- Center For World Spirituality - Fairfield, CA
- Zanzeon Zen Center of Salt Lake, Big Mind, Inc. - Salt Lake City, UT
- Bayit Chadash Center - Jaffa and Poriya, Israel
- Stephen L. Weiss Temple - Los Angeles, CA
- Isabella Freedman - Falls Village, CT
- Elat Chayyiim Center For Jewish Spirituality - Falls Village, CT
- Edah - New York, NY
- San Francisco, CA
- Isralight Program - Israel
- Kfar Saba, Israel
- Beit Tzufim, Israel
- Efrat, Israel
- Aish Ha Torah / Discovery Program - Jerusalem, Israel
- Boca Raton Synagogue - Boca Raton, FL
- Stamford, Connecticut
- JPSY (Jewish Public School Youth) - New York, NY
1979 - Sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl, who’s mother had a bout of cancer (Brooklyn, New York)
1983 - Sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl, who’s mother had a bout of cancer
1983 - Attempted sexual assault of a 19-teen-year old woman (Brooklyn, NY)
1989 - Allegations made of clergy sexual abuse. This time the allegations were made about “an affair” he had with a married woman -- with whom he was providing spiritual counseling in Boca Raton, FL
1989 - Accused of having sexual relations with a young woman in which he was counseling in Kfar Saba, Israel. This makes the 5th alleged sex crime committed by Gafni.
1996 - Fired from Isralight, after new allegations were made of clergy sexual abuse, with another woman he was teaching and providing spiritual counseling to.
1998 - Hired by a group called Milah (Jerusalem Institute for Education), and became a prominent figure in the Jerusalem educational scene. Once again, soon afterwards he was fired after allegations of clergy sexual abuse were made.
- Pamela Frydman Baugh, Past President - Ohalah
- Metuka Benjamin - Director of Education, Stephen S. Wise Temple
- Rabbi Phyllis Berman - Former Director Elat Chayyim summer program
- Rabbi Saul Berman - CEO, Director, Edah
- Rabbi Bob Carroll
- Zivit Davidovich - Executive Producer, Israel Channel 2 Television
- Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi
- Rabbi Tirzah Firestone - Congregation Nevei Kodesh
- Rabbi Shefa Gold - Director C-Deep, composer and teacher
- Rabbi Arthur Green - Dean, Hebrew College Rabbinical School
- Arthur Kurzweil Former Director, Elat Chayyim, Jewish Book Club
- Diane Musho Hamilton
- Rabbi Eli Herscher Stephen S. Wise Synagogue
- Rabbi Tzvi Kilstein (AKA: Harlan Kilstein)
- Avraham Leader - Author and Past Leader Minyan, Bayit Chadash
- Jacob Ner-David - Former Board Chair, Bayit Chadash
- John Mackey - CEO, Whole Foods Market
- Naomi Mark, LCSW, ACSW
- Stephen S. Marmer, MD, PhD - Psychiatrist, UCLA Medical School
- Rabbi Michael Ozair - Convicted Sex Offender
- Peter Pitzele Ph.D. - Bibliodrama Institute
- Genpo Roshi - Big Mind
- Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi - Founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement, Rabbinic Chair, Aleph
- Don Seeman, Ph.D. Emory University
- Rabbi Joseph Telushkin -
- Ken Wilber -
- Rabbi Avi Weiss - Founder and Dean, YCT Rabbinical School
- Rabbi Gershon Winkler - Founder of the Walking Stick
- Rabbi Hershy Worch - Alleged sexual predator
- Rabbi David Zaslow - Havurah Shir Hadash
- Noam Zion - Hartman Institute
Background History - Rabbi Mordecai Gafni aka Marc Winiarz
- Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, Spiritual Director
- Board of Directors - Bayit Chadash
The New Orthodoxy The New Rabbi Of The Boca Raton Synagogue Expects To Make Waves (07/24/1987)
- The Rabbi Rocks (08/17/1987)
- Rabbi rolls out Jewish rock album (08/17/1987)
- Domestic News (08/17/1987)
- Morning Report: Pop/Rock (08/18/1987)
- True colors It's kosher! (08/18/1987)
- Rock News And Notes: This Elivis Replica Ain't Nothing But a Sound Doll (08/21/1987)
- Rabbi's Rap Sings Praises of Judaism - Jewish Rap (08/28/1987)
- Rabbi To Mark Papal Visit By Walking A Picket Line (09/10/1987)
- Promised Protests Fall Flat Amid Festivities (09/11/1987)
- "Never Again!' Pope Says Holocaust Condemned in Talk to Jewish Leaders (09/12/1987)
- 2 Rabbis Impressed by Pop (09/18/1987)
Controversial Rabbi Starts Jewish Outreach Organization (01/05/1989)
- Rabbi Urges "Revolution" In Values Winyarz's Controversial Speech Part of Classes (01/06/1989)
- Boca Rabbi Accepts Job on West Bank (07/22/1989)
Letter by Rabbi Causes Flap in House Race (11/02/1990)
- Rabbi Marc/Mordechai Gafni/Winiyarz Series Part1: The secret sex life of the man who brought Gafni/Winiarz/Winyarz to FL & how it led to his murder
Lessons From The Lanner Case (07/20/2000)
- Rabbi Accused of Manipulation in Shore Campaign Letter (11/01/2000)
- Shore Refuses to Apologize Over Letter (11/02/2000)
- Voters Revenge' On TV For Texans (11/03/2000)
- PBS Special Soul Prints: Your Path to Fulfillment - DVD (04/10/2001)
No Known Articles
- The Erotic and the Ethical (March/April 2003)
- Letter from Rabbi Bob Carroll, Program Director of Edah (02/19/2004)
- Post-Orthodoxy journey (03/04/2004)
- Very poor answer - Regarding "What is the question?" Haaretz Magazine (03/12/2004)
- An Introduction to Integral Kabbalah: Study, Prayer, and Meditation (04/2004)
Who is Marc Gafni - Integral Naked Bio
Protocols Blogspot (05/05/2004)
Protocols Blogspot (05/07/2004)
Gary Rosenblatt (06/24/2004)
Update: Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Mordechai Gafni, Marc Winiarz. Mordechai Winyarz, etc.) (10/03/2004)
Wisdom Chair - Jewish Studies at Stephen S. Wise Temple (09/21/2004)
The Re-Invented Rabbi (09/22/2004)
Letters To The Editor
- Letter from Vicki Polin - Unpublished (09/27/2004)
- Honest Confession (10/01/2004)
- Newton, Mass. (10/01/2004)
Column - By Rabbi Arthur Green (10/01/2004)
- The Power of a word: Rabbi Arthur Green calling for the death of Child Victim Advocates (10/02/2004)
- Rabbi Arthur Green writes The Jewish Week (10/02/2004)
- Update: Rabbi Arthur Green and his use of the term "rodfim" (10/03/2004)
- Update: The Case of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni and statements made by Rabbi Arthur Green (10/03/2004)
- Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz from the Reconstructionst Rabbinical College regarding Rabbi Arthur Green (10/06/2004)
- Clarification regarding the use of the term rodef (10/11/2004)
Defending Gafni - Letter from
Rabbi Saul Berman, Joseph Telushkin and Rabbi Tirzah
- Response letter from a Survivor of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (10/08/2004)
- Horrified By Quotes (10/08/2004)
- Perplexed Reader (10/15/2004)
- On Gafni, Round 2 - By Rabbi Arthur Green (10/15/2004)
- Psychology Of Abuse (10/15/2004)
Full Human Being
A Time to Publish? (09/24/2004)
Herscher: Gafni Still Welcome in L.A. (10/01/2004)
Articles on rabbi Gafni, born Marc Winiarz (10/03/2004)
Gafni has no PHD from Oxford (10/03/2004)
Stories From three Survivors of Rabbi Mordechai Winiarz (of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (aka: Marc Gafni, Mark Gafni, Marc Winiarz, Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Winyarz)
