Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Case of Rabbi Tovia Singer

Case of Rabbi Tovia Singer
Monsey, NY
Forest Hills, NY
Jerusalem, Israel

Allegations have been made against Rabbi Tovia Singer of clergy sexual abuse against adult women.  He has also been accused of cult like practices utilizing his knowledge of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). _________________________________________________________________________________


Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.


Table of Contents:

2006
  1. Looking for Survivors of Rabbi Tovia Singer (10/18/2006)

2009

  1. Was She Rabbi Tovia Singer’s Mistress Before Rabbi Leib Tropper’s? (12/23/2009)


2013
  1. How a New York rabbi tried to remake the rules on converting to Judaism, until a sex tape—and a family feud between his wealthy backers—brought him down  (01/13/2013)
  2. Rabbi Tovia Singer’s Attempt At Paying Off The Awareness Center (08/08/2013)

Also see:
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Looking for Survivors of Rabbi Tovia Singer

Rabbi Tovia Singer runs an organization called "Outreach Judaism." He also hosts his own talk radio show. Tovia has been married and divorced at least three times. Over the years there have been rumors floating around regaring Rabbi Tovia Singer's sexually inappropriate behavior with a few of the young adult women he counsels.

I have been told by a few reliable sources that one of the major reasons why the organization Jews For Judaism severed ties with Tovia was because of complaints.

A few individuals who Rabbi Singer counseled, stated that Tovia told them he was qualified to do outreach because he had a masters degree in social work. He also told these indivdiuals that he was the only counter-missionary who had this qualification. As of today I have not been able to verify that he actually has a masters degree in any form of clinical counseling. If someone knows where Rabbi Singer received his masters degree and also where he received his smicha (rabbinic ordination) please post it in the comment section or e-mail it to Jewish Survivors.

Since the case of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler broke, many people from the Monsey area all seem to be aware of the accusations made against Rabbi Singer and respond with jokes about his behavior.

One traditon as a people that we must change is keeping these sorts of allegations secret. If we want to keep our communities safe from sexual preditors we must deal with our fears and go on record when there is information you have of an seuxally abusive rabbi.

We all must remember that Rabbi Tovia Singer goes around the country counseling unsuspecting teenage and young adult women. If the allegations are true then we are all guilty of allowing another unsuspecting woman to becoming the next victim of his alleged manipulative sexual advances.

If Rabbi Tovia Singer has been sexually inappropriate with you, please contact Jewish Survivor or Me immediately.

You can also post what you know and your experiences with Tovia Singer here in the comment section.
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How a New York rabbi tried to remake the rules on converting to Judaism, until a sex tape—and a family feud between his wealthy backers—brought him down
By Allison Hoffman
Tablet Magazine - January 13, 2013

Tropper, at left, at a 2006 Eternal Jewish Family conference with Shlomo Amar, the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, and Nachum Eisenstein, a leading Jerusalem rabbi, in a photo on the EJF website. (EternalJewishFamily.org)
December was a very bad month for Rabbi Leib Tropper, a powerful ultra-Orthodox rabbi who has been seeking to determine the standards for conversion in Israel and throughout the world through his little-known yet influential organization, Eternal Jewish Family. First, black-and-white posters appeared on walls in Jerusalem and other Israeli cities threatening public disgrace if the rabbi refused to “cease his filth.” While the definition of “filth” was left up to readers’ imaginations, photos and video were prominently mentioned in the text, which demanded that Tropper suspend his involvement in performing religious conversions.

On December 14, Eternal Jewish Family—which is based in the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Monsey, New York, and backed by the billionaire board president of New York’s 92nd Street Y, and his nephew, who owns one of Israel’s most famous soccer clubs—suddenly announced that its founder was resigning his post to “pursue a variety of other interests,” the details of which were again left to readers’ imaginations.

Two days later, the filth appeared online: audio tapes, allegedly of the rabbi, trying to coerce a single mother from Houston into having sex with other men for money—and as the price of her conversion to Judaism.

“Would you have a problem with just talking about sex to a guy, or only actually doing it?” the man asks on one of the tapes. In another, he reassures her, “I could roleplay a rape with you, but I couldn’t actually rape you.” A third featured explicit phone sex between the two. Shortly after the tapes surfaced, the hopeful convert, a minister’s daughter named Shannon Orand, told the blogger Shmarya Rosenberg—who has covered the story on his blog, Failed Messiah—that the rabbi had said, “If you fulfill my needs, I’ll fulfill yours—and you need a conversion.” Through an attorney, Tropper released a statement that admitted no wrongdoing but expressed regret for “what has appeared to be conduct not within our significant laws of modesty.” (When Tablet Magazine reached Tropper by phone at his home in Monsey to request comment, he simply said, “No, no,” and hung up.)

The sex tapes appeared to support the allegations of misconduct against Tropper, and they briefly elevated what started out as internecine rumor-mongering among ultra-Orthodox factions into legitimate tabloid fodder. (“Tal-Mood for Love,” read the headline above a brief item in the New York Post.) To more sensitive listeners, the tapes exhibited not just the particular sexual perversions of a rabbi from Monsey, but also the moral horror of a religious figure exploiting the trust of a woman who was hoping to join the Jewish religion and who was dependent on his authority. (Orand completed her conversion in Jerusalem last week under the auspices of a different Orthodox rabbi.)

Other than the mention in the Post, mainstream American newspapers ignored what is surely one of the weirdest, most embarrassing, and most consequential scandals in recent Jewish history. Mainstream rabbinical and Jewish communal organizations in the United States also chose to be silent. Yet the rise and fall of Leib Tropper raises fundamental questions about the abuse of a closed process in which a small group of ultra-Orthodox authorities are allowed to set their own binding terms for conversion to Judaism using the authority of the State of Israel and without any meaningful oversight. It is also the story of how an almost unknown rabbi managed to become one of the most powerful authorities on the question of conversion, fueled not by a superior knowledge of the Talmud but by access to something that appears to be even dearer to the hearts of the modern rabbinical establishment: money.

Tropper is a rare figure in the Jewish world: a creature of the insular ultra-Orthodox community whose relationships tie him to Texas oil fields, professional sports teams in Israel, and mainstream secular Jewish organizations—specifically, the 92nd Street Y, one of New York’s best-known Jewish community institutions, and home to one of the city’s most exclusive preschools. After spending more than two decades toiling in relative obscurity in Monsey, Tropper catapulted four years ago into the milieu of Israel’s powerful ultra-Orthodox rabbinate, propelled by his two powerful and wealthy patrons: Thomas Kaplan, the billionaire oil and mining wildcatter, and his nephew, Guma Aguiar.

Now 32 years old, Aguiar was born to a Jewish mother but raised as an evangelical Christian. Kaplan—the younger brother of Aguiar’s mother, Ellen—introduced Aguiar to Tropper in 2003, after Aguiar had already begun exploring Judaism. Under the rabbi’s tutelage, Aguiar adopted a Hebrew name—Yehuda Dovid—and, in 2007, made aliyah to Israel, where he has become a celebrity, thanks to his recent investments in the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team and Hapoel Jerusalem, the city’s basketball franchise. Kaplan and Aguiar cemented a philanthropic relationship with Tropper by directing millions of dollars to his Eternal Jewish Family. That money, in turn, enabled Tropper to influence determinations of which rabbis would have the authority to perform conversions—that is, to determine who is and who is not a Jew.

“On a personal level, he was not particularly well respected,” said Rosenberg, who is a fierce critic of the ultra-Orthodox world on his blog. “But insert EJF and conversions into it, along with Tom Kaplan’s money and Guma’s money, and suddenly Tropper became one of the most powerful rabbis in the world.”

Tropper’s relationship with Kaplan and Aguiar, once the source of his power, ultimately played a role in his undoing. For the past year, the two men have been locked in an Oedipal court battle over the $2.55 billion fortune resulting from the 2007 sale of their natural-gas exploration company, Leor Energy, to the oil giant EnCana. Tropper agreed to appear as a witness for Kaplan, and, in response, Aguiar turned against his former mentor. According to Tropper’s wife, Laurel Blond, Aguiar made a phone call to the rabbi’s house in March in which he claimed he had “thousands of rabbis praying for Tom Kaplan’s death” and encouraged the rabbi to “switch sides.” In early April, Aguiar confronted Tropper in Jerusalem at the David Citadel Hotel and, according to court records, threatened to throw the rabbi off a ninth-floor balcony.

Then, in October, Aguiar sued Tropper in an Israeli court, claiming that the rabbi misappropriated donations. “He had gone to Rabbi Tropper for several years as his rabbi—he had confidential discussions with him, he was his spiritual advisor,” Aguiar’s lawyers told a federal judge in Florida last June. (Kaplan’s attorney, Harley Tropin, said in a statement that Kaplan would not comment on the Tropper scandal in light of ongoing litigation.)

When the sex-tape scandal broke last month, Aguiar was among those who forwarded the audio recordings of Tropper’s conversations with Orand to Failed Messiah’s Rosenberg, ensuring that the rabbi would be publicly humiliated. In a phone conversation with Tablet Magazine, Aguiar initially said he forwarded the audio “to some people because I thought they were funny,” but subsequently said he only sent the recordings in response to a request from Rosenberg. “There’s no such thing as revenge,” Aguiar said. “It’s just exposing the truth.”

Aguiar said Kaplan introduced him to Tropper in 2003, after he had already begun studying Judaism with another Monsey rabbi, Tovia Singer, who specializes in reaching out to evangelical Christians who, like Aguiar, were born Jewish, and getting them to “return” to Judaism. With his uncle, Aguiar was instrumental in prompting Tropper to expand beyond his work with baalei teshuva—returning Jews—into the world of conversions. (Aguiar’s wife, Jamie, whom he met in high school, is a blond former evangelical Christian who converted to Judaism.) By 2004, according to emails filed in one of the federal court cases, Tropper had started writing a manual designed to streamline conversions among the various religious courts in America. That year, Kaplan’s foundation gave Tropper’s organization $154,000; the next year, Kaplan and Aguiar directed more than $700,000 to the rabbi’s group.

In early 2006, Tropper told a reporter that EJF was going to offer “Cadillac conversions” to non-Jews who were concerned about making sure their conversions—and, particularly for those converting to marry, their children’s status as born Jews—would be recognized by religious authorities in Israel, where full citizenship depends on it. Tropper offered a clever soundbite: “Why settle for a broken Chevy, which may go down the highway but nobody wants it in their driveway?”

The timing for Tropper’s new product line couldn’t have been better. A feud that had been simmering for years between Israel’s insular, powerful rabbinate and American rabbis erupted into full-scale war in April 2006, when Shlomo Amar, Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, announced that he would not automatically recognize conversions approved by the Rabbinical Council of America, the main union of Modern Orthodox rabbis. (The Israeli chief rabbinate does not recognize any conversions, marriages, or other rabbinical functions performed by Reform or Conservative rabbis, on the grounds that the Reform and Conservative movements do not recognize halachic authority and hence are no longer branches of Judaism). Amar’s announcement created a groundswell of interest in Tropper’s Cadillacs, and the rabbi spent lavishly to promote his brand of specially certified conversions to the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate. According to financial records, in 2006 Tropper spent $1.6 million—more than double his previous year’s budget—hosting conferences and paying for rabbis to attend his educational programming, including a lavish Jerusalem summit in July 2006 at the five-star David Citadel devoted to “Improving Conversions and Preventing Intermarriage.” Amar turned up, along with Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, a nonagenarian considered to be one of the ultra-Orthodox world’s leading halachic authorities.

Overnight, the rabbi from Monsey had become a major power broker in the ultra-Orthodox world in both America and Israel. In 2007, the last year for which federal tax records are available, Tropper distributed $2.3 million in scholarships and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in unspecified travel and conference accommodations from his Monsey redoubt.

Tropper has been removed from his post at Eternal Jewish Family—which is still chaired by Kaplan—and, according to the group’s executive director, Rabbi Dovid Jacobs, has also been replaced at Horizons, EJF’s parent organization. It isn’t clear whether he remains in control of his yeshiva, Kol Yaakov; a person who answered the phone there Tuesday refused to comment. But in the weeks since Tropper’s downfall, no one in the ultra-Orthodox world has been willing to officially criticize or reprimand the rabbi for what appear to be his profound and sickening sins. At a December meeting, the Council of Torah Sages, the halachic body of Agudath Israel, an ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, discussed the scandal but decided against issuing a comment. Only the Modern Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America has condemned Tropper’s behavior: “What we have heard, if true, violates the fundamental elements of all that Judaism holds sacred,” the council said in a statement, adding that the rabbis welcomed any of Tropper’s victims for counseling.

“It’s like Nixon,” said Tovia Singer, the rabbi who initially sparked Aguiar’s interest in Judaism. “The damage has obviously been done to the haredi community and the more that they’re in denial the more damage it’ll do.”

MORE: Tablet Magazine’s Marissa Brostoff profiled Shannon Orand here.

MORE: Read transcripts of the phone calls, plus hear some audio clips, here.
MORE: Allison Hoffman profiled Guma Aguiar here.

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Rabbi Tovia Singer’s Attempt At Paying Off The Awareness Center
By Vicki Polin
Examiner - August 8, 2013

Over the course of the last several weeks, since several civil suits have been filed against Yeshiva University regarding cases involving alleged sex crimes –– The Awareness Center has been inundated by phone calls and e-mails from various Jewish community leaders asking for help to get their names or that of someone they know off of various blogs in which negative things have been written about them.

A few days ago Rabbi Tovia Singer contacted The Awareness Center looking for help. Over the years Rabbi Singer made a name for himself as the director of an international non-profit organization called “Outreach Judaism”, which is dedicated to countering the efforts of Christian groups and cults who specifically target Jews for conversion. For eight years, he also hosted a talk radio show on Arutz Sheva’s Israel National Radio.

Besides being an ordained rabbi, Tovia Singer also has a bachelors degree in social work.
Rabbi Singer is both loved and hated by his peers within the Jewish outreach community. Even though Singer’s work has been seen as controversial because of the methods he utilizes –– he has been working in the Kiruv industry for several decades.

Tovia Singer got his start being mentored by Rabbi Tzvi Kilstein (AKA: Harlan Kilstein) and then moved on working briefly with Jews for Judaism, where he was accused of plagiarism. In 1996 the article “Goy Story” was published “by the New Republic. In it Rabbi Singer was quoted as saying he was the director of “Jews for Judaism of Greater New York”. According to Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, Rabbi Singer was not associated or affiliated with Jews for Judaism in any way. “In fact, he has no right to utilize our federally trademarked name.” For years there have also been unsubstantiated rumors made against this Jewish outreach rabbi of professional sexual misconduct.

The other day when Rabbi Tovia Singer contacted The Awareness Center, he started out the conversation talking about how he knew The Awareness Center was struggling financially and that he wanted to find a way that he could help in some of the fundraising efforts.

Rabbi Singer proceeded by sharing the fact that there was negative information about him published on a few web pages and was in hopes the organization could assist him in having the information removed. Unlike every other call received, Tovia went on to say that for every site we were successful in removing his name, that he would donate $500. He specifically named a blog entitled Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speaks Out, and also mentioned that if I could help removed the information on Luke Ford’s Blog, a $1000 donation would be made.

Back on October 18, 2006, The Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence blogger put a call out looking for survivors of Rabbi Tovia Singer regarding possible cases of clergy sexual abuse against young adult women with whom Singer might have counseled.

On December 23, 2009, Luke Ford posted to his blog that “Shannon Orand worked for Tovia Singer before Leib Tropper.” Rabbi Leib Tropper was caught up in a sex scandal a few years ago, when it was learned that he was allegedly forcing potential converts to sleep with him as part of the conditions he made for them to convert to Judaism.

In Luke Ford’s blog excerpt, he wrote that Rabbi Tovia Singer and Shannon Orand had a close working relationship for years. They had a close personal relationship too.

“Rabbi Tovia Singer is a mesmerizing speaker. He has piercing blue eyes. He’s active in helping Jews leave Christianity. He’s a caring man and he devotes enormous amounts of time to help people. When he connects with you, he surrounds you with love and creates intimate bonds through his outreach work. Many women have been crazy about him, including, apparently, Shannon Orand.”

When Singer contacted The Awareness Center for help, he stated he needed the information removed because he had two books which were about to be published. He didn’t want any information on the net that would tarnish his reputation. Perhaps Rabbi Singer didn’t realize that trying to pay off a non-profit organization was not too kosher.

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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
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