Agudath Israel of America

Rabbi David ZweibelRabbi David Zweibel, Executive Vice President, Agudath Israel of America.

212-797-9000 –

“Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel wrote to me that it is not Agudah’s job to protect children from molesters known to the Gedolim.”

Dr. Asher Lipner writing on the Failed Messiah blog 8-31-11.

State mandated reporting laws

“…the individual should not rely exclusively on his own judgment to determine the presence or absence of raglayim la’davar. Rather, he should present the facts of the case to a rabbi…”
Statement of Agudath Israel of America on reporting suspicions of child abuse – July 22, 2011

Every state and many countries have mandated reporting laws for suspicions of child sexual abuse. This requires certain groups of individuals to report to the police or child protective services any suspicion that a child may be abused or that someone is abusing a child. Having proof of sexual abuse is not required to be a mandated reporter, only a suspicion. In some states such as New Jersey and Maryland, all adults are mandated reporters.

Many Orthodox rabbis and institutions around the world explicitly forbid a person to report suspicions of child sexual abuse to the police regardless of a state or country’s mandated reporting laws. They demand that only a rabbi may be told of the suspicion and that only he will decide if this person may be reported to the police.

Former Brooklyn District attorney Charles Hynes has been quoted as saying “…that rabbis, or anyone else, who shield abusers, could face criminal charges.”

I am not aware of any jurisdiction that allows rabbis to decide if a state or country’s child protection laws should be complied with. The idea of mandated reporting laws is that law enforcement professionals with the proper expertise will conduct the investigation in all cases, not untrained rabbis.

I called Rabbi Zweibel in December 2015 to discuss with him why Agudath Israel doesn’t want Orthodox child rapists to be reported to the police. I also wanted to discuss why Agudath Israel lobbies with the Catholic Church to kill legislation in New York that would allow child rapists and molesters to be prosecuted for their heinous assaults on our children. Rabbi Zweibel’s secretary told me that he was busy but that he would call me back shortly. He never did.


Power grab

“The district attorney should be careful not to be seen as making a power grab from rabbinic authority,” Mr. Zwiebel said.
New York Times – 10-13-09

“Zwiebel stands by his assertion, first expressed publicly in 2009, that the DA should not attempt to encroach on the power of the rabbis.”
The Guardian – 3/29/2012

“After Zwiebel said his group would resist increased public pressure to lift its requirement that parents obtain rabbinic permission before going to the police, Hynes and the haredim appear to be on a collision course.

“Hynes said the policy is misguided because rabbis “have no experience or expertise in sex abuse.” He said that he had underlined his opposition to rabbis screening allegations during a telephone call with Rabbi David Zwiebel, Agudah’s executive vice president, earlier on the morning of the May 24 interview.”
The Jewish Forward – 5-29-12

 The Markey Child Victims Act of New York

This act, in part, will eliminate New York’s archaic statute of limitations (SOL) for child sexual abuse. Currently, the SOL prevents New York State district attorneys from prosecuting child molesters after the victim turns 23. New York is considered one of the worst states in the country for prosecuting child molesters. Few victims of child sexual abuse are able to deal with the trauma of their abuse and report it to the police until they reach middle-age, long after the statute of limitations in New York has expired.

Many states have completely eliminated the SOL for child sex crimes. Countries including Canada, the U.K., Australia, Switzerland and Hungary don’t even have an SOL for child sex crimes. Incredibly, the Markey Child Victims Act has been defeated 4 times in the New York legislature. The 2 main groups successfully lobbying the NY legislature to kill the bill every time it is brought up are the Catholic Church and Agudath Israel of America.

One of the largest groups of Orthodox rabbis lobby together with the Catholic Church for a singular purpose – to prevent legislation that would allow child molesters to be prosecuted in New York.


Agudah - Dovid Zweibel and Cardinal DolanHere’s a picture of Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Catholic Church and Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of America, together. It is believed that the rabbi is the one without the cross.

 “It is well-known that the primary opponent to protecting New York’s children is the Catholic Conference, the lobbying organization for New York’s Catholic bishops.  The bishops, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, are sinking hundreds of thousands of their parishioners’ dollars to fight child sex abuse victims in New York.  They are joined by Agudath Israel, which means that 2 religious organizations are the political enemies of New York’s children. They have chosen the side of the perpetrators.”

Professor Marci Hamilton speaking at NY Assemblywoman Margaret Markey’s press conference on the Child Victim’s Act – 2/29/12.

“Despite repeated success in the assembly, Markey’s bill keeps failing to reach the Senate. Powerful religious groups are lobbying against it. The Catholic bishops are aggressively fighting the bill, and alongside them: Agudath Israel of America.”

The Guardian – 3/29/2012

 (Excerpts from op-ed by Dr. Asher Lipner written on the Failed Messiah blog – 8-31-11)
Do As We Say, Not As We Do
Leading rabbis of Agudath Israel of America, the ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, coverup and enable child sexual abuse, activist says.

While paying lip service to the Mitzvah to protect children’s safety, what perplexes survivors of abuse and frightens parents is why are the Agudah rabbis continuing to personally cover up for known molesters?

Rabbi Moshe Eisemann, the former Mashgiach Ruchani of the Ner Yisroel Yeshiva in Baltimore was exposed to the Baltimore Rabbis as a child molester in 2006. After confessing his crimes Eisemann was quietly “retired”. Rabbi Ahron Feldman, not only failed to report Eisemann’s crimes to the police, but he refused to warn the public – including the hundreds of boys who live on the campus of the Yeshiva.

When the Baltimore Jewish Times exposed Eisemann and other rabbinic molesters, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, of the local branch of Agudah attacked it for being anti-Jewish.
In Lakewood, Rabbis Kotler and Salomon have a Beis Din that covers up cases of sexual abuse. The rabbis have worked closely over the years with Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, sending the predators for “treatment,” but not a single case has been reported to the police by either the rabbis or by Ohel. One Lakewood family courageously did report their child’s abuse to the police and are currently pressing charges, but they have been forced to move out of town for their safety.

When a mother of a boy who died from a drug overdose publicized that he had been molested, her house was burned down and police investigators cannot get cooperation from the rabbis. This intimidation is carried out with rabbinic complicity or at least passive acquiescence; not a single rabbi condemns it or shows support for the victims.

In Chicago, Rabbi Avraham Chaim Levine and his “Special Bais Din” is in charge of covering up cases of child sexual abuse. He has not reported a single child molester to the authorities. Rabbi Levine can be heard on tape decrying those who would publicize the names of known child sexual predators.

The current actions of the Agudah Gedolim, shockingly more in line with the behavior the world has come to expect from the Catholic Church, are not only in contradiction of their stated policy, they are also in violation of the law. In Maryland and New Jersey, for example, all adults are mandated to report sex crimes against children to the authorities.

The Ocean County prosecutor publicly warned the Lakewood rabbis that their Bais Din is illegal, and that they risk prosecution for failure to report sex crimes to the police. One Lakewood Kollel rabbi was arrested for witness tampering, and a prominent Brooklyn Rabbi, Yisroel Belsky, was warned that he too would be arrested if he published his letter threatening the family of the raped boy.

So why in the world do the rabbis cover up for molesters? Some Gedolim, like Rabbi Pinchas Sheinberg, have said that without sexual penetration it isn’t really abuse. Other rabbis feel that prominent (choshuv) molesters should be allowed to get away with it, like Rabbi Hopfer who told me not to expose Eisemann because “he made many people frum.”

Agudah has also said that Orthodox molesters should not have to go to jail because they are needed as breadwinners. Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel wrote to me that it is not Agudah’s job to protect children from molesters known to the Gedolim. Rabbi Perlow, the Nasi of Agudah, still refuses to speak out against Kolko’s crimes, because they happened in Flatbush, and Perlow is a Rebbe in Borough Park.

When the Gedolim opposed the Child Victims Act that would extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, they publicly admitted that they are afraid that if their cover-ups are uncovered, lawsuits could jeopardize the “financial integrity” of their organizations.

One comment

  • Fred R Komarow

    Daat Torah has many quotes and references to both Zweibel and the Agudah. To me personally, the words that appear in the above link are the sin qua non of everything wrong with the mind-set that Agudas Yisroel has fomented with regard to child abuse. It’s reminds me of a combination of group-think and post-Orwellian thought control, all within the framework of a most subjective interpretation of Halacha. Stated in the alternative, it’s seems to fall within the parameters of one who is a “menuval b’rishut ha Torah”. There are many other gems out there, statements made by “gedolim” directly, or their askanim who claim to quote them directly. It boils down to a simple question: who can we trust to be pro-active in protecting our kids? The answer is : almost no one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *