Thursday, May 25, 2006
Black Hat Meets Blog The Internet Is Revolutionizing Closed Orthodox Communities and Exposing Long-Hidden Sexual Abuse Allegations — and Not Everyone Is Happy about It
Black Hat Meets Blog The Internet Is Revolutionizing Closed Orthodox Communities and Exposing Long-Hidden Sexual Abuse Allegations — and Not Everyone Is Happy about It
By Jennifer Friedlin
New York Jewish Week - May 25, 2006
Is computer technology shifting the balance of power in Brooklyn's insular, fervently Orthodox community?
In the 1980s, two prominent Flatbush rabbis allegedly closed the door on a burgeoning sexual abuse scandal by preventing a rabbinical court proceeding from taking place. Now, two decades later, an Internet blog has reinvigorated the allegations, resulting in two multimillion-dollar lawsuits against a rabbi, a yeshiva and a summer camp for boys.
"Without the Internet, this story never would have been brought to light," said Un-Orthodox Jew, the anonymous blogger who last year began posting angry diatribes about the alleged abuse and cover-up on www.theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com.
On the blog, Un-Orthodox Jew, who also goes by UOJ and claims to have deep ties in the "black hat" world, stated that Rabbi Yehuda Kolko sexually abused a number of male students at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah in Flatbush and at Camp Agudah in Ferndale, N.Y., while Rabbi Lipa Margulies, the head of the school, allegedly helped to protect him at the expense of the victims. All told, three former students of Rabbi Kolko allege abuse against him in the two lawsuits.
While the blog has generated heaps of scorn among readers — some people have said UOJ's Web posts were less acceptable than the alleged acts they were revealing — the Web site has also elicited support as well as a response from at least one alleged victim.
David Framowitz, a 48-year-old former student who now lives in Israel with his family, says he first came across the blog while searching for Rabbi Kolko's name on the Internet. His story was chronicled in a May 22 New York Magazine story.
"I was always typing in Kolko's name looking to see if anyone else was molested," he told The Jewish Week in a telephone interview last week. "Then one day, I Googled Kolko and all of a sudden it was there."
Framowitz posted his story to the UOJ blog, claiming that Kolko repeatedly molested him 36 years ago while he was a seventh and eighth grade student at Torah Temimah and during two summers at Camp Agudah. He said he told his parents, but they did not believe him. Now, he wrote, he was coming out because he felt the time had come to tear down "the wall of silence."
In response to the posts, UOJ put Framowitz in touch with Jeffrey Herman, a Miami-based lawyer who has litigated sex abuse cases against the Catholic Church. Herman took the case. He is also representing two other plaintiffs who go by John Doe 2 and John Doe 3 in the complaints. The complaints, filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, all name Rabbi Kolko and Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah as defendants, while the complaint on behalf of Framowitz and John Doe 2 also names Camp Agudah.
Although Rabbi Margulies is not a defendant in the case, the complaint states that Rabbi Margulies threatened to expel from the school and ostracize from the community any child who spoke of the abuse. Herman said that Margulies also enlisted Rabbi Pinchus Scheinberg to help quell the fire by telling victims that sexual abuse had not taken place because there was no penetration. After allegedly thwarting two beit dins, Rabbi Margulies told anyone who asked that Kolko had been exonerated, according to last week's New York Magazine expose. No one ever went to the authorities.
Avi Moskowitz, a lawyer representing Torah Temimah, told The Jewish Week that the yeshiva "emphatically denies the allegations" and has put Kolko on administrative leave.
Rabbi David Zwiebel, a representative of Agudath Israel of America, the owner of the camp, said that officials in his organization had not heard of any allegations against Rabbi Kolko, who apparently left the camp's employ of his own accord in the mid-1970s.
"There is nobody currently in the administration who has any recollection from that time," Zwiebel said.
Rabbi Kolko and Rabbi Margulies declined to comment, while Scheinberg, who is 93 and lives in Israel, could not be reached.
While the statute of limitations has expired for a criminal investigation or a civil lawsuit, Herman said he believes that because of the alleged cover-up the plaintiffs would have the right to pursue the civil action.
Herman also noted that a 22-year-old has come forward with allegations against Rabbi Kolko, but he declined to provide details. If that case moves forward, it could fall within the statute of limitations for a criminal investigation, according to Herman.
Besides blogging, UOJ — who said he will not reveal his identity because it would deflect attention from his cause — said he tried several other avenues to bring the allegations to light, from writing letters to Jewish and secular newspapers to sending a letter about Rabbis Kolko and Margulies to thousands of religious families throughout Brooklyn. But, he said, no one wanted to listen.
"I have submitted letters to the editor and as long as they were non-controversial they were accepted. But once I started snooping around about issues no one was dealing with, my letters were not published," said UOJ, who describes himself as somewhere between 30 and 40 years of age, observant and married with children. He also says that he comes from a prominent Orthodox family that made a fortune in real estate.
Working as an Internet-based Robin Hood, UOJ said his sole interest in starting his blog was to rattle the cocoon of Orthodoxy, which, he claims, has enabled those in power to exploit their followers.
Experts who advocate on behalf of sex abuse victims have applauded UOJ's efforts. They say that because many Orthodox communities prohibit people from going to secular authorities with allegations of abuse and that abusers often go unpunished, the Internet provides one of the only vehicles religious people have for accessing support.
"In the Orthodox world people don't watch TV, they don't listen to the radios, they don't read the papers but everyone seems to be sneaking onto the Internet," said Vicki Polin, executive director of the Awareness Center, a Baltimore-based advocacy group for victims of sexual assault.
Yet others worry about the Internets potential for abuse.
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the dean of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future, said he thought that recent Internet chatter is "a reflection of the fact that victims have not felt heard on this issue." Nevertheless, he expressed concern about the harm a vengeful or mistaken blogger could inflict on an innocent person.
"Not everything on a Web site can be treated as truth," Brander said.
Whether or not the Internet proves helpful or hurtful or a bit of both, most community observers say the Web has forever changed the way Orthodox individuals interact with the world.
"The Internet poses an incredibly serious threat to the status quo in these communities — as it does to any society that controls information and suppresses public dissent," said Hella Winston, a sociologist and author of "Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels."
"The fact that David Framowitz was able to connect with UOJ from half a world away, in only a few seconds, is nothing short of revolutionary," she said.
In the wake of the lawsuits and the New York magazine article, UOJ said he has received more than 400,000 hits to his site. Meanwhile, the alleged abuse has also become a hot topic on other Jewish blogs.
On the Chaptzem blog (http://chaptzem.blogspot.com/), which describes itself as "the one and only heimishe news center," the host wrote:
"The whole Kolko-Margulies story has brought to light some very important questions regarding child abuse. How do we as a community deal with allegations of abuse? How do we decide if they are founded or fabricated? … Also, even if the allegations are founded how do we go about stopping it? How far do we go?"
According to UOJ, such questions have been a long time coming.
Posted by The Awareness Center, Inc. at 5/25/2006 09:01:00 PM
|Rabbi Mark Dratch -|
Jewish Week - May 25, 2006
July, 2012 -- Rabbi Mark Dratch is the current Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)
Free-wheeling blogs” unrestricted news, opinion, and discussion Web sites that break, make and spin the latest on any number of topics” have been proliferating for years. Now there are a number of Jewish sites that scrutinize everything from Israeli politics to shul gossip.
They are the new "Bubbie Hotline."
Several of them have recently brought to light a number of rabbinic abuse cases and have succeeded in generating community interest and outrage, forcing a few rabbis from their positions, and casting aspersions on the characters of others.
To some, these sites are cesspools of unfettered, unaccountable tripe and vilifying slander that malign individuals and besmirch the community. To others, they are the Hyde Parks of protest and free speech, a place where victims can finally speak without fear of counter attack, and interested parties can press for justice by doing end-runs around denial and cover-up.
