Friday, April 08, 2005

True Believers of the Jewish Cults

The Tendler fiasco has now spilled beyond the confines of little New Hempstead, New York and reverberates throughout the Jewish world. It has taken on the character of a political fight, and it has gotten ugly. Major Jewish and secular publications have followed the scandal and the RCA investigation and decision to expell Rabbi Tendler. The Jewish Press and Jewish Week have contributed editorials. No doubt other media will follow. The blogspots are hopping, and people, when they feel safe, are quietly discussing the situation. This problem is not going to go away any time soon. The question is: Where do we go from here?
Certainly, any religious leader ensnared in a sex scandal will lose credibility. We can think, off the tops of our heads, of major religious leaders from the Christian world who achieved stunning success only to crash in flames when exposed as sex deviants: Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and the series of Roman Catholic child molestors come immediately to mind. No doubt there have been others of lesser fame. Now, the Orthodox Jewish world, which holds itself to a higher standard, and is particularly averse to desecration of the name of G-d, struggles with its own scandal, and it is an ugly sight. The public discourse has degenerated into a knock down drag out name-calling slugfest,fought in hysterical tones, mostly on the internet, with neither side looking very pretty.
We have a group of people on one side screaming for Rabbi Tendler to step down as rabbi of his shul and move out of his town. Where he would go is not clear. The Orthdox Jewish world is small, connected, and often as overheated as the screaming blogs. Unless he clears his name, there is nowhere in the Orthodox Jewish world that Rabbi Tendler can go to escape the opprobrium that now haunts him. Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish religion has no central organization or bureacracy; the Jews have no Bishop, Cardinal, or Pope to make an executive decision to remove a rabbi from a pulpit and send him to an isolated monastary somewhere, to get him out of the spotlight, to punish him and protect him and the Church at the same time. Every shul rabbi is an entrepeneur, ultimately answering to whomever he chooses, if anyone at all. No, for better or worse, Rabbi Tendler is on his own and he is in the public eye, with nowhere to run. Every Jewish scandal is duly noted and recorded by the Jews and millions of Jew-observers across the globe. A rabbi, in particular, can not hide; he has no protection other than his good reputation. In the end, the only people who can decide that Rabbi Tendler must move on from his shul are Rabbi Tendler, and the people in his shul. No one else has the right to make that decision. This is a simple, but powerful fact. As long as Rabbi Tendler believes he can hang on to a group of True Believes in his shul, he will, struggling to ride out this storm.
On the other side of the controversy, the Tendler True Believers are butressed by a well-paid professional staff of political operatives, public relations people, attorneys, and loyal family members. They are working together to suppress the negative publicity. Rabbi Tendler has consistently denied all the charges against him. There is not even a hint that perhaps he made a mistake or two along the way. He has a right to take that position, and we are not here to take sides. But we must note that the pro-Tendler forces have employed the most reprehensible tactics. They have attacked the credibility of the accusers, who consider themselves victims of manipulation and abuse. After attacking the victims as a group of unstable nitwits, the Tendler machine unleashed its energies to do whatever it could to confuse the issues. They attacked the two midwives who first advocated the rights of the victims as unsanitary "witches" and "baby-killers". The Tendler forces then attacked the RCA rabbis as unqualified "mediocre" rabbis who were on "witchhunt". Why the RCA would conduct a witchunt against Rabbi Tendler, an RCA member for many years, is never stated. The True Believers attempted to impugn the integrity of the investigation because it was conducted by non-Jewish investigators, a truly primitive argument. And, in perhaps the most absurd agrument of all, the True Believers claim that the RCA investigation and decision to expel Tendler can't be respected because it was not the result of a formal legal process, or Jewish Beis Din. All this, in spite of the fact that Rabbi Tendler agreed to these very conditions at the outset of the investigation. The pro-Tendler forces have also tried to inundate blogs with endless amounts of spam, in order to suppress public discussion.
These tactics are reprehensible. The Beis Din argument, in particular, is specious. The RCA, or any organization for that matter does not need a Beis Din to expel a member. If we follow that logic, then Orthodox Jews may disregard any decision by any rabbinical organization or rabbi if the decision is not made pursuant to a formal Beis Din. Logically, we may disregard any ruling, opinion, and even kosher certifications that are not made pursuant to a Beis Din. Pardon the colloquialism, but give us a break. If the True Believers want a Beis Din, let them summon the RCA to a Beis Din. That will never happen, because the last thing in the world the True Believers really want is a Beis Din. Their arugment in this regard is utterly hypocritical. They want to bury this scandal under ten feet of dirt, not expose it to more public scrutiny.
The bottom line is that the True Believers will accept every pro-Tendler rationalization, and ignore all the other stuff that clings to this mess like barnacles on the dark underside of an old boat. The Tendler forces have done all they can at this point to persevere in the light of an unprecedented sex scandal. And they just might succeed in sustaining their Leader. Just like the Lubavitch True Believers will believe that the Rebbe was the Moshiach, destined to rise again like Jesus, the Tendler True Believers will accept any argument, no matter how flawed, in order to support their belief system. For their Judaism depends in large part on their belief in their rabbi. Logic has no place in cult belief or worship.
We can only hope and pray that this controversy will resolve itself peacefully and to the satisfaction of all parties before it escalates into something really awful.


Anonymous p_almonius said...

I certainly hope that sexual predators can't "move out of town" and set up shop elsewhere, but it's been done.

6:49 AM  
Blogger chutzpah said...

Some survivors and even the enablers may find this info helpful:

Good info on Cultic Relationships and Extreme Manipulation:

"About the People Who Get Involved:
Aren't the people who get into cults all wackos?
No...Although that would be comforting (because it would mean that you aren't personally vulnerable), it is not the case. The truth is, given the right circumstances, anyone is a potential victim.

How about battered women? Aren't they just weak or masochistic?
No. It isn't a matter of weakness; it is a matter of being human. Simply being human makes you vulnerable. They stay, not because they want to be beaten, but because they don't realize they have been manipulated into believing that they deserve to be beaten.

Not many people are really effected, though, are they?
Nothing could be further from the truth. If you put the statistics together, more than a quarter of the US population --- 1 out of 4 people --- will be directly effected by an extreme manipulator. Which is to say, since the statistics don't catch a lot of the subtler cases, the problem is actually much more prevalent than that. In addition, explosive actions can effect many more than that. Say, the events of 9-11-2001 or World War II for example.

