Thursday, January 27, 2005

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni Series Part 16: Lies, more name changes, more lies and a political scandal


At 9:55 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Note in article #1 he uses all three last names. He's known by his fake last name Winyarz in Florida, he's registered by his real last name Winiarz as a Republican and he's changed his last name to Gafni.

The Palm Beach Post
November 2, 1990
by BILL DOUTHAT, and TIM PALLESEN, Palm Beach Post Staff Writers

Facing a jeering political crowd Thursday, Congressional candidate Scott Shore admitted that the rabbi who signed an endorsement letter mailed to 50,000 Jewish voters was actually controversial Boca Raton rabbi Mordechai Winyarz.

Shore refused demands from the audience at Temple Beth El that he apologize for the letter, mailed under the signature of Rabbi Marc Gafni. Shore said Winyarz changed his name to Marc Gafni before he left last year to live in Israel.

The audience of more than 250, including many supporters of incumbent Rep. Harry Johnston, jeered when Shore claimed that he was not attempting to deceive voters about Winyarz's true identity.

One Johnston supporter, Jerry Marshall, demanded that Shore refute the letter or withdraw from the election.

"You are unfit for office," said Marshall, chairman of the Atlantic
Democratic Club in Delray Beach.

Johnston, who debated Shore at the candidate forum at the Boca Raton temple, read from the Winyarz letter and pointed out that it was directed to "fellow Democrats." Johnston said Winyarz registered as a Republican two years ago, a fact that Shore conceded.

Johnston also noted that "Gafni" said in the letter that he had been a supporter of John F. Kennedy. Winyarz was 3 years old when Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Johnston said.

Johnston accused Shore of deceit, saying his polls show the letter eroded some of Johnston's support in condominium communities heavy with Jews. He said some supporters have called to ask him if he's anti-Semitic.

"Scott Shore is totally amoral. He has no compunction about lying,"
Johnston said. "This has hurt us in some of the condos. People received it and accepted it."

Gafni, reached Thursday in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank, denied that he tried to mislead anyone-- saying Gafni is the Hebrew translation of Winyarz.

Shore's campaign called the mailing a bold move into Johnston's base of support. "If we'd have just sat and tried to solidify the Republican vote, we couldn't win," spokesman Kirill Goncharenko said.

"Like you, I am a Democrat. I'm proud to be a Democrat and have been one for my entire life," the letter began.

Supervisor of Elections Jackie Winchester said Thursday that a person identified as Marc Winiarz of Boca Raton registered as a Republican in Feburary 1988. Asked if he is that person, Gafni said: "That wouldn't surprise me." He said he was upset at the national Democratic Party then, and even organized a mock funeral for Democrats at the Boca Raton Synagogue, where he was rabbi.

Gafni, who was Shore's rabbi while in Boca Raton, was active in protests such as one against the Pope's visit to Miami in 1987, where he dressed in concentration camp clothing. He was censured by the Rabbinical Association of South Palm Beach County in 1988 for trangressing "the bounds of respectable behavior befitting a rabbi," but the censure was later withdrawn.

Gafni said he supports Shore because he is "honest and bright, and he calls his grandmother every week."

November 7, 1990

First-term incumbent Congressman Harry Johnston scored a smashing victory Tuesday over Republican challenger Scott Shore.

In a House race that Johnston described as ''very bizarre,'' the West Palm Beach Democrat said his victory could be ascribed to voters' distaste with Shore's negative campaign.

''I think people still want to discuss the issues. A negative campaign can take away points, but they can't transfer them,'' Johnston said.

''I think people wanted things to be discussed, and they were never

Shore said of his opponent: ''He's won a good, strong victory.''

''Obviously, we're not happy with it, (but) you take your licks.''

The race became touchy in the final days.

Shore mailed 50,000 letters to voters in Broward and Palm Beach counties from a controversial rabbi, formerly of Boca Raton, who had changed his name, moved to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and claimed to be a Democrat when he was Republican.

The rabbi, Marc Gafni, who urged Democrats to cross over and vote in favor of Shore, turned out to be Mordechai Winyarz, who before he left the United States had been censured by fellow south Palm Beach County rabbis.

Shore conceded on Tuesday that the rabbi's endorsement probably cost him votes.

''Yes, I do think it hurt us,'' he said. ''I take full responsibility for that.''

Some voters acknowledged that they voted against Shore because of the implied plea that Jewish voters should support a Jewish candidate.

''I don't think there's any place for that,'' said a Boca Raton medical instruments manufacturer who requested anonymity.

Alice Coane, 60, of Boca Raton, concurred, saying she picked Johnston over Shore in part because the challenger made an embarrassing ''pitch toward an ethnic group. He's a disgrace.''

Another voter, Lawrence Lassoff, 61, of Boca Raton, said he did not blame Shore for the endorsement that apparently backfired, and voted for him anyway.

''He had some bad advice,'' said Lassoff, a Republican. ''I won't hold that against him.''

He said he also voted against Johnston because he was an incumbent. ''I'd like some fresh blood'' in Congress, he said.

Jim Colvert, a philosophy professor at Broward Community College, however, said he voted for Johnston because ''he's a fiscal conservative'' and because of his experience in the Florida Senate.

81 percent of precincts reporting

Votes %

Scott Shore-R 49,679 35

X Harry Johnston-D 94,317 65

X Elected

U.S. House District 14 winner Harry Johnston plays with grandson while talking on phone.(Photo/JOEL STAHL)



November 5, 1990

Scott Shore's mudslinging campaign for Congress sank even lower last week as he alienated voters with a highly misleading letter of support from a rabbi.

Shore's indefensible use of a letter from the controversial and absent Rabbi Marc Gafni was a blatant attempt to inject religion into the campaign, but it backfired. Most Jews who attended a debate between Shore, the Republican challenger, and Democratic Rep. Harry Johnston cheered the incumbent and jeered Shore, who is Jewish.

Copies of the letter were sent to 50,000 Democrats in the congressional district, which includes parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties, asking them to cross over and vote for the Republican candidate. At first, Gafni's identity was a mystery; he wasn't listed in any city or phone directory, nor was he registered to vote.

Eventually the story unfolded: Gafni had changed his name from Mordechai Winyarz, the name under which he was known as a rabbi in the Boca Raton area. He left South Florida last year, and he lives in a new settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

While here, Winyarz became known for controversial stunts. During the 1987 papal visit to Miami, he staged a protest while dressed in concentration camp clothing. Later his congregation blocked him from staging a mock funeral for the Democratic Party.

In the letter Winyarz, under his new name of Gafni, said he is a lifelong Democrat. That is untrue. When he left South Florida he was a registered Republican. So his claim in the letter, that as a Democrat he was urging fellow Democrats to vote for Shore, was false.

Sent with the letter was a brochure critical of Johnston for statements he has made about Israel. The intent was obvious: To nudge Jewish Democratic voters away from Johnston, who in fact has a strong pro-Israeli record, in favor of Shore.

This tactic is unconscionable although not surprising from Shore, who has run an unrelievedly negative campaign against Johnston, relying on misleading charges and half-truths. Voters of all backgrounds will assess the character of the Shore campaign and make their own decisions on Tuesday. It's unlikely Shore will fool many voters.

Caption: PHOTO (1, mug of Shore)

November 2, 1990
By STEVE NICHOL, Staff Writer

BOCA RATON -- A hostile group of largely Democratic Jewish retirees cheered their gentile incumbent congressman on Thursday and jeered his Republican Jewish challenger, accusing him of being an embarrassment to their religion.

''I don't think the Jewish community wants to be evaluated on a
Jew-supports- a-Jew basis,'' said Harold Ostrow, a political activist and Democrat who attended the debate between U.S. Rep. Harry Johnston and challenger Scott Shore.

''The Jewish community is too intelligent for that,'' said Ostrow, who is Jewish.

Shore vehemently disagreed.

''If he has that view, it points up he lacks any pride whatsoever,'' he said.

The 35-year-old Boca Raton businessman raised the ire of some of the retirees attending the debate by mailing 50,000 letters this past week to Broward and Palm Beach county voters in which a rabbi endorsed his candidacy.

While the letter to 14th District residents did not attack Johnston as being anti-Semitic or against Israel, it accompanied a brochure critical of Johnston for statements he has made regarding the Jewish state.

The letter was composed by Shore's campaign with the approval of Rabbi Marc Gafni, whose name was signed.

While Johnston on Wednesday accused Shore of creating a phantom rabbi, Gafni turned out to be Mordechai Winyarz, a very controversial rabbi formerly of Boca Raton now living on a settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Gafni wrote he was a lifelong Democrat who supported Shore and urged Democrats to cross party lines for Shore. But Gafni was a registered Republican when he left for Israel in 1989.

Johnston, in the debate at Temple Beth El, poked fun at the idea that the letter said Gafni supported ''great Democrats'' like President John F. Kennedy.

''Mordechai Winyarz was 3-years-old when John Kennedy was assassinated,'' Johnston said. ''Mr. Shore, you are slipping up.''

One member of the audience called on Shore to quit the campaign, but Shore said nothing doing. He also said Winyarz had merely changed his name to the Hebrew equivalent when he moved. He also really thought Winyarz was a Democrat.

And as for the age discrepancy regarding Winyarz and Kennedy, Shore said, ''I support Abe Lincoln, and I wasn't born when Abe Lincoln was alive.''

While the audience was packed with Democratic die-hards who pitched a couple of softball questions at Johnston, Shore supporters said the catcalling should not be considered indicative of the electorate.

''I tried. They only gave it to the stooges in the audience,'' complained Dr. Gary Lieber, a supporter of Shore, regarding who got to ask questions.

Miami Herald, The (FL)
November 1, 1990
by JEFFREY KLEINMAN Herald Staff Writer

An orthodox rabbi censured two years ago by a local rabbinical association has penned a campaign mailing that charges U.S. Rep. Harry Johnston with ethical lapses while in Congress.

The rabbi wrote the letter using his new name.

Marc Gafni, previously known as Mordechai Winyarz, was Republican
challenger Scott Shore's spiritual leader at the Boca Raton Synagogue from 1987 to 1989. In 1988, he was censured.

Gafni, 30, introduces himself in the letter by saying he has supported "great Democrats" in the past, such as John Kennedy. The rabbi was a toddler when Kennedy was president.

Johnston, D-West Palm Beach, says Shore is playing with the
emotions of Jewish voters, most of them Democrats, by sending a letter from someone appearing to be "an old, wise rabbi with a beard and thumbing through the Torah every night."

Said Johnston of Shore: "He has offended and insulted the entire Jewish constituency."

"Marc Gafni is a hero," Shore said through his spokesman, Kirill
Goncharenko. "He sacrificed himself to go to Israel to help with a higher cause, the immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel."

Gafni moved from Boca Raton to the Israeli-occupied West Bank last year.

Shore mailed 50,000 of the letters to residents in the 14th Congressional District in Palm Beach and Broward counties, focusing on vote-rich condos such as Century Village, heavily populated with elderly Jewish residents.

"What he's saying is: 'Look at me, I'm Jewish.' He does dishonor to Judaism by this kind of campaigning," said Bruce Warshal, executive director of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, speaking for himself, not his organization.

Gafni was censured by the Rabbinical Association of South Palm Beach County for transgressing "the bounds of respectable behavior befitting a rabbi," including denigrating other congregations and rabbis, and raiding other synagogues' memberships.

Gafni and the organization eventually resolved their differences to "ensure harmony and cooperation in the future," according to the organization.

November 1, 1990
By STEVE NICHOL, Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Harry Johnston accused his Republican challenger on Wednesday of creating a phantom rabbi to write a letter against him in the race for the 14th District.

But the rabbi, it turns out, really exists, albeit one who changed his name, moved to Israel and wrote 50,000 Democrats that he is a lifelong Democrat when in fact he is a registered Republican.

Johnston's response:

''I thought he had invented this guy, because we couldn't find him in any directory and he hadn't registered to vote.'' Johnston issued a news release demanding that Shore produce Rabbi Marc Gafni.

And the challenger:

''I can't believe he was a registered Republican.''

Gafni is Mordechai Winyarz, a controversial rabbi in the Boca Raton area who left South Florida in 1989 to head up a new West Bank settlement.

For the past two days Johnston's congressional and campaign offices have been inundated with phone calls regarding the letter Shore's office helped compose for Gafni.

Gafni's letter was sent to Broward and Palm Beach County Democrats whose voting districts chose presidents Reagan and Bush in 1984 and 1988. He urged they cross over again and support another Republican -- Shore.

January 12, 1990

DELRAY BEACH -- The controversial Rabbi Mordechai Winyarz, former spiritual leader of the Boca Raton Congregation, took time out from managing a new settlement in Istael to return here this week to make several pitches.

One was to raise $70,000 to help him establish a press office for foreign media relations in Israel, and he succeeded in doing so.