So are these blogs kosher” are they the right place for discriminating Jews to "chew the fat?"
There are serious issues to contemplate. Consider lashon hara, defined as reckless and harmful speech. The Torah prohibits it. Morally sensitive people are appalled by it. And the blogs seem to be full of it. Because there is no accountability, especially from those who leave anonymous comments on the threads of others' sites, anybody can say anything about anyone. And sometimes they do. With the peck of a few letters on a keyboard, information is posted that anyone with a computer and Internet access can read, and lives and reputations can be destroyed. All of this with no due process or accountability and with no real chance of rebuttal. On some blogs you can find "dirt" that even some of the less reputable newspapers wouldn't publish. And consider Chillul Hashem, the concern of scandal and communal disrepute. What will others say about the Jews and the Jewish community?
These concerns are serious ones and cannot be easily dismissed or pushed aside. They deal with fundamental precepts of Jewish law and the very bases of moral decency.
But denial and cover-up and dismissal of complaints and victimization of vulnerable children and adults are also serious and cannot be easily dismissed or pushed aside. Too many innocents have felt unheard, ignored, rejected, and sacrificed on the altar of public and private reputations. They have been silenced in order to protect the image of a community whose perfection exists only in their imaginations.
Too many times Jewish law and Jewish values are misapplied, misinterpreted and misappropriated in order to achieve these reprehensible ends.
There are reasons that victims, along with their supporters and advocates, have turned to the blogs, Web sites, newspapers and magazines. And that's because too many times they first turned to rabbis and Jewish institutional leaders to complain about the abuse and violation they suffered” and they were abused again.
Can these blogs be more responsible? Yes, and they need to exercise much greater care in upholding standards of decency, fairness and justice because they, too, can be responsible for harming innocents. And Web surfers should not necessarily believe what they read on them. In fact, they should take much of what they see on these sites with less than a grain of salt.
But the blogs are here and, for now, supply a valuable service. In a community that was responsive and accountable the excesses on the blogs would be unnecessary. At the moment, there are those who feel that they have no other choice. Innocents” victims and potential victims of abuse and the values and reputation of a compassionate and valuable community” are being hurt by a community that could and should do better.
All is not bad in our community, not by a long stretch. In the past decade scores of social service programs have been started that support and advocate for victims of abuse. The Rabbinical Council of America passed new guidelines for dealing with allegations against its members and has stood strong against harsh and unfair criticism. Some rabbinical schools are focusing a bit on issues of abuse and rabbinic boundaries. And JSafe was established to create a mechanism for accountability and responsibility and to provide education and support for victims, rabbis and institutions. But there is still too much denial and obfuscation
The rabbinic bon mot, "All Jews are responsible one for another," is more than just a nice slogan; it is a religious obligation. Judaism holds all of its adherents” clergy and laity without distinction” accountable for the spiritual and physical well-being of others. This is most certainly true when it comes to our children. They depend on us to care for them, to protect them and to nurture them. Not only do we have an obligation to them as humans deserving safe and secure lives, but as Jews in whose hands lay the destiny of our people. Safety? Security? We owe our people and future no less. We owe each and every son and daughter no less”and much, much more. n
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The Awareness Center is dedicated to the memory of
Elisheva Chana Buxbaum
Rape Victim Advocate
Rape Victim Advocate
July 8th 1959 - May 22 2006
(Tammuz 2, 5719 - Iyar 24 5766)
There are people you will meet in your life with whom will have an impact on your soul and influence you in ways that you cannot even begin to imagine. For me Elisheva Buxbaum was one of those individuals.
Elisheva was one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. Her quietness could be quite deafening. All one needed to do was to listen closely and you'd start to learn what was really going on in some orthodox communities in Jerusalem and many other locations throughout Israel.
