Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Rabbi Saul Berman's Edah gets subsidized rent from pornographer and trafficker of women Charles Kushner


At 9:42 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Rabbi Saul Berman protector of child molester Rabbi Mordechai Gafni.

"High ethical standards"? Me thinks not.

>Edah, founded in 1996, is a case
>in point. Despite numerous
>innovative programs and
>publications, it has not grown
>as its leaders had hoped. This
>year’s conference was reduced
>from two days of programs to
>one, primarily for financial
>Some say the organization’s
>association with Charles
>Kushner, the New Jersey real
>estate developer who pleaded
>guilty to charges of tax
>violation based on witness
>tampering a few months ago, has
>hurt its image, which emphasizes
>high ethical standards. Kushner
>houses Edah’s office in one of
>his Newark office buildings at
>virtually no cost.

Modern Orthodox Outnumber Haredim Here
New data surprise demographers; why, then, is modern community ‘in retreat’?
Gary Rosenblatt - Editor And Publisher

Even as Modern Orthodox Jews see themselves as embattled and on the decline within Orthodoxy, eclipsed by the ascendancy of the haredim to the right, new demographic data offer quite a different picture.

In fact, the Modern Orthodox are the largest segment by far of the Orthodox population in New York, according to a leading sociologist whose study on the community has yet to be released.

Of the approximately 100,000 Orthodox Jewish households in the New York area, 74,000 are likely Modern Orthodox, based on data from the Jewish Community Study of New York, 2002, commissioned by UJA-Federation of New York, and carried out by Ukeles Associates Inc.

“The figures come as a surprise,” acknowledged Jacob Ukeles, a leading demographer who oversaw the study and presented key findings on Sunday at the fourth international conference of Edah, a Modern Orthodox group advancing tolerance and intellectual inquiry.

“I would have guessed 50-50 [between Modern Orthodox and haredim],” he told The Jewish Week, based on the number of children in yeshivas and day schools.

But yet his study based on interviews with almost 900 Orthodox respondents in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County said otherwise.

Ukeles noted that the study is the first attempt to discern differences of ideology within the Orthodox community and could only have been done in New York, which is home to the largest Jewish — and Orthodox — population in the country.

Though definitions are less than precise, Modern Orthodox Jews tend to be more supportive of Zionism and embracing of Western culture than haredim, whose communities are more insular.

The study also found that Orthodox Jews comprise the largest segment of the New York Jewish community and their ranks are growing, while those of Conservative and Reform Jews are slipping.

Still, Samuel Heilman, a professor of sociology and Jewish studies at the City University of New York, described the Modern Orthodox community as “in retreat” and “lacking confidence” while the haredim are growing in numbers, influence and confidence.

“The modernists now see themselves as on the margins,” Heilman told the Edah audience of about 1,000, meeting at the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side. But they are also a part of a trend throughout the Orthodox community that is moving ideologically toward the right.

He asserted that those in the modern camp no longer ignore warnings from the more fundamental elements of the Orthodox community about the decline of American culture and the dangers of a liberal college education.

Ukeles told The Jewish Week that his and Heilman’s findings “are not inconsistent,” saying that he was addressing a quantitative profile of the community while Heilman’s observations were qualitative.

“You may have people who self-identify as Modern Orthodox,” Ukeles explained, “but if they send their children to right-wing yeshivas and are afraid to speak up when their shul doesn’t say the prayer for the State of Israel, etc., they may be overtly Modern Orthodox but in retreat.

“The data won’t tell you that,” he added. “Now you’re looking into their hearts.”

From a strategic position, Ukeles said, Modern Orthodox Jews may ask themselves, “If we’re so numerous, maybe we should be more assertive.”

In his presentation, Ukeles noted that it is difficult to determine what percentage of the Orthodox community is modern or haredi. The “litmus question” he used in his survey asked participants who described themselves as Orthodox how important they felt it was to give children a college or university education. Those who responded “very important” were categorized as modern, while those who replied “not very important” or “not important at all” were considered as most likely to be haredim.

The study found that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews who consider college not important live in Brooklyn, though even there 55 percent believe college is important. And overall, Orthodox Jews who say college is very important are significantly older than those who believe it is somewhat or not important.

Rabbi Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, a haredi institution, said the litmus question seemed sound, but he called the findings of “limited value.” He suggested large numbers of chasidim and other haredim may not have been represented because they were unlikely to respond, or live in other areas. Rabbi Shafran also noted that haredim have a higher birthrate than Modern Orthodox Jews, so the trend is toward more of a balance between the two segments of the community in the future.

Marvin Schick, a consultant who has written extensively on Orthodox life, finds the litmus question problematic, though. “It obliterates the category of centrist Orthodox,” he said, noting that many haredim here attend colleges like Touro. The line between those who do and do not go to college “is more fluid” here as compared to Israel, Schick said.

Modern Orthodox institutions have seen themselves facing an uphill struggle to maintain their numbers, ideological positions and influence in the Orthodox community. Edah, founded in 1996, is a case in point. Despite numerous innovative programs and publications, it has not grown as its leaders had hoped. This year’s conference was reduced from two days of programs to one, primarily for financial reasons.

Some say the organization’s association with Charles Kushner, the New Jersey real estate developer who pleaded guilty to charges of tax violation based on witness tampering a few months ago, has hurt its image, which emphasizes high ethical standards. Kushner houses Edah’s office in one of his Newark office buildings at virtually no cost.

In addition, the grant for Edah’s program to place young teachers in Jewish schools around the country has not been renewed, and its leaders acknowledge that recruiting was difficult. Six teachers are in the program this year.

Heilman’s presentation at the conference described, in part, why Modern Orthodox Jews may feel embattled even as their community moves rightward. He cited four reasons, the first being the perceived decline of American culture and values, calling into the question the merits of a liberal education in a time of increasing permissiveness, especially on campus. Second, he said there has been a relinquishing of parental educational responsibilities to yeshiva administrators and teachers, two-thirds of whom are themselves haredim. Third, fewer Modern Orthodox Jews are going into the rabbinate.

And fourth, increasing numbers of Modern Orthodox youngsters are becoming more ritually observant during post-high school study in Israeli yeshivas and returning home decidedly more observant than their parents — a phenomenon known as “flipping out.”

Heilman said that if the Modern Orthodox community hopes to reclaim its hold on its youth, parents need to play a greater and more direct role in teaching their children, the community needs to train its own rabbis and “take responsibility” for its own “spiritual experience,” in part by creating yeshivas, here and in Israel, that reflect values that embrace both Jewish culture and those of tolerance, diversity and intellectual inquiry.

Rabbi Saul Berman, the director and primary force behind Edah, discussed where the Modern Orthodox community is headed and where it is not. Gone are the days of Modern Orthodoxy of the 1940s and ‘50s, he said, when mixed dancing and more casual attitudes toward kashrut and women’s head coverings were the norm. Modern Orthodoxy will not be “haredi lite,” the rabbi said, asserting that the amount and quality of serious Torah inquiry in “striving for truth” and rejecting authoritarianism is impressive.

The rabbi said Modern Orthodoxy is “on the cusp of a renaissance,” but he offered a strong critique of what he called “a failure of will” and lack of religious passion in the community, too little serious Torah study on a regular basis, an unwillingness to challenge the views of those perceived as more observant and a discomfort with difficult mitzvot. “When the going gets tough,” he said in reference to issues like dating, kashrut or women’s hair covering, “the Modern Orthodox find a heter,” or lenient ruling.

Rabbi Berman called on his adherents to welcome, rather than reject, those young people who have moved to the right in their observance and study, and to try to “harness” their spiritual energy to modern ideology. n

Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of The Jewish Week, was one of more than 80 speakers at the Edah conference.


Despite Allegations, Gala Honoring Political Donor Will Go On
July 23, 2004

Under his bail agreement, Charles Kushner, the real estate mogul and political fund raiser arrested last week for allegedly hiring a call girl in an effort to blackmail a witness, is not allowed to leave his home state of New Jersey. But he will still be one of the guests of honor at a fund-raising gala next month in Israel for Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Leaders of the American Committee for Shaare Zedek say that unless Kushner is convicted of a crime, they see no reason to pull him and his wife off the roster of honorees. Sources associated with the hospital's fund-raising arm say the original decision to honor Kushner was made several months ago in appreciation of a large gift to the institution.

The decision to stand by Kushner despite the allegations against him shines a light on the dilemmas that charitable organizations confront when faced with the prospect of high-profile donors engaging in embarrassing or illegal behavior. While leaders of the Shaare Zedek charity say they are relying on the judicial principle of innocent until proven guilty, other Jewish communal leaders counter that in the public realm of organized communal life, the first commitment always must be to safeguard ethical values.

"While I'm not going to comment about what another group does, if my organization were honoring an individual charged with ethical and serious wrongdoings, I would recommend to my board that the honor be deferred," said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism and a resident of New Jersey. If serious evidence exists to suggest immoral or illegal behavior, then "you wait and see."

While such a stance could cost groups some financial support, Yoffie said, the failure to stand up for ethical values would disillusion members of the community. He added: "If you put realism before ethics you destroy the community, the foundations on which it's built — Torah and the values we've been committed to for 3,500 years."

Accepting money from donors that have questionable reputations can be complicated and should be dealt with on an individual basis, but honoring them publicly is clearly wrong, Yoffie said.

Kushner will continue to engage in philanthropic activities, according to his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman. "It is fair to say that while the legal issues will take some time to address, the important charities that have for so long relied on Charles Kushner's generosity will not be impacted," said Brafman.

Chairman of Kushner Companies, Kushner was arrested last week for allegedly hiring a call girl to cavort with two witnesses, in an attempt to blackmail them with videotapes of the encounter. The two witnesses, one of whom is reported to be Kushner's brother-in-law, William Schulder, were aiding investigators with a 2003 federal probe into Kushner's campaign contributions and business dealings. The investigation followed a legal fight with his brother, Murray, that was settled eventually.

Brafman said his client is not guilty of the charges. "My expectation is that at the end of this ordeal, Mr. Kushner will emerge with his honor intact and his head held high," he said.

Menno Ratzker, president of the American Committee, said that for his organization "it wasn't a question whether to continue or not to continue...the Constitution says innocent until proven guilty." He added that his interest is in "raising money for the hospital" and Kushner has been "very generous to Shaare Zedek and other organizations."

The others being honored at the Shaare Zedek dinner, Fanya Gottesfeld Heller and Howard and Debbie Jonas, could not be reached for comment. The dinner is marking the inauguration of a new department of emergency medicine.

Rabbi Saul Berman, director of the liberal Orthodox group Edah and generally an outspoken leader on business ethics, did not return numerous calls for comment. Kushner's brother-in-law, Murray Laulicht, is the board president. An administrator at Edah declined to comment on Kushner's own connection to the organization.

Jeffrey Dekro, president of The Shefa Fund, the Philadelphia-based group that encourages what it describes as ethically and socially responsible charitable giving, said that the community must stop giving criminals or suspected criminals the ability to donate money in an effort to buy back their reputation or reduce their sentences.

"It's a line the Jewish community has found difficult not to cross," Dekro said, pointing to a need for funds and networks of relationships that run deep.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger yeshivaguy said...

What's the connection between Kushner and Gafni?

At 11:17 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>What's the connection between
>Kushner and Gafni?

As far as I know there is none.

The focus of this post is Rabbi Saul Berman and Edah.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger yeshivaguy said...

You began the post this way:

"Rabbi Saul Berman protector of child molester Rabbi Mordechai Gafni.
"High ethical standards"? Me thinks not."

That implies a connection between his relationship with Gafni and what follows. Is that what you intended?

At 12:28 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>That implies a connection
>between his relationship with
>Gafni and what follows. Is that
>what you intended?

As usual you misread what I write.

In the article it relates about Berman's Edah "... image, which emphasizes high ethical standards".

>"Rabbi Saul Berman protector
>of child molester Rabbi
>Mordechai Gafni. "High ethical
>standards"? Me thinks not."

Is my commentary on Berman's "...high ethical standards".

If you want to read into every post some sort of nonsense, what can I do? Please learn to read.

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous mochassid said...

Perhaps people would take you more seriously if you didn't resort to ridiculous headlines like this one and would refer to Kushner as extortionist rather than trafficker of women and pornographer. He is certainly not, in any rational sense of the term, either of the latter two.

You gain nothing by continuing to refer to him that way and simply lose credibility with normal people.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Why the constant defense of Kushner? Do you have some connection to him.

>Perhaps people would take you
>more seriously if you didn't
>resort to ridiculous headlines
>like this one and would refer to
>Kushner as extortionist rather
>than trafficker of women and

I call him accurately.

>He is certainly not, in any
>rational sense of the term,
>either of the latter two.


>You gain nothing by continuing
>to refer to him that way and
>simply lose credibility with
>normal people.

And I care... why?

1) Kushner was charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and interstate promotion of prostitution.

That makes him a trafficker of women.

2) Kushner cast, produced, viewed, edited and distributed pornography.

That makes him a pornographer.


07-13-04 -- Kushner, Charles -- Criminal Complaint -- News Release

Political Fundraiser, Developer Charles Kushner Charged with Obstruction, Interstate Promotion of Prostitution

NEWARK, N.J. - Real estate developer and major political fundraiser Charles Kushner was charged in a criminal Complaint today with conspiracy, obstruction of the federal investigation of him and his companies, and with interstate promotion of prostitution, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

Kushner, 50, of Livingston, N.J., is accused of hiring two intermediaries and a New York City call girl for $25,000 to videotape a cooperating witness in the underlying investigation while the cooperating witness was engaged in sex with the call girl. Kushner then ordered the videotape and still photographs mailed to the intended victim's wife, who also is assisting in the federal investigation, according to the criminal Complaint.

Kushner conspired with the intermediaries in the hiring of another call girl for the purpose of seducing and videotaping a second cooperating witness in the government's investigation, according to the Complaint. The second intended victim, however, refused the call girl's advances.

(See addendum for the specific charges and potential penalties.)

Kushner turned himself in to the FBI this morning. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance today at 3:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald J. Hedges. Christie will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.

"Obstruction of a federal grand jury investigation will not be tolerated," said Christie. "The allegations in this complaint show a pattern of disregard for the law. The alleged conduct is repugnant to all those who respect the rule of law."

Kushner's intent in capturing the cooperating witnesses' seduction by the call girls on videotape was to gain leverage against the witnesses in the federal investigation, according to the Complaint.

Kushner allegedly ordered one of his co-conspirators to mail the videotape to the cooperating witness' wife two days after target letters from the U.S. Attorney's Office were issued to certain of Kushner's associates. Those associates were part of the federal probe of Kushner and his real estate entities for potential tax fraud and criminal violation of federal campaign contribution laws, according to the Complaint.

The obstruction scheme began in summer 2003, according to the Complaint, when Kushner contacted the two co-conspirators, asking them to locate a call girl and videotape the cooperating witness having sex with her.

The two co-conspirators had difficulty locating a call girl, prompting Kushner, in November 2003, to recruit a call girl himself, according to the Complaint. In early December, the co-conspirators and call girl, who had traveled several times from New York to New Jersey, devised and executed the plan, according to the Complaint.

A first attempt to set up the encounter failed when the victim declined the call girl's invitation to go to her motel room in Bridgewater, N.J., after she had convinced him to give her a ride there under the pretext that her car had broken down. They did, however, exchange telephone numbers, and on the following day, Dec. 5, 2003, the two had sexual relations in a Bridgewater, N.J. motel room, where the co-conspirators had installed a hidden camera, according to the Complaint.

Later the same day, Kushner demanded to view the videotape in a conference room in his Florham Park, N.J. offices, and expressed satisfaction with the result, according to the Complaint.

It was not until May 2004, after target letters had been sent to certain of Kushner's associates, that he offered further instructions regarding the videotape. On May 9, Kushner instructed one of the co-conspirators that he wanted the videotape and still photographs mailed to the cooperating couple, as well as the couple's children, before a scheduled family gathering the following weekend, according to the Complaint. The co-conspirator convinced him not to send the tape to the children, according to the Complaint.

The videotape and accompanying still photographs were mailed by one of the co-conspirators from upstate New York and arrived at the home of the husband and wife cooperating witnesses, where the wife opened the envelope and discovered its contents. The husband and wife subsequently turned the tape over to the FBI.

Kushner allegedly paid his two co-conspirators $25,000 to recruit the first call girl and complete the scheme to catch the cooperating witness on videotape with the call girl. Of that amount, the call girl received between $7,000 and $10,000. In the second instance, the co-conspirators received between $10,000 and $12,000 to videotape the second cooperating witness with a call girl. After that scheme failed, the call girl was paid $2,000 for her efforts, according to the complaint.

A criminal Complaint is merely an accusation. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Joseph Billy, Jr.; and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation section, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia J. Haynes.

The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr., and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Resnik of the Special Prosecutions Division.


Defense Counsel: Alfred DeCotiis, Esq. Teaneck, N.J.

Charges and Maximum Potential Criminal Penalties

• Count One, Conspiracy to Promote an Interstate Act of Prostitution: carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine

• Count Two, Retaliation Against a Witness (Cooperating Witness 1): Carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 fine.

• Count Three, Obstruction of Justice (Cooperating Witness 3): Carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 fine.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I must have been sleeping when Charles Kushner became a pornographer. When did that happen?

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous mochassid said...

I have no connection to Kushner and I would hardly call my reference to him as an extortionist as a defense.

I am fully aware of what he did. That certainly does not make him either apornographer or a trafficker in women. It makes him an extortionist. Why can't you ever admit that you are wrong. It is so silly of you to persist with this ridiculous thread on Kushner.

Why are you so obssessed with calling him that which he isn't? You could make your points much more effectively if you didn't constantly go over the top.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

It makes him all three: a pornographer, a trafficker in women and an extortionist. I can also think of some other things he is, but my post headers can only be so long.

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edah's office is in NYC, not Newark!!

At 7:23 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>Edah's office is in NYC, not

Seems to be a typo Newark should be New York.

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that Berman keeps protecting Gafni? I look at the connection Berman has to Kushner. I wonder if Saul Berman also has some sort of sex addiction? or something like that going on?

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that Berman keeps protecting Gafni? I look at the connection Berman has to Kushner. I wonder if Saul Berman also has some sort of sex addiction? or something like that going on?

At 6:28 AM, Blogger MoChassid said...

You've become a joke

At 6:38 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>I wonder if Saul Berman also
>has some sort of sex addiction?
>or something like that going on?

There is no evidence of such. I've never heard of anything to support your assertion.

>You've become a joke


At 6:47 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

The joke are the community leaders and members of the community who wrote the 730 letters Kushner has used to receive leniency.

How many such letters does someone actually deserving of communal support such as Rabbi Slifkin have?

I guess we see the community's priorities.

You may not like my over-the-top commentary at times, but so what?

At 6:55 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

The joke are community leaders like Rabbi Saul Berman who still associate in any way with a hypocrite and rasha like Charles Kushner.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

"Due to a fire in Radin, the Chofetz Chaim had to write a letter to a newspaper editor asking him to print a request to help the townspeople. The editor was a Shabbos transgresser, and the kadosh put all his thought into how he could address him in the most minimal fashion without a single unneccesary word. This deliberation took him a few days until he reached a decision. Even so, after he sent the letter he was in distress and fear for a few more days, out of worry he had transgressed the severe prohibition of giving undue respect to a rasha. (YD 151:14, Rambam Edut 11:10)."

Yet Rabbi Saul Berman will associate with a Charles Kushner and provide public support to child molester Rabbi Mordechai Gafni.

Who's the real joke?

At 8:56 AM, Blogger MoChassid said...

I have no use for R. Berman, Edah or Kushner contary to the straw men that you try to set up. I only take issue with you going over the top when you don't need to. You lose credibility for no reason. Kushner is simply not a pornographer or trafficer in women and no matter how many times you say he is, it doesn't make him one. It just makes you look ridiculous.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>Kushner is simply not a
>pornographer or trafficer in

What's your definition of these 2 terms and why does he not fall into it?

n : someone who presents shows or sells writing or pictures that are sexually explicit in violation of the community mores [syn: porn merchant]

n : someone who promotes or exchanges goods or services for money [syn: seller, marketer, vender, vendor]

Remember, he was charged with "interstate promotion of prostitution".

At 11:27 AM, Blogger MoChassid said...

aznayim lahem....

At 11:35 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

rosh lahem ...

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Berman was always a phoney.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

Is HaRav Slifkin seeking letters of support?

At 9:11 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>Is HaRav Slifkin seeking letters
>of support?

You mean Charles Kushner didn't receive these letters of support spontaneously from concerned people?


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