How Does It All Happen:
Come one could manipulate me like that.
Um, sorry, but yes they could. Given the right circumstances, you will comply to even just everyday forms of manipulation. For example, when you do what you're asked just to, even though you don not want to, get out of an aversive or uncomfortable situation such as being nagged. Under the pressures and subtle maneuvering of a manipulator, you will not even realize what is going on.

Isn't this brainwashing?
Brainwashing is a very poor term. Other, better terms have been used, such as mind control or coercive persuasion, but the truth is that this is merely an extreme and destructive outgrowth of the same kind of manipulation we see everyday between people. I call it ultra-authority because it takes the normal aspects of authority to destructive extremes. This is also why it isn't spotted at its earliest stages...It looks so much like other, normal and benign aspects of life.

What makes this possible? Cults and battering relationships and totalitarian dictators?
Three main factors all working together. Your vulnerabilities, the tactics the manipulator uses, and time for the relationship to develop. These are the basis for my Integrated Model of Ultra-Authority.

Why does someone manipulate others like this?
Basically people begin to, and continue to, manipulate others out of two personality flaws. The first flaw is the habitual use of power over others to bolster and/or maintain a grandiose or inflated self-image. These people are often very insecure if they are forced to face a position without such power, and may act out in desperation. The second flaw is that of cruelty; there are those people who simply enjoy harming others. People who have both flaws...who are both cruel and who rely on self-image to bolster their ego (as opposed to a true, objective self-evaluation) are very much likely to manipulate others.

Can a manipulator change?
Certainly someone who has an honest desire to change, coupled with the fortitude to do the hard (and I do mean hard) work, can significantly change their attitudes and behavior patterns. This is especially true of those who have been victimized by manipulation themselves, and have learned to manipulate in order to maintain a sense of control and/or self-worth. Generally speaking, however, most of those people who are extreme manipulators will not be willing to do the necessary introspections and work. The reason they manipulate in the first place is often in order to create a shield so that they do not have to deal with aspects of themselves they do not wish to acknowledge.

About the Book:
What is People Who Play God about?
It's about how regular people can be caught up in highly manipulative relationships and groups, and more. The book also talks about how someone becomes an extreme manipulator, recovery from these experiences, and prevention and protection against extreme forms of manipulation.

Why did you write it?
Having been there myself, I found that there was a lack of a good, complete explanation of what happened to me available. So I researched and wrote.:-) If you'd like to find out more about this, go to the "About Beth" page.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Emes said...

Some of the enablers of loshen hara, rechilus, and motzei shemra, may finf the Chofetz Chaim's writing helpful. Check your local jewish bookstore.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Chofetz Chaim permitted certain types of discussions when the welfare of the Jewish community was at stake. Jews are not supposed to just stick their heads in the sand like ostriches whenever there is a problem.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, can you please drop the pretense of "we are not here to take sides." It is clear which side you are writing from. I have no problem with that, just don't claim impartiality.
Let's go through your post:
"The RCA, or any organization for that matter does not need a Beis Din to expel a member."
Correct, but they DO need a beis din to declare someone "guilty of improper conduct for an Orthodox Rabbi" which CLEARLY means that he is guilty of the charges. Please don't confuse the issue. The RCA is their own club and they can make their own rules about who to let in or kick out. But it's the RCA's proclamation of guilt that is the subject of the outcry. Where is the beis din?

"If the True Believers want a Beis Din, let them summon the RCA to a Beis Din. That will never happen, because the last thing in the world the True Believers really want is a Beis Din."
Ok, here we go. A letter of Psak has been sent to the RCA by the Rabbanut Harashi of Jerusalem Beis Din ordering the RCA and RMT to appear in a beis din. First everyone says that no beis din is needed for te RCA to find him guilty. Then people say that the women should take him to a beis din. Then people say RMT will NEVER take the RCA to a beis din. And now, a letter has been sent to the RCA by the Rabbanut Harashi of Jerusalem Beis Din (i believe that is the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Beis Din) which is probably one of the few battei dinim in the world with enough public image/authority ordering the RCA to go to a din torah, the bloggers are now going to defame and negate the Rabbanut Yerushalayim's beis din. Kind of like what JWB has been doing, every time a rabbi comes out FOR rabbi tendler. He finds some way to ignore and belittle the rabbi, no matter who he is. Thus far, Rav Dovid Feinstein, Rav Reuven Feinstein, Rav Feurst, Rav Eisenstein. How many rabbis individually have come out AGAINST rabbi tendler? can anyone tell me?
here is the initial post from JWB:
"have you seen the summons from the rabbanut beis din in jerusalem demanding by name that all the leaders of the rca (billet, schwartz e.t.c.) go to a beis din so that a proper trial can be conducted (as opposed to a witch hunt). Note: the rabbanut beis din is real. the dataynim are experts in choshen mishpat (contrary to some other batei dinim). also, the rca could probably dismiss any other beis din in the world and not show up, but this one they cannot refuse or they will lose all credibility."

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point 1: I think the RCA should, at this point, simply release its report to the public. Point 2: What is the nature of the summons issued by the Jerusalem Beis Din? Who is the person sending the hazmana, and what is his claim? All these facts need to be established. Point 3: Let's hope it is an honest Beis Din, not a deck stacked by one side or the other.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The manipulation of the Beis Din in Yerushalayim is just another example of the ability of MT and his supporters to create the illusion of rabbinical support for him. A toen (lawyer for the rabbinical courts) went to the rabbinical cout in Yerushalayim with the claim that the RCA is threatening MT's position as rabbi in New Heampstead. He brought as proof that MT has been maligned, a letter sent by MT'S lawyer to the RCA attacking the credibility of the women and their accusations. The Beis Din made no attempt to contact either the RCA or any of the accusers because they are not judging the accuracy of the complaints against MT.
Under the impression that the RCA leadership has contacted the shule and has told them that MT has to be fired as a rabbi, which is not true, they made a preliminary ruling that to threaten someone's ability to keep a job requires a din torah.
Consistently rabbinical support for Mordechai Tendler turns out to consist of reactions to complaints by MT or his supporters that he was judged by improper procedures and not any statement of innocence nor any attempt to investigate any of the allegations against him.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

“but they DO need a beis din to declare someone "guilty of improper conduct for an Orthodox Rabbi"

You request “fairness”?

Your shul declared the women “crazy”, “unstable” made many degrading obscene statements ruining their reputations. You didn’t have a beit Din to declare what you falsely claimed. WHERE WAS THE BEIT DIN? You didn’t review or investigate their claims, either. RE: quote from JWB: Neither statement of innocence nor any attempt to investigate any of the allegations against him.

No where does halacha say you need a beit din to declare someone guilty. This is not a monetary issue. What you are required to do according to The Torah and King David is stand up for and seek truth and justice. The women who went to the RCA did that, proved their accusations. RCA determined through an investigation he is guilty.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No where does halacha say you need a beit din to declare someone guilty. This is not a monetary issue."

Um, i think your statements reveal that you are a blatant ignoramus of Torah Law. Look it up, you fool! (or ask a qualified Rabbi/Dayan.
'Nuff said.

"What you are required to do according to The Torah and King David is stand up for and seek truth and justice."
Again, you look like a fool with your contradictory statements. As Jews, we seek justice through the Rabbinical Courts, as the Chief Rabbinate of Israel' Beis Din so clearly and simply asserted.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:23 AM Anonymous said...

” blatant ignoramus”

you certainly follow your good Rabbis teachings-one of his favor bad mouthing words.

” As Jews, we seek justice through the Rabbinical Courts”

You must not be Jewish then and certainly you’re the “fool”. You didn’t seek Justice through a Rabbinical Court.

No statement of innocence or any attempt to investigate any of the allegations against him.

All you do is bad mouth; can’t even quote a Torah source. You Kool aid Non-sense-Hypocrite follower.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You must not be Jewish then and certainly you’re the “fool”. You didn’t seek Justice through a Rabbinical Court."

Huh? who is accusing who? if you accuse me, then YOU seek justice and take ME to beis din. Not the other way around. And if you mean why didn't RMT take his accusers to beis din for slandering him? well, he has to know who all of the anonymous women are first.

"No statement of innocence or any attempt to investigate any of the allegations against him."

RMT has stated his innocence. No other rabbi has been on a beis din so far to investigate the matter. Only when the matter is investigated by a beis din can a statement of innocence or guilt be made. And now with the RCA being summoned to a beis din, hopefully that will lead indirectly to a beis din investigating the charges. Otherwise the women would have had to bring RMT to beis din, which they OBVIOUSLY are incapable of doing becaese of their inability to prove any of their allegations and accusations. Therefore, a beis din investigation will yield an acquital based on lack of evidence and that is something that the anti-Tendler campaign cannot permit to happen. Therefore, they cannot bring RMT to beis din like they are supposed to. Sad, but true.

"All you do is bad mouth; can’t even quote a Torah source. You Kool aid Non-sense-Hypocrite follower."

I call 'em as i see 'em. Maybe i should not have called you an ignoramus. I therefore apologize and retract and I will just say that your words reflect a basic lack of knowledge of how a beis din works in halacha. I do not have to quote a Torah source for this basic concept of bringing someone to beis din. The Shulchan Aruch has many halachos regarding these detailed proceedings. On a very basic level, however, look at the the Torah portion regarding the topic of "motzi shem ra" and note there that 1) the husband claims sexual misconduct regarding his bride
2) the husband publicizes his claims
3) the wife brings the husband to beis din
4) if found untrue, the husband is punished for his lies
5) if however, the husband's claims are found true, the wife is punished. The posuk and commentaries do note that the husband, either way, is wrong for not going to beis din first. The premise of the text is that the husband is lying about his wife, and that the text is teaching the halachos of "motzi shem ra". That is the basic outline of halachic procedings here, VERY simplified, but there are at obvious glance, many similarities here. I am sure that you can figure it out yourself. Again, i apologize for using insulting words. I will try to keep the discussion civilized.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, putting aside the beis din thing, which I believe is a red herring ( a non-issue designed to confuse and obscure the real issue) could someone please give me a credible explanation of why nearly a dozen women have accused MT of sexually abusing them. They are not accusing other rabbis, only MT, as far as we know. How could so many women come up with the same claim? And this has been going on for years, whispered about for years, the rumors finally boiled over. If someone can explain how a person can be so accused over and over again by different people, I'd like to hear the explanation. Don't tell me there is a plot against MT because he made some unpopular halachic rulings. That is idiotic.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's wait and see what comes out with the beis din. The RCA will have to show what its evidence was. In order for the RCA to defend itself, this will evolve into a determination of the validity of the evidence that the RCA based itself on. A halachic evaluation of the interviews with the women, and a halachic evaluation and determination of exactly what the Presidium report's findings were, and how much to take from there. From what i have heard, the report did NOT suggest an expulsion, or any conclusive definitive evidence of guilt. Others disagree. There is no way for anyone on the outside to determine this except by letting the din torah with the RCA run its course. Let's just wait and see.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this is correct. From what I understand, Tendler's claim against the RCA is that they intentionally threatened his job. That, of course, is not true. If that is the issue, it is unlikely that the Beis Din will get involved in the issues of what the RCA did or did not hear about Tendler during its investigation. The sole question will be whether they intentionally tried to deprive Tendler of the pulpit.

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, actually the claim is that they damaged his status and position, without using a beis din and bringing him to a din torah, by claiming that he was "guilty of engaging in conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox Rabbi". That claim directly affected many things, and includes his reputation, his teaching job at YU, and his standing and effectiveness in being a rabbinic leader. (Just a side note: as reported on all these blogs, YU was "ordered" by the RCA to fire him, and agreed to the "RCA's juristiction" on the matter.)
Now let's see if the RCA can back up their actions in front of a beis din.

5:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, then, if you are correct, the issue will be only whether or not the RCA should have stated that Tendler engaged in anappropriate conduct. It is conceivable that the Beis Din will rule that the RCA should not have made that statement. Maybe they should have just expelled him without elaboration. But that does NOT go to the issue of whether or not Tendler's accusers told the truth.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Maybe they should have just expelled him without elaboration. But that does NOT go to the issue of whether or not Tendler's accusers told the truth."

Sure it does. The RCA relied on the investigation and whatever else it found to announce to the world that "We have completed a 15 month investigation and we have found that Rabbi Tendler is guilty of engaging in conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox Rabbi and is therefore expelled." The RCA will have to prove how it found Rabbi Tendler guilty. The issue in front of the beis din is whether or not the RCA acted in accordance with halacha when they announce that Rabbi Tendler was guilty. That determination will necessarily involve a halachic evaluation of the evidence that the RCA used, and of the testimony that the RCA heard, and therefore will result in a proper halachic evaluation of the charges that have been brought against rabbi tendler.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!
He is guilty!

So said the 10 minyam of He is.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one is guilty untill proven with hard evidence. Untill now it's just dust in the wind.