I met Elisheva Buxbaum while I was living in Jerusalem. I had known her brother Rabbi Benyamin Buxbaum online for several months prior to my move to Israel. At the time I was running a media watch group called "CNN-WATCH." During our many e-mail exchanges, Benyamin learned of my background working with sexual trauma and of my long time dreams of creating an international organization to address sexual abuse in Jewish communities. Because of the work I wanted to be doing and because of his sisters interests Benyamin introduced me to his younger sister Elisheva, who was an extremely soft spoken rape victim advocate.
Elisheva Buxbaum had no formal education or training in the field, yet did what she could to connect survivors in Jerusalem with appropriate resources.
Elisheva's influence really motivated me to create The Awareness Center. It saddens me a great deal to know that Elisheva lost her battle with cancer on May 22, 2006.
As her brother Benyamin stated "Eliesheva was a selfless friend of many and strong in her faith in Hashem."
The Awareness Center, Inc.
In Memory of A Dear Friend
Elisheva Buxbaum - Rape Victim Advocate
October 10, 2007
Last year I sent out a message letting you know about the passing of a dear friend. Elisheva Buxbaum spent most of her adult life advocating for survivors of sex crimes. I recently received the following e-mail and wanted to share it with you (see below).
If anyone else has stories they would like to share about Elisheva, please forward them to Vicki Polin. I would like to post them on her site and also share them with her family.
Sara Yocheved Rigler, author of "Holy Woman," recently published a book called "Lights from Jerusalem." In it, she has a chapter about Elisheva Buxbaum.
Here are a few excerpts:
Here are a few excerpts:
"...The most moving evidence of hashgachah pratis attached to Holy Woman involved the very person who first introduced me to Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer. In the summer of 1985, I had been in Israel barely a month. Hearing that I was a writer, someone who was trying to put together a book called A Spiritual Guide to Eretz Yisrael (which was never published) asked me to write a chapter on "Holy Women."
I was at a loss as to how to track down such women when a stranger told me, "You have to call Elisheva Buxbaum. She knows everyone worth knowing." The person gave me Elisheva's phone number, and I called her. She told me that I must meet Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer, who lived in a moshav named Kfar Gidon, north of Afula.... I never met Elisheva nor spoke to her again. I turned the key that she had given me and walked through the portal into the aura of the holy tzaddekes Chaya Sara Kramer, and my life was forever changed. But by the time I realized how much I owed Elisheva, I had lost the scrap of paper with her phone number..."
...I started doing research. Often, at the end of an interview, the interviewee would ask me, "How did you meet Rebbetzin Kramer?"
I would answer lamely, 'Someone named Elisheva told me about her.' By Chanukah 2005 the book was almost completed... [At a Melaveh Malkah]...I was relieved to spot my old friend Nechama Bergman... [After describing the book]...Nechama answered, Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer!
Elisheva and I used to go visit her all the time." I was stunned. 'Y-y-you know Elisheva?' I finally managed to stutter.
'Of course, she's one of my best friends. She and I used to go up to Kfar Gidon and visit the Kramers all the time.' [After learning that Elisheva was very sick]...The next morning I called. Elisheva remembered me...
We arranged that I would visit the next day...
...I had known friends in the final stages of cancer, but I was totally unprepared for the sight that greeted me in Elisheva's room. The sheet covering her body barely rose from the mattress. Her shoulder and neck were skeletally thin, and the skin of her face was taut lik photos of concentration camp survivors. Yet, set into that emaciated face was a broad, radiant smile. As we talked, the smile never waned, except when it was replaced by a jubilant laugh.
Gazing at Elisheva, my cognitive dissonance was total. There was almost no body left except for that broad smile. I felt like I was conversing with a soul almost shorn of its body...
After an hour I left, promising to return again with the manuscript of the book that owed its existence to Elisheva...
[After discovering a photo of Elisheva when she was healthy]
... I took the picture, copied it, framed it, and brought it as a gift to Elisheva, with the manuscript. She was thrilled to receive it...
A month later, she finished reading the manuscript. In a faint voice she told me, "I love it."...A few weeks later Elisheva Chana bas Avraham died.
...knowing that she had been the catalyst for a book that would exert a profound effect on thousands of readers
... I have often felt that, since Rebbetzin Chaya Sara was childless, everyone who reads Holy Woman and is inspired to grow becomes the Rebbetzin's spiritual child. Elisheva also died childless. The readers of Holy Woman are no less her spiritual children."
Monday, May 22, 2006
Friday, May 19, 2006
New JBBL Head
By Phil Jacobs
Baltimore Jewish Times - May 19, 2006
"I'm there for everybody." — Dr. Aviva Weisbord
Dr. Aviva Weisbord has been there for everybody for almost 25 years, working with her patients in her psychology practice.
The truth is, Dr. Weisbord, the wife of Ner Israel Rabbinical College's Rabbi Beryl Weisbord and daughter of the late rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov S. Weinberg, and community pillar Rebbetzin Hannah Weinberg, has never not been there for this community.
But now that status is going to take a huge, perhaps more public, change.
As of June 1, Dr. Weisbord, who is known for her warm, friendly smile, will start as the new head of the Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister League (JBBL) and its Jewish Addiction Services program. JBBL is a constituent agency of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
Dr. Weisbord succeeds Lou Jacobs, who left the agency last March after 18 years of leading the JBBL to start a private practice in psychotherapy for adolescents, adults and couples.
A Pikesville resident, Dr. Weisbord has for seven years served on the JBBL board, and for four years served as an officer. She was actually on the search committee to find a replacement for Mr. Jacobs. She becomes the first Orthodox woman in recent memory to head an Associated constituent agency.
Dr. Weisbord first became connected to the league when Mr. Jacobs asked her some 10 years ago to help the agency with staff development.
"I didn't know what I was getting into," she said with a smile. "I didn't know I'd fall in love with this agency."
Dr. Weisbord said that the mission of the league is an exact mirror of how Jews are supposed to take care of and look out for one another.
"This is how we're supposed to live," she said. "This is the ultimate chesed organization.
"My immediate goal," Dr. Weisbord said, "is to get the community more familiar with what we do. A lot of people will ask me what the league does. I think we have to get the word out more specifically. The Associated is right there with us and for us to help get that message out there."
It's a cool, rainy spring May day. Dr. Weisbord is interviewed at an outdoor table at the Festival at Woodholme. Pedestrians run from their cars to avoid the rain. Some know her and smile, others wave.
Dr. Weisbord will be transitioning out of psychology practice, keeping on a small number of clients while moving into her new position. That job will still involve the management of the well-received JBBL programs.
"For every mentor we get started, we need two more," she said of the community need for the league. "And there are still many who don't know to call on us."
Dr. Weisbord will manage a 15-person staff that she says is doing a marvelous job. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," she said of the personnel. "Lou put together a top-notch agency."
She also said that volunteering for the league has been an eye-opening experience as far as the work done by the Associated.
"Before I joined the board, I just saw the Associated as some sort of monolithic organization raising money," she said. "But I've learned it's more than I ever thought. The volunteers and professionals are really there to take care of us and our community."
JBBL board member Larry Seegul said Dr. Weisbord brings to the league "tremendous passion and commitment. Give credit to Lou. He was a top-notch professional. When you go to the dictionary and look up professional, he's your guy. But she brings different skill sets. She will bring an excitement and a vitality that is always needed. She'll make a great director."
- Case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
- Weinberg Family History
- Case of Rabbi Matis Weinberg
- Case of Rabbi Simcha Weinberg
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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." –– Margaret Mead
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Deposition Of Rabbi Dr. Marc Gafni's Third Wife
(AKA: Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Gafni, Marc Winiarz)
Marc and Chaya Gafni got divorced in August of 2004 a month before Gary Rosenblatt's article "The Re-Invented Rabbi" was published.
