Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Boca Raton Community Kollel's Rabbi Gabriel Ohayon sued by assistant, claims groped, asked to go to strip clubs & provide after-hour massages


At 6:19 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>Gabriel Ohayon, vice president
>of the Boca Raton Synagogue

Which of course is Rabbi Mordechai Gafni/Winiarz/Winyarz's old synagogue.

Archived Boca Raton Synagogue pages.

Archived Boca Raton Community Kollel pages.


Lawsuit alleges rabbi groped former employee

A former employee sued a Boca Raton Judaic studies institute Monday, alleging that a rabbi there groped and sexually harassed her.

The harassment happened between January 2004 and June 2004 while victim was an administrative assistant for Rabbi Gabriel Ohayon at Boca Raton Community Kollel, according to the lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

During that period, Ohayon asked victim to expose her breasts, and put his hands on her buttocks, the lawsuit alleges. Ohayon also asked victim to accompany him to strip clubs, come to his house on nights his wife was out of town and to provide after-hours massages in exchange for extra money, according to the lawsuit.

Ohayon pushed victim out of her chair when she was on the phone with her boyfriend, hung up the phone and yelled that she was not to talk to men on the phone while in the office, according to the lawsuit.

Ohayon was not listed Monday in the faculty section of the Community Kollel Web site. Institute officials could not be reached for comment Monday night, despite attempts by phone and e-mail.

Palm Beach County



Rabbi Gabriel Ohayon, Executive Director
Rabbi Ohayon has been a leader of the Boca Raton Synagogue since 1991 when he joined the Board of Directors.
He served as President of the Synagogue from 1994 through 1995, and was one of the founding members of its Sephardic Minyan, which numbers well over 150 participants.
Rabbi Ohayon received his ordination and studied in Mirrer Yeshiva, in Brooklyn, NY; a Teacher's Certificate from Toronto Hebrew Teacher's Seminary; and a Bachelor of Commerce degree in International Business and Trade from Ryerson University, in Toronto.

The Palm Beach Post
January 24, 1993
by Siobhan Morrissey, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Shortly after sunset Saturday, the end of the Jewish Sabbath, about 75 people lit candles on the steps of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel office to protest a classified ad for bars of "Jewish Human Soap."

"That bar of soap humiliates and puts a shame on people who were murdered, massacred, for nothing more than being Jewish," said Rabbi Gene Klein, a Holocaust survivor, whose first wife and three children were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Protesters waved Israeli and U.S. flags and sang songs, including one that concentration camp victims sang as they were led to the gas chambers.

The Jan. 20 publication of the three-line ad elicited a raw emotional response in the American Jewish community already wary of rising anti-Semitism and a neo-Nazi resurgence in Germany.

Although some protesters said they had canceled their subscriptions to the newspaper, rally leaders said the protest was aimed at preventing future similar actions.

"Obviously the rally is not against the Sun-Sentinel, but to make people aware we value our blood and our people," said Gabriel Ohayon, vice president of the Boca Raton Synagogue, which staged the protest.

The synagogue's spiritual leader, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, acknowledged the newspaper's apology and said he is forming a task force with its executives to prevent a repetition of the incident.

Under the glare of television lights, the protest lasted about 30 minutes. After protesters lit their candles, Brander conducted a Havdallah service to usher in the new week and urge his followers to be productive members of society.

Afterward, Cathy Rose, whose Lantana telephone number appeared in the ad, also addressed the gathering. Rose, 43, founded the Florida Christian Task Force Against Anti-Semitism two months ago. The Jewish soap ad may have been in retaliation for Rose's own ad in area newspapers denouncing anti-Semitism. "By the blood of Christ I support you," Rose told the crowd.

Later, as the rally was winding down, Rose said that several people called her asking where they could buy the soap.
LANNIS WATERS/Staff Photographer

Boca Raton Synagogue members protest outside the Sun-Sentinel office in Delray Saturday.

September 5, 1994
by Ken Swart Religion Writer

A new sanctuary in which to pray.

A special worship service to prepare for the Jewish High Holy Days.

A bris for the rabbi's newborn son.

Boca Raton Synagogue had plenty of reasons to celebrate on Sunday.

During the bris, or circumcision ceremony, Rabbi Kenneth Brander told the Orthodox congregation that he and his wife, Ruchie, had named their son after a beloved teacher.

"My son has big shoes to fill," Brander said. "But, hopefully, he will be a source of nachas [pride) to all of us."

The rabbi's family and synagogue already are a source of pride, worshipers said.

"It's a new beginning for us," said Joseph Bronstein, a member of the synagogue, who will help lead the observances for the High Holy Days, which begin with tonight's Rosh Hashana Eve service.

This also is a new beginning for several other Palm Beach County synagogues.

For example, just in time for the High Holy Days:

-- B'nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton: The Conservative Jewish congregation expanded its choir and hired a new spiritual leader, Rabbi David Steinhardt.

-- Chabad Lubavitch, Boynton Beach: Members of the international Orthodox Jewish movement created the Beis Menachem chapter and hired Rabbi Sholom Ciment as spiritual leader.

-- Congregation Beth Tikvah, west of Boca Raton: Members created the Conservative Jewish synagogue, then hired Rabbi Israel Jacobs, formerly of Temple Anshei Shalom in Delray Beach.

-- Temple Emanuel, west of Boca Raton: Members created the Conservative Jewish synagogue.

-- Temple Judea, West Palm Beach: The Reform Jewish congregation is celebrating its bar mitzvah, or 13th anniversary, with its original spiritual leaders - Rabbi Joel Levine and Cantor Rita Shore.

But among all the events, the service and bris at Boca Raton Synagogue was perhaps the most joyous.

Especially for the Branders.

The joy of their son's bris helped to ease the sadness they have felt since their daughter's death. The infant died suddenly, shortly after she was born.

"We hope our son will add a unique strand to the tapestry of Judaism in our community," the rabbi said.

The boy already has done so, said Gabriel Ohayon, president of Boca Raton Synagogue.

The boy's bris and the sanctuary's opening fell on the same day.

"The rabbi couldn't have planned it better if he'd tried," Ohayon said. Call it fate. Or, in Hebrew, bashert.

"In Judaism, nothing is coincidental," said Rabbi Meyer Strassfeld, who helps Brander lead the congregation.

Not even when the first official event in a new sanctuary is the bris of the rabbi's son, said Steve Rantz, a member of Boca Raton Synagogue.

"How much more important can an event be?" Rantz said.
Staff photo/JILL GUTTMAN

Gabriel Ohayon, president of the Boca Raton Synagogue, blows the shofar, or ram's horn, to signal the beginning of the Jewish New Year.
Caption: PHOTO

October 3, 2003
by Linda Reeves Special Correspondent

The rituals, prayers and traditions vary slightly from synagogue to synagogue, but the reason for commemorating the Jewish holiday considered the most important of the year are similar.

Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown Sunday, "is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar," said Rabbi Sholom Ciment, leader of Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox synagogue west of Boynton Beach. "It is a powerful occasion when one can revolt from the daily routine of life. It is a time to return to God."

The evening service that begins Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is commonly known as Kol Nidre.

"The prayer is a legal declaration. We ask that all vows that we have made be annulled," said Rabbi Debra Eisenman, leader of Congregation Beth Tikvah of West Boca Raton, a Conservative synagogue.

Most Jews fast during the holiday.

"We fast for 25 hours," said Rabbi Geoffrey Botnick, religious leader of Temple Torah of West Boynton Beach, a Conservative congregation. "Fasting helps one clearly think about what they can do to contribute to the world. It helps one look to God who forgives us for our failings."

Fasting restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. Jewish children under the age of 9 and women in labor and with newborns are not permitted to fast.

The Talmud, the early religious writings that form the basis of Orthodox Judaism, specifies additional restrictions that are less well known. Washing and bathing, anointing one's body with cosmetics and deodorants and engaging in sexual relations are prohibited on Yom Kippur.

Some Orthodox and Conservative Jews do not wear leather shoes on the holy day. They don't drive or ride in vehicles.

"A large portion of our members will not wear leather shoes," Botnick said. "Leather is a sign of luxury and it is associated with an animal's life. It has been sacrificed. Many of the members also walk to services. They do not use the comforts of a car."

Most of Yom Kippur is spent in the synagogue in prayer. The day is full of services. Some begin early in the morning, especially in the Orthodox synagogues, and continue until the afternoon, when worshipers take a break and return around 5 or 6 p.m. for evening ceremonies.

"It is a day of traditional prayers and songs," said Rabbi Merle Singer of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, a Reform congregation. "The Jewish people are all together as one. We may have different expressions, but we are all together at this time which symbolizes renewal of life."

The day is a solemn occasion.

"Some of the songs are chanted," Eisenman said. "You can feel the mood of the people. The music is haunting."

It is customary to wear white on the holiday. Some worshipers wear a kittle, the white robe worn by the dead during burial ceremonies.

"White is a symbol to remind us that we are reborn at this time," Eisenman said.

The final service of Yom Kippur is known as Neilah. It lasts about an hour. During the service, the ark, the cabinet where the scrolls of the Torah are kept, remains open and everyone is expected to stand throughout the service.

The services end with the blowing of the shofar.

"The blowing of the ram's horn is a wakeup call," said Rabbi Boruch Shmuel Liberow, a religious teacher with Chabad Lubavitch of Boca Raton.

"We are asking God to forgive us and to give us a sweet new year."

Community Kollel on the campus of the Boca Raton Synagogue, 7900 Montoya Circle in Boca Raton, is pitching an air-conditioned tent to accommodate worshipers. Yom Kippur services are free and open to the public.

"We accept anyone for prayer," said Rabbi Gabriel Ohayon, executive director of Community Kollel. Services are scheduled at 6:45 p.m. Sunday and continue at 11 a.m. Monday. For information, call 561-394-3904.

The community is also invited to Chabad-Lubavitch, 10655 El Clair Ranch Road west of Boynton Beach. Services are 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday and 9 and 11 a.m. and 6:30 and 7:40 p.m. Monday. For information, call 561-732-4633.
PHOTO Caption:
holy horn: Rabbi Boruch Shmuel Liberow helps David Bagby, 9, prepare a shofar for Yom Kippur. The demonstration at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy included traditional methods of cleaning and shaping the horn. The shofar is blown as a wakeup call to Jews. Staff photo/Jim Rassol

By STEPHANIE SLATER Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
December 13, 2004
The Palm Beach Post

Photos by UMA SANGHVI/Staff Photographer

More than 100 people guide the Community Kollel's new Torah through the streets to the Boca Raton Synagogue. It will be housed in a new study center on Powerline Road.

The Jewish community west of Boca Raton received a rare Hanukkah gift Sunday: A new Torah scroll for a new educational center.

About 150 men, women and children crowded around a table in Guila Berdugo's living room to watch Rabbi David Golowinski imprint in black ink the final Hebrew letters of the Torah she and her husband, Elie, bought for the Community Kollel.

"Siman tov and mazel tov," they sang as Golowinski, a sofer, or scribe, completed the scripture. The celebration continued with more singing and traditional dancing as the Torah was carried down Tennyson Court to the Boca Raton Synagogue.

The Berdugos donated the sacred handwritten scroll in memory of Guila Berdugo's late father, Abraham ben Messod Peretz. It will be used to teach Torah - the body of Jewish law - in the community, said Rabbi Gabriel Ohayon, executive director of Community Kollel.

The educational organization offers free workshops, lectures and programs to Jews seeking spiritual growth.

The Torah will be housed at Boca Tov, an enrichment center and coffeehouse being built at 21065 Powerline Road.

"My father would love to hear that students will have a Torah," Guila Berdugo said. "He's around today, definitely."

The dedication of a new Torah is infrequent because its writing is an expensive and intricate process, Ohayon said. Only a specially trained scribe can write a Torah, which costs between $30,000 and $50,000 to complete.

This one was written in Haifa, Israel, by Elie Berdugo's cousin, who spent more than a year perfectly inscribing 304,805 Hebrew letters. No letter can touch another, and the spacing between words and paragraphs must be exact.

"A Sefar Torah is a highly required item in our religion because it's read from on a daily basis," Ohayon said. "The Community Kollel was very much in need of a Torah and thrilled to have this one."


At 6:24 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...


Rabbi's lawyer denies woman's harassment charge
By Stephanie Slater
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A lawyer called allegations of sexual harassment against a well-known suburban Boca Raton rabbi baseless and outrageous Tuesday.

Howard DuBosar, a lawyer for the Boca Raton Community Kollel, the nonprofit organization where the harassment allegedly occurred, also questioned the motivation of the Broward County woman who filed a lawsuit Monday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

Alleged victim is seeking more than $15,000 in damages from the kollel and its former executive director, Rabbi Gabriel Ohayon, 63, who she claims made unwanted sexual advances and requests while she worked as his administrative assistant.

Alleged victim alleges that from Jan. 22, 2004 through June 4, 2004, Ohayon tried to kiss her and remove her clothing, asked her to go with him to strip clubs, and followed her into a room, locked the door and asked to see her breasts, according to the suit.

She also accuses him of battery for pushing her out of a chair when she was on the phone with her boyfriend.

Ohayon resigned as executive director of the kollel this year to pursue other business opportunities, DuBosar said.

The kollel, a Jewish organization that promotes spiritual growth through free educational workshops and lectures, was formed in 1996 by Rabbi Kenneth Brander, head rabbi at the Orthodox Boca Raton Synagogue.

"The kollel has no reason to believe Gabe engaged in any wrongdoing and accepts his denial," DuBosar said. "Whatever the motivations of the plaintiff might be, it's a shame she's taking it out on a not-for-profit organization such as this."

Ohayon did not return a call for comment Tuesday but said Monday he did not know anything about the suit.

Nearly two weeks before she claims the harassment began, alleged victim was arrested by the Broward County Sheriff's Office on grand theft and drug possession charges, court records show.

Alleged victim pleaded guilty and spent 26 days in the county jail, though it is unclear when she served the time.

Her first arrest came at the age of 14 when Coral Springs police charged her with shoplifting, according to state records.

West Palm Beach police arrested her on larceny and petit theft charges in December.

Alleged victims' attorney, Kenneth Carman, did not return calls for comment.


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