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is more than "dust in the wind". The RCA has tossed him out. Tendler has had rumors about this for years and years. There are a bunch of women who claim he seduced them for sexual purposes after they went to him with personal problems. There is a record of him paying off one woman with nearly $100,000 in exchange for her keeping secret about their affair. Other women have approached other rabbis and community leaders and cried to them for hours that Tendler took advantage of the sexually. The list goes on. This is a lot more than "dust in the wind."

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't live in New Hempstead any more, but we never heard the rumors when we did live there.
We saw some very disturbed woman, some of them thrown out of shul.
And btw, who are you actually kidding, you speak yourself about rumors. Rumors is very much different from hard evidence.

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you never heard rumors when you lived in New Hempstead, then you must have been deaf. I agree rumors are not hard evidence. But, then again, rumors that don't stop but go on for years and years involving multiple women need to be explained. Then there is the RCA investigation and so on. This can't just be dismissed as "dust in the wind."

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The claim to the beis din in Yerushalayim is that the RCA had no right to make a decision hat affects RMT 's position and authority without a beis din procedure. The Beis Din responding to the claim issued an injunction without any prior contact with the RCA.
On the surface it seems reasonable. What really is happening is that having been expelled from the Rabbinical Council of America after it set up a procedure that he agreed to and had an indepndent group of professionals conduct an investigation, RMT wants a new process to start. He knows well that the women have no way of coming to Yerushalayim and that the RCA having followed its halakhic leadership will not agree to starting again. The statement that the Beis Din in Yerushalyim is going to investigate sexual abuse allegations involving events that took place in New York is obviously fraudulent.
We should give RMT credit for brilliant tactics. He knows that the women involved are vulnerable and that he can continue to pressure them.They are unlikely to come foward another time.
However he still has to explain why the investigators and the RCA, not having any reason to be biased made the determination that led to his expulsion.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Corinna Hasofferett said...

The Israeli courts have more than once sentenced Rabbis for sex crimes. Rabbis are human beings prone to become sex predators, no less than some secular "honest" cover professions (judges, teachers, etc).
Wherever there is Power, you'll find abuse of Power.

Don't you bring such cases to the court in USA?

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a rabbi, especially a rabbi who holds himself out as someone who is interested in helping women with troubled families and marriage problems, has to be held to a higher standard than other people, when it comes to exploiting women for sexual purposes. If a woman trusts a man to help her, and then the man exploits his power and trust and takes advantage to fulfill his own sexual needs, this is wrong wrong WRONG! And I know because I am a woman!!!

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... 7:25 AM
”We saw some very disturbed woman, some of them thrown out of shul… Rumors is very much different from hard evidence.”

The women were thrown out of the shul to cover-up his sexual misconduct. KNH slander and maliciously make up lies about these women that all you kool aid believers have evilly committed.

Those of you who are supporters of RMT who is sexually abusive to many many women are “disturbed”. No rumors. Hard facts. The RCA had evidence enough from an investigation made by outside independent investigating team and from witnesses.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle and all KNH members

i have spoken to a few victims. The day MT told his wife he couldn't of been at someones house because it was a fast day. and michelle denied it because she said MY HUSBAND!! on Tish a Bav. " Impossible". Hey Michelle it was ZUM GEDALIAH. And I know because after your husband left the house I came over and was told he was there. and it is known this to be true.
your husband is an asshole because he told women he loved them and he is a sick pervert. Be careful. Be very careful. Do the right thing for all Yidden in this Holy community and to step down. Everyone will then treat you with respect. No one is out to get you.Just do the right thing.
What about the Principal of your daughter's school? She knows. Ask your Holy husband.
In effect, we would ask that the family members, and the members of his Congregation review the statements of known victims, and the evidence.
RMT abused women who asked him for help.
Women who came to him to learn Torah.
We deplore a community that refuses to ignore the Truth. Once again review the evidence.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi Basil Herring
Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, New York 10001

Dear Rabbi Herring:

I am counsel to Kehillat New Hempstead (hereinafter referred to as “KNH”) as well as a member of the congregation. I write to you with regard to recent pronouncements made by the Rabbinical Council of America (hereinafter referred to as the “RCA”) about our spiritual leader, Rabi Mordechai Tendler, and recent coverage of them in the Anglo-Jewish press.

At the outset my client is perplexed by the RCA’s statement that Rabbi Tendler did not cooperate with the RCA investigation of him. In August, 2004 you had a conversation with a KNH board member wherein you advised him that Rabbi Tendler was fully cooperating with the investigatory process. I additionally point out that during that conversation you repeatedly referred to the investigation as a “din Torah,” and made references to a Beth Din. We have since learned that no Beth Din convened and that a din Torah did not take place. Moreover, I find it difficult to reconcile your blatant acknowledgement of Rabbi Tendler’s cooperation with the RCA’s statement that he did not cooperate. I would be most interested to learn how you resolve that inconsistency.

The RCA further stated that Rabbi Tendler acted in a manner “inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi.” That statement is vague. My client,. Rabbi Tendler’s congregation, is currently in the process of forming it’s response to RCA’s expulsion of Rabbi Tendler. Obviously, it would be very helpful if that statement could be elaborated. Simply put, exactly what conduct on Rabbi Tendler’s part did the RCA find to be “inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi?”

In a recent article in the Jewish Week, an unnamed source stated that “physical evidence” of an extra-marital affair will soon be publicized. According to the Investigation of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, prepared by Praesidium for the RCA, no DNA evidence was produced. I and my client are therefore curious as to any statement regarding DNA. Moreover, we are consternate since in a phone conversation with a prominent rabbi you suggested you were prepared to state that the RCA is in possession of DNA evidence despite admitting that in fact the RCA has no such evidence. I have learned the other prominent “insiders” at the RCA have made similar statements. Such tactics are certainly “inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi.”

At this time KNH would like to know the following:

1. In what way did Rabbi Tendler refuse or fail to cooperate with the RCA’s investigation of him?

2. Precisely what does the term “conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi” mean within the context of the RCA’s investigation of Rabbi Tendler?

3. Specifically what conduct was Rabbi Tendler found to have engaged in that was “inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi?”

4. Is the RCA in possession of any other “evidence” regarding Rabbi Tendler aside from that contained in the Praesidium report? If the answer to this question is yes, please provide the following information:

a. Identify and describe the “evidence”

b. state where it is located

c. state who in the RCA has reviewed this evidence

d. Please explain why it was not made part of the Praesidium report

e. Please explain why the RCA has thus far not publicly acknowledged this “evidence.”

f. Please provide copies of the “evidence” or produce the actual evidence for my client’s review and examination.