Click here for more information on the case of Dr. Rabbi Marc Gafni
Deposition Of Marc Gafni's Third Wife
Chaya Gafni - May 9, 2006
The following is my personal testimony of what it was like to be married to Mordechai for almost 7 years. I share what I have known of Mordechai's drastic and tragic dark side. I focus upon the shadow aspects of our marriage and his personality, for I believe they are crucial to share, given what has unfolded in these past weeks. Please keep in mind that I could also write pages worth of testimony about the light side of Mordechai - from the beauty of his teachings to his ardent dedication to making a contribution in the world and helping others. May his light side and his dark side know full integration.
Also, while you can pass this testimony on to other concerned parties, please do not share it with the press. I do not want my name to appear in the press. Thanks.
Background: I was 19 years old when I first encountered Mordechai I was studying in Jerusalem the summer after my freshman year of college. I was an eager baalat-teshuva, newly "turned on" to the beauty of Jewish practice. I devotedly went to his classes at Isralight and other venues. We went on our first date the spring after I graduated college. I was 23 and star-struck.
He was 15 years my senior. We got married at the beginning of 1998, less than 8 months after our first date. Several people warned me about Mordechai's past. He adamantly insisted that the bulk of the rumors were lies, exaggerations and the evil workings of other people's jealousies. I believed him.
|Dr. Marc Gafni|
His emotional abuse and manipulations began immediately upon our marriage. But I was so dedicated to the mission that I withstood it. The years that followed were a strange mix of great excitement, activity and purpose, as well as huge despair, confusion and pain. On the outside I seemed to be living a fairy tale of success and contribution. Behind closed doors I was living a life of enslavement, debasement, manipulation and verbal abuse. On top of the abuse, Mordechai was having more than one affair on me; 1ying to me on a daily basis.
Finally, I started to see through the fog of falsehoods. Fled Israel in February of 2004, only to be lured back in June, 2004 by Mordechai's promises of change and commitment. But nothing changed. By early August of 2004 I finally demanded and received a divorce.
Soon thereafter, Mordechai came "under attack" by his enemies in America. In the fall of 2004, articles about his sexual misconduct and questionable reputation came out in America and Israel. He begged me to keep our divorce a secret until all of this bad press died down. I reluctantly agreed - mostly because I believed that the work that was going on at Bayit Chadash was valuable and I did not want to jeopardize it. Mordechai lied to the reporters and all who asked, saying that we were still married. He even lied to the Rabbinic supporters who helped wage a campaign to protect him. Mordechai refused to publicly tell the truth about our divorce until Pesach of 2005 (March/April). I am ashamed to admit that I was manipulated in to also remaining silent and covering up to protect him, as I had done myriad times during our marriage.
|Marc Gafni on the right|
1. Information about Sexual Abuse Molestation of a Minor:
Before we got married, Mordechai shared with me that he had indeed had a sexual encounter with a minor. Her name was (Name Withheld) - a teenager who was in his JYPSY youth movement He explained to me details of their encounter and how he went about covering it up and discrediting her. He told me that she had seduced him. He said that they did not have intercourse, but that they had at least been undressed, sexually physical and that he had ejaculated. After (Name withheld) reported this, he lied to everyone involved, saying that she was emotionally unstable, jealous and had made it all up. He even received a document signed by a Rabbi attesting to his innocence. (Name withheld) was under-age, a student of his, and were it not for the statute of limitations, he could go to jail over this.
2. Mordechai also told me stories about various teachers and staff people connected with Yeshiva University with whom he had struggles. He told me how he blackmailed a teacher (one of his "enemies" at YU) who tried to block him from studying teaching there after the (Name withheld) incident He had information about this particular man and threatened to share it if the man continued to try to block him. The man stayed quiet
3. Adultery Lying:
He also told me of several affairs that he had in Boca Raton while married to his second wife. These affairs were with women in his Congregation (the name of one woman was XXX XXX). At least one of them was a married woman (whose name I don't recall, though I can find it). There was a scandal at the synagogue over rumors about his sexual misconduct I do not think that his second wife ever found out about these affairs. They eventually left Boca to move to Israel I believe that the main reason for this was that he needed to flee before people found out the truth (though he never framed it that way).
