Thursday, February 24, 2005

My open questions and comments regarding convicted child molester "Rabbi" Michael Ozair's "smicha" and background and Luke Ford's post on this

6 Comments:

At 7:59 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Michael Ozair background:
See:
1) The Awareness Center Webpage
http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Ozair_Michael.html

2) California Sex Offender Registry (search by last name “Ozair”)
http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/

3) Luke Ford’s profile
http://lukeford.net/profiles/profiles/michael_ozair.htm

4) Ozair’s website and posted biography
http://kabbalahcoach.com/
http://kabbalahcoach.com/MeetMichaelozair.htm

Luke Ford has posted 2 documents that have been circulating for several days that relate to “Rabbi” Michael Ozair’s alleged “smicha” from Rabbi Yehoshua Reich.

See: http://lukeford.net/ Debate Over Rabbinic Ordination

I sent him several detailed posts on these letters over the past days. Rather than post them on his site, he has asked me to post them here and indicated that he will investigate all points further. I do so taking Luke’s request as an honest attempt to get at the truth.

Caveat 1:
I have no access to the original documents and do not know what generation these documents are. The origin of these documents is mysterious. It’s possible both are forgeries or some bizarre attempt to discredit those of us who try and to evaluate or discuss these documents.

The Documents:
1) “Smicha” document - undated
Luke said months ago on Protocols that he had seen this “smicha” in Ozair’s home. So basically, I am taking Luke at his word that the first document is the “smicha” document Ozair is claiming to have received.

2) Rabbi Yeshoshua Reich letter claiming he never gave Ozair smicha – dated September 9, 2004
SIW reported several months ago that Rabbi Yeshoshua Reich had said in front of witnesses that he never gave Ozair smicha. This corresponds to the substance of this letter. For the purposes of this analysis, I’m going to ASSUME this letter is authentic. I simply do not know its origins.


Caveat 2:
I am not a handwriting expert and I am not representing myself as an expert in the halachot related to smicha. I’ve had some experiences with documents that are forged, documents misrepresented as smichas and “smichas” that were likely clever forgeries.

Much of this discussion is moot as SIW reported several months ago that Rabbi Yeshoshua Reich had said in front of witnesses that he never gave Ozair smicha. So regardless of Ozair’s claims, he in fact has no smicha for all intents and purposes. (I would also consider that a sufficient revocation if I were to believe Ozair’s claim of receiving smicha, which I don’t.)

I’m sure Ozair and his supporters will claim as they have with the Yeshiva in NY he claims to have attended (the Yeshiva says that he never was a registered student), that all these people are lying as they just don’t want to be associated with a convicted sex-offender. To that I say: garbage. Ozair is simply a manipulative liar as most child molesters are.

I can't even start telling you what a bizarre "smicha" letter this is. It’s clear that this is a forgery and not a clever one.

Issues based on the 2 letters:
1) It's on hotel stationary. I’ve never seen such a “smicha”.
2) This "smicha" letter is just bizarre. I don't see what it gives him permission to do. There is no reference to "Yoreh,Yoreh", "Yadin, Yadin" or the right to make psak. So he certainly has no right to make halachic rulings. Maybe it gives him the right to use the title "rabbi" as a mere teacher but it really should say something to that effect.
3) “smicha” is undated
4) no bet, somech, daled at top of letter
5) It doesn't indicate what areas he was tested in
6) The signatures do not appear to me to be from the same person (more detailed discussion below)
7) no indication as to Ozair's education
8) no indication of who Rabbi Yehoshua Reich is or what institutions he was involved with

If someone represented to me this letter as proof of smicha, I wouldn't even bother checking it. I would simply assume they had no smicha or that it was a worthless document. If this really is an authentic smicha (which I doubt), it reflects poorly both on the person who gave it and the person using it as proof of credentials.

Looking at the close ups Luke posted, I'm now confident in declaring this “smicha” a fake.

9) Reich's last name is spelled with 2 Yuds. The “smicha” only has one. It's a clear forgery.