5. As regards any physical or DNA evidence please provide the following information:

a. The name of the party who supplied such evidence

b. Verification that the source of both the evidence acquired by the “source” referred in “a” above as well as any comparison sample in fact came from Rabbi Mordechai Tendler. Additionally, please describe how that verification was accomplished.

c. The name of any laboratory where this “evidence” was submitted for analysis

d. Copies of all reports issued by all laboratories.

e. Please provide us with the actual samples so my client can have a laboratory of its choosing analyze it.

f. Please explain why this “evidence” was not included in the Praesidium report.

Thank you very much for your kind attention to this matter. I appreciate your anticipated cooperation. If you wish, I can be reached at (212)964-7990. However in light of the rampant “rumor mongering” generated by this matter, I must insist that your response to this letter be in writing.

Very truly yours,

Daniel B. Schwartz, Esq.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israeli Chief Rabbinate Tells RCA: Reinstate Rabbi Tender A Tale of Lies and Midwives

By Susan L. Rosenbluth, The Jewish Voice and Opinion

On April 5, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate ordered the Rabbinical Council of America to reinstate Rabbi Mordecai Tendler unless or until the RCA takes its case against him to either an official “sitting” beit din or a beit din constituted through the process of “zablah,” a court consisting of a rabbinic representative for the plaintiff, one for the defendant, and a third rabbi chosen by the first two.

On March 18, the RCA expelled Rabbi Tendler, a scion of one of the most respected rabbinic families in the Orthodox world, claiming he had refused to cooperate with the rabbinic organization’s “Vaad Hakavod,” which was investigating charges against him of abuse, and had refused to appear at a hearing. Further, the RCA said, he had “engaged in conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi.”

At an open meeting held at his synagogue, Kehilat New Hempstead (KNH), on March 27, Rabbi Tendler denied all the charges, saying not only that he was innocent of any wrongdoing, but that he had fully cooperated with the RCA and had looked forward to a hearing at which he could have heard the charges against him and confronted his accusers, a right guaranteed him in the RCA’s bylaws as well as in Jewish and American secular law.

He was joined at the meeting by his wife, Michelle, who has been his staunchest supporter, as well as his father, Rabbi Moshe Tendler, and his uncle, Rabbi David Feinstein.

Rabbi and Mrs. Mordecai Tendler are the parents of eight children.

From Zion
In its ruling, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s Jerusalem Regional Beit Din agreed with Rabbi Tendler’s request and prohibited the RCA from “damaging or in any way affecting any services provided by, or any status or position of” Rabbi Tendler before taking him to a beit din.

According to the document released by the beit din, the Israeli rabbinic court was a suitable arbiter for this matter because “there is no rabbinic authority in the US to which the RCA is subjugated.”

Further, the Israeli rabbis said, “All rabbis of the Diaspora are subjugated to the Batei Din of the State of Israel because “From Zion, shall Torah go forth.”

The rabbis of the Jerusalem Beit Din—Matityahu Shrem, Chaim Rosenthal, and C.Y. Rabinovitz—said this applied particularly to the RCA because “the RCA has stated publicly that the organization stands behind the decisions of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and considers itself as partner with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.”

Asked if the RCA would adhere to the beit din’s order or even comment on it, Rabbi Basil Herring, the relatively new executive vice president of the RCA, said, “No comment.”

He had the same response when asked if the Beit Din of American was involved in the case against Rabbi Tendler. There seems to be some confusion over the relationship between the RCA and the Beit Din of America. Some say they are associated; others say the RCA endorses the beit din, but that the two are separate entities.

“Strict Confidence”

The RCA’s case against Rabbi Tendler dates back to March 2004, when he received a letter from Rabbi Herring, telling him that he had been charged by unnamed accusers of “having committed an act of a public or private nature unbecoming a rabbi.”

In his letter, Rabbi Herring promised Rabbi Tendler a full and thorough investigation with “full and fair opportunity to defend yourself against these charges.”

He also told Rabbi Tendler that the matter was being kept “in strict confidence” and that even the members of the committee conducting the investigation had not been given his name.

In the letter, Rabbi Herring made clear that the hearing would be conducted by a halachic beit din, a point that he emphasized by enclosing a copy of the RCA’s constitution stating that policy.

Accepting the Decision

According to a source close to the Tendler family, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Rabbi Tendler responded to Rabbi Herring’s letter a few days later, telling the RCA executive that he would meet with the committee on two conditions that are normative for any halachic beit din: first, that he be given the opportunity to face his accusers (and learn what the charges were), and, second, that those bringing the charges commit to accepting the decision of the Vaad as “final and binding, and they desist from further harassment.”

According to the source, Rabbi Tendler had reason to suspect that he knew who was making the charges and why. As a revered spiritual leader, whose power is based on the high regard in which he is held by his congregants and community, he has often been called upon to adjudicate issues in which, by their very nature, there is a winner and a loser. As in secular courts, the losers frequently want to get even.

In Rabbi Tendler’s case, the problem may be compounded by some of the congregants he attracts. Over the years, the rabbi has developed a reputation as a tzaddik, a righteous humanitarian who seeks tirelessly to help those who ask for his help. And many of them come with backgrounds that are not considered usual in most Orthodox synagogues.

He has been hailed by Orthodox feminists for his attempts to raise the status of women in the Orthodox community and for his efforts on behalf of agunot, women who are separated from their husbands but who cannot persuade them to grant a religious writ of divorce. He is the author of the most popular prayer in use today for agunot, one that is often recited by brides before they go under the chupah.

“Sometimes I think that Rav Tendler is too compassionate,” said one of his supporters. “He opens his heart and his home to literally everyone. Some of those people never had anyone express genuine caring and ahavat yisrael before Rav Tendler. Perhaps they mistook his compassion for something inappropriate.”

“Clinical Aesthetician”

A case in point is Batya Siegel, one of his accusers who went to the press soon after the investigation began. A “clinical aesthetician,” Ms. Siegel told journalists that more than 12 years before the investigation began, Rabbi Tendler “propositioned” her while he adjudicated her divorce as well as a rent dispute with her landlord.

According to press reports, Ms. Siegel, who now goes by another name, first became Orthodox in 1976. Five years later, she moved to Monsey with her new husband and her children from a previous marriage. She said she relocated to Rockland County specifically because she wanted to join Rabbi Tendler’s shul.

Several years later, she decided to divorce her husband, and, at the same time, she said, she faced eviction from her apartment because she could not pay her rent. Ms. Siegel told journalists her landlord summoned her to a beit din in Rabbi Tendler’s synagogue. According to Ms. Siegel, Rabbi Tendler was also part of the beit din handling her divorce.

