An Open Letter To Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon

An anonymous blogger has published a detailed chronology of the Rabbi Kolko rabbi-on-boy sex abuse case as an open letter to Agudath Israel’s hit man, Rabbi Matistyahu Salomon. The chronology starts in 1976. Here are three excerpts:

…· 1984 – As instructed by Rabbi Avigdor Miller, an Askan calls for a meeting which takes place at the home of Rabbi Yakov Perlow (the Novominsker) and is attended by Rabbi Avrohom Pam, Rabbi Elya Svei, Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller, Rabbi Aharon Schechter, Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman, Rabbi Shia Fishman and Rabbi Yankel Bender. At this meeting, chaired by Rabbi Perlow, the Askan discusses what is transpiring to innocent boys at the hands of Rabbi pedophiles and requests that Torah Umesorah and the Rabbonim issue a statement calling for their removal from Chinuch. Rabbi Svei informs this Askan that Torah Umesorah has consulted their attorneys who advised that for Torah Umesorah to admit knowledge of such abuse would subject Torah Umesorah, its staff, all its member schools and their staff to liability for not having reported their knowledge to the authorities earlier. Accordingly, Rabbi Elya Svei informs the Askan, neither he nor Torah Umesorah will do anything about this problem.

· 1984 thru 1985 – At directed by Rabbi Avrohom Pam an Askan approaches Rabbi Moshe Scheinerman and the two meet with Rabbi Shia (Joshua) Fishman in the office of Torah Umesorah. Both Scheinerman and Fishman neglect to inform this Askan that Fishman had been instructed by Torah Umesorah’s lawyer to do nothing about this issue. Rabbi Fishman requests the names of Kolko’s victims and promises absolute confidentiality. Names are provided to Rabbi Fishman who begins his own investigation of the allegations. He meets with and speaks with several victims who pour their hearts out to him after he guarantees them confidentiality. Rabbi Shia Fishman promptly discloses all he has learned to Rabbi Lipa Margulies who in turn publicly disparages and discredits each and every one of those boys who were brave enough to step forward.

· 1985 – Upon the dissolution of the above Bais Din, Rabbi Lipa Margulies retains Rabbi Pinchus Scheinberg to convene a second Bais Din for the purpose of clearing Rabbi Yehuda Kolko’s name. Rabbi Lipa Margulies then drafts Rabbi Friedman (the Tenka Rav) and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Brown to serve on Rabbi Scheinberg’s Bais Din. Prior to convening the Bais Din, Rabbi Pinchus Scheinberg speaks with several of Kolko’s victims and asks them to describe what Kolko has done to them. Upon hearing the allegations Rabbi Scheinberg informs the boys that in the eyes of Halacha they had not been molested. [I.e., No penetration, no halakhic abuse.] Rabbi Scheinberg also calls the Askanim and tells them to cease and desist in their attempts to remove Kolko from Chinuch. Rabbi Avigdor Miller disagrees and instructs the Askanim in no uncertain terms to do whatever must be done to protect children from Kolko. Rabbi Pinchus Scheinberg convenes the Bais Din and takes the position that Rabbi Kolko has a Chezkas Kashrus absent any testimony by two adult witnesses to any single event. Rabbi Friedman takes the position that in light of the persistent rumors Rabbi Kolko must be kept away from children. Rabbi Brown ultimately concedes that there is no Halachic evidence against Kolko and the Din Torah is concluded. Rabbi Lipa Margulies insists that he has a Psak from this Bais Din but to this day has refused to produce it. Regardless, it is of note that no victims testified before this Bais Din.

The rabbis mentioned – Scheinberg, Pam, Svei, Keller, Schechter – were or still are "gedolim," senior haredi rabbis with leadership duties, active in Agudath Israel. The current head of Agudah’s rabbinic leadership, the Novominsker Rebbe, is described this way:

…· February 2006 – An Askan meets with Rabbi Yaakov Perlow and pleads with him to get involved in this matter. Rabbi Perlow refuses on the basis of his being a Yuchid [individual] and this being a Tzibur [community] matter. After being pressed further Rabbi Perlow takes his final stand that this is a Flatbush matter and as he is a Boro Park Rabbi it would be unseemly for him to get involved in this matter.