Regardless, as even at best this fake “smicha” would only confer the right to use the title Rabbi as a teacher or purposes of kiruv (maybe), it is definitely not giving the right to Ozair to make psak. As such there is no question that Rabbi Reich can revoke this at will (which I believe would be true of any smicha anyway). The September 9, 2004 letter makes the "smicha" moot. I would note SIW reported months ago at Protocols that Rabbi Reich declared in front of witnesses that he never gave Ozair smicha. End of story.

Also, if you look at the Yehoshua in both documents (although I really need to see the originals), the newer document appears to me to be spelled yod-hey-vav-shin-ayin (the vav connects into the shin but it looks to me to be clearly there, several connected letters as is common with Hebrew handwriting).

In the “smicha” document, it doesn't appear to me to have a vav (each letter is printed separately).

Based on the definitely missing yod and the possibly missing vav, it is clear to me this “smicha” is a forgery. Likely the person who forged the “smicha” document used a document with Rabbi Yehoshua Reich's signature and missed the 2 letters due to the way Rabbi Yehoshua Reich signs his name. It's easy to misread a handwritten signature with connected letters.

It should be easy to determine how Rabbi Yehoshua Reich spells his name in Hebrew. Although, I think the typed spelling in the 2004 letter settles the matter and demonstrates my assertion: The “smicha” letter has Rabbi Yehoshua Reich's name spelled wrong. 2 letters are missing.

From Luke’s Post:
>they have identical sweep points and pressures which are nowhere near
>easy to fake.

Utter nonsense.

Letter by letter analysis:
1) The Yud is very different.
2) The "raish" part of the hey is very different at the top
3) The angle the shin is written at is different. The loops at the top are quite different.
4) The loops on the ayin are quite different. The beginning strokes and ending strokes on the “smicha” are much smaller.
a. Also the ayin in the 2004 letter is written with 2 separate strokes.
1. The continuation of the shin.
2. A separate line that loops at the bottom.
b. The ayin in the "smicha" letter is written with 1 continuous stroke.
The fact that the ayin letter in both letters look superficially similar but one is written using 1 stroke, while the other is written with 2 strokes is fairly convincing evidence that the signature in “smicha” document is a forgery. I believe someone went to efforts to make the ayin look similar to the actual signature but missed the fact that Reich writes it with 2 strokes, not one.

5) Note the 2004 document, as per the typed name there is a vav attached to the shin.
6) The shin and the ayin in the 2004 document are connected by a line (common in handwriting). In the "smicha" letter, all letters are formed independently.
7) Raish is completely different.
8) Yuds are completely different.
9) The 2004 letter appears to have 2 yuds as per typed text (common in handwriting to have linked).
10) Loop on chaf sofit is completely different and stem angle very different.
11) Again in the 2004 letter, all letters are connected. In the "smicha" letters all letters are formed independently.

I would further note on Luke’s post:

1) "Michael Ozair studied for a year at Kol Yaakov in Monsey"
Is an outright lie.

see: http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Ozair_Michael.html
"Ozair's credentials have come under question in the past. When he was arrested, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported that his Web site stated that "his rabbinical training was at Kol Yaacov Torah Center in Monsey, N.Y." The Jewish Journal reported that administrators at Kol Yaacov said that "he applied to the school and visited it in August 1997, but never enrolled." An administrator at Kol Yaacov confirmed this version of events for the Forward through a secretary."

2) "This type of ordination is traditional in such circles as the Chabad movement."

Although, not an expert in Chabad, I don't believe this is true. Smicha in the Chabad movement typically comes from an institution, not private ordination. Try asking Shmarya at Failed Messiah.


More questions/comments for Luke to investigate

see: http://kabbalahcoach.com/MeetMichaelozair.htm

1) He is an ordained rabbi.
- false

2) a well sought after scholar in the area of Kabbalah
- Could you provide evidence of this? I believe this is false.

3) OLAM Magazine, the largest Kabbalah publication with a readership of 3,000,000 worldwide.
- TV Guide sells 10 million copies. I don't believe this figure for Olam is accurate at all.

4) and is held in very high esteem by highly regarded spiritual leaders from various communities.
- could you produce any such testimonials

5) Private rabbinical ordination by R' Yehoshua Reich, a member of the Rabbinate of the State of Israel.
- false

6) A fourteen year mentored relationship with R' Shlomo Carlebach, one the 20th Century's most influential Hasidic masters.
- will anyone confirm this?

7) Masters in Education and Bachelor of Literature in Hebrew Letters from University of Judaism. A Bachelors in Religious Studies at California State University of Northridge.
- can you have Ozair give you a letter of authorization to purchase copies of his transcripts from thesw institutions directly, I doubt the Masters of Education, the other 2 I am very suspicious of

8) Years spent learning in various yeshivas in Israel and New York.
- where, when and for how long
- can you confirm independently

9) he also comes from a long line of Rabbis and Kabbalists from Iraq,
- can you provide proof of this

10) all the way from the Biblical Ezra the Scribe (origin of family name) and R' Azaryah of the Talmud
- can you provide any proof of this? It sounds bogus to me.

11) to his great uncle - the Chief Rabbi of Basra, and his grandfather who was ordained by Kabbalist, R' Yaacov Chaim (son of the renown Kabbalist - the Ben Ish Chai).
- again any documentation of this?

12) Testimonials: Rachel G. - Graduate Program Director UCLA Hillel: “Michael brings a vibrancy and a warm spirit to everything that he does and has a natural ability to guide people . His enthusiasm and willingness to share his mastery of spiritual wisdom with the graduate students was nothing less than extraordinary.”
- can you confirm this testimonial?

13) Testimonials: Rabbi Sam Intrator, New York: “Michael understands, as few do, that the great depth of Jewish spirituality when revealed in a contemporary manner, has a far reaching inspirational impact on its audience. . . . . Michael is a great asset to help the American community overcome the spiritual alienation of our generation.”
- can you confirm this testimonial?

14) Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach - Hasidic Master & Songwriter: “Michael is on fire, he’s truly shining from one end of the world to the other!”
- can you confirm this quote?

15) Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum - Kabbalist, Author, Founder of Azamra Institute - Jerusalem, Israel: "Rabbi Michael Ozair is a highly original teacher of spirituality who is gifted with a wonderful ability to bring out the inner vitality, meaning and relevance of ancient teachings to our lives in the contemporary world."
- can you confirm this quote?

16) Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi Pioneer of the Jewish Spiritual Renewal Movement - “Reb Michael brings the love and light of R' Shlomo Carlebach into an updated version that inspires and delights.”
- can you confirm this quote?

17) Does Ozair have permission to use the testimonials on this page from the named people?
I doubt it.

Source material:
1) Ozair’s website bio (in case it changes again):
http://kabbalahcoach.com/MeetMichaelozair.htm
Meet Spiritual Coach
Michael Ezra Ozair

R' Michael Ezra Ozair has been providing spiritual guidance for the last 15 years to a very wide and diverse range of people. He is an ordained rabbi, a well sought after scholar in the area of Kabbalah, published author, and spiritual counselor. Michael's expertise stems from merging his knowledge as a teacher of metaphysics with his experience in practical counseling. His articles have been featured in OLAM Magazine, the largest Kabbalah publication with a readership of 3,000,000 worldwide.

Michael has been asked to speak in person to a variety of groups over the years and has also reached a wide audience through television and radio appearances. He has positively influenced and helped reshape the lives of many people, including graduate students, people from the entertainment world, company presidents and CEOs. While Michael is a rabbi, his language is Universal, and is held in very high esteem by highly regarded spiritual leaders from various communities.

Michael's educational background includes:

Private rabbinical ordination by R' Yehoshua Reich, a member of the Rabbinate of the State of Israel.

A fourteen year mentored relationship with R' Shlomo Carlebach, one the 20th Century's most influential Hasidic masters.

Masters in Education and Bachelor of Literature in Hebrew Letters from University of Judaism. A Bachelors in Religious Studies at California State University of Northridge. Years spent learning in various yeshivas in Israel and New York.
Michael's Family Background:

In addition to the formal training Michael has had, he also comes from a long line of Rabbis and Kabbalists from Iraq, all the way from the Biblical Ezra the Scribe (origin of family name) and R' Azaryah of the Talmud, to his great uncle - the Chief Rabbi of Basra, and his grandfather who was ordained by Kabbalist, R' Yaacov Chaim (son of the reknown Kabbalist - the Ben Ish Chai).

