaneck, NJ who happens to be the Principal of YU’s high school.

    Yeshiva University is at a crossroads. It has not denied the accusations and allegations, yet to date has not made a public statement of gesture towards the victims, save Rabbi Lamm’s resignation/ retirement letter. Hence, it is perfectly legitimate to question the wisdom of hosting a representative of YU’s administration at this time.

    Throw in unanswered questions about what Rabbi Brander did and did not know about a prominent congregant in his Shul in Boca, and the granting of that congregant access to children, and one is left with serious concerns about judgment and wisdom.

    The only way that we are going to defeat the scourge of sexual abuse in our institutions in Australia, in the US, in the UK, in Israel, and elsewhere is through wholesale cultural change. That will take a generation. And it will take a shift in mindset that recognizes not only abusers, but the very human fallibility of the individuals – including rabbis – who have the power to stop abuse and show sensitivity to the victims, present and past.

    I write these words while on vacation in Israel, where HaRav Druckman wants to continue to give Motti Elon the opportunity to teach.

    What will it take for our rabbinic leadership on the large scale to say “enough is enough” and show Rachmunus for the victims rather than for the perpetrators?

    And so… What should the rest of us do? Stand by quietly? Or speak out?

    It is not fun acknowledging the scourge of sexual abuse in out community. But it is a sad reality we cannot shy away from. And it will take a generation…


    1. David,
      Thanks for your thoughts. I’m not sure what R’ Hershel Schachter has to do with this simply because he was an Eid at Lanner’s marriage! This type of name dropping can be harmful because it makes people think that he was associated with him. In fact, Lanner was almost appointed Head Master of Yavneh College in Melbourne, and I remember hearing him speak. It was easy to not even remotely suspect that he was to become what he did. Nobody has said that the problems are “over” but I do believe that as you move to the left, from the right edge of Judaism, there is most definitely a palpable appreciation of the enormity of this problem and the importance of doing all that one can to ensure that kids are safe wherever they may be.

      The issue of apologies unfortunately is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, when they are stated (as was done publicly in the Lanner case by Dayonim) nobody quite “believes” the apologiser is sincere “enough”. They will always be tarred as the person who didn’t see it coming, or recognise the facts on the ground. One can only be human and admit their error. On the other hand, there is the enormous legal quagmire that may occur as a result of utterances. Australians didn’t want to say “sorry” to the Aborigines because that may imply a multi-million dollar law suit. I’m not taking sides here, but employees, especially, are often forced to follow the advice of an organisations legal team (and/or their insurers legal team).

      Putting that aside, there will always be people who don’t deal with someone who has molested, ever again. That is their right. I do not understand why, for example, Rav Druckman apparently invited Rabbi Elon to give a shiur. It runs against my grain, and I can confidently claim, that Rabbi Brander, for example, would never do that! We have plenty of examples where Rabbi Brander has steadfastly stood his moral ground.

      Someone please find out Rav Druckman’s reasoning? I certainly don’t understand it.


  21. To Shimshon Marom and David Cheifetz – Do you think that Isaac, who is an extremely clever chap, is not understanding what both of you and I are saying?


    1. Edith, thanks for the compliment, but it’s certainly possible I haven’t fully understood what someone has said. I have to admit to reading comments and responding, rather quickly. Shimshon and David have made useful contributions to the debate, but I’d put my money on Rabbi Brander (so to speak) based on what I saw and heard and the investigation that was undertaken.


      1. Isaac, I, and probably most other people, don’t fully know all the details of the Rabbi Brander story, so I am not going there at all. What we are having apoplexy about is the black and white parts such as
        1. That everyone should understand going to the police is not mesirah
        2. Molestation should not be covered up because
        a. the mosod doesn’t want to admit it happened and subsequently get sued
        b. the reputation of the mosod where it happened will get tarnished
        c. the chillul Hashem it would cause
        3. As molesters are repeat offenders they need to go to jail
        a. to avoid reoffending
        b. as a punishment to discourage other potential offenders
        c. to show victims that molesting is as bad as rape and murder and they can feel vindicated and have closure etc
        4. Victims and their families who go to the police should be supported not shunned and ostracized as is happening overseas and it is the supporters of the molesters who should be shunned.

        Sorry if I left anything out.

        That’s it from me for this topic.


        1. We aren’t in disagreement, but note carefully: despite my public stance on such issues, which is well known by Waks Junior and Senior, the fact that they attempted to paint me as some ultra orthodox obstructionist champion of perverts or apologist is beneath contempt. Ditto with their attack on the COSV who advisedly got legal advice.

          That the CEO of Tzedek still allows such verifiable lies to populate his website, indicates how much political sheker has invaded his organization and insatiable need to engage in hyperbole.

          If it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable. You can bet I wasn’t on Cyprys’s wedding list, and his father is rather monosyllabic if he is forced to interact with me at Shule.

          I won’t bore you with my last run-in with the accused. Just ask Bram Presser who was a witness


    2. Edith, I certainly don’t feel that my comments have been attended to, despite making a number of attempts at focusing the question. I keep on getting responses that have no way of being verifiable, except for Isaac’s own testimony and, given the gravity of the allegations, I cannot accept that as a sufficient justification for changing my mind. the bigger issue from my perspective is that, just like what we’ve seen occurring in Israel over the past few days with the Rav Elon, rabbis are able to ‘get away with murder’, so to speak, just because of the perception that they are great scholars and excellent public speakers. This type of arguments does not wash with me. You either provide me with a logical, rational and verifiable explanation or concede that your argument is weak.


      1. Shimshon, I think you might be more careful. ‘Gravity of the allegations’

        In one phrase you’ve managed to take the blog post which you DO believe and make it sound like the Rabbi actually abused. That is simply an invention of your prose.

        You are of course entitled to live with Scott or Yerachmiels blogs and take them as gospel.


          1. I understand fully. I hope you also understand why I don’t have license to go into details. If you look at my blig posts and comments you will see I am not ‘Shy’. Can I make a suggestion? Please go to one of Prof Pelcowitz’s talks (he is a world renowned authority) and chat with him after his talk?


  22. Joe in Australia – turning your argument into a personal attack on me does not strengthen your position. And in any case you (or Isaac) still have not answered my fundamental question, as clearly outlined before:

    “Is it not your expectation that upon receiving an information suggesting that a member of the community is a pedophile, that the person receiving this information (especially someone in a leadership position) will take an immediate action – some action – rather than ignore the topic altogether? Would you then call the incident a ‘remarkably thin scandal’ or would you opt to use a more appropriate term like ‘abdication of responsibilities’?”


    1. But Rabbi Brander did take action! Or at least, we have no reason to think that he didn’t. But the action that he may have taken was obviously successful, if any success was needed. But he was there, he was the rabbi, he must have done something, and who is to say that it wasn’t the determining factor?

      My apologies if this sounds vague: you see, since neither you nor I really know anything about Rabbi Brander, the Boca Raton Synagogue, his tenure, or the congregant concerned, anything I say is just a wild guess based on the fact that (as far as I know) there were no cases of molestation during his tenure.


      1. I notice that Tzedek seem to have nothing to say about the comprehensive program being undertaken across the board especially at YBR by the Taskforce via the excellent Dr Pelcowitz? Why? That’s FACT.

        Nor did the AJN quite Tzedek in respect of the Maccabi abuse case?

        Does abuse only take place at YBR for Tzedek? Is it impossible for Tzedek to see progress and congratulate?


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