Another was to endorse Scott Shore as a congressional candidate during a public speech at Temple Emeth, and to encourage local Jews to vote for the candidate who champions the causes of Israel, regardless of political affiliation. (Shore, a Boca Raton businessman and Republican, is conducting an informal campaign for Florida's 14th Congressional District seat. He is Jewish.)

Another was to impress upon his audience that Israel should not turn one inch of West Bank soil into a Palestinian homeland, saying, ''No nation has an obligation to commit national suicide.''

The Orthodox rabbi also made some characteristic jabs at the media, at some American Jewish organizations and at ''left-wing Jews'' in general. He told more than 250 people who packed a Temple Emeth auditorium Monday to hear him -- giving him a standing ovation at the end -- that he would not donate
a penny to a Jewish financial appeal for Israel, such as the United Jewish Appeal, that didn't include money for the so-called ''occupied territories.''

''It's not even an issue,'' Rabbi Ted Feldman, spokesman for South Palm Beach county Jewish Federation, later responded to the UJA remark. ''It's a government, throught the Internal Revenue Service, in its tax code in reference to charitable giving, says the money given to the United Jewish Appeal can be distributed only within the green line. It has nothing to do with the American Jewish community.''

Winyarz is now the spiritual and political head of a new settlement in the West Bank. He talked of how he is in the thick of danger there, how he does not leave his home without an Uzi submachine gun against a possible Arab attack, how he carries a fire extinguisher in the car in case a Molotov cocktail is tossed inside, how he has had to remove the glass from his car's windows so objects thrown at the car won't harm its passengers.

In defending his argument that territory should not be given to the
Palestinians, Winyarz offerd the Temple Emeth audience 1/2-hour history lesson.

''You cnanot deal with the Islamic Middle East without understanding the rules of the game, and the rule of the game is Islam,'' Winyarz said.

''Winyarz criticized U.S. news media for having no political perspective, no pre-1967 analysis, in stories on Israel. He criticized U.S. politicians for trying to make American political vocabulary fit into Middle East politics.

''The Middle East is not a simple place where there are Jews and Arabs and if only Jews would make peace with Arabs, it would be OK,'' Winyarz said. ''The media says if only Israel returned the territory to the Arabs, there would be peace. The assumption is the Arab world has changed and there will be peace if Israel returns the territories.''

Winyarz said that in third-grade school books in Saudi Arabia, a
multiplication exercise asks children what number they would come up with if ''nine Saudis kill three Israeli soldiers.''

''That's an Arab world (believed to be) moderate and ready to make peace in Israel?'' Winyarz asked.

Winyarz also spoke of a new wave of anti-Semitism creeping across the country, focusing in three areas: the Bible belt, college campuses and through a publicaiton called the New American Review, issued by the ''upper echelons of society.''

Winyarz served as the spiritual leader of the Boca Raton Syngogue for two years before leaving for Israel last year. While in South Florida, he was censured by South County Rabbinical Association for being ''denigrating,'' but the censure later was lifted. He also staged a protest during the 1987 papal visit dressed concentration-camp-sty le clothing.

And his congregation, fearing loss of the synagogue's tax-exempt status, aborted a planned mock funeral he wanted to hold for the Democratic Party. He later took out a full-page advertisement in a Jewish newspaper espousing his political views.

Caption: PHOTO (1 mug of Winyarz)

The Palm Beach Post
November 1, 1990

U.S. Rep. Harry Johnston criticized Republican challenger Scott Shore Wednesday for sending out campaign letters signed by a "mysterious rabbi."

Johnston, a West Palm Beach Democrat, said dozens of people called his office asking about the identity of Rabbi Marc Gafni, signer of the letter endorsing Shore.

There is no mystery, said Kirill Goncharenko, Shore's press aide.

"Marc Gafni is a hero," Goncharenko said. "Right now he is in Israel involved with the immigration of Soviet Jews." He said Shore met Gafni when Gafni was rabbi at the Boca Raton Synagogue from 1987 to 1989.

At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One was to raise $70,000 to help him establish a press office for foreign media relations in Israel, and he succeeded in doing so.

follow the money

where did it end up?

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Sorry for the off-topic comment:

Help spread awareness of these issues by going to cast your vote for JewishWhistleBlower in the Culture A category for best Jewish blog here:

---*Not* JewishWhistleBlower


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