Michael's work today as a spiritual coach:

While in the past Michael was very active as a Jewish spiritual teacher teaching hundreds of classes and workshops, today Michael's private practice has turned towards helping the INDIVIDUAL reach their greatness through personal life coaching and spiritual consultation.

Clients greatly benefit by learning new ways of seeing themselves and all that is around them, enabling them to face the present and future with a new sense of confidence.

2) Luke’s post
http://lukeford.net
Debate Over Rabbinic Ordination

A letter dated September 9, 2004 purporting to come from Efrat Orthodox rabbi Yeshoshua Reich says he never gave private semicha (rabbinic ordination) to Michael Ozair.

Here's a copy of this letter. Here's a copy of the private ordination Michael Ozair says he received from rabbi Reich in Los Angeles in the fall of 1998 (after an arrangement through Ozair's boss of the time Jerry Friedman of Shalhevet, with the awareness of rabbis Abner Weiss -- now at a shul in Westwood -- and Chanina Rabinowitz -- now a principal of a Torah academy in Melbourne?, Australia).

Rabbi Yehoshua Reich was a rabbinic advisor to Shalhevet prior to the arrival of rabbi Chanina Rabinowitz.

Michael Ozair studied for a year at Kol Yaakov in Monsey and then on his own for a few months before he was examined (written and oral) in Los Angeles by rabbi Reich.

Here's a comparison of the signatures of rabbi Reich on what Ozair says is his private ordination from rabbi Reich with the signature of rabbi Reich on his September 9, 2004 letter.

The private ordination that Michael Ozair says he received is the type of informal ordination folks such as rabbi Shlomo Carlebach gave to about a dozen people, including at least one woman. This type of ordination is traditional in such circles as the Chabad movement.

The photo on the left is from 1998. The photo on the right is from rabbi Reich's September 9, 2004 letter denying he gave Michael Ozair ordination.

Hebrew runs from right to left. Notice how the shin starts high and connects to the ayin in a loop in both signatures. The last letter, on the far left of each photo, is also similar, though the signature for the last name ('Reich' in Hebrew) looks different. The Hebrew signature for "Yehoshua" looks similar in both cases.

Will Senger writes: "There is no question the signatures match - they have identical sweep points and pressures which are nowhere near easy to fake. It doesn't surprise me that someone would deny the ordination of a man convicted of offences against a minor, but it is just as wrong to lie as it is to commit offences against a minor. Send the liar in for two months in LA county jail - and a year of house arrest with a nice Catholic family."

 
At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is pretty scary. How many other people are out there posing as Rabbis, and don't have a legitimate ordination?

 
At 9:34 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>This is pretty scary. How many
>other people are out there
>posing as Rabbis, and don't have
>a legitimate ordination?

Hard to tell. I've dealt with several. A lot of rabbinical bodies have been tightening up their admission requirements so it is getting better. Still a long ways to go.

There are other problems such as rabbonim with smicha who are doing things outside their competence: gitim, kashrut etc.

 
At 9:38 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Links to documents posted by Luke Ford:

1) Ozair's “Smicha” document - undated
http://lukeford.net/Images/photos3/Img0059/DSC_0003.JPG

2) close up of signature from 1)
http://www.lukeford.net/Images/photos3/Img0059/DSC_0004.JPG

3) Rabbi Yeshoshua Reich letter claiming he never gave Ozair smicha – dated September 9, 2004
http://lukeford.net/Images/photos3/Img0059/OzairSmicha.jpg

4) close up of signature from 3)
http://www.lukeford.net/Images/photos3/Img0059/OzairSmicha1.jpg

 
At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what's the deal with Ford and Ozair? Why is Luke defending Ozair? Is Ozair Lukes therapist?

 
At 7:00 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

I addressed my concerns to Luke. He indicated that he was only interested in a search for the truth. I'm taking that at face value.

Ozair, like all child molesters, is manipulative and a skilled liar. But expose him to the light of day and his lies crumble. I've dealt with a number of people just like him. I know how he works and how he thinks. Stay tuned and watch ......

 

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