Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Journal News runs story on Rabbi Mordechai Tendler's expulsion from the RCA


At 5:53 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

New Hempstead rabbi expelled
(Original publication: March 26, 2005)

An influential Orthodox Jewish council has expelled a New Hempstead rabbi from its ranks for not cooperating with an investigation into harassment accusations made by women in his congregation.

The Rabbinical Council of America found Rabbi Mordechai Tendler "has engaged in conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi" after a nearly 15-month investigation.

Tendler, founder of Kehillate New Hempstead, vehemently denied he used his position to solicit women or acted inappropriately, the rabbi's spokesman, Hank Sheinkopf, said yesterday. Tendler remains the synagogue's rabbi.

The rabbi didn't appear before the council's ethics panel because his accusers would not be subject to questioning by his side, Sheinkopf said.

"The rabbinical council's actions were outrageous, reminiscent of the Salem witch trials," Sheinkopf said. "He wasn't given an opportunity to confront his accusers."

While the council declined to discuss the investigation, details have been reported in at least two Jewish newspapers, The Forward and The Jewish Press. It also has been the subject on Internet blog sites.

According to newspaper reports, nine women accused the rabbi of improper conduct, sexual harassment and soliciting sex as they sought his advice on religious issues. Some allegations go back 15 years.

The 1,000-member council's decision to oust Tendler was considered unprecedented when the issue involved allegations of such misconduct. The council, which represents the branch of modern Orthodox Jewry, acted at a time when all religious leaders have come under scrutiny over sexual scandals.

"After months of careful and painful deliberations, the Rabbinical Council of America has concluded that Rabbi Tendler has refused to cooperate with the Vaad Hakavod (ethics panel) in its investigation and has refused to appear at a hearing," the council wrote in a statement.

The statement continued, "Rabbi Mordechai Tendler has engaged in conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi."

Council officials would make no further comment, according to the statement.

The council's decision has created much debate because of Tendler's scholarship and family lineage.

His father, Rabbi Moshe Tendler of Community Synagogue of Monsey, is a renowned expert in biomedical ethics at Yeshiva University. His grandfather, the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, was regarded as a leading arbiter of Jewish law in the United States.

While not carrying the weight of secular law, the council's decision — rightly or wrongly — is tantamount to a conviction on the allegations, said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history and studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Sarna said he could not recall the council's ever expelling a member.

"We are a society today much more sensitive about how religious leaders interact with communicants," Sarna said, citing scandals involving other rabbis and some Catholic priests. "What once was handled quietly or with a slap on the wrist is today handled with a great deal more openness. This case will put rabbis on renewed notice that there is zero tolerance for any type of harassment."

Tendler will have trouble recovering his reputation.

"This is a terrible thing because his last name, Tendler, is part of the most notable Orthodox families in America, and he is a man of substantial repute on his own," Sarna said.

Tendler won plaudits from Orthodox women's groups for advocating on behalf of women forced to stay in marriages to husbands who refuse to grant a religious divorce. He also was a moving force behind starting a counseling program in Ramapo for Orthodox youths.

Queens College Professor Samuel Heilman, who teaches Jewish studies and sociology, said the council was more responsive to society at large than other rabbinical groups.

Heilman, who lives in New Rochelle, is an authority on Orthodox Judaism and teaches Jewish studies.

"Expulsion is a way of public censure," Heilman said. "It doesn't mean he cannot practice being a rabbi."

Sheinkopf, the rabbi's spokesman and a prominent political consultant, said Tendler hoped to remain with Kehillate New Hempstead, though the rabbi understood concerns existed within the congregation.

Tendler is meeting with congregants, Sheinkopf said, and will consider legal action against the council. The rabbi's wife, Michelle, called the council's decision despicable, he said. The couple have eight children.

Elaine Silverberg of Monsey yesterday said that after she became widowed and was considered a "defenseless woman," she often sought Tendler's advice.

"He always treated me and my children with respect and always handled our concerns with the highest ethical, moral and religious standards," said Silverberg, who attended Tendler's father's synagogue.

Silverberg brought her divorced and widowed friends to the rabbi.

"The recent public statements against Rabbi Tendler," Silverberg said, "are in stark contrast to my own experiences and those of my friends."

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The interesting thing about the article is that it only cites one person with first-hand knowledge of working with MT, Elaine Silverberg, and she reported only positive things in her and her friends contacts with him. The people involved have to come out, on the record, publically, to make their allegations otherwise they just will not be believed. That way the questions and issues can be fully addressed. Attacking anonymously is easy. Why is it that those who have experienced only positive contacts with MT when they were most vulnerable will come forward on the record while 9 people hide? This is already public. Give the Journal News your names and make your allegations public. Why hide?

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

>The interesting thing about the
>article is that it only cites
>one person with first-hand
>knowledge of working with MT,
>Elaine Silverberg, and she
>reported only positive things in
>her and her friends contacts
>with him.

Sexual predators don't abuse every person they come into contact with. Just like a purse snatcher, they are looking for a vulnerable victim. They're looking for the isolated person NOT someone who is part of a network of close friends.

>The people involved have to come
>out, on the record, publically,
>to make their allegations
>otherwise they just will not be

Why? They came forward to the RCA, they made themselves available to a independent 3rd party as part of an investigation. It's clear they WERE believed.

>That way the questions and
>issues can be fully addressed.

Already done for 15+ months.

>Attacking anonymously is easy.
>Why is it that those who have
>experienced only positive
>contacts with MT when they were
>most vulnerable will come
>forward on the record while 9
>people hide? This is already
>public. Give the Journal News
>your names and make your
>allegations public. Why hide?

1) They are victims of sexual exploitation by a prominant, public figure.
2) They unlike Rabbi Mordechai Tendler do not have the resources to hire public relations people, lawyers and have no access to synagogue resources/discretionary funds to battle in the public eye.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

If victims choose to come forward, I would only recomend it as part of a civil suit against Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, KNH, the RCA (in violating their confidential information) and various other organizations and community leaders who chose to protect a sexual predator over those he exploited.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm from Missouri - I require to be shown. The RCA did not bring specifics. They said 2 things - 1) MT did not cooperate. 2) He did things unfitting an Orthodox Rabbi. That tells me nothing.

It does not tell me that they believed the allegations. It tells me 1 and 2 and that's all.

The attempt is being made essentially to make this into a Kobe Bryant case. The accuser had to come forward and could keep her confidentiality. The same is true here. The RCA did not say that it believed the allegations.

Now, you might say, what about #2, actions unbefitting an Orthodox Rabbi? Would MT be in his office alone with people he was seeing, both men and women? Yes. Is that what they were referring to? That just giving the possibility of being misread was improper behavior? And, when combined with their perception of being dissed, led to the easy answer? Could be. Maybe not. Maybe they believed the allegations completely.

There is no way I can know what the RCA believed or did not believe other than what they actually said. And, considering I know a couple of the women and my wife knows virtually all of them, I don't put a heck of a lot of credit in their claims from the outset.

It is for that reason that I need more concrete information. If there is DNA evidence, it should be IMMEDIATELY released as that would put this whole thing to rest.

It is interesting to note that Gennifer Flowers, et al. made numerous claims against Clinton but he was believed over them because they were not considered trustworthy. Would the same people on this BLOG calling KNHers who want more concrete evidence "cultists" and "blind followers" call the entire Democrat party by the same terms?

At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't know if it is true, but I heard that any woman who has been abused by merdecai tendler can contact the following website to join the lawsuit.

At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One reason women are reluctant to identify themselves is that they have families to worry about--husbands and children who would carry a stigma of adultery forever should it become publicly known the details of a sexual affair.

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no law suit brewing. I've been asking around and so far everyone has been too afraid. Unfortunately the intimidation technique's have been successful.

I personally think it would be a great idea. I'm sure there is at least one attorney who would jump at the chance to bring up a class action suite against Tendler and others like him.

It sickens me how the RCA mishandled this case, and put the survivors in harms way by sharing confidential information. Someone NEEDs to take legal action against him and the RCA.

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was raped by another rabbi. The Awareness Center gave me the name and phone number of an attorney who agreed to help me. If there are any Tendler survivors reading this, call The Awareness Center. I'm sure they will give you my attorney's name.

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One reason women are reluctant to identify themselves is that they have families to worry about--husbands and children who would carry a stigma of adultery forever should it become publicly known the details of a sexual affair."

Assuming that what they have claimed is true. So, instead, only the accused and his wife and children carry a stigma? These women are adults presumably and responsible for their actions. Put up or shut up.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is no law suit brewing. I've been asking around and so far everyone has been too afraid. Unfortunately the intimidation technique's have been successful.

I personally think it would be a great idea. I'm sure there is at least one attorney who would jump at the chance to bring up a class action suite against Tendler and others like him."

I totally agree. MT has asked to confront his accusers directly which the RCA refused (based on Michelle's letter). It seems the only time and place that he will be able to confront his accusers is in a secular court. I think they should bring a case if they have one. That would permit the women to clear their names or MT to clear his name.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>Put up or shut up.


>That would permit the women to
>clear their names or MT to clear
>his name.


15+ month investigation that Rabbi Mordechai Tendler's victims co-operated with. Their names are clear.

Rabbi Mordechai Tendler is the one expelled from the RCA.

Try to keep that straight.

At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read what the RCA wrote and what they did not write. They wrote that he was expelled for 1) not cooperating and 2) conduct unbefitting an Orthodox Rabbi. Michelle's letter addresses point 1. Point 2 needs to be further defined by the RCA in specificity. Failure to do that permits both the accusers and defenders to spin it either way.

I don't expect the RCA to do any such thing. Which leads to only the accusers stepping forward and going public, like Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, etc. and Kobe Bryant's accuser. I simply put no credit in people who won't reveal themselves. Of those accusers that their names have trickled out, both my wife and myself know them to be unstable. Does that mean they are lying? No. But I certainly don't believe them. Because there are those that I do not know, I want to know specifically what is being alleged, by whom and when. Then I can make my own informed decision. I'm not going to make a decision based on a BLOG or the RCA's wishy-washy decision. I want facts from the people who have the facts. Not from surrogates. Not from anonymous BLOGs. Adults take responsibility for their actions and step forward.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

So you do not follow the RCA?

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

Keep up the pressure. Tendlers supporters are running around franically to prepare him for tomorrows meeeting. Tendler has 1 key supporter on the board who is a respected lawyer, he also has another lawyer that happens to be a well known divorce lawyer who is prepping him as well. As strange as it must seem, the KNH Board is also using this lawyer as their advisor, even though this lawyer has reviewed all of Tendlers documents and has sent materials to the RCA on Tendlers behalf. THE BOARD OF KNH IS ONCE AGAIN SHOWING THEIR INCOMPETENCE IN HANDLING THIS CASE.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Seriously, if you follow a Rabbi expelled from the RCA for
"engag[ing] in conduct inapporopriate for an Orthodox rabbi.”, are you within authentic Orthodox Judaism or are you and your family now part of this era's newest "Shabtai Tzvi cult" and outside authentic Orthodox Judaism?

Maybe you should contact the RCA and make enquiries rather that listen to Rabbi Mordechai Tendler.

At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

engag[ing] in conduct inapporopriate for an Orthodox rabbi.”, are you within authentic Orthodox Judaism or are you and your family now part of this era's newest "Shabtai Tzvi cult" and outside authentic Orthodox Judaism?

We should add in Gafni/Winiarz to that catagory too.

At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JWB - Please help out the poor Board at KNH. They are just as liable for allowing Tendler to continue while knowing things were not right these past few years. They begged him not to talk to some of these women but he continually insisted. They asked him not to meet with them in the shul office but he continued to so it. They asked him not to drive women alone in his car but he continued to do it. Members were witness to his car rides with women and saw him stay in shul with women long after davening was over. While no one actually saw him ding anything, the behavior continued for years.

At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Ozair, and good ole Hershy Worch too!

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think about all of those the Survivors of Tendler could sue in a class action suit -- Beside Mordecai Tendler, there is the RCA, Board at KNH, Basel Herring, trying to think of who else?

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contact the RCA? You have to be joking. I'm not a Rabbi and not a member. If they wanted to be more explicit they would have been. While it took too long for them in the Lanner case, when they did finally act it was all on the table.

I truly resent the label "cultist". I am no more "cultist" than half this country who supported Clinton despite Flowers, Jones, et al. and all of the accusations against him. The only reason Lewinsky was believed was because of the blue dress. People choose who and what to believe and who and what they consider credible. My wife and I know these women (at least most of them) and just do not find them in the least credible. You feel differently.

As to the RCA - do I follow them? Does anybody "follow" the RCA? As said previously, they need to better define "conduct unbecoming an Orthodox Rabbi". That tells me nothing. If they would have said that they found the allegations had merit, that would carry more weight with me. What they actually said, however, communicated nothing to me.

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:40 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>JWB - Please help out the poor
>Board at KNH. They are just as
>liable for allowing Tendler to
>continue while knowing things
>were not right these past few

100%. KNH currently employs a Rabbi found by his
professional body, the RCA, after a 15+ month investigation to have "...engaged. in conduct inapporopriate for an Orthodox rabbi.”. The RCA has expelled him and YU has terminated his seminar.

KNH on the other hand continues to employ him and did NOT put him on suspension during the RCA investigation or after the expulsion. It is clear that they did not take appropriate steps at any point to protect congregants. Not only is KNH liable but I suspect that board members may want to seek legal opinion regarding their own past personal liability here and continuing legal liability.

>As strange as it must seem, the
>KNH Board is also using this
>lawyer as their advisor, even
>though this lawyer has reviewed
>all of Tendlers documents and
>has sent materials to the RCA on
>Tendlers behalf.

Not unusual at all, just completely inappropriate.

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The RCA failed the victims in its statement which allowed for attacks of the victims and doubt to his supporters.

Many reason why women don't come out in public. Especially Jewish women-the whole thing should not have been a public town hall internet fight. All should have been conducted Jewishly not to publically hurt anyone.

But the Jewish community failed the women.

Why should victimized women have to prove and reveal herself a thousand times to, or everyone who doesn’t believe?

Just someone who will do something about the abuse.

The RCA heard witnesses and so did a private investigating team and they got proof. They aren't a court; they are a rabbinical organization who Jewish women reported to.

This organization doesn't want RMT as their member because of what they discovered. It’s ethical and moral not to reveal the privacy of the witnesses.

The Journal News also didn't do its investigation and relied on one testimony about him being a nice guy to a widower. They have a long history with the Tendlers see Succot story, and another that phrases his daughter, etc.

You all say you know the women. You don't know them. You just said who are they? They should come forward. You are cultist and follow blindly because you believe whatever RMT and his thugs say about any women they lie and say evil things about. Your wife doesn't know the women. Yea, the shul members are reliable sources of these women, right. Yea, ones who malign and testify and blindly testify for there "Rav".

The women aren't the ones on trail. They have been damaged enough by your "Rav" and community. Some may not come forward as you demonstrated your terrorist verbal attacks and physical threats on many women who the Tendlers have lied about.

Why should a victim be continently maligned?

So that
"the accused and his wife and children carry a stigma?"

RMT is responsible for what he did to his family.

There was already an investigation. You are cultist to believe your Rabbi that the investigation wasn't done correctly. It was fro him. The RCA spend a lot of money hiring an independent team. Another RMT lie.

Anonymous said...
You said you’re from Missouri - Your not. You just said your wife knows the women and a KNH member.

#2 RCA stated “misconduct”. Idiot. The RCA wouldn't dismiss him for office consultations. They would have stated if so; as possible mis-read, etc, they didn't.

"Gennifer Flowers"? Yea, where have all the flowers gone? Opps I mean women?

You say his "cultish members"

'who want more concrete',
The RCA investigated. Except it.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

I would caution people that Sunday's meeting will be a fiasco. Remember Rabbi Mordechai Tendler still runs the KNH show. This meeting will be about damage control, silencing opposition, a show of power and ultimately trying to rally his supporters against his "enemies".

1) I don't expect Rabbi Mordechai Tendler to answer open questions. Lawyers and publicists will be advising against that. If he does, don't expect answers. I expect a statement of innocence.
2) There will be lots of references to legal rights and confidentiality rather than answers.
3) Expect others to speak for Rabbi Mordechai Tendler.
4) They will try to keep the press, cameras and tape recorders out.
5) People will be shouted down.
6) Expect a huge turnout, particularly supporters of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler.

I suggest making notes. Take paper and pencil if other items are not allowed. Make notes after the event as well. It's important to keep detailed records of such events.

Note people who harass and shout down people, make notes of such actions. Come early to find good seating and find out what other precautions are going to be taken to protect Rabbi Mordechai Tendler. Opponents of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler should try to sit as a group.

Make lists of questions. Put them in writing as it is very likely that there will be a vetting of questions (if they are allowed). So write out each one on a seperate piece of paper and come prepared. Keep copies so you can indicate later what questions they refused to answer.

1) Ask Rabbi Mordechai Tendler to sign a waiver allowing his former lawyer who resigned to answer wquestions.
2) Ask Rabbi Mordechai Tendler to sign a waiver allowing any woman who has signed a confidentiality agreements in settlement with him to make public statements.
3) Ask him to submit to a public polygraph by an independent party that will also draft the questions to be asked.

Any other questions? Feel free to list here.

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Response to JWB – who made me laugh and hinted at the boards twisted favoritism for their “Rav” against the women by saying, “Please help out the poor Board at KNH”.

The Board is using the same lawyer as RMT for advice, not because as stated here ‘they (the Board) are failures’, or because they are ‘inappropriate to do so’, rather they are using the same lawyer because they are on the same side.

“They are just as liable”…’ the behavior continued for years.”

you are right.

“They (the Board) begged him not to talk to some of these women but he continually insisted. They asked him not to meet with them in the shul office but he continued to so it. They asked him not to drive women alone in his car but he continued to do it. Members were witness to his car rides with women and saw him stay in shul with women long after davening was over.

The Board knowingly did a cover-up job. They just didn’t want the drug addict to use drugs in front of witnesses. They didn’t like any women to tarnish his image and being seen with him would. They made request of him to polish his image like a PR firm. They just didn’t want a pedafilier to be seen with kids. He’s still like a drug addict or a petafilier in the way of sexual addition; and the Board allowed him to prey on women so long as he didn’t in front of anyone. They didn’t get rid of him. They didn’t get him help. The Board allowed for getting rid of women from shul just to cover-up his image. When the women were not the problem they made as if so to the public to cover-up for him. They damaged the women. They harassed any women seen with him. And there is nothing wrong with driving women or talking to them. The board didn’t want him to do so only because it hurt his image, and to back-up their false claims that the women are the problem and not him. It’s not talking or driving women that’s the issue or problem, it is him. He’s has a sexual addition and commits inappropriate sexual misconduct as a leading Rabbi.

Interesting the head of their sisterhood makes a political statement covering up; she said “I didn’t know. Why didn’t someone come to me”, when clearly the Board as stated here “begged” him. They knew of his conduct and still continue to be on the same side. Only those leaving are doing so as to save their own image and responsibility as participants of his abuse.

Does anyone have a lawyer to sue the shul?

At 5:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Questions to ask at the meeting.

1. will he be willing to take a lie detector test?

2.He wants to face his accused? Will he allow the women to make statements here as well?

At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the survivors of tendler should be present without legal representation. I also think that this meeting should be tape recorded, and the recording to be used later in a class action civil suit.

These women need an attorney. Someone not associated with this case in anyway. Someone who Tendler, the RCA and the rest of the goons can't influence.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>I don't think the survivors of
>tendler should be present
>without legal representation.


>I also think that this meeting
>should be tape recorded, and the
>recording to be used later in a
>class action civil suit.


I would also note, this is why as many people who are present should take extensive and detailed notes, even note the times things are asked and abusive people heckle. They can be used in a civil suit later as well. The tape only catches what the camera is pointed at. The eyes and pencils of 100 witnesses are even more powerful.

Who knows what will happen to the single tape? Don't be suprised if they claim it didn't work or was destroyed.

>These women need an attorney. >Someone not associated with this
>case in anyway. Someone who
>Tendler, the RCA and the rest of
>the goons can't influence.


At 7:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The head of the sisterhood is a politician by trade, her son is in NY politics as well. She knows and has things as well. She has been there long enough, so do not believe her if she says she knows nothing. SHE WILL BECOME A SERIOUS LIABILITY TO HER SONS FUTURE POLITICAL CAREER IF SHE IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE ANTICS OF HER RAV. SHE WILL BLOW WITH THE WIND AND DO WHATS IN HER BEST INTEREST. HER SONS POLITICAL CAREER COULD BE EFFECTED

At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

somehow this does not seem like the RCA came out strongly enough. It is essential for Torah observant Jews to condemn this crime. The RCA needs a little courage.

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The RCA needed more guts to really put Tendler out of business. They dropped this solely into the habds of the Board at KNH. Totally irresponsible of the RCA. That is why the survivors must speak up and reveal themselves, sue the Board, sue the Rabbi.

At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The RCA is a powerless organization. Do not expect them with wield power that they do not possess.

At 6:10 AM, Anonymous JWB- Jew Without Balls said...


Bogged Down By Bloggers
Gary Rosenblatt - Editor and Publisher

"That’s not the way journalism is supposed to work, but there’s not much I can do about it. Over the years in this profession I’ve gotten thicker skin, but there are people whose lives are more private than mine whose reputations and character are maligned in these reports. They have no one to turn to in order to set the record straight, and that’s just not right."

" To be sure, there are some very thoughtful and worthwhile bloggers out there, and they tend to be the ones who identify themselves and have an expertise in and passion for the subjects they write about.
What bothers me, though, is that in this still emerging field, there is no accountability and there are no professional standards to be met. In the rush to get a story out first, the emphasis is on timeliness rather than accuracy, with seemingly little regard –– or responsibility –– for printing rumors or theories that are untrue.

"So people who are mentioned and maligned by an anonymous blogger have no recourse."

"yet there are countless people reading blogs on the Web by would-be journalists whose reports go unsubstantiated and unedited, and the results are often hurtful, damaging people’s characters and reputations."

"More upsetting are the bloggers who criticize individuals by name, make accusations against rabbis and communal leaders, but don’t have the guts to identify themselves, or bother to interview the people they write about."

"One of the better known Jewish reporting blogs calls for “accountability and transparency within our institutions and leadership,” a noble goal, indeed. But the “About me” area on the home page where the blogger usually posts some details about him or her self is empty. To demand full disclosure of others without identifying one’s self seems the height of chutzpah and hypocrisy to me."




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