“I figured it probably didn’t matter if you had the same rabbi in two separate beit dins,” she told journalists.

Running Rabbi

She explained that, at the rent-dispute beit din, she was given another month or two to vacate the apartment, but, she said, as soon as the proceedings were over and everyone else had left the premises, Rabbi Tendler “propositioned” her.

She said she feared the power he wielded over her because, she said, he could control whether or not she would receive a Jewish writ of divorce. Nevertheless, she said, she held him at bay by promising him that “after the divorce, we’ll talk about it.”

She told journalists that as soon as she received her get, she ran out of the “house,” followed by Rabbi Tendler, who ran after her reminding her of her promise. According to Ms. Siegel, she responded with “some choice words” and drove off. Rabbi Tendler, she said, never called her again.


The problem is that every verifiable fact in her story has proven to be untrue. Her former landlord, Suri Horowitz, has submitted a signed letter maintaining that Ms. Siegel and her husband “never attended a Din Torah with Rabbi Mordecai Tendler regarding their eviction.”

Further, from all evidence, Rabbi Tendler had nothing to do with her divorce beit din either. Hers was case number #500 of the Kollel Harabonim of Monsey. According to the records, which list everyone present at the proceedings, the rabbis adjudicating the case were Leib Landesman, Naftali Hertzka, and Eliyahu Friedman.

The beit din was held at the North Metropolitan Nursing Home in Monsey, not at a house, as Ms. Siegel told reporters.

“And Rabbi Tendler couldn’t have run after her, because he wasn’t present,” said the source who is close to the Tendlers.


This information was given to the RCA along with a letter from Ms. Horowitz, in which she details an incident which the source thinks is telling.

In her letter, Ms. Horowitz recalls that, while Ms. Siegel was her tenant, a carpenter was called to do some repair work. Before he was finished, the carpenter called Ms. Horowitz to say he was leaving the job because “Mrs. Siegel was crazy and was making up stories that he had molested her three year old,”

When the Horowitzes spoke to Ms. Siegel, she first said, yes, he had molested her daughter, and then she changed her mind, telling the landlord, no, she didn’t see the carpenter do anything.

Ms. Horowitz quoted Ms. Siegel as saying, “But you have to be careful with workmen. He could have done it.”

Ms. Siegel told reporters her experience with Rabbi Tendler caused her to leave Orthodoxy. She is reportedly married to her third husband, an African-American Muslim.

The Midwives

While the source characterized Ms. Siegel as simply “a false witness,” there were other words—“vindictive and evil”—for the case of the “two midwives.” The source preferred not to name them, and, thus, referred to them as Midwife I and Midwife II, when they were not being called Shifra and Puah.

In 2001, Midwife I had a dispute with her neighbor, whose home abutted the Tendler’s backyard. Midwife I and the neighbor had young daughters in junior high school who were very close friends, but the neighbor, for a variety of reasons, decided Midwife I’s child was not a suitable companion and, therefore, sought to end the friendship.

Midwife I was furious, leaving the neighbor in a quandary. She brought the issue to Rabbi Tendler, who asked both sets of parents to come to his office to discuss the matter. After hearing them out, Rabbi Tendler decided the neighbor had the right to intervene in her young daughter’s choices, and, over the objections of Midwife I, the neighbor gradually put an end to the friendship.


Not that it was easy. According to the source, Midwife I tried to subvert the neighbor’s intentions, encouraging the girls to see each other secretly and to email each other.

Eventually, however, the neighbor convinced her daughter, and the friendship withered.

Furious, Midwife I put her house up for sale, moved, and told anyone who would listen that she had been driven out of the neighborhood by Rabbi Tendler.

Midwife I’s chief supporter was her partner, Midwife II, a former member of KNH. The source described Midwives I and II as “extremely close, almost like sisters.”


Several months later, Midwife I’s daughter was diagnosed with a rather serious chronic disease, which kept her out of school for almost the entire year.

A strong believer in holistic-natural medicine, Midwife I was convinced the illness was caused by her daughter’s mental stress at being separated from her friend. She reportedly called the neighbor, begging her to allow the girls to resume their friendship, but the neighbor was adamant.

The neighbor told Midwife I that she trusted the authority of Rabbi Tendler who had said the relationship was not good for her daughter.

Anonymous Letters

In May 2003, Rabbi Tendler received an anonymous letter which, at the time, according to the source, no one connected to the midwives. The letter, which was typed, came in a hand-written envelope with a false return address.

The letter spewed venom about Rabbi Tendler’s alleged sexual involvement with women, although no one in particular was named.

About a month later, the neighbor received a similar letter, which, like the one to Rabbi Tendler, was typed and came in a handwritten envelope. This letter included advice to avoid involvement “in this toxic situation,” which, in retrospect, according to the source, the neighbor assumed referred to her close proximity to Rabbi Tendler. Again, the return address on the envelope was false.


In July 2003, the neighbor received a second letter. The envelope was handwritten, but there was no return address.

The letter, which claims to be written by “a group of rabbis, mental health professionals, and physicians coming from a wide range of religious observance within the Orthodox world,” contains a “warn[ing] to protect your daughters, wives, and other vulnerable women in the community from a very dangerous rabbi.”

Naming Rabbi Tendler, the letter says it seeks to protect the women of the community “from the sick and evil behavior of this man who is himself a rabbi.”

Two weeks later, 700 copies of the same letter were mailed to members of KNH and other residents throughout Monsey. The letters and the envelopes were typed, and the return address was that of KNH.

According to the source, the attorney representing KNH is convinced using the shul’s return address to defame someone constitutes a federal criminal offense, because it makes use of the US mail.


A few people in the neighborhood suggested to the Tendlers that the culprit may have been Midwife II, who, it was thought, may have been trying to seek vengeance for her partner and close friend.

When Mrs. Tendler wrote to Midwife II, asking her outright if she was involved in the affair, Midwife II sent back a handwritten letter, expressing sorrow at the Tendlers’ suffering and denying any culpability or knowledge of the perpetrator.

Before suggesting there be no further correspondence between them, Midwife II said she wanted nothing further to do with “this toxic situation,” the same phrase used in one of the letters received by the neighbor.

According to the source, the Tendlers’ first thought was to see if fingerprints from any of the letters matched each other. An expert was found, but he told the Tendlers he had nothing conclusive.

Rabbinic Abuse

In December 2003, the New York Jewish Week sponsored a forum on “rabbinic abuse” in Manhattan. According to the paper, “several female health-care professionals in the audience spoke with passion and frustration about a well-known rabbi in their local community whose affairs with women in his office, they said, have gone on for years.”