And the Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaas (and one of Rubashkin’s rabbis) Yisroel Belsky is seen intimidating parents that try to get Rabbi Kolko away from children:

…· February 2006 – Eli Greenwald, a graduate of Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah, son of one of the founders of the Yeshiva and a parent in the Yeshiva receives the letter and spends a few days investigating the matter. He calls Rabbi Yaakov Applegrad, the Yeshiva’s Administrator, and requests a meeting of the Vaad HaHorim in order to address this serious issue. Rabbi Applegrad informs him that there will be no meeting as the allegations are false and that he and Rabbi Margulies have the matter under control. Mr. Greenwald called Rabbi Lipa Margulies and makes the same request of him. Rabbi Margulies responds by shouting at him.

· February 17, 2006 – Eli Greenwald is served with a Hazmana [summons to religious court] issued by Rabbi Yisroel Belsky calling him to a Din Torah to answer the charge of Hotzoas Shem Rah [slander] allegedly committed against Rabbi Yehuda Kolko. Mr. Greenwald responds on February 21, 2006, that he will appear for a Din Torah before the Bais Din of America. To this day there has been no reply to Mr. Greenwald’s response by either Kolko or Rabbi Yisroel Belsky.…

I have much more to say on this. For now, let’s be clear – haredim cannot police themselves, and should not be allowed to try to. The letter lists Kolko abuse cases as recent as 2001, and shows that Kolko is still around children in haredi camps and schools, with the help of Rabbi Lipa Margulies (and perhaps Rabbi Belsky, as well). I’ll leave it to the prosecutors among you to determine whether these rabbis and the others mentioned broke any laws. It seems to me they have done so.

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10 Comments

Filed under Crime, Haredim, Mikva Abuse

10 responses to “An Open Letter To Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon

  1. D

    It’s definitely written in UOJ’s rambling style, FWIW.

  2. shmuel

    I doubt it was by UOJ. Instead, it was probably written by one of his posters who has a command of Torah sources. Same style. Good letter.

  3. sdas

    What about the incident when […] tried to beat Kolko up at a bris in Brooklyn?

  4. It’s there. Read the entire letter.

  5. sdas

    >It’s there. Read the entire letter.

    It’s there? Where?

  6. You’re right. I was confusing it with an earlier incident.

  7. · 1987 – Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, having groomed a former first grade student of his for years, begins systematically sexually abusing this boy (name withheld at the request of the victim) both in and out of the Yeshiva Torah Temimah building. When this boy complains to Rabbi Lipa Margulies that his grades are slipping because Kolko is removing him from class almost daily, Margulies responds by slapping the boy across the face and throwing him out of his office.

  8. Anonymous

    yesterday an elementary school boy’s parents filed a civil lawsuit in State court and today Yidi was arrested on criminal charges.

  9. DuvDuv

    I am most saddened to see how some of our G’Dolei Torah have responded very similarly to the way the catholic church has been reacting – protect the predator(s) and continue to victimize the injured innocent victims. The people who worked so tirelessly and in the face of terrible frustration have finally made the progress of getting one of the worst perpetrators (Kolko) brought (so far) to justice. They have done holy and good work and should be celebrated and thanked by all – not, to our collective shame, villified as if they were somehow doing the wrong thing. Kohle HaKavod and a y’yasher koach to each of them.

    Many have criticized these tireless people for not identifying themselves. Given the terrible experiences at the hands of the predators and their defenders that those who did come forward had to go through, that in itself, in my opinion, is reason enough to protect their anonymity.
    Perhaps more importantly, the second highest form of Tzdakah is when the ba’al tzedakah remains anonymous as does the recipient. Thus, those who have chosen to give up the glory and praise for their exemplary pursuit of Tzedek, should be recognized as following the paths of the truly righteous and it can only be called a perversion to fault them for not giving out their names. They deserve dinners in their honor and all kinds of thanks and recognition from the community that they have been working so hard to protect – and yet, the only benefit they have worked towards is to protect and heal the past and potentially future victims who have little or no one to stand up for them. Surely, a special place in Shamayim is set aside for such Mosrai Nefesh. I am humbled by their very holy and thankless work.

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