Rabbi Yosef Blau On Mordecai Gafni (10/14/2004)
Letter from: Rabbi Saul J. Berman & Rabbi Joseph Telushkin (10/13/2004)
Ways of Pleasantness or view it in Hebrew Maariv Article in Hebrew (10/15/2004)
Bayit chadash have issued public statement regarding Rabbi Marc Gafni (10/17/2004)
Rabbi Marc Gafni andAndrew Cohen (01/01/2005)
Gafni and Walmart (03/01/2005)
Eric Yoffe regarding Marc Gafni (03/09/2005)
Why am I not a Buddhist? (06/02/2005)
CALL TO ACTION: UJA Federation of NY Sponsors Event with Rabbi Marc "Mordechai" Gafni (09/11/2005)
CALL TO ACTION: Rabbi Marc Gafni (Winiarz) - How can any paper publish an article by this man anymore? (12/05/2005)
CALL TO ACTION: Omega Institute (12/26/2005)
CALL TO ACTION: All Rabbis and Rabbinical Organizations - Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Rabbi Mordechai Winyartz) (01/16/2006)
CALL TO ACTION: Gafni and Worch Speaking in Chicago? (04/20/2006)
CALL TO ACTION: Jerusalem Post - Three days of purple haze (05/09/2006)
Gafni Strikes Again (05/11/2006)
Mordechai Gafni/Winiarz Accused of Rape (05/11/2006)
Rabbi Arthur Waskow issues a letter on Marc Gafni (05/14/2006)
Ken Wilber - Rabbi Marc Gafni and Sexual Improprieties (05/15/2006)
Letter from Mordechai Gafni to Aleph regarding the recent allegations of sexual assault (05/15/2006)
History Channel - Bible Code II: Apocalypse and Beyond (05/16/2006)
Rabbi Marc Gafni & Andrew Cohen (05/17/2006)
Faith and Values on TV - Marc Gafni (05/17/2006)
CALL TO ACTION: Rabbi Marc Gafni and the News Media (05/17/2006)
Rabbi Gafni accused of sexual assault (05/18/2006)
Rabbi Mordechai Gafni accused of sexually exploiting women (05/18/2006)
Rabbi dogged by sex scandal (05/18/2006)
Note From The Awareness Center Regarding the Articles from the Forward and the New York Jewish Week (05/18/2006)
- Letter from Rabbi Saul Berman
- Rabbi Fired Over Sex Claims, Defenders Offer Mea Culpa (05/18/2006)
- Spiritual Renewal Leader Ousted For Sexual Behavior (05/18/2006)
Facing Up To Abuse (05/18/2006)
Bayit Hadash leader fired for sexual misconduct (05/18/2006)
Facts in Gafni case must be brought to light (05/18/2006)
Fiend Rabbi on Run: Victims in U.S., Israel (05/21/2006)
US women: Gafni assaulted us too - Two American women provide New York Post with details of harrowing sexual abuse by Rabbi (05/21/2006)
LA Gafni Event Canceled (05/25/2006)
Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi Speaks on Gafni (05/25/2006)
Rabbi Gafni Ousted for Misconduct (05/25/2006)
- Letters to the Editor (06/02/2006)
Rabbi Gafni's spiritual community still in shock (05/26/2006)
Helping Gafni's Victims (05/28/2006)
Campaign Against Edah - Justice for Survivors of Rabbi Mordecai Gafni (05/28/2006)
The new Sabbateans (05/30/2006)
Charisma's shadow Jewish Renewal community grapples with ethics in wake of Gafni affair (06/01/2006)
People of the Blog
Charisma and its Dangers: Mordechai Gafni as Nazirite (06/12/2006)
Deconstructing The Gafni Case (06/09/2006)
Is Gary Rosenblatt reinventing history when it comes to the case of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni? (06/16/2006)
Deposition Of Mordecai Gafni's Third Wife (06/27/2006)
Nuns' accomplishments don't deserve ridicule (08/16/2006)
CALL TO ACTION: Locating Rabbi Mordechai Gafni and His Return To Israel (09/20/2006)
CALL TO ACTION: Protect Women From Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (05/01/2007)
- Official Statement from Kanzeon Sangha International (05/02/2007)
- Rabbi Marc Gafni & Sexual Improprieties (05/15/2008)
- Gafni and Wolfson College - Oxford, England (06/17/2008)
- Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Living in Salt Lake City, Utah (07/02/2008)
Trial By Internet
- Sidebar to this article.- On the 'net: Lies Live Forever (7/2008)
- Serial Sex Abuser Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Returns (07/2/2008)
- Luke Ford Interviews Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (07/3/2008)
- Sex Abuser Mordechai Gafni is Back (07/04/2008)
Rabbi Arthur Waskow on Gershon Winkler and the case of
Rabbi Mordechai Gafni
- Rabbi Gershon Winkler with Gafni follower - Rabbi Ezra Ohad (07/04/2008)
- Mordechai Gafni is Back (07/08/2008)
- Rabbi fights sexual allegations (07/08/2008)
- CALL TO ACTION: Stop ex-Rabbi Marc Gafni From Advertising on GoogleAds (07/13/2008)
- Mordechai Gafni Is Back, And Going On Offense (07/16/2008)
- Marc Gafni's Sexual Impropriety Re- Emerges - Will Integral Leadership Step Up this Time? (09/12/2011)
- Marc Gafni Again - New York Jewish Week (09/14/2011)
- Marc Gafni Abuses Again -- and We Share Responsibility - Forward (09/21/2011)
- John Dupuy - My Opinion on the Marc Gafni Situation (09/22/2011)
- Final Ken Wilber Statement Dec. 2011, Marc Gafni / Center for World Spirituality (12/25/2011)
- Dr. Marc Gafni’s Biography (06/15/2012)
Other Cases Connected to Rabbi Mordechai Gafni
Case of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Case of Rabbi Michael Ozair
Case of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
Case of Rabbi Gershon Winkler
Case of Rabbi Hershy Worch
Bayit Chadash - About Us
Board of Directors and Founders - Bayit Chadash
- Jacob Ner-David - Board Chairperson. Social activist and entrepreneur.
- Avraham Leader - Melamed-in-Residence. One of the founders of "Amiqa d'Bira" (also known as "The Leader Minyan"). Currently studies, teaches, and translates.
- Haviva Ner-David - Educational Director, Author, feminist activist, teacher, and scholar.
- Rabbi Mordechai Gafni - Rosh Bayit. Student, Rebbe, author, and scholar.
- Rabbi Mordechai Gafni - Spiritual Director
- Jacob Ner-David - International Chair
- Suzy Rogovin - Israel Chair
- Metuka Benjamin - U.S. Chair
- Marcia Wexberg - Treasurer
- Neil Markowitz - Secretary/U.S. Coordinator
''La-die-do I'm a Jew 'cause I think it's coolYeah I eat kosher meat 'cause I ain't no foolAsk me anything you want to but I will repeatI say being Jewish makes me groove to the beat.Got a son who's a doctor, a daughter who's a lawyerMy wife teaches English and reads Tom SawyerEach morning I sit at my breakfast tableEatin' 'filte fish with lox and bagels.I'm a Jewish man been all over the mapThat's why I'm singing my Jewish rapY'see I've been rappin' since the age of threeWhen my home boys rocked across the Red Sea.Chorus: Jewish Pride keeps ya going strongMakes our people last real longSo don't ignore what comes from insideLet it grow, 'cause it's Jewish Pride.''
Rabbi To Mark Papal Visit By Walking A Picket Line
"Never Again!' Pope Says Holocaust Condemned in Talk to Jewish Leaders
Rabbi Urges "Revolution" In Values Winyarz's Controversial Speech Part of Classes
Boca Rabbi Accepts Job On West Bank
Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz, 28, said he will leave in September or October for a two-year post as rabbi of Zufim, a Jewish settlement on the West Bank.
