Monday, January 28, 2008

Naf - A Street Kid in Israel (2004)

The shocking and revealing documentation of a homeless boy's life over a two and a half year period. Naf (Naftali), is an ultra-orthodox bot thrown out of his parents' home for being a "bad apple". From the age of 14 he wanders the Jerusalem streets, and is exposed to crime, violence, and sexual assault. Only fighting keeps him alive; fighting the city council as a representative of homeless youth; fighting the man who sexually abused him through the court system, fighting the radio stations to convince them to play his music. This is a child not only fighting for life, but for self respect and a future. This is the struggle for survival experienced by all our homeless children -- as seen through the eyes of NAF -- A street kid.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

She Founded Resource for Sex Abuse Victims

By Bryna Zumer
Owings Mills Times
January 24, 2008


Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC, ATR-BC
Vicki Polin, a counselor specializing in sexual violence, noticed years ago that there seemed to be no Jewish resources for sex abuse victims, and she was uncomfortable referring them to Christian organizations, which she felt might proselytize them or be unable to speak to Jewish issues.

Before relocating to Israel in 2001, she attended Neve Yerushalayim, a women's college in Jerusalem, and saw that people who had been sexually abused had no place to turn.

"All these young women started telling me what happened to them," Polin said. "I started seeing what a problem it was."

A Chicago native, she moved to Baltimore in 2002 and, in 2003, launched the nonprofit International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, now known as The Awareness Center.

The organization's goal is to provide resources to victims and educate the general community, but Polin, an incest survivor herself, has also drawn controversy for posting information on alleged offenders, including many prominent rabbis, on the center's Web site.

"Our goal is education. It's not just about, 'Get this guy, get that guy,'" she said, explaining that many in the Orthodox world do not watch TV or read secular news, but have gained information from the center's Web site.

After she, together with a volunteer board of directors, began posting information on offenders, "survivors started saying, 'Why don't you have my story?' The same (victims) were talking about the same (offenders), and we started putting the pieces together."

Although more than 250 rabbis worldwide support The Awareness Center, critics have accused Polin of "lashon ha'ra," derogatory or damaging speech against another person, which Jewish tradition condemns.

"In some places, we're seen as heroes and in some we're seen as crazy or vindictive," she said.

After Polin received allegations against rabbis by a group that turned out to be linked to al-Qaida and was anti-Semitic, she posted resources on abuse for Christians and Muslims as well.

She also works with groups like The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and, in addition to running the non-profit almost single-handedly, regularly testifies in court on behalf of victims of sexual violence.

The goal is not just to educate and reach out to victims, Polin said, but also to help abusers.

"There's no proven treatment for offenders. We don't know what to do, how to stop them," she said.

Case of Rabbi Michael Unterberg

Case of Rabbi Michael Unterberg
(AKA: Michael Naftali Unterberg, Michael N. Unterberg)


Efat, Israel
IT Consultant - SASYSCON, Beit Shemesh, Israel
Toklot Yisrael, Jersalem, Israel
S & A Systems Consulting, L.L.C
Teacher - Write On For Israel
Department Head / Teacher Fuch's Mizrachi High School - University Heights, OH
Teacher - Torah Tizion Kollel University - Cleveland, OH
Former Student - Yeshiva University, Washington Heights, NY



Allegations were made of clergy sexual abuse and professional sexual misconduct.  An  alleged survivor stated that while Rabbi Michael Unterberg was providing spiritual counseling to her while her husband was dying and after he passed away,  that Rabbi Michael Unterberg psychologically, spiritually and sexually exploited her.

Rabbi Unterberg received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University in 1994.

If you have more information about this case, or any other allegations made against Rabbi Michael Unterberg, please contact The Awareness Center.
_________________________________________________________________________________

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:

2008
  1. Allegations made against Rabbi Michael Unterberg (01/24/2008)
  2. Fuch's Mizrachi School Directory (01/24/2008)

2014
  1. Linkedin Account (01/31/2014)
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Allegations made against Rabbi Michael Unterberg
January 24, 2008

Serious allegations were made that while providing spiritual counseling Rabbi Michael Unterberg, allegedly exploited (psychologically, sexually and spiritually) a woman who's husband was dying and after her husband passed away.