According to the report, the women said they felt “stymied as to how to take action against the unnamed rabbi, who is highly respected, and help the women involved, who are too embarrassed to speak out.”

According to the source, friends of the Tendlers felt certain the “heath-care professionals” were Midwives I and II.

Later reports revealed that, after the forum, the women approached some of the speakers, including Rabbi Yosef Blau, who directed them to the RCA.

Agonizing Wait

By March, 2004, Rabbi Tendler received his notice that the RCA was undertaking an investigation against him.

After telling Rabbi Herring his conditions for meeting with the vaad, Rabbi Tendler heard again from the RCA. In this second letter, Rabbi Herring seemed to ignore Rabbi Tendler’s request for a chance to face his accusers, telling him only that he would be hearing from the vaad “in the next several weeks.”

After an agonizing three months, Rabbi Tendler received a phone call from Rabbi Herring, informing him that the RCA had hired the Texas-based firm, Praesidium, a risk-management company that was also used by the Catholic Church to investigate its priest-sex scandals.

Rabbi Tendler told him that did not sound like a beit din that he had been promised would adjudicate the issue, but, said the source, Rabbi Herring advised him to cooperate with Dr. Jane Hickerson, Praesidium’s vice president of social services, who would be handling the investigation.

Making the Paper

Aside from one call in July and another in August to tell him she had not forgotten about him but was still busy interviewing “the other side,” Rabbi Tendler heard nothing from Dr. Hickerson.

He did, however, hear from The Forward, which ran an article on the issue in late August. Despite Rabbi Herring’s promises of confidentiality, Rabbi Tendler was named in the piece, and Rabbi Kenneth Auman, president of the RCA commented on the case, saying, “We take all these allegations very seriously and certainly don’t want to whitewash it.” For the accused, he simply wanted “protection.”

The piece mentioned Ms. Siegel and her accusations, but while it mentioned the landlady’s statement that Rabbi Tendler had nothing to do with her eviction beit din, it said nothing about the fact that he was not part of her divorce beit din either.

Fearing Publicity

At the end of the summer, Dr. Hickerson called Rabbi Tendler and told him the only time she could meet with him would be four days before Rosh Hashana. Although she had sufficed with telephone meetings for the accusers, she insisted on a face-to-face with Rabbi Tendler.

The Tendlers consulted with one of the most respected Constitutional lawyers in the country, an Orthodox Jew, who advised Rabbi Tendler not to meet with Dr. Hickerson and to hold out for his original demand for a beit din. But another attorney told them that, should he refuse to meet with her, the publicity would be awful for the Tendlers and KNH.

Reluctantly, Rabbi Tendler told Dr. Hickerson he would meet her in his lawyer’s office, and he gained permission from her to tape the proceedings.

While Rabbi Tendler and his attorney prepared as best they could under the circumstances—they still had no idea what the charges were or who had made them—the interview was quite benign. According to the source, Dr. Hickerson asked how he conducted himself during counseling sessions and what he thought it would take for a rabbi to be considered “powerful.”

When Dr. Hickerson wrote up her report, however, the source said the Tendlers were shocked to find that it was “completely at variance with the actual interview” as documented by the tape.

“Dr. Hickerson either didn’t understand or deliberately altered the interview,” said the source.


Shortly after the interview, Mrs. Tendler had another idea. According to the source, she realized that while the anonymous letters had been unsuccessfully checked for fingerprints, they had not been seen by an analyst who could check the handwriting. Mrs. Tendler had in her possession not only the handwritten envelopes that had contained the anonymous letters; she also had the signed handwritten letter she had been sent by Midwife II.

Judith Housley, an Edgewood, New Mexico-based certified forensic document examiner, confirmed that Midwife II was responsible for all the letters.

“She obviously thought she was coming to the defense of her partner to gain vengeance for her daughter’s illness,” said the source.

Armed with this powerful documentation, Mrs. Tendler compiled a packet to be sent to Dr. Hickerson and to the RCA. The packet included the neighbor’s letter detailing the full history of the dispute between the her and Midwife I (and Rabbi Tendler’s role in it), the envelopes and letters written by Midwife II, and Ms. Houseley’s certification that Midwife II was indeed the culprit.


Rabbi Tendler’s attorney had the packet hand-delivered to the RCA’s attorney, and a week later the RCA’s attorney acknowledged receipt, saying he had passed it on to the Vaad for its consideration.

In November 2004, Rabbi Tendler heard from Rabbi Hershel Billet, chairman of the Vaad Hakovod, informing him that the committee would be holding meetings on the case. Rabbi Tendler asked to proceed with all due haste because, he told Rabbi Billet, KNH was ready to press charges against Midwife II for having used the postal system to spread slander, using the synagogue’s address on the envelopes.

Rabbi Billet told Rabbi Tendler he had no idea what he was talking about. Rabbi Tendler asked him if he had received the packet, and Rabbi Billet told him, no.

“That packet showed the Midwives’ motive and what they had done, and it was never forwarded to the committee,” said the source.

Three-Week Delay

According to the source, Rabbi Tendler soon discovered that Rabbi Herring had held the packet for three weeks, passing it on to the committee only when forced to do so. It was released when an officer of the Orthodox Union, called Rabbi Herring to ask where the packet was.

“When the OU official told Herring that Mrs. Tendler had mailed the packet herself, Herring told him, ‘Tell Michelle Tendler to butt out of this case,’” said the source.

When Dr. Hickerson’s report was given to the RCA, it contained no mention of any of the Tendlers’ information. The material contained in the packet was included only in the appendix.

“She had obviously already written her report when she received the information and wasn’t going to bother changing it. It was only a man’s life,” said the source.

Supplied All Names

On page one of the report, the source said, Dr. Hickerson wrote about her interview with Midwives I and II, explaining that they furnished all the names of the women who would accuse Rabbi Tendler of improprieties ranging from delivering a drasha discussing the evils of non-Jewish meditation to touching a woman’s hand in the course of learning a section of mussar that the woman’s husband felt would help heal their marriage.

The report explains that the midwives sent Ms. Siegel a certified letter urging her to tell her story to the RCA.

During their interview with Dr. Hickerson, both women were on the phone on different extensions.

The report contains the names of nine women who made accusations. According to the source, the one man who is cited was a leader of a KNH “breakaway” shul who told Dr. Hickerson that Rabbi Tendler was “powerful.”

Everyone a Story

When the report was issued, it raised a firestorm because, for the first time, Rabbi Tendler was able to learn who his accusers were. For some reason, the press and victims’ monitoring groups considered releasing the names to Rabbi Tendler a major blunder on the RCA’s part.

