Israel – sex predator haven
Israel needs to clean up its act
Israel has a long, deplorable record of allowing Orthodox individuals wanted for child sex crimes from around the world flee justice, enter the country and obtain citizenship. Avrohom Mondrowitz, Yona Weinberg, Gershon Kranczer and his son, Asher Kranczer, have all fled arrest in the U.S. and entered Israel, where they currently reside. Malka Leifer fled arrest in Australia and has lived in Israel for 7 years. Israel has not extradited any of them even though Israel has an extradition treaty with both the U.S. and Australia.
Avrohom Mondrowitz is a notorious man believed to have molested up to hundreds of boys in the U.S., before fleeing arrest and moving to Israel in 1984. The Israeli Supreme Court intervened to prevent his extradition. His case was so outrageous that it was the subject of reports by ABC’s Nightline program and CNN. Mondrowitz is a free man living in the Nachlaot section of Jerusalem.
Yona Weinberg is a Tier-3 (the highest danger level) convicted sex offender who spent a year in jail for molesting 2 boys. He is now wanted on assault charges and flew to Israel before he could be arrested. He lives in the Har Nof section of Jerusalem. Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization affiliated with the Israeli government that assists North American Jews who want to move to Israel, reportedly helped move Weinberg’s family to Israel after Weinberg left the U.S. Israel will not extradite him.
A victim’s advocate in New York, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, tweeted residents in Har Nof warning them about Weinberg. Weinberg sued Horowitz for slander and won a summary judgement against Horowitz from an Israeli judge for $50,000. In Israel, it’s against the law to warn parents about a Tier-3, convicted child molester wanted by the police on assault charges in the U.S.
Weinberg sent me a letter purportedly from his lawyer in Brooklyn, insisting that Weinberg is not wanted. The letter comes with a FBI watermark which I believe to be totally fake. I spoke to Fugitive Task Force Detective Kevin Lapin (who has Weinberg’s case) on 6/15/2016 and he told me that Weinberg is wanted and he has been wanted since 9/10/14. Weinberg flew to Israel the next day.
Rabbi Gershon (pictured) and Asher Kranczer (not pictured), father and son, are wanted by the NYPD on horrific child sex abuse charges spanning 15 years. They fled to Israel in 2010 with the help of Gershon’s wife. Two of Gershon’s other sons, Yechezkel and an unnamed minor at the time, were arrested on similar charges. Yechezkel was convicted. According to the New York Times, the minor implicated himself in the abuse to the police. Israel has not extradited either Gershon or Asher.
Rabbi Frederick Karp, was a spiritual counselor at a Jewish nursing home in Cleveland who was interviewed by detectives about allegations of child sexual abuse. Shortly after the interview, he was arrested by the police at JFK airport before he could board a flight to Israel. Karp was convicted of child sex abuse and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Malka Leifer fled to Israel when she learned that she was wanted by the Melbourne, Australia police on child sex abuse charges. She was the principal of the Adass Israel School and she fled with the help of school officials. Leifer recently lost a civil case brought against her in Australia by a former student. A second suit is pending. The judgment against Leifer was for $1.27 million. Despite the fact that Israel has an extradition treaty with Australia and Leifer has already been in Israel for 7 years, Israel still has not extradited her. She has reportedly been released from house arrest by the Israeli judge and is living freely in Immanuel.
The following Orthodox men from the U.S. – almost all rabbis – who have faced allegations of sexual abuse of either Orthodox children or women are believed to be currently living in Israel. None of them have been charged with a crime, although some have been sued civilly.
- Rabbi George Finkelstein –
Alleged to have abused Yeshiva University students. According to a source, he is the gabbai of a shul frequented by Americans located behind the YMCA in Jerusalem.
- Rabbi Macy Gordon – (Picture not available)
Alleged to have abused Yeshiva University students.
- Rabbi Matis Weinberg –
Alleged to have abused Yeshiva University students in Israel and students at his former yeshiva in California. According to a source, he is believed to give a daf yomi shiur in the Old City of Jerusalem.
- Rabbi Avraham Leizerowitz –
Alleged to have been sued civilly by a former student, but moved to Israel before trial.
- Rabbi Elimelech Meisels –
Married man who owned 4 girl’s seminaries in Israel. Meisels was alleged to have had inappropriate contact with girls at his seminaries. A Chicago Bet Din ruled that his seminaries were not safe:
- Rabbi Ben-Zion Sobel –
Alleged to have been fired from his teaching position for child sexual abuse.
- Rabbi Dovid Weinberger –
Allegedly was fired from his Lawrence, NY synagogue and signed a letter that states:
“To whom it may concern, I, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, formerly the Rabbi of Cong. Shaarei Tefilla of Lawrence, NY, do hereby acknowledge that I will retire from the Rabbinate effective immediately, and will never again serve in the capacity of Rov or Rabbi of any congregation or community, nor will I ever again be involved as a mechanech [teacher] in any venue of Chinuch [education]. According to a source, he may be back in the U.S.
- Rabbi Ephraim Becker –
On August 4, 2008 Becker allegedly signed this agreement:
“I, Ephraim D. Becker hereby commit to limiting my professional work to males only. By this I confirm that under no circumstances will I work with women, privately, institutionally, fee-based, or as a volunteer, in the capacity of counselor, therapist, or teacher. I will not see women in marriage counseling even in the presence of their husbands. I agree to immediately terminate all work with current female clients and in no way promote myself from now on as a marriage counselor or therapist who works with women.
I agree to be supervised in my work with male clients with an eye towards confirming growth and future ability to broaden my practice. Should I be found to be in violation of the above commitment, I understand that I can be brought to Bais Din for a Din Torah.
- Rick Andron –
Alleged to have abused Yeshiva University students. Last year, he was believed to be living in Efrat.
- Sholom Eichler –
Ordered to pay his cousin, Chaim Levin, $3.5 million in a child sex abuse case in 2013. Eichler allegedly moved to Israel shortly after the judgement was awarded and never paid Levin.
Israel’s Law of Return
In 1950, 2 years after the State of Israel was established, Israel passed the “Law of Return”. It states that any Jew has the right to move to Israel and become an Israeli citizen. However, it denies that right to anyone who “is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State.” (Paragraph 2(b). In 1955, the law was slightly amended to also prohibit citizenship to anyone who “is a person with a criminal past, likely to endanger public welfare.” (First amendment, paragraph 3).
This exclusion was famously used in the 1970’s by former prime minister, Golda Meir, who repeatedly refused to allow Meyer Lansky, a reputed mobster, from obtaining Israeli citizenship, even though he was not convicted of any crime other than illegal gambling.
Israel, at that time, refused citizenship to a man convicted of gambling because they didn’t want that kind of disreputable character in the country. But today Israel grants citizenship to many wanted, convicted and alleged Orthodox sex predators. Apparently, Orthodox sex offenders are always welcome in Israel.
Israel’s disregard for the safety and welfare of its children is amply reflected in a 2013 study by Haifa University and the Israeli Ministry of Education. In a first-ever study of its kind, it reported that 17% or 300,000 Israeli Jewish children had been sexually abused. Until that study was done, the Israeli government thought the number was less than 2%. The study didn’t even include the Orthodox sector whom I believe have a much higher rate of child sexual abuse than Israeli society in general.
Israel has a national sex offender registry that contains the names of its convicted child molesters, but it doesn’t allow the public, parents or employers to have access to this list. Better to protect convicted child rapists and sex predators than the kids they prey upon. As is demonstrated by the Yona Weinberg case, if you warn parents about a convicted child sex offender in Israel, he can sue you for libel and he will win.
In many child sex abuse cases, Israeli judges impose gag orders preventing the release of the names of individuals who have been arrested for, or convicted of, child sex crimes. I have come across many child sex abuse cases in Israel that are reported in the Israeli media, but the media isn’t allowed to print the names of the molesters and the arrest photos are intentionally blurred. As a result, there are many Orthodox Israeli molesters that should be on “The List”, but aren’t, because I can’t even find out who they are. No one can.
Hide the women and children
Thousands of parents send their children who just graduated high school to Israel to study in yeshivas and seminaries for 1-2 years. Parents frequently spent more than $25,000/year to send their 18 and 19 year-old kids to Israel to study the Torah, Jewish law and philosophy. But many yeshivas and seminaries in Israel have not adequately protected the students in their care. The institutions below all have large populations of students from outside Israel.
- Yeshivat Hakotel‘s former head dean, Rabbi Moti Elon, is a convicted child molester. After Elon was convicted of child sexual abuse, Rabbi Chaim Druckman, head of Yeshivat Or Etzion, hired Elon to teach at his yeshiva. Druckman is a former Israeli cabinet minister, member of the Knesset and head of the Bnei Akiva network of yeshivas in Israel.
- Rabbi Elimelech Meisels owned 4 Israeli women’s seminaries – Peninim, Binas Bais Yaakov, Chedvas Bais Yaakov and Keser Chaya that a Chicago Bet Din declared to be unsafe for students.
- Derech Etz Chaim had its affiliation with Yeshiva University terminated due to allegations that Rabbi Matis Weinberg abused Y.U. students.
These are just some of the allegations of sexual abuse in Israeli yeshivas and seminaries that I have come across through public record searches. The question that any parent should ask who spends $25,000/year to send their child to study in Israel is, “Is my kid safe in these institutions?” The answer that many victims of sexual abuse would probably give you is “Absolutely not.”
In my opinion, many Torah institutions in Israel do not have adequate safeguards in place to protect their students from being sexually abused. There are few consequences for molesters and for those who cover-up their crimes. And you can be certain that Orthodox molesters, especially if they are rabbis, will be vigorously protected and their crimes covered-up by their powerful rabbinic colleagues.
Forget about going to the police. The chance that an American (or Canadian, Brit, Aussie or South African) teenager is going to get a prominent, well-connected sexually abusive rabbi in Israel sent to jail is likely to be zero.
How to fix the problem
- Before it gives citizenship to an overseas applicant, Israeli immigration authorities need to do a simple Google search with the applicant’s name followed by the word “sex”. Many individuals with a connection to sex abuse will show up in that most basic of searches. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if Israel would bother contacting law enforcement in the country of origin to see if the applicant has a criminal background of any sort. But that would be assuming that Israeli immigration authorities actually want to do something to stop criminals and sex predators from entering their country.
- Israel needs to make public its list of convicted child sex offenders. Parents and employers have a right to know who the predators are who target children in their care.
- Israel needs to enforce mandated reporting laws. If someone has a suspicion that a child is being harmed, that person must report the suspicion to the police immediately. Failure to do so should be a criminal offense that is vigorously prosecuted.