After the six year relationship ended, Rabbi Unterberg spoke out negatively about woman to a fellow rabbi in the kollel that was involved with, in hopes to destroy a shidduch opportunity for the woman.  In the allegations against Unterberg, it stated he started spreading rumors that the woman saying such things as she "was a seductress and mentally unstable". 

The alleged survivor went to Rabbi Binyomin Blau, Rosh Yeshiva (head spiritual advisor) and Unterberg's boss at the time,  as well as two other leading rabbis in the community for help.  

The consensus was that something needs to ben done but that the alleged survivor should keep quiet, allegedly for her own benefit.  

The woman agreed as long as they would take action to remove Rabbi Michael Unterberg from his position at Fuch's Mizrachi high school, where he was employed as a Jewish history teacher.  According to the allegations made by the alleged survivor, Rabbi Binyomin Blau confronted Unterberg, who denied "the affair", yet continued on by saying he did tshuva.  

Binyomin Blau decided that his responsibility was to the school children, and required Michael Unterberg to take a series of psychological tests to determine if he is was a danger to children.  Even though the allegations made were of clergy sexual abuse against an adult woman, and not child sexual abuse, Blau decided to keep Unterberg at the school.

Soon afterwards Rabbi Michael Unterberg was honored at the school's annual dinner.  

Shortly after he was honored the alleged survivor in this case spoke with Rabbi Basil Herring, who at the time was the Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).   Unfortunately, Rabbi Herring stated that because Rabi Unterberg was not a member of this orthodox rabbinical organization, there was nothing he could do –– and if he was a member, all that could be done was to remove him from their membership if their beit din (Jewish religious court) found him guilty.  

Another young woman who had moved into the Cleveland Jewish community and  was going through a divorce also had some uncomfortable interactions with Rabbi Unterberg.  This second woman stated she felt very uncomfortable with the tone of his offer.  When this second woman shared her story with teacher at the school, she was warned not to ever let him into her house, without other people being present.

When volunteers from The Awareness Center spoke with school officials upon learning Rabbi Michael Unterberg was being honored, the principal stated that the rumors of his alleged professional  misconduct was nothing more then lashon hara.

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Fuch's Mizrachi School Directory
FMS - January 24, 2008 




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Linkedin Account
Linkedin - January 31, 2014



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FAIR USE NOTICE

Some of the information on The Awareness Center's web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.

I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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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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"rabbi" Hershy Worch's Attempts at Sexual Harassment & Cyberbullying Vicki Polin

Been feeling like journaling lately
http://rebhershy.livejournal.com/40737.html
rebhershy (rebhershy) wrote
@ 2008-01-24 20:08:00 


Rabbi Hershy Worch - Alleged Sexual Predator
It's been so long since I felt safe I hardly recognize the feeling. 

Seriously, since my enemies tried their hardest to crucify me three years ago not a day went by but I dreaded some new infamy. 

Evil has many faces, but ugliest is the face of virtue triumphant. It matters not whether it triumphs like Rabbi Eichenstein who quietly calls my employer to have me fired, or like Vicki Polin who calls my ex-wife to say she's talking to 26 women who say I raped them in front of the children. There's no question in my mind that the worst sins are those we commit with the Yetzer Tov - Good Inclination. By the way, Eichenstein discovered I was working for XXXXXXXX XXXXXX Funerals Ltd as a Shomer - Guardian; someone who sits with the dead. He discovered it because one of the dead I happened to sit with (reciting the psalms at his side), was an uncle of his. When the good rabbi saw it was me, he called the funeral director and had me fired. He also stiffed me for the $15 an hour I'd earned sitting there all night.

Now I say that having a man fired because you think badly of him, doesn't make you less of a man. But stiffing the man who sits guarding the corpse of your uncle, finding an excuse to avoid paying him his fee after he's done the job, now that makes you a very small man indeed.

The thing is, the really important thing is that Eichenstein's Shabbes candles burned his house to the ground. Well, his wife put the tea lights on the plastic tablecloth which ignited when it heated up sufficiently, to be more precise, but you get the picture. I know which I prefer, having a mean prick try and burn my livliehood down or have the Sabbath burn my house down! Sometimes when I'm having sex I think of Victoria Polin, especially when I'm laughing. Or sometimes when my breath catches in my throat at the sheer beauty of woman skin or the perfume of her private places, I catch a glimpse of all the hot laughing sex Vicki doesn't have a hope of tasting, and I ask myself, who came out of all this enriched, and who impoverished? It's something to think about, isn't it?

You know, once a month like a fetish, on the 14th or 15th of the month, Luke Ford will visit all my web pages looking for only he knows what. 5 or 6 times in the last two years the 14th and 15th have fallen on the sabbath. So here's this convert to Judaism, to orthodox judaism no less, lives on a futon on the floor in a basement somehwere in Los Angeles, who can't hold back from firing up his computer to go snooping on the sabbath. Talk about being born again and getting a life!

I shouldn't crow, I suppose. But I feel like crowing, damnit.

____________________________________________ 

Holy Sister Vikele remove me

Live Journal  - October 21, 2004
By Hershy Worch
http://rebhershy.livejournal.com
I would have been satisfied to have Holy Sister Vikele remove me from her awareness website, I would have breathed a sigh of relief, but no longer. No. The website has to come down. Mostly it has to come down because it is a shaming thing, a shameless, shameful thing, an ERVA where vicki exposes her privates and plays with herself in our faces. But, equally important, it is time to celebrate the good things Reb Shlomo Carlebach gave us all. Next week will be his tenth Yahrzeit - Aniversary. Let's celebrate it with the joy it deserves.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cases of Clergy Sexual Abuse Against Adults in the Jewish Community

Cases of Clergy Sexual Abuse Against Adults in the Jewish Community
© (2008) The Awareness Center

If you know of other cases of clergy sexual abuse involving adult survivors (both male and female), please forward the information to Vicki Polin, Executive Director - The Awareness Center.
vickipolin@ aol.com

Also see: Spiritual Abuse

Orthodox

  1. Case of Rabbi Yoram Abergel
  2. Case of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
  3. Case or Rabbi Ephraim Bryks
  4. Case of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
  5. Case of Rabbi Elior Chen 
  6. Case of Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen
  7. Case of Cantor Ami Edri
  8. Case of Rabbi Moshe Eisemann (Baltimore, MDl)
  9. Case of Rabbi Jacob Frank
  10. Case of Rabbi Lewis Furman
  11. Case of Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Rabbi Mordecai Winiarz)  
  12. Case of Rabbi Shimon Gerlick
  13. Case of Rabbi Chaim Halpern
  14. Rabbi Yochanan Hayout
  15. Case of Rabbi David Kedmi 
  16. Case of Rabbi Mahluf Aminadav Krispin
  17. Case of Rabbi Pinchas Lew
  18. Case of Rabbi/Psychologist Mordecai Magencey
  19. Case of Rabbi Jacob A. Max
  20. Case of Dr. Rabbi Samuel Mendelowitz
  21. Case of Rabbi Yaakov Menken
  22. Case of Rabbi Yona Metzger
  23. Case of Rabbi Shalom Nager
  24. Case of Gabriel Ohayon
  25. Case of Dr. Rabbi Jack Nusan Porter
  26. Case of Rabbi Haim Pardes
  27. Case of Cantor Michael Segelstein
  28. Case of Rabbi Zeev Sultanovitch
  29. Case of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
  30. Case of Rabbi Isadore Trachtman
  31. Case of Rabbi Hirsch Travis
  32. Case of Rabbi Eliyahu Tzabari 
  33. Case of Rabbi Ivan Wachmann
  34. Case of Rabbi Matis Weinberg 
  35. Case of Rabbi J. Hershy Worch
  36. Case of the Unnamed Chasidic Rabbi in Quebec
  37. Case of the Unnamed Chasidic Rabbi in a Yeshiva
  38. Case of Sabbatai Zevi  
  39. Case of the Rabbi Max Zucker 
  40. Case of The Zwi Migdal Society