The source said all the women named in the report were known to various members of the synagogue, and that each had a “story.”

One of the women, for example, was identified as an objective psychologist who was sought by the women to act as a source of support for them. According to the source, however, the psychologist had been married to a member of KNH. They had one child when they were divorced, and the psychologist accused Rabbi Tendler of favoring her husband in their settlement.

After the divorce, the husband remarried and had another child. The husband died young and named Rabbi Tendler as executor of his will. The psychologist is still in court trying to vacate that position.

“It seems the midwives dug up anyone who might have a vendetta against Rabbi Tendler,” said the source.

June and December

Some of the women have stories that are truly bizarre, such as the 41-year-old divorced therapist who accused Rabbi Tendler of ruining her shidduch. What this woman, who became one of the prime instigators of the case against Rabbi Tendler, neglected to say is that her intended was the 19-year-old son of members of the shul.

According to the source, the young boy was sent to the therapist when he began acting out in the wake of his parents’ marital difficulties. Not long after, the parents came frantically to seek Rabbi Tendler’s advice because, they said, the therapist had fallen in love with the boy and he had moved in with her.

Rabbi Tendler suggested the boy go to a yeshiva in Israel, and he helped them make arrangements. They felt it was a good solution because their older son was also studying in a yeshiva in Israel and while they would be attending different schools, at least they would be close.

Mixing In

One day, a few weeks after the 19-year-old arrived in Israel, the older brother ran to his own rosh yeshiva, telling him that his brother had disappeared from the yeshiva and was living in a hotel with the therapist, who had left her children behind in the US and come to see him. The older brother told the rosh yeshiva that they were planning on getting married.

Discovering that Rabbi Tendler happened to be in Israel for a conference, the rosh yeshiva called him and apprised him of the situation. The rosh yeshiva said he and his wife would be going to the hotel to attempt to “save” the boy, and he asked Rabbi Tendler to join them.

At the hotel, the rabbis managed to convince the young man to fly back to the US, leaving the therapist screaming at them, “Don’t mix in.”

Staying Away

One week later, the therapist, too, returned to the US and tried to contact the young man. When his parents reached out to Rabbi Tendler, he suggested they all come to his office to talk, including the therapist. At that meeting, the rabbi told the therapist she must stay away from the young man.

Although the therapist agreed, two days later, she tried to commit suicide and was hospitalized for a month.

When she was released, another source, who is very involved in Rockland County civic and religious activities, heard the therapist say, “I’m going to bring down Rabbi Tendler.”

“From that point on, she has been actively involved in arranging meetings with people who she thinks might have a vendetta against Rabbi Tendler. It’s not surprising that she found the midwives,” said the source, who said she did everything possible to get this piece of information to the RCA..

Jamaican Housekeeper

But perhaps no story is quite as chilling as the one surrounding Joanne, described in the report and in several newspaper accounts as “the Jamaican housekeeper.”

A day worker who has several employers, Joanne told Dr. Hickerson that she worked once for Rabbi Tendler as well as other people in the area. Although Joanne did not mention it to Dr. Hickerson, three of her employees were: the source, Midwife II, and Midwife II’s next-door neighbor.

Joanne told Dr. Hickerson that one of her employers (the neighbor) was having an affair with Rabbi Tendler. Joanne discussed seeing explicit faxes allegedly from Rabbi Tendler to his paramour, and, she said, she had seen Rabbi Tendler leaving her employer’s house at all hours.

Not a Liar

The source had reason to be suspicious. She knew Joanne had never worked for Rabbi Tendler, but she also knew Joanne was not a liar.

In early January, the source asked Joanne if she would accompany her to Rabbi Tendler’s home, and Joanne agreed, but when they pulled up in front of the house, Joanne said, “This isn’t the house I cleaned.”

When she met Rabbi Tendler, Joanne seemed shocked. He wasn’t the man she had seen leaving her employer’s home.

“Their body types are completely different,” she told the source.

The source asked her to look at Rabbi Tendler’s handwriting, which most observers say is almost frustratingly unique. With one glance, Joanne said it did not resemble in any way the faxes she had been told came from Rabbi Tendler to her employer.

Midwife II

Asked to explain who had told her the employer’s gentleman caller was Rabbi Tendler, Joanne fingered Midwife II. Midwife II had also shown her the bogus faxes and told her the house she cleaned was Rabbi Tendler’s, she said.

According to a sworn statement, Joanne said Midwife II had urged her to cooperate with the RCA’s investigation, explaining that Rabbi Tendler was causing a great deal of harm not only to the employer next door but also to others.

According to the source, after Joanne, a devout Christian, learned the truth, she was eager to pass it on to the RCA, which she did in a letter.

“She wrote as a good Christian woman. Her conscience demanded that she rectify the mistake of having maligned—however innocently—a guiltless man,” said the source.

For a little while after the letter was sent, it seemed as if the entire issue would be wrapped up.


Indirectly, the RCA informed Rabbi Tendler that the Vaad Hakovod wanted to hear the information from the source and Joanne “live.” They would be holding a meeting in February 2005, he was told, and they wanted the two women to attend.

The problem was that, in February, the source was scheduled to go to Israel, and Joanne had plans to go to Florida. The source called Rabbi Billet and asked him if they could testify in January for the committee.

For some reason, Rabbi Billet told her, “My hands are tied. You can’t give it now.”

Intimidating Phone Call

A few days later, Joanne reported that Rabbi Herring called her in what the cleaning woman described as “an intimidating phone call.” According to Joanne, he demanded to know why she had changed her story.

While he was more polite to the source, he seemed dismissive, telling her that, if the committee needed her, they would call.

The source then sent an email to Rabbi Billet in which she made clear that if the Vaad did not hear their information in January, she and Joanne would give it to another beit din, which they did.


The source arranged for a beit din consisting of Rabbis Avrohom Cohen, Ben Zion Kokis, and Leib Landesman. To attest to Joanne’s veracity, the rabbis asked Dr. Yisroel Susskind, a clinical psychologist and adviser to the beit din, to attend.

The court made clear that it was not adjudicating the case against Rabbi Tendler, but, rather, permitting a non-Jewish woman “to clarify the statements she had made to previous investigators.” The rabbis testified that they found Joanne to be “rational and credible.”

Covering her bases, the source took Joanne from the beit din to a criminal attorney, where she had the housekeeper give another sworn statement.

Ignoring the Facts

When Rabbi Cohen sent the beit din’s report to Rabbi Auman, according to the source, the RