High Schools Fail to Notify Grads of Seminary Sex Abuse

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Elimelech Meisels Notice by Chicago Beit Din

Courtesy of Frum Follies

The following guest post was sent to me from a father in New York. For more background on the Meisels sex abuse scandal, see these posts by Frum Follies:

Rabbinical Court Accuses Seminary Operator Elimelech Meisels of “Unwanted Sexual Contact”

Israeli Beit Din Announces Removal of Meisels from His Seminaries and Gives Green Light for Attendance

I’ve been waiting the past few days for a call from my daughter’s high school.  I wait and I wait, but I fear none will be forthcoming.

An administrator with ties to four well-known Beis Ya’akov post high school seminaries (Elimelech Meisels) has been accused of  molesting students.  A beis din (rabbinical court) in Chicago, composed of some of the leading Rabbonim in that community (and in the entire U.S., for that matter), wrote a letter stating that the charges are credible and warning girls against attending those seminaries.  They turned the case over to another beis din in Israel for further investigation. That beis din issued its own letter indicating that since the individual in question has agreed to sever all ties with those schools, girls should feel secure in remaining enrolled. Then the seminaries in question issued their own letter, claiming the individual in question has “resigned” and that they are open for business as usual. Yet, the Chicago dayanim (judges) have not retracted their original warning to avoid these institutions.

Did others in these schools know of this individual’s behavior?  Can they be trusted?  What are we to make of the differing letters issued by the batei din?  And even as these investigations and charges were unfolding, the seminaries apparently took payment for the upcoming year as if nothing was amiss.

Dear high school principal/administrator: I don’t need you to call me immediately if my child does poorly on a test or brings an internet-enabled cell phone to school.  She will live and get over these challenges.   

I do need you to call me when seminaries that girls from your school are set to attend prove to be havens for sexual predators.  I do need you to be involved in setting up safeguards to ensure this behavior is not repeated elsewhere, under any circumstances.  I do need to hear from you to reassure me that my daughter will be safe when she spends a year away from home.  The school should have held an open meeting for all parents to address the issue directly and to speak about safeguarding our girls in future. 

Despite the fact that schools now do speak about what constitutes improper behavior and warn students to report it, lectures do not replace action.  The silence of the schools before and after the Chicago beis din spoke out, the silence of many if not most of the frum press, the silence of websites such as Yeshiva World and Matzav, indicates that we prefer to look away, to sweep the issue under the rug, and not address these types of problems when they present themselves in our midst.  Meisels should not have been given the opportunity to “resign” – he should have been fired and barred from entering the building. 

It’s easy to expel a young girl because her skirt is a little too short or her cell phone has internet access enabled. However, when those behaviors are shown no tolerance when behaviors of a far more serious nature are not responded to appropriately, rather than teaching respect for the standards of halacha and modesty, the lesson learned is hypocrisy. 

More posts from A Mother in Israel:
Why Do People Still Believe Moti Elon Is Innocent?

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Comments

  1. The person mentioned is no longer associated with any of the seminaries.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

    • Wrong. He is associated. He owns the seminaries. Moreover, his misconduct was apparently discernible to others who worked there. They may not have seen the actual acts of sex but they saw him taking girls out of the building in the wee hours of the morning, they witnessed various violations of din yichud, they saw how he groomed his favorite pretty girls and shut out those who were not infatuated with him.

      A number of other staff had all the clues they needed to know that at a minimum, these were violations of the very standards the seminaries promoted. These were things that would have alarmed them if it involved their own daughters.

      As in kashering kelim, that which was absorbed and became the flavor of the place must be removed. The staff who enabled this misconduct and allowed it to go on for years and years need to removed. They have shown that they cannot be trusted to protect their students.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 2

  2. miriam isserow says:

    I know nothing about these seminaries but it is typical–if there was even a suspicion–for schools to send a letter to parents. The fact that they haven’t is at the very least unfortunate and reflects a desire to cover things up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. Pragmatist says:

    The community press is covering it – that’s where I saw this news. His extended family is devastated, as you can imagine, as this is VERY public.

    The article I saw has a statement from the Chicago Dies Din, which basically says “with all due respect to the other Beis Din, we haven’t changed our conclusion, and don’t believe that these schools are a good place to send girls.”

    The worst of it seems to be that some of the girls DID try to alert staff, and got nowhere.

    The father is right – stop worrying so much about internet enabled smart phones, and start dealing with ACTUAL misdeeds.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  4. I like what R’ Yair Hoffman said

    Which approach is most ideal when dealing with such a horrific topic? Do we follow the lead of the Chicago Beis Din where we need to completely “clean house?” Perhaps the field of Kashrus may be instructive here. In kashrus, when an owner is caught selling tarfus, changing the management is not adequate. Recent events have born that out. Shouldn’t our children be treated with at least as much dignity as our meat?
    Allan Katz recently posted..Masei 74 – Journeys and ExperiencesMy Profile

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Only qualified women should be allowed to administer and teach in seminaries for the female gender just like only men are halachically allowed to teach in men’s seminaries and yeshivos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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