4. Adultery Lying:
One of the reasons (among many) that I divorced Mordechai was because he had an affair while we were studying in Oxford. It was with a woman named XXXXXX at Wolfson College. He lied to me on a virtually daily basis to cover up this affair. This went on for approximately 10 months (from December 2002 - Sept 2003). It was an agonizing time for me even though I did not consciously know what was happening. I finally convinced him to tell me the truth about the affair when we left Oxford and moved back to Israel. I was devastated, and realized that all of my hopes that he was a "changed man" were baseless fantasies.
5. Adultery Lying:
I also was racked with suspicion that he was having another affair - with his "teaching partner", [Erica Ariel Fox]. On countless occasions I begged him to stop teaching with her and to pull back from their "friendship". He refused. Also on countless occasions I point blank asked him if they were having an affair. In response, he consistently told me how crazy, jealous and insecure I was. I have finally found out that they were indeed intimate with each other while we were married, as well as after. (All of this went on between 2002 until our divorce in August of 2004). I also have heard that he had affairs with two other women while we were together - one a young woman in Israel and the other in America.
6. Debasing Sexuality:
Mordechai was consistently verbally demeaning to me, particularly when we were having sex. While we were being intimate, he would demand that I repeat, "I am a whore." I reluctantly went along with this at first. Eventually I refused to say it. Over the last two years that we were together I would go to bed absolutely dreading the possibility of having sex with him. Additionally, he viewed pornography on a regular basis; including paying money to have memberships to certain sites. Eventually his computer and email were so full of pornography that he paid tens of hundreds of dollars to get it cleaned, for fear that someone may see it and that he would lose his job. I understand from formal depositions made with lawyers and the police in Israel that he had much more "extreme" sexual interactions with other women after our divorce; which involved a lot of S&M and also played heavily on themes of debasement.
7. Stealing Intellectual Property:
Mordechai used other people's stories/teaching (making slight changes) without attributing them properly. (The story in Soulprints about Eitan giving him a soulprint box was, for instance, based upon a story in one of Robert Fulghum's books.) Furthermore, I worked full time on both books "Soul Prints" and "The Mystery of Love". There are entire sections of these books which I myself wrote - with no public recognition given as to the depth and breadth of my contribution. Just a few of the numerous examples of this are the poem/invocation at the beginning of "Soul Prints", as well as the Parable of the Royal Wine in ''The Mystery of Love". I insisted that I wanted at least these pieces to be attributed to me. He refused Seeing I had no real choice, I gave in in the end and allowed the pieces to be used without attribution.
8. Verbal Abuse & Emotional Manipulation:
This was a constant throughout our marriage. I have pages and pages of journal entries describing entire scenes and dialogues full of emotional abuse. His yelling explosions, full of demeaning putdowns and blame, were virtually a daily occurrence. I eventually stopped fighting back and would just dissolve in tears after each explosion. He needed to always be right, always in control. If I didn't agree with him on something then he would burst into a rage and tell me how stupid I was. But more than that, he would tell me how unloving, insensitive and selfish I was. Convincing me that I was the evil, selfish, unloving one was one of his most powerful tools of manipulation. He capitalized on my natural desire to be loving and giving. My goodness was a knife in his hands with which he daily carved his sick designs into me. I was utterly bewildered by his manipulations; the way he would turn everything around and make me the bad one. These turn arounds rendered me powerless time and again. In fact, I was so distraught by the nature of his putdowns and manipulations that I had regular fantasies of doing violent and suicidal acts against myself. My most recurrent fantasy during his abusive tirades was of slashing my throat. I was not "allowed" to express or feel anger towards him and so I turned all of my anger at him back upon myself. I had never in my life been suicidal before this time and since I left him I have not had suicidal or violent thoughts at all.