The new community is on the western edge of the occupied territory, about 2 miles east of the Israeli city of Kefar Sava. Winyarz said the community has only 10 families now, but has plans for about...
The New Orthodoxy: The New Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue Expects to Make Waves
The Rabbi Rocks
METRO AND STATE
BOCA RATON - A 26-year-old rabbi is using rock 'n' roll to appeal to Jewish youth in a way they can understand.
A sample of the lyrics:La-die-doo, I'm a Jew 'cause I think it's coolYeah, I eat kosher meat 'cause I ain't no foolAsk me anything you want to, but I will repeatI say being Jewish makes me groove to the beat.
Letter by Rabbi Causes Flap in House Race
Lessons From The Lanner Case
Rabbi Accused of Manipulation in Shore Campaign Letter
Shore Refuses to Apologize Over Letter
Voters Revenge' On TV For Texans, DALLAS
PBS Special - Soul Prints - Your Path to Fulfillment (DVD)
Publisher Fox Lorber
The Erotic and the Ethical
Simple (Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water)
Simple (After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water)
I do not want your multitude of sacrificesI delight not in the blood of bullocks or goats or rams.Do not come to seek my face ...as you trample my courts of justice ...your hands are full of blood ...wash yourselves, make yourselves clean ...cease your evil doings ... seek fair judgment,argue the case of the widow and the orphan ...Zion will be redeemedby justice and ... integrity.
The modern mystic who understood this best was Abraham Kook.
Morality not guided by the sacred is not deep,and does not enter into the inwardness of the soul; ...Such a weak moralitydoes not have the power to guide ...the polis, the human community,to penetrate to the depth of the souland to transform the heartof universal man and of individual manfrom stone to flesh.There is no alternative plan for humanity
other than that it be guided by the erotic morality....
Letter from Rabbi Bob Carroll, Program Director - Edah
|Rabbi Saul Berman, Rabbi Bob Carroll, Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC|
Rabbi Bob Carroll, Edah's Program Director has an interesting and varied background, which makes him well suited for the challenges he faces at Edah. Rabbi Carroll is a graduate of Brandeis University, and received his Smicha from Yeshiva University as well as a Master's in Jewish Philosophy from YU's Revel Graduate School. He has also completed Doctoral coursework in Kabbalah at NYU, and studied at Yeshivat haMivtar and Yeshivat David Shapell in Jerusalem. Rabbi Carroll worked for four years as a Hillel director at several New York area campuses.
To Gafni, the line without a circle represents Ethos without Eros, i.e., rational life, without emotion, disconnected from Mother Earth and from natural impulse. The circle without the line represents an immersion in the erotic or spiritual, as in New Age practices. The fusion of the line and the circle represents Eros purified by the encounter with the rational and ethical foundation - a desirable encounter that is necessary for the building of the "Bayit Chadash" ("new home") or the new Judaism.
"Orthodox Judaism developed out of the ethical teachings of the Prophets, who tried to obscure the Eros for the sake of nurturing the Ethos," he says. This is how we've gotten the ultra-Orthodox Judaism that we're familiar with, a religion that tries to suppress the impulse and whose rabbis are supposed to supply absolute truths and answers to every question. Gafni, who calls himself "post-Orthodox," takes an opposite view of what religiosity ought to mean: "To me, the religious duty is to ask questions. I think it smacks of great arrogance to give pat answers to ultimate issues."
He officiates at same-sex marriages, and sees feminism and equality for women as key Jewish values. He plans to ordain women as rabbis and women in his community can be called up to the Torah.
Every blessing in the community's prayer book and every blessing recited at community ceremonies open, as usual, with "Baruch ata adonai eloheinu" and then continues with "ve'berukha at hashekhina" ("And blessed art thou, the Shekhina"). "I'm not talking about Judaism-lite, like the Reform or the settlers," says Gafni. "I'm talking about whole Judaism that has both Ethos and Eros, both faith and a full life, both male and female."
He was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to a family of Holocaust survivors that lived an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle. "At age six or seven, I knew that I wanted to be a rabbi," he relates. "Because I really loved the world of the book, which I'd known since I began learning at age 3." He went to a yeshiva high school in New York, then to Yeshiva University. He also took courses at Queens College and earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy ("I majored in Sartre, Heidegger and Nietzsche"). At the same time, he also set up a network of Jewish clubs within the New York public school system, to draw in Jewish youth that had left the synagogue and Judaism behind.
Letters to the Editor
Note: Shalom Freedman is a freelance writer in Jerusalem whose work has appeared in a wide variety of Jewish Publications
|ex-rabbi Marc Gafni, Ken Wilber and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi|
Who is Rabbi Marc Gafni
The Mystery of Love
Rabbi Marc has appeared on Integral Naked:
Protocols Blogspot - May 5, 2004
Has anyone else noticed that Bayit Chadash has replaced almost every reference to their founder Rabbi Mordechai Gafni on their website with the phrase Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (aka: Marc Winiarz, Marc Gafni, Mordechai Winiarz), the same phrase that the Awareness Center has had on their website for Rabbi Gafni since March.
Apparently, Bayit Chadash did not like that searches for their founder/leaders current name Gafni and former name Winiarz were leading to The Awareness Center so they have taken this action to boost their standing in the google search resuls for these words.
I chat by phone with Gary Rosenblatt, editor of The Jewish Week, Thursday morning, June 24, 2004.
Vicki Polin's Letter to the Editor - The Re-Invented Rabbi
|Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Mordechai Winiarz|
|Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Mordecai Winiarz)|
She had placed her trust in him. She could not believe what had occurred. He made her think that she was crazy and fabricating the whole thing. That, in addition to destroying her trust in him, frightened her. He started to threaten her. 'I don't know what you think happened here, but you will be sorry and I will destroy you if you tell anyone stories about what you think happened. I will make sure that you will never get into any Jewish school. Your reputation will be destroyed.'
|Rabbi Kenneth Hain|
|(Yeshiva University (Washington Heights, NY)|
|Rabbi Yitzchak Adler|
|Shalom Lamm / Dr. Norman Lamm|
Also see: The Case of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (AKA: Mark Gafni, Mordechai Winiarz)
|Rabbi Winiarz (AKA: Marc Gafni)|
|Rabbi Dovid Winiarz|
He told me that she stuck their heads in the kitchen oven. There was a very clear message that because of what had happened to him, he couldn't help but doing what he was doing to me, and he pleaded with me to understand that, have compassion with him, and comply. More than once, he told me what he was doing was because of the way I looked, or because he just couldn't control himself. He described the world to me as he saw it, full of boys and men who just could not control their sexual impulses, and like them, he really couldn't help himself- he just had to do what he was doing to me. He just had no choice. He added, as part of his rationalization, that the guys at YU were always masturbating, but no one talked about it.
|Rabbi Shlomo Riskin|
Judy's Story - The Case of Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Mordechai Gafni)
If at first you aren't heard . . .
|Rabbi Mordechai Winiarz (AKA: Marc Gafni)|
ALSO SEE: The Case of rabbi Mordechai Gafni (AKA: Mordechai Winiarz, Marc Gafni)
The overwhelming exhaustion that has washed over me from existing as a victim for the past eighteen years has ultimately been my silencer. Any remaining strength is channeled into the necessary tasks of parenting and daily survival. I will no longer be a victim.
"Why are you still awake?" he asked me. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing" I said. "I just needed a drink."
"I can tell there is something wrong, talk to me."
"Really, it's O.K.; I just had a bad dream. I am going back to sleep."