Conservative

  1. Case of Rabbi Tobias Gabriel
  2. Case of Rabbi Arnold Fink
  3. Case of Cantor Philip Friedman
  4. Case of Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
  5. Case of Rabbi Mark A. Golub
  6. Case of Cantor Mark Horowtiz
  7. Case of Rabbi David Kedmi 
  8. Case of Rabbi Robert Kirschner
  9. Case of Rabbi Michael Mayersohn
  10. Case of Rabbi Gabriel Ohayon
  11. Case of Rabbi Joel Roth
  12. Case of Rabbi Arthur Charles Shalman  
  13. Case of Cantor Robert Shapiro

Reform

  1. Case of Rabbi G. George Fox
  2. Case of Cantor Joel Gordon (AKA Peter Gordon)
  3. Case of Rabbi Mark Golub
  4. Case of Rabbi Steven Kaplan
  5. Case of Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Rabbi Mordecai Winiarz) 
  6. Case of Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman

Jewish Renewal
  1. Case of Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Rabbi Mordecai Winiarz)
  2. Case of Rabbi Hershy Worch 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wisconsin: Bill Would Erase Sex Abuse Suit Deadlines

Wisconsin: Bill Would Erase Sex Abuse Suit Deadlines
Associated Press - January 17, 2008


Madison, Wis. (AP) -- People who believe they were sexually abused as children would no longer face a deadline for filing a civil lawsuit under a bill a legislative committee considered Wednesday.

Critics told the Senate Judiciary, Corrections and Housing Committee the bipartisan measure would expose the Catholic church in Wisconsin to expensive lawsuits and is probably unconstitutional. Supporters countered the state's current deadline -- file by age 35 -- is arbitrary and doing away with it would expose more sexual predators.

"This bill is about protecting victims and giving them the ability to tell their story," said Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, one of the bill's co-sponsors. "We truly believe it will make Wisconsin a sex predator's worst nightmare."

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed a law in 2004 that increased the statute of limitations for adults who think they were sexually abused as children from five years after the incident to age 35. The change was triggered largely by the Roman Catholic church clergy sex abuse scandal.

The bill would erase that deadline going forward and create a 3-year window during which someone who had a lawsuit dismissed because they were too old could renew their actions.

Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan told the committee his diocese has paid more than $17 million in sex abuse mediation, therapy and outreach since 2002. The 3-year window would allow so many lawsuits his diocese could go bankrupt, he said.

"There is no Catholic 'Superfund' that can provide the monies this legislation will require of the church," he told the panel.

"We are at the limit of our ability to pay massive tort settlements "| plain and simple, a window is unjust."

James Friedman, a constitutional law expert at the Godfrey & Khan law firm in Madison, said the window likely violates the Wisconsin and U.S. constitutions. The statute of limitations clearly gives defendants the right not to be sued after it expires, Friedman said.

Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, stressed the bill isn't designed to single out any specific entity, such as the Catholic church.

She believes the bill is constitutional because it clearly reflects legislative intent and would protect people. She pointed out the state places no statute of limitations on murder and the age 35 deadline was picked at random.

"There is no statute of limitations on pain and suffering," Lassa said. "If they're 33, they can do it. At 36 they can't ... it's just an arbitrary line in the sand."

Vicki Polin, a 48-year-old counselor based in Baltimore, told the committee her mother and father sexually abused her when she was a child, including instances camping near Mukwonago. She confronted them in her 20s, and they cut off all contact. She learned last year her family was avoiding her until the statute of limitations had expired.

She said civil lawsuits would help victims pay for therapy. They also would compel the legal discovery process. That could uncover more information about possible victims, leading to identification of more abusers and, perhaps, criminal charges.

"It's validation," she said.

The bill got a cool reception from the committee. Sen. Jim Sullivan, a Wauwatosa Democrat and attorney, called the bill a "sweeping change of precedence." He questioned why the bill is needed since the state just increased the deadline to age 35 four years ago.

Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, asked Suder and Lassa why they didn't address the criminal statute of limitations. He also asked how many predators would escape litigation because they have no money for lawyers to win.

Lassa said the civil process could lead to criminal charges. Suder said he didn't know how many would escape a lawsuit because they're poor.

The committee wasn't scheduled to vote on the bill.

Bill Nixes Deadline For Sex Abuse Lawsuits


Bill Nixes Deadline For Sex Abuse Lawsuits

By Todd Richmond
Associated Press (Madison Capital Times) - January 17, 2008




People who believe they were sexually abused as children would no longer face a deadline for filing a civil lawsuit under a bill a legislative committee considered Wednesday.

Critics told the Senate Judiciary, Corrections and Housing Committee the bipartisan measure would expose the Catholic church in Wisconsin to expensive lawsuits and is probably unconstitutional. Supporters countered the state's current deadline - file by age 35 - is arbitrary, and doing away with it would expose more sexual predators.



"This bill is about protecting victims and giving them the ability to tell their story," said Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, one of the bill's co-sponsors. "We truly believe it will make Wisconsin a sex predator's worst nightmare."


Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed a law in 2004 that increased the statute of limitations for adults who think they were sexually abused as children from five years after the incident to age 35. The change was triggered largely by the Roman Catholic church clergy sex abuse scandal.


The bill would erase that deadline going forward and create a three-year window during which someone who had a lawsuit dismissed because they were too old could renew their actions.



Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan told the committee his diocese has paid more than $17 million in sex abuse mediation, therapy and outreach since 2002. The three-year window would allow so many lawsuits his diocese could go bankrupt, he said.


"There is no Catholic 'Superfund' that can provide the monies this legislation will require of the church," he told the panel. "We are at the limit of our ability to pay massive tort settlements ... plain and simple, a window is unjust."


James Friedman, a constitutional law expert at the Godfrey & Khan law firm in Madison, said the window likely violates both the Wisconsin and U.S. constitutions. The statute of limitations clearly gives defendants the right not to be sued after it expires, Friedman said.
Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, stressed the bill isn't designed to single out any specific entity, such as the Catholic church.



She believes the bill is constitutional because it clearly reflects legislative intent and would protect people. She pointed out the state places no statute of limitations on murder and the age 35 deadline was picked at random.



"There is no statute of limitations on pain and suffering," Lassa said. "If they're 33, they can do it. At 36 they can't ... it's just an arbitrary line in the sand."

Vicki Polin, a 48-year-old counselor based in Baltimore, told the committee her mother and father sexually abused her when she was a child, including instances camping near Mukwonago. She confronted them in her 20s, and they cut off all contact. She learned last year her family was avoiding her until the statute of limitations had expired.


She said civil lawsuits would help victims pay for therapy. They also would compel the legal discovery process. That could uncover more information about possible victims, leading to identification of more abusers and, perhaps, criminal charges.

"It's validation," she said.



The bill got a cool reception from the committee. Sen. Jim Sullivan, a Wauwatosa Democrat and attorney, called the bill a "sweeping change of precedence." He questioned why the bill is needed since the state just increased the deadline to age 35 four years ago.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, asked Suder and Lassa why they didn't address the criminal statute of limitations. He also asked how many predators would escape litigation because they have no money for lawyers to win.