9. Verbal Abuse Manipulation of Others:
I witnessed Mordechai being verbally abusive and manipulative with many other people. I saw it happen most with Dafna, his main staff person, but also - tragically - also saw it with his Sons, most particularly (NAME REMOVED). I found his neglectful and insensitive treatment of his sons to be deplorable. I could go in to greater detail about this but will refrain out of respect for bow hard all of this must be for them. Seeing him with his sons was another big factor in my wanting a divorce. The thought of him mistreating any future children that we would have was just terrifying to me.
As I mentioned above, Mordechai lied about our divorce and other essential issues to the numerous Rabbis who supported him when he was being attacked in the press and at various teaching institutions. The Rabbis he lied pointblank to include R'Danny Landes, R'Joseph Telushkin, R'Art Green, R'Eli Herscher and R'Saul Bennan, as well as others. He likewise lied to the press and the entire Bayit Chadash community and Board. (He was so efficient and convincing a liar that I view all of his supporters - from the Rabbis to the Ner-David family to the Jewish Renewal Movement at large - as victims of his pathology. I strongly believe that they should not be held responsible for 'covering up' his misdeeds. I believe they all did the work to find out the truth, but the truth was too elusive.)
11. Exaggerations - Beyond the examples above I witnessed Mordechai lying routinely in most every type of setting.Whether it was in a speech, at dinner with friends, teaching. or in talking to donors. He was consistently aggrandizing himself by exaggerating his successes, popularity, power and connections. He would get furious with me when I myself did not join in on telling these inflated stories about him; saying that I was selfish and unloving for not also telling these tales. Time and again he falsely claimed to be a spiritual holy person. During his writings and teachings he would claim to pray, meditate, exercise, eat healthy, etc. None of which he did in the least. He led entire meditation retreats without ever having meditated himself. In my opinion, all of his frequent claims to spiritual enlightenment were (and are still) dangerously misleading fabrications.
12. Psychological Sickness - I think it is crucial to share that based on all that I have known of Mordechai I see that he clearly has two psychological disorders which are evident and expressed in numerous ways. The most obvious is a narcissistic personality disorder. He exhibited the following characteristics which correlate with the DMS-IV diagnosis of narcissism. In the DMS, at least 5 of the following attributes are requires for diagnosis. Mordechai exhibits them all. I could give numerous examples in each category, but will refrain for lack of space and because they are just so very obvious to anyone who knows Mordechai.):
a. has a grandiose sense of self-importance - exaggerates achievements and talents.
b. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance.
c. Believes that he is "special" and unique and can only associate with other special or high-status people or institutions.
d. Requires excessive admiration
e. Has a sense of entitlement - expecting especially favorable treatment or compliance with his expectations
f. Is interpersonally exploitative; taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
g. Is envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
h. Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
i. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
As for the antisocial (or sociopathic) personality disorder. He exhibits the following of the criteria for the DSM (of which 3 are needed for diagnosis):
a. failure to confirm to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors (such as his sexual harassment in the workplace and sleeping with students and employees)
b. deceitfulness, repeated lying
c. irritability and aggressiveness (as is known by anyone who has ever worked under Mordechai, or crossed his path politically)
d. reckless disregard for safety of self or others (such as endangering himself by juggling numerous affairs at once, given his history)
e. lack of remorse; indicated by rationalizing having hurt, or mistreated others
Unfortunately, with Axis II Personality Disorders the chances for change via treatment are extremely slim; as opposed to Axis I disorders which are considered more treatable. Mental Retardation, for example, is also on Axis II, because no amount of therapy will be able to fully 'treat' retardation. The same is understood for Personality Disorders - they are not entirely treatable. Thus, in my opinion, the belief that Mordechai will one day be able to return to being a teacher leader of any sort is a dangerous one. I personally (and professionally) do not think that he should be "allowed" to return to any such roles at any point in the future. A tragic loss, perhaps, but in the end we as a culture and as a people need to reassess the traits that we value and pull forth from our leaders. May this whole fiasco pave the way for new standards of humility, sincerity and a genuine care for others.