"You'll never be able to sleep if you don't tell me."
|Rabbis Kenneth Hain, Yitzchok Adler and Shlomo Riskin|
|Rabbi Yosef Blau|
|Mordecai Winiarz (AKA Mark Gafni)|
|Rabbi Kenneth Brander|
|Rabbi Heshy Billet|
|Rabbi Daniel Siegal|
|Rabbi Danny Landes|
|Rabbi Richard Joel|
|Migdalia Alvarez and ex-rabbi Marc Gafni|
"Rabbi Pam Frydman Baugh from the Renewal movement contacted me. She spoke to one of the
|Rabbi Pam Frydman Baugh|
|Rabbis Joseph Telushkin, Saul Berman and Tirzah Firestone|
"I touched. So what"
|WAYS OF PLEASANTNESS
The girl from New York: "I was 13, and Gafni was 20. He offered to help me with Talmud lessons. Afterwards he started to tell me that I was very special and that he liked me. A month later he requested permission from my parents to sleep in our house. That night he entered my room and started to touch me and encouraged me to touch him. I started to cry."
Rabbi Gafni: "I was in love with a 14 year old girl. We had an amazing spiritual bond. She wrote me a letter and described in it our beautiful and delicate love. We were young and didn't do anything wrong other than flirting. You know, a little kissing and glances"
The first incident occurred 23 years ago, when Gafni was 20. "I was in love with a 14 year old girl. We had an amazing spiritual bond. She wrote me a letter and described in it our beautiful and delicate love. We were young and didn't do anything wrong other than flirting. You know, a little kissing and glances. After a year we broke up. Then I was not yet a Rabbi and I haven't heard from this girl again.
Five years ago, when congregation Bayit Chadash began to develop and to gain notice in the general public, suddenly they started to tell me that the girl was spreading lies about me and slandering me by saying I had sexually exploited her when she was young. A group of people who don' t like the friendliness and the ways of Bayit Chadash publicized these stories. When they asked for my reaction I said that as far as I can remember I was a stupid boy and in love, and she was mature beyond her age, and at any rate I didn't do anything bad to her, and in my whole life I have never attacked a woman, not sexually or in any other way."
"I was 13, and Gafni was 20", said the girl in a telephone interview from New York. "I was a little girl and didn't understand very much. Gafni offered to help me with Talmud lessons. Afterwards he started to tell me that I was very special and that he liked me. He also warned me not to speak of his love to anyone, or they would think I was crazy and imagining things.
A month later he requested permission from my parents to sleep in our house. He said he wanted to go to a synagogue in the area. That night he entered my room and woke me. He started to touch me and encouraged me to touch him. I started to cry and I pushed him away, but he was much stronger than me. He said if I told anyone he would hurt me and my parents.
He did this every week, over eight months. Every Shabat morning he would pray fervently and tell me that I needed to repent over what we had done at night, because he had already prayed and repented. He didn't have sex with me for fear I would become pregnant. At a certain point they started suggesting women for him to go out with and he said he was going to get married and that his problems would be over. Then he left me. Only after several years did I have the strength to tell what had happened to several girlfriends. With their help I wrote a letter to a known Rabbi who was friendly with Gafni in Israel, and I told him about all that had occurred. But this Rabbi never answered me."
A nice concept. His meaning was that if they are married 5-6 years, and afterwards it ends, then it was wonderful to marry and even more wonderful to divorce". "Divorce is not a failure but a great happiness", says Ziv Rabinowitz, a member of Bayit Chadash. "Rabbi Gafni explained to us that it doesn't make sense that at a wedding we make a big meal and we have a photographer and flowers, whereas with a divorce we are sinking into some hole and we feel sad in a short and painful ceremony. We in this congregation believe that marriage should end with a big party, just like a wedding. Therefore we created a special divorce ceremony, that during it they prepare a meal and separate in happiness, and each one gives a dollar to the other in order to discharge karmic debts (nullification of negative energy) , and they understand that just like they entered into the framework of marriage in holiness, so too they need to leave it in holiness.
This is completely against my faith. On the other hand, I have made a few changes in my management style. I don't see women for extended periods of counseling, since this leaves me open to suspicion. I also don't meet women alone, but only with at least one other person present. This is how I protect myself. I also don't teach youth. I prefer to work with adults who are responsible, not with children".
That malignant distortion of Rabbi Green's words is based on Ms. Polin 's misuse and/or misinterpretation of a single Hebrew word, rodef, which translates as "pursuer." The word is widely used in the Jewish community with a variety of meanings, including, often, in the name of many temples, Rodef Shalom, which means "Pursuers of Peace." Readers of the letter can readily discern for themselves what Rabbi Green's actual use of the word meant – and it was not a call for the death of anyone. Ms. Green's unfounded, irrational, and irresponsible response to this letter is unfortunately representative of her normal modus operandi.
The claim that the site will only report previously published accusations is an outright lie.
Vicki has herself sent anonymous slanderous postings to web blogs and then cited them on The Awareness Center site as the basis for serious accusations.
The Awareness Center posts and distributes material which is totally false, describing as fact occurrences which simply never took place. The clear intent is the character assassination of those whom Vicki has decided are deserving of public defamation.
The site does not remove accusatory material even after full and multiple investigations have concluded that they are false.
The Awareness Center has initiated campaigns to destroy the reputation and work prospects of accused persons, even after their names have been formally cleared and/or full resolution between the parties has been achieved.
The site will provide no opportunity for response by accused persons, other than an admission of guilt.
The attempt to destroy people's reputations long after their death is not the pursuit of justice, it is journalistic pornography.
Why am I not a Buddhist?
Please remember that Rabbi Mordechai Gafni confessed to having sexual relations with a 13 year old girl. "She was 14 going on 35".
Send the letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to 972-3-5121156.
|Dali Lama with ex-rabbi Marc Gafni (2005)|
|The Dalai Lama and ex-rabbi Marc Gafni (2005)|
CALL TO ACTION: UJA Federation of NY Sponsors Event with Rabbi Marc "Mordechai" Gafni
Morris W. Offit - Chair of the Board
UJA Federation of NY
130 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
Lauren Katzowitz Shenfield - Executive Director
Philanthropy Advisors – A Service of UJA-Federation of New York
130 East 59th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10022
The Awareness Center - Sunday, September 11, 2005
Mordechai Gafni. It appears this is an agency sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York. Rabbi Gafni confessed to having sexual relations with a minor (see below).
(aka: Marc Gafni, Mark Gafni, Marc Winiarz, Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Winyarz)
CALL TO ACTION: Stop The Promotion Rabbi Marc Gafni (a Confessed Child Molester) in the News Media
|ex-rabbi Marc Gafni in Israel|
Please provide them with the following background information and history on Rabbi Mordecai Gafni (AKA: Mark Gafni, Marc Gafni, Marc Winiarz, Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Winyarz).
Omega Institute Contact Information:
CALL TO ACTION: All Rabbis and Rabbinical Organizations - Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Rabbi Mordechai Winyartz)
Call to Action: Jerusalem Post Promoting a confessed child molester
Three days of purple haze
Gafni Strikes Again
There was once a time when I stood up for Mordechai Gafni. Not for the man himself, precisely, but rather the notion that a man is innocent until proven guilty. On one occasion, in the midst of an argument with Jewish Whistleblower here on Jewschool, I was explicitly warned by several of my most esteemed jblogger friends to diassociate myself from such remarks because, when the shit hits the fan, I'm not going to want to be seen in any way, shape or form, to be among his sycophants. So before I break this story, let me just clarify: I have have always been suspicious of Gafni. Though I have never met him or conversed with him (perhaps luckily, as I've never come under the sway of his "charismatic leadership"), I have heard one-too-many alarming tales from his students and would-be victims to remain ambivalent towards him. In turn, I have inquired of all allegations against him to both prominent Renewal leaders and their staff members, as well as some contributors to Jewschool who have been in close contact with him. Their responses have hardly satisfied me, and I have since made it a point to warn every person in the Renewal community I know to steer clear of him.
Mordechai Gafni/Winiarz Accused of Rape
Rabbi Arthur Waskow issues a letter on Marc Gafni
Avraham Leader's statement:
Rabbi Marc Gafni and Sexual Improprieties
Rabbi Mordechai Gafni accused of sexually exploiting women
Rabbi dogged by sex scandal
Note From The Awareness Center Regarding The Forward and New York Jewish Week's Articles
|Rabbi Saul Berman|
"Consistently griping about how they've been neglected by the JTA and other Jewish media which covered the Jewish blogging world without paying them any mind, they've launched a series of new sites which aim to put themselves at the center of a revolution that was long over before they arrived on the scene."
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.
has a grandiose sense of self-importance – exaggerates achievements and talents.
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance.
Believes that he is "special" and unique and can only associate with other special or high-status people or institutions.
Requires excessive admiration
Has a sense of entitlement – expecting especially favorable treatment or compliance with his expectations
Is interpersonally exploitative; taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
Is envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
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):
failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors (such as his sexual harassment in the workplace and sleeping with students and employees)
deceitfulness, repeated lying
irritability and aggressiveness (as is known by anyone who has ever worked under Mordechai, or crossed his path politically)
reckless disregard for safety of self or others (such as endangering himself by juggling numerous affairs at once, given his history)
lack of remorse; indicated by rationalizing having hurt, or mistreated others
By Ken Wilber
May 15, 2008
Subsequently, rumors have been rife. After long conversations with many of the concerned parties, I have come to the following conclusions. At this time, these are my personal opinions, and are open to immediate revision in light of any further evidence. Marc Gafni is a close friend of mine, but in circumstances like this, friendship decidedly takes a backseat to ethics and justice. In my opinion, the viewpoint that takes the most number of perspectives into account is the more likely to be the better moral judgment, with the Basic Moral Intuition the ultimate guide.
These are my conclusions at this time:
1. There is substantial truth to some of these allegations.
2. This has caused something of a feeding frenzy for the mean green meme, which is understandable but I believe inexcusable. Frankly, some of these have reached pathetic portions.
3. Nonetheless, there is some truth to these allegations because of grave wrongdoing on Marc’s part, and I believe this wrongdoing is due not just to bad judgment on Marc’s part, but to a pathology or dysfunction affecting Marc.
4. Marc, in a letter to Bayit Chadash, agreed that some of his actions indeed stemmed from a pathology or, as he termed it, a “sickness.”
5. I do not believe that somebody with an acknowledged emotional illness or sexual pathology is competent to be a public spiritual teacher. Therefore, at this time, Marc will not be involved in public teaching or presentations of any sort at Integral Institute.
6. With Marc’s agreement, I have asked Frances Vaughan to begin a consultation with Marc focused specifically on his dysfunction.
7. I have other suggestions for therapeutic work that I believe would be helpful to Marc, and I believe he is sincere in pursuing them. He will be stopping in Boulder/Denver periodically to consult with me and with Rabbi Zalman as to these directions.
[Correction: Since having written this, I have spoken with Rabbi Zalman. Zalman has decided that it is best neither to meet nor speak with Mordechai until further notice.]
8. I realize that some people doubt Marc's sincerity. This is understandable. My strong recommendation has therefore been to create a board of advisors to oversee Marc’s therapeutic work. I have not specifically talked with individuals about this board, but what I have in mind is something like Frances Vaughan, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone (who is in Boulder), and Diane Hamilton forming a board that would biannually review Marc’s progress, and make specific recommendations at each juncture. This board would have to be composed of individuals completely acceptable to both sides (i.e., to Bayit Chadash and to Marc Gafni).
9. I have stated my conclusion, after reviewing the evidence and as many perspectives as I can, that there is truth to some of these allegations and that this is due in part to Marc’s illness, and that as long as this dysfunction is not addressed, I do not believe that Marc should be teaching. But I want to point out that emotional illness can be treated and in many cases cured. Marc may or may not be sincere, and his therapy may or may not be effective -- but that is exactly the purpose of the therapeutic board: namely, to make that decision, and not to let either of the partial sides do so. I do not know if this solution will work, but to date it is the only rational, compassionate, and fair one that I have heard, and therefore the only one which serves justice.
10. Whatever is decided on that issue, my understanding is that there is no objection to Marc pursuing his writing. We all recognize the brilliance of his contributions in this area. If we are accepting a “levels and lines” argument, then allowing Marc to pursue this line seems reasonable to me, and is something I would certainly recommend.
This is an extraordinary difficult period for all parties concerned. Bayit Chadash has been hurt. Integral Institute has been hurt. Mordechai has been hurt by his own actions. And most of all, the parties directly involved have been hurt.
But I beg all of you -- all of us -- not to inflame the situation further by demanding more pain, more suffering, more agony. Inflicting more pain on Marc will not take away the pain that all of us are already suffering. Let us not have an eye for an eye, but justice and mercy in equal proportions. Please don’t let hatred into your soul, I beg you; that serves nobody, least of all those who offer hatred a home.
My heart goes out to the women involved -- I am so deeply, deeply sad at the pain and turmoil they have suffered; and my heart goes out to the men and women who have been affected by these tragic events. My heart goes out as well to Mordechai, a dear friend whose very bright light has cast a very sharp shadow, and in a way that has inadvertently caused such harm. I do believe, however, that emotional illness can be cured; I believe that reasonable restitution can be made; I believe that forgiveness and compassion are stronger than any evil in this world; and I know that the outreach of our own tender mercies and loving kindness will ultimately carry the day.
Sending all of you much Love, Light, and Life,
|ex-rabbi Mordechai Gafni in Israel (Marc Gafni)|
|ex-rabbi Marc Gafni and Blogger, Luke Ford (2008)|
July 20, 2008
|Mordechai Gafni (Marc Gafni) in Israel|
Remember Mordechai/Marc Gafni? He was the guy who fled Israel two years ago to avoid charges of sexual misconduct and possibly rape after he was–once again–found to be using his charismatic rebbe-hood to exploit his female students and followers. It's a pattern that had been going on for some time, with some of his past victims decidedly underage at the time of the abuse. (He was famously quoted in the NY Jewish Week as saying, in response to one woman's claims that he had "repeatedly and forcibly sexually assaulted" her that "she was 14 going on 35...") (The NY Post has some graphic accounts of abuse by some of his victims; Reb Zalman revoked his smicha; Gafni, when the story broke, wrote a letter to Aleph pleading mea culpa and referring to himself as sick–just as he was sneaking to the States and disappearing.)
|Rabbi Arthur Waskow|
Mordechai Gafni is Back
(Gafni, formerly known as Mordechai Winiarz, was ordained by Shlomo Riskin, an Orthodox rabbi, but later evolved into a spiritual guru who wrote and lectured on incorporating Eros into Judaism. At 47, he has been married and divorced three times, and surrounded by accusations of sexual misbehavior his entire adult life.)
Rabbi fights sexual allegations
Marc Gafni Update & A Confession/Apology
I received a phone call from Gafni today, asking for the opportunity to speak with me about the allegations so that I might willingly pull that post, in which I labeled him an abusive guru, and feel that I have done so with integrity.
I am more than willing to grant his request. However, I asked to do it via email so that there is a written record of the conversation (I lack the know-how or the tools to do it via phone even I wanted to). I am awaiting his reply.
Since receiving the phone call, I have read the recent material in his defense -- Trial by Internet -- posted at The Catalyst. I have also read the newest public statement at his blog. Let's just say that I remain skeptical.
However, I was talking with my closest friend about this situation. What I have realized is that based on some things that happened to my sister when she was young, and to some friends in college, I ALWAYS side with the victim in sexual misconduct/abuse cases. I have little sympathy for the accused, and barring obvious evidence to the contrary, am often all too ready to condemn.
In this case, Gafni confessed at the time. Adding credence to the confession was Ken Wilber's statement at the time (which I believe has been pulled from Wilber's blog). Gafni now says he confessed while in a state of shock:
My initial response emerged from a place of radical shock, confusion, trauma, and fear. All products of the mind’s illusion, yet painfully real at the time.
Though at the time I was not thinking clearly about this, in retrospect I realize that the decision to write the letter was driven by several factors.
I felt that as “Captain of the Ship” I needed to take responsibility for any sickness that appeared in a system that I had created. I also recognized that my bohemian personal life had made me vulnerable to attack. Though I had sincerely believed that I had a right to a private life, it seemed clear that the unconventional nature of my personal relationships could not be held ’safely’ even in the alternative spiritual culture of the movement I headed, and that they had put my work at risk.
I also found the notion of engaging in a sensationalist conflict in the public realm so abhorrent and defiling to my spirit, and the experience of personal betrayal so painful and devastating, that I preferred to fall on my own sword. I believed that writing the letter would, in some measure, end the attacks, and give me time to heal and think things through.
Finally, I had simply been blind-sided by the speed and incomprehensibility of these events.Sounds reasonable, but this also comes two years after the fact. After fleeing Israel and keeping a very low profile.
I want to give this man a chance to defend himself, but my bullshit detector is going off.
Anyway, so yes, I assumed him guilty as charged based on the confession and other information at the time.
However, I am a pretty damned flawed human being -- what right do I have to pass judgment? And by repeating those allegations here I am indeed passing judgment. Gafni (in his phone message) said that my post was coming up second on Google searches for his name, ahead of his own blog, and that this was causing him and his family considerable hardship and grief.
Part of me wants to say, "Damn right asshole."
But where is the compassion in that? As a Buddhist, I sometimes think, WWBD? (What Would Buddha Do?) For that matter what would Jesus do? Neither man would condemn another person, but neither man would tolerate self-deception nor passing off sexual abuse as the "unconventional nature of my personal relationships," or a "bohemian personal life."
I currently don't know what the truth is. If Gafni agrees to an on-the-record exchange with me, and in doing so I will be as fair as humanly possible, then I will report it here.
The goal of the following call to action is to prevent one more child or adult from becoming the next victim of a sex crime.
BREAKING: Marc Gafni's Sexual Impropriety Re- Emerges - Will Integral Leadership Step Up this Time?
There have been two recent developments regarding Marc Gafni, already a controversial, polarizing figure following a very public sex scandal five years ago. While many organizations and teachers would have nothing to do with him, the Integral world did seem to believe his version of events and took him back.
- Integral life has removed Gafni as a contributor to their website and as MC of the Integral Spiritual Experience 3 Conference.
|Robb Smith, CEO - Integral Life|
- Sounds True has cancelled publication of his upcoming book and severed ties with his Center for World Spirituality.
When I first started working with Marc a couple of years ago, Marc and I spoke openly about his history and what he claimed were false accusations against him related to alleged sexual improprieties. Several influential people spoke up in his defense and equally several people warned me not to trust Marc. I came to believe that whatever hadJust to be clear here, Gafni was sleeping with two women, both of whom were in a power differential to Gafni - one was a private student.
happened in the past, Marc was beginning a new chapter in his life. Marc explicitly stated to me that he was not going to be involved in sexual relationships with students, that even if he deemed such relationships to be consensual, he did not believe that engaging in relationships with students would support his efforts to be an effective teacher. In considering publishing Marc's work, the most important thing to me was the actual quality of the written work. When he submitted "Your Unique Self" in its edited form, I appreciated the content and message of the book. The quality of the book combined with the force of his conviction regarding how he would conduct himself as a teacher moving forward convinced me to take a risk on publishing his work.
In the past several weeks, new and incontrovertible information came to light that made me aware that Marc was involved in a sexual relationship with a student and that the relationship was shrouded in secrecy. There was an obvious lack of alignment between Marc's words to me and his actions. I learned about Marc's sexual relationship with a student from another woman who was having a sexual relationship with Marc. This woman was also asked by Marc to keep her relationship with him a secret. In talking with this woman, I learned how emotionally damaging this secrecy was for her, how it cut her off from emotional support and connection. I also learned quite a bit about how she felt manipulated by Marc, about how often she witnessed Marc telling lies to cover his tracks, and how upset she was to find herself caught in such a web of lies.
Discovering this new information, it became clear to me that it was not in integrity for me personally or for Sounds True as a company to publish Marc's books or to support him as a spiritual teacher in the world. I do not trust Marc Gafni. I do not trust what he says, and I do not trust that he acts in the best interests of his students or his professional alliances.
~ Tami Simon, Sounds True
|Marc Gafni and Mariana Caplan|
However, the other woman was receiving marriage counseling (as was her husband, separately) as her marriage was ending. To my knowledge, Gafni is not licensed to provide counseling in Colorado (Colorado Mental Health Practice Act), and if he is, sleeping with a client is grounds for censure or the removal of his license.
Both women wish to remain anonymous for a variety of reasons.
All of this was happening while he was "partnered" with Mariana Caplan, who is the mother of his child, and who risked her own reputation to write a chapter in her book, The Guru Question, arguing for his supposed innocence regarding the Israel incident in 2006; even Publisher's Weekly questioned that final chapter.
I have not had a chance to speak with Robb Smith directly, so the following information is based on reports from various people with access to the inner workings of Integral Life.
|Jeff Salzman, Diane Hamilton and Terry Patten|
|Robb Smith, Sally Kempton, Clint Fuhs, and Diane Hamilton|
It is my hope that this post will offer a place for all of Gafni's victims (many of whom have never come forward publicly because of the fear of abuse and harassment they are likely to receive from him and his enablers) to tell their stories.
Allowing Gafni back into the Integral community - and defending him - has provided him with a platform to teach and begin his own organization - which has allowed him to bring chaos into the lives of two more women (that we know of - there may be others who are still silent). This need not have happened.
However, the women willingly entered into these relationships - but would they have done so if there was a more public record of Integral leadership exposing his abuses?
|Marc Gafni (AKA: Rabbi Mordechai Winiarz)|
For much of the last decade, off and on, I followed the career of Gafni, 50, a former Orthodox rabbi who became a leader of the Jewish spiritual renewal movement, here and in Israel, and then a teacher among those in the New Age community seeking life insights. He is a charming, bright and charismatic man, but has been dogged throughout his career by reports of inappropriate sexual activities with women younger than him, many of them his students.
He has publicly acknowledged that he has made mistakes in his life, but always asserted that the accusations were false.
Gafni and I spoke a number of times about what he called “the witch hunt” against him, which he claimed was motivated by a small group of women and a few Orthodox rabbis who he said were jealous of his popular appeal.
Seven years ago I interviewed more than 50 people for a column I wrote about Gafni, and which was published in September 2004. I tried to offer a balanced portrait of a man that some women called a predator and some rabbis defended as a gifted, troubled soul who may have made missteps in his youth but who had done teshuva.
I presented the rabbis’ words of support and the women’s complaints that he took advantage of both their youth and the imbalance of the student-teacher relationship.
In the end, the women thought I was too easy on Gafni, the rabbis thought I shouldn’t have publicly scrutinized him.
At one point during my research on Gafni, in 2003 or 2004, he came to my office for a lengthy interview and insisted that his then-third wife, subsequently divorced, be present. I still have the tape.
I got the impression he felt that if he could sit down face to face with someone, anyone, he could convince that person he was telling the truth. And I think he believed he was telling the truth, even when subsequent events proved otherwise.
That day his wife, 15 years his junior, looked at him adoringly and at times referred to him as rebbe – she had been his student. A few years later she wrote, in an effort to alert others, that she had ignored warnings about Gafni when they dated and that he had lied to her, cheated on her and abused her verbally throughout their marriage.
In Israel, Gafni led a new spiritual group called Bayit Chadash, but he abruptly returned to the U.S. in 2006 when three female members of the community in their 20s went to the police to charge him with sexual harassment.
He downplayed his rabbinic background here, becoming a popular lecturer in the so-called integral community, which promotes spiritual wisdom.
But William Harryman, a self-described blogger, personal trainer and transformation coach, posted a recent report quoting Tami Simon of Sounds True, a company that publishes books and CDs on inner wisdom, that recent actions by Gafni have left her disillusioned.
Though she said she had believed his denials about past relationships, Simon is quoted as saying that based on “new and incontrovertible information” that Gafni was having secret, sexual relationships with two women, one of whom was his student, her company decided not to publish Gafni’s newest book, “Your Unique Self.” She also wrote, according to Harryman, that she could no longer support Gafni “as a spiritual teacher in the world.
“I do not trust Marc Gafni,” she stated. “I do not trust what he says, and I do not trust that he acts in the best interests of his students or his professional alliances.”
Robb Smith, CEO of Integral Life, which deals with spiritual wisdom, wrote in a blog yesterday that he was ending his organization’s association with Gafni, removing his contributions from the group’s website and calling for a new policy on ethics among contributors to the site.
The last time I spoke to Gafni was several years ago when he called me with an odd request. He said he wanted to fly to New York from the West, where he lived, just to meet with me for an hour or two. He said he didn’t care if I wrote about the meeting or not, he just wanted to present his side of the story to me one more time.
Marc Gafni Abuses Again -- and We Share Responsibility
|Confessed sex offender - ex-rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Mordechai Winiarz)|
I was not one of the women Gafni had clandestine affairs with during his time he was a Renewal rabbi, though I was certainly aware (and sometimes the object) of his sexual assertiveness and charisma during the time I knew him, from 2004 through 2006. I am remaining anonymous now because I am afraid of Gafni’s reprisals and am terrified of even receiving an email from him wanting to “talk” or “clear the air,” like the ones he has been known to send his victims. But I am raising my voice to my fellow Jews that we have been silent about this man for too long, and now our silence has led to yet more abuse. In this season of repentance, we should be ashamed of ourselves, and resolve to do better.
|Bayit Chadash (Israel)|
Those of us who knew Gafni well didn’t buy these claims of healing. We’d been fooled before, after Gafni lied to us to cover up past affairs and whitewash past episodes of assault. We saw the same pattern happening again: a new community in a new place (this time, Utah), new associates who didn’t know him from before, a name change. (All of this, by the way, is based on my opinions and observations, and those of my friends. I may be wrong on some of the facts, but I know I’m right on the primary ones. Certainly, I am not making any kind of legal accusations.) Some of us felt a duty to warn Gafni’s new acolytes that, in many of our opinions, he is a serial sexual predator.
These efforts were met with fierce resistance by Gafni’s new friends, who, despite having never really known him more than a year or two, were sure that he was being maligned. (Right, women who are victims of sexual predators are the real aggressors. Where have I heard that before?) Affiliates of the noted spiritual teacher Diane Hamilton, who posted her half-hearted apology last week, actually threatened some of those people when they tried to tell the truth about Gafni three years ago. Well, Ms. Hamilton, “we” told you so. Your apology should include those of us your friends intimidated. This was not just “your bad” – it was an awful thing, what your associates did. The “women in Israel” did not lie. You were wrong to silence them, and us.
Another time, one of the women Gafni abused tried to stop him from speaking at a well-known spiritual center in California, and was shouted down online by Gafni’s latest band of brainwashed believers. She was called a liar, and worse. This took place in a progressive, integral, spiritual forum – yet it was like something out of The Accused.
And supposedly, there was a letter that rabbis in Renewal and other movements were supposedly going to post, stating to Gafni’s new community that we had been conned by this man before, and that we knew he would strike again. As he now did. Whatever happened to this letter? It was never sent. Last I heard, it was being circulated for signatures. And then it disappeared.
Why? Threats of litigation? Threats of reprisal? Or maybe just cowardice?
Cowardice, like that of the three well-known rabbis who pronounced Gafni kosher way back in 2003 or so. This beit din, which was comprised of three respectable people, made a mockery of their sacred task. They didn’t even talk to some of Gafni’s previous victims, even though one of them is a well-known teacher herself who doesn’t hide this seedy episode from her past. I know they didn’t talk to these people, because I did. They didn’t follow up with congregants in his old congregation, who would’ve told them about Gafni having sex with a congregant there. In fact, they did just about nothing, other than talk to Gafni himself and accept his phony tshuvah as valid. That was an act of cowardice too.
I was one of those suckered by that beit din into believing that Mordechai Gafni had sinned once, but had long since repented. We were told that whistleblowers like Gary Rosenblatt at The Jewish Week were on a witch hunt – even though Rosenblatt was not an accuser, but a journalist who wrote a balanced report on Gafni’s positive and negative attributes. Mr. Rosenblatt, you were right and those rabbis were wrong. You told us so, and we should have listened. Our rabbis told us not to.
And when we found that out, we had an obligation to stop this sexual rodef who we knew would abuse again. Why didn’t we do that? What could possibly have justified our silence?
Should we have publicized the statement of Gafni’s ex-wife, describing Gafni’s weird sexual pathology in horrible, vivid detail? Should we have publicized her statements that she, and not Gafni, wrote most of one of his books? Should we have publicized the statements from another rabbi that he, and not Gafni, wrote yet another one?
Maybe the Renewal community was afraid to act because it is afraid of being tarnished, like the Hasidim were by their opponents, by slanders of sexual immorality. Of course, Gafni is a post-denominational abuser. He has slept with much younger female students in Orthodox, Renewal, and now non-Jewish spiritual communities. And of course, though Renewal has had its share of philandering rabbis, so have all the major denominations. At least no Renewal rabbis are in jail for seducing underage boys online, as one formerly respected Orthodox rabbi now is. But the mainstream media has often fixated on Renewal as if sexual crimes are somehow particular to it. I don’t forgive the Renewal community for failing to act, but I do understand this context.
To be clear: as far as I know, the relationships Gafni pursued at Bayit Chadash, his Israeli spiritual community, were superficially consensual. The women were not raped or physically abused. In fact, contrary to Gafni’s own propaganda, they have never asserted otherwise, except one statement, given in the heat of the moment, that what Gafni did “felt like rape.” No, all three women thought of Gafni as a rebbe, and thus gladly submitted to his sexual advances. If you call that consensual, which I don’t, then the relationships were that. And for all I know, the two women in his most recent spiritual community likewise “consented,” inasmuch as seekers can consent to sex with their gurus.
But that doesn’t absolve us of responsibility for failing to warn his new community loudly and clearly that the man was not to be trusted. Maybe he’s a sexual predator, maybe he just has a lot of sex, I don’t know. But we do know that this is the same pattern we’ve seen over and over again. We all knew it would happen again. Now it has.
It certainly seems that Gafni will never teach in the Jewish world again, baruch hashem. But it’s a wide spiritual world out there, and I assume Gafni will again resurface. For this reason, I am calling on my spiritual sisters and brothers to pull that collective letter out of mothballs and create a non-anonymous letter warning any and all future spiritual communities that Marc Gafni is not trustworthy in these matters. Individuals like me are too afraid to do so openly, because we are alone. But if we joined hands together and acted as one, we could ensure that this man does not abuse again and perhaps do some tshuvah ourselves.
John Dupuy - My Opinion on the Marc Gafni SituationIntegral Options Cafe - Sept. 22, 2011
|John Dupuy on Marc Gafni|
Integral Recovery expert and psychotherapist John Dupuy has offered (on his Integral Life blog) the most compassionate, honest, and psychologically accurate perspectives on the Marc Gafni situation from anyone in the Integral community. If there were more leaders like Dupuy in the community, more of us would have remained involved.
But then there is Robb Smith, CEO of Integral Life, who made this comment on his Facebook page:
I gave Marc a chance many said I should not have. It was probably a mistake to give him leadership authority, but I wanted first hand experience of his character. I read all the material that he presented in his defense and it was convincing. It took me about a year to figure out how he put it all together, and that's when I started to make the separation.Really, it only took you a year? And yet Gafni kept teaching for two more years - often highlighted as a leader and featured speaker - with no warning to members or his students that he had lied about the Israel situation, that he manufactured the "evidence" that he claimed cleared him? Where is the leadership in that?
I want to believe you are coming from the best interest of the community Robb, but then you reveal how you really weren't stepping up. I'm struggling to understand your actions . . . .
Anyway, here is John's statement:
My Opinion on the Marc Gafni SituationPosted September 22nd, 2011 by john dupuy in Spiritual Leadership
This is a post that I wrote about 3 days ago, concerning Marc Gafni and the latest debacle. As a courtesy, I sent this post to Marc, saying that I am posting this and quoted the biblical reference Proverbs 27:6: Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. I immediately received a call from Marc, in which he threatened me with legal action and an internet campaign to discredit my character based on all of the personal information that he has found out about me during our years of friendship. To which I say good luck on the legal action and stay posted for the character assassination, which is either going to be very boring or very creative.
In the last few days I have consulted with many friends and colleagues over the nature of this post, to include Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton, and I have decided that I will not be silenced. Ultimately, what influenced my decision to post this was the realization that came out during a conversation with Sally Kempton, myself and my wife, Pam - and that is, I think I owe this to the younger generations of our world-wide Integral community. As this latest sexual scandal emerged with Marc, I have heard from many people who are very hurt by Marc's actions and generally feeling very disillusioned with our Integral spiritual teachers and role models. Based on that, I am posting this. I do this after much reflection and prayer, with sadness and clarity. I still hold out the hand of friendship to Marc but as a real friend, and not as an enabler. And let me be clear, it is not we who are speaking about this who are causing this problem, it is Marc's behaviors and choices that has brought this on. As I teach to my recovery students, the truth hurts, but it doesn't kill, and ultimately, lies kill. So with much love to Marc and all those concerned, and to our worldwide Integral family.
Here is the most important passage from John's statement - he confirms and restates what many of us have been saying for years:
It appears to be all part of a single pattern, starting long before Israel, and continuing into the present. As I have struggled with this latest debacle and scandal, I have experienced myriad emotions, from being heartsick, feeling helpless, to being righteously pissed. As I write this, I feel sadness, as I am very loyal to my family and friends. But I believe that Marc has behaved in a way that is unworthy of the position of leadership and authority that he has been granted in our Integral circles. His behaviors, his absolute incapacity to own anything, and his incredible ability to manipulate and play the victim, are simply beyond the pale and unacceptable. I believe Marc is in panic mode right now and his behaviors have caused catastrophic events in his life: losing a major publishing deal, losing his connection as a major personality and teacher at Integral Life, and the questioning by people around the world about his fitness to be a leader in the world spirituality arena. Yet Marc continues to play the victim and spin new angles and even new dharmas to justify his very unwise and dysfunctional behaviors.
In my work with addicts, over the years, I have become very used to seeing lives ruined by addictive acting out. It’s kind of par for the course in the disease of addiction. I have also seen many lives come back from the brink of death and complete dishonor. Not only have I seen lives come back, but I have seen them come back with renewed strength, compassion, devotion, and humility. But it ain’t easy and it takes a lot of work. The first step is to admit that you have a problem and take responsibility. I don’t see this with Marc. Marc is always the victim and always the martyr.
As I have sat with this, talked and emailed with my friends and colleagues in the Integral movement from around the world, I have realized a deep pattern of dysfunction, manipulation, and narcissism in Marc’s case. These are three words that, interestingly enough, characterize the disease of addiction. I had hoped against hope that Marc would learn from his past mistakes and sense of calling, as he brought forth his important teachings of the Unique Self and World Spirituality, and that this would keep his dysfunctional and apparently compulsive behaviors in check. That has obviously not happened. He has hurt his family, his friends, his supporters and our Integral community.
I offer this in the spirit of personal sadness as well as hope that Marc can repent and heal. And I hope that we all can grow up a little bit, though we may have been hurt and disillusioned by the behaviors of our role models and spiritual teachers in the past—that we will not use this as an opportunity to become cynical but that we will challenge ourselves to become those leaders that we had wished we had. God help us all.
Perhaps the only thing that might change my perspective is a direct, video statement from Ken Wilber himself. I'd like to hear an apology for allowing Marc back into the Integral limelight, and for his comments comparing Gafni's accusers to neo-Nazis (the letter was attributed to Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber - it used to be featured on Gafni's blog, but is now gone):
The evidence makes it abundantly clear that the horrendous claims made about Marc on what can only be described as Internet vendetta or hate sites hidden beneath the fig leaf of victim advocacy, are without a shred of truth. To even need say this is in some sense offensive. It is somewhat like a Jewish person needing to deny anti–Semitic claims on a neo–Nazi site.
Final Ken Wilber Statement Dec. 2011, Marc Gafni / Center for World Spirituality
|Ken Wilber on Marc Gafni|
Earlier, in a post on the Integral Life website, I have commented on the situation that developed several months ago in the blogosphere.
I acknowledged in that post that Marc, like most great spiritual teachers and pundits, has great gifts as well as human complexity. I pointed out that everyone must make up their own mind as to whether they want to work with Marc, or to be his student.
I am writing to share that, for myself, I have made up my mind. I am rejoining the Wisdom Council of the Center for World Spirituality, to which I invited many of my colleagues to participate.
I look forward to future work with Marc in articulating and evolving the contours of a World Spirituality based on Integral Principles.
Some of my reasons for wanting to work with Marc are contained in letters I co-wrote with Sally Kempton in 2008. However, there is one piece I want to add. I am working with Marc, not despite this last blogosphere explosion but rather because of his reaction to it.
What impressed me most about Marc’s response to this situation is that though he might well have felt justified in feeling angry or hurt about what happened, by and large he focused on asking for all feedback from every possible source on why this happened. He wanted to know, at a deeper level, how he might have contributed to it himself, and what he could do to help remedy the situation and any part he might have played in this. Most astonishingly, for a spiritual teacher, he included in this list—in order to make it truly comprehensive—a search for a great therapist that he might see. He made a serious and widespread search for a therapist, and finally found an incredibly competent and highly respected one—and signed up.
This was not because he necessarily needed therapy, but simply that he told himself he was going to cover every base and make a truly comprehensive and inclusive search for any approach that might help address the situation. He was, in other words, doing whatever necessary to cover any shadow elements, should they be present. I know of extremely few spiritual teachers that would do this—that would be committed enough to their own integrity to include all possible angles, and then genuinely follow through on it. This, to me, is an indication of a genuine spiritual teacher, one dedicated to working on himself no matter how “embarrassing” it might appear to others. On this issue, even his critics will have few if any grounds for complaint at this point. Even they have acknowledged that he is, in many ways, a very gifted spiritual teacher, and this recent move simply makes him an even more gifted teacher, in my opinion.
Speaking personally, I feel that any shadow issues that Marc, (like most spiritual teachers), might have are now being actively and genuinely addressed. I repeat that I know very few spiritual teachers who have the guts to do this, and my hat, for one, is off to the gentleman.
This move also gives me confidence that Marc can and will continue to make a good spiritual leader for the Center for World Spirituality. Every spiritual teacher, in my opinion, should be doing some sort of shadow work, but Marc is one of the very few whom I know that is actually doing it. This is indeed, in my book at least, very impressive.
So, I hope everybody out there can join me in wishing Marc the very best in this sincere inner work—or, at the least, congratulate him for being determined and integral enough to decide to cover all the bases and then actually do so. In many spiritual traditions, forgiveness is a path to God, and I know Marc has worked hard to forgive any insults—real or imagined—that he recently received, and perhaps it is appropriate for others also to work to forgive any insults—real or imagined—received from Marc. In this atmosphere of loving-kindness, care, and forgiveness, we can all get back to this incredibly important work of Integral Spirituality.
In Regard to the False Reports and Hate Sites on the Web
By Marc Gafni
May 30, 2012
|Vicki Polin, LCPC / ex-rabbi Marc Gafni|
|ex-rabbi Marc Gafni and Blogger, Luke Ford|
|Blogger, Luke Ford and Psychotherapist, Vicki Polin|