Friday, August 1, 2014

Chicage Bais Din Stands by their Psak, No Girl Should attend any of Meisels Seminaries!

It is rare for a Beis Din in America to reject the psak of a respected Beis Din in Beni Brak. But that is exactly what they have done. 
Remember that the Special Beis Din consisted of some of the most respected Rabbonim/Dayanim in all of Chicago. Their Hashkafos run from Centrist to Charedi. An Agudah Dayan, the Av Beis Din of the RCA, and the Rosh Kolllel of the Choshen Mishpat Kollel here in Chicago were the 3 Dayanim on this case. And they all rejected the conclusions of the Bnei Brak Beis Din in a published letter. 

Mr. Meisels

From Yerachmiel Lopin’s blog, here is what they said: 
We stand by our July 10 statement that we do not recommend prospective students attend these seminaries, and also note, based on evidence including testimony by victims and staff and admissions by Elimelech Meisels, our conclusion that certain senior staff members failed in their responsibilities toward students. 
This statement was not written by some hot-headed blogger with an anti Charedi agenda. It was written by some of the most respected Rabbonim in America.

The Bnei Brak Beis Din has said not to listen to the ‘naysayers’ since they do not know all of the facts. The problem is that the Chicago ‘naysayers’ not only know the facts, but spent an enormously greater amount of time studying them. I think we must all conclude that the Bnei Brak Beis Din has grievously erred here. Here is a point by point refutation of their ‘Psak’:

1) It is unclear as to whether these seminaries are safe even now after Meisels has sold them to one of his friends.

2) The staff may be incredible but despite their many legitimate successes with vast numbers of students, they nonetheless failed some of them miserably. They can no longer be trusted with the safety of their students.

3) Touro (and HTC) should not restore their relationship with these seminaries.

4) Since these schools are no longer recommended, other schools have a right, and perhaps a responsibility to recruit students from those schools. The claim by the Bnei Brak Beis Din that it is forbidden by Halacha to do so is based on their erroneous conclusions.

5) Slander and defamation is normally prohibited, unless there is a Toeles… a purpose that will protect people from harm. In the case of these seminaries, it is fair to say that the teachers who allowed this kind of thing to go on by looking the other way even though they suspected something are not the kind of teachers you want teaching your daughters anything!

6) Those that have intervened – specifically the Special Beis Din - should most definitely NOT be ignored. They not only have the facts, but they know them better than the Bnei Brak Beis Din does.

I realize that the Bnei Brak Beis Din wants to protect the livelihoods and reputations of those teachers. I’m sure those teachers are all fine people who otherwise deserve the accolades they have gotten in the past from students, parents, and now the Bnei Brak Beis Din. But the judgment of these teachers on this issue was at best foolish and at worst self centered.

By saying that these teachers failed in their responsibilities to their students - the Special Beis Din determined that these teachers did not do or say anything about their suspicions. Why? Who knows... but it is not a stretch to believe that they were quiet because they did not want to rock any boats.  Whistle blowers tend to get fired very quickly. Losing their jobs by reporting suspicions about their boss was certainly something to worry about. So they ignored the suspicious scenarios they saw.  Ignoring suspected sexual abuse because of the fear of losing one’s job does not deserve to be rewarded.

This is a very significant development. The 3 Chicago Rabbonim have decided to speak truth to power. They have stood on principle and sided against the conventional wisdom of sympathy for the institution and protecting the reputations of their staff.  Yes those teachers will be hurt. Sadly so will their families who are innocent of any wrong doing. But they will all survive. These 3 Rabbonim have instead sided with justice for the victims and the protection of our daughters. God bless them. 

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