Lassa said the civil process could lead to criminal charges. Suder said he didn't know how many would escape a lawsuit because they're poor.


The committee wasn't scheduled to vote on the bill.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community: Panel Discussion After 'Narrow Bridge' Film - Baltimore, MD

video
 
The film above is of the panel discussion that went on after showing the movie 'Narrow Bridge' (see below).  The film is about clergy sexual abuse in the Jewish community. The showing was in the Baltimore, MD on January 2, 2008. The event was sponsored by The Awareness Center, Inc., which is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault.

Panel Members included:

Friday, January 11, 2008

Awareness Center and other blogs draw praise and scorn



Awareness Center and other blogs draw praise and scorn
By Eugene L. Meyer
Jewish Journal - January 11, 2008

Vicki Polin, founder of the Awareness Center, at her Baltimore home office.
Photo by Murray Levin

There is no unabridged database of rabbinic sexual abusers. But there is the Awareness Center.
It's not a physical place, but a Baltimore post office box, cellphone number and Web site -- www.theawarenesscenter.org -- where online surfers can find a listing of scores of Jewish clergy and hundreds of other Jewish officials in positions of trust or authority who are alleged to be sexual predators. Some of them have been convicted of crimes; some have not even been charged or sued.

Vicki Polin, 47, is the nonprofit organization's executive director and only full-time staffer.  A licensed clinical professional counselor and an art therapist, she founded the Awareness Center in 2001, after becoming fed up over what she deemed to be inaction in bringing perpetrators to justice and protecting the public.

Her biggest weapon: exposure of alleged wrongdoers.

Her efforts have won her loyal supporters and harsh critics.

"Vicki's site is very valuable," said Rabbi Yosef Blau, religious adviser at Yeshiva University and a vocal advocate for victims of rabbinic sexual abuse and other forms of sexual misconduct. "Since you can't get people arrested, and there are no court cases, you have to use a standard that's reasonable and [disclosure] works in that context."

The Awareness Center's outing of alleged and confirmed abusers has inspired an army of Jewish bloggers eager to discuss the topic. Their anonymous postings appear on Web sites, such as the unorthodoxjew.com, the canonist.comJewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com and lukeford.net.

"In the Orthodox community it is much harder to be heard, so people go online instead of going to police and the rabbi," said a woman now living in Israel, who reported being abused as a child by her father, an American rabbi who is principal of an Orthodox school on the Eastern seaboard. "The blogs are safe for survivors."

The Awareness Center and the bloggers not only have brought this sensitive subject to the attention of a wide audience, they have also stirred up considerable controversy over issues of fairness, attribution and transparency.

"The blogorai, as I call it, is the new way of making irresponsible accusations," charged Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox advocacy organization, Agudath Israel. "Using a blog is a very easy and effective way of casting aspersions on people."

Blau said blogs are a mixed blessing.

"Since they are anonymous, they can say almost anything," he said. "On the other hand, until the community is more willing to deal with issues, I can understand why writers won't reveal their identity."

One blog-intensive case listed on the Awareness Center site involves Mordechai Tendler, a disgraced Modern Orthodox rabbi from Rockland County, N.Y., who was accused of having illicit sexual relationships with several women who had come to him for counseling.

The charismatic scion of distinguished rabbinic scholars, Tendler ironically was known as a strong advocate for Jewish women who were unable to obtain a get, or religious release from marriage, from their husbands.

Tendler was expelled from the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) in March 2005 for "conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi." The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance praised the RCA "for taking these issues seriously and instituting formal procedures to deal with them." Those procedures included hiring a Texas-based private investigative firm to conduct a probe of the matter and convening an in-house ethics panel to rule on the case.
In April, Tendler was fired from the congregation he had helped establish in the mid-1980s, Kehillat New Hempstead. Undaunted, he held High Holiday services this year in a public elementary school directly across the street from his former shul.

Tendler, married and the father of eight, has consistently denied the allegations against him, but did not respond to inquiries from JTA seeking comment. His attorney, Glen Feinberg, said his client retains a large following in Rockland County. JTA asked Feinberg to encourage Tendler's supporters to contact JTA, but none did.

The scandal has spawned at least three lawsuits, including one filed by Tendler against his former congregation for alleged breach of contract. That suit has been dismissed, but the ruling is being appealed. The litigation filed against Tendler has publicized the sort of matters that once would have only been whispered about in private.

For example, a lawsuit filed in December 2005 by former congregant (NAME REMOVED) alleges that Tendler, who portrayed himself as "a counselor and adviser with expertise in women's issues," advised (NAME REMOVED) to have sex with him so that "her life would open up and men would come to her," and she would then marry and have children.

The suit also claims that Tendler told (NAME REMOVED) that he "was as close to God as anyone could get," and that he "was the Messiah." And when the relationship ended, the suit contends, Tendler encouraged congregants to "harass, threaten and intimidate" (NAME REMOVED) in an apparent attempt to discredit her accusations.

As for Tendler, his legal filings included petitions submitted in Ohio and California seeking to force the disclosure of the identities of anonymous bloggers who had been attacking him publicly for his alleged conduct. But he withdrew both petitions.

In the California case, a judge ruled Oct. 12 that Tendler must pay the bloggers' legal fees -- a decision that was praised by attorney Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen, who represented three of the bloggers involved in the case.

"The right to criticize anonymously on the Internet is a fundamental free-speech right and an important tool for whistle-blowers and consumers who speak out about the misconduct or corruption of big companies or public figures," Levy said in a press release.

A letter from Tendler to the judge who had ruled in the California case was posted Nov. 15 on a victims' advocacy blog. In the letter, Tendler asked the judge to reconsider his decision on attorney's fees, adding: "I have been the subject of a concerted and constant Internet campaign to destroy my reputation, livelihood and family. Disgusting allegations of sexual impropriety, all of them false, have been circulated about me and amplified in such horrific proportions as only can happen on the Internet. These allegations and threats have, in fact, destroyed my reputation as a rabbi and teacher and have caused me hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in actual and future damages."

The letter described the bloggers as being "like poisonous snakes" who "want to continue to do their damage and spread their filthy vicious lies with no accountability." The Awareness Center, also known as the Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, has its own confidentiality policy regarding victims of sexual misconduct and others. "As a victim advocate, I never name the survivors," Polin said. 


The Awareness Center no longer names its board members, either, "due to harassment," according to Polin, who said she herself has been threatened repeatedly with physical harm and once was spat on by a woman who was angry over an Awareness Center disclosure. 

In 2003, Polin said, a supporter of an alleged abuser named on her site did background checks on her advisory board members, "found something about them or someone they cared about and threatened to make it public." Half a dozen resignations ensued, she said. 

Among those who were formerly listed but resigned for other reasons is Rabbi Mark Dratch, who chairs the Rabbinical Council of America's Task Force on Rabbinic Improprieties and has founded Jsafe, an organization to deal with sexual abuse in the Jewish community. 

Dratch said he left the Awareness Center board in "disagreement with [Polin] on the standards required for publishing on her Web site. I wasn't satisfied with the threshold of verification. There are people who've been victimized, and others who've been subject to false reports also being victimized. The big problem we have in this area is verifying the allegations and moving forward." 

As of early December, the Awareness Center site still listed 236 "supportive rabbis." Polin said more than 500 people receive her e-mail alerts, and the Web page averages around 35,000 visitors per month. 

One of the e-mail recipients is Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and a trained psychologist. 

"I read everything with a grain of salt," he said. "On the other hand, [the Awareness Center and the blogs] have served the purpose of keeping this in the public spotlight and keeping the pressure on established institutions to police their constituencies." 

As of late December, the Awareness Center was in danger of closing for lack of funds, according to Polin, who was seeking donations to keep the organization afloat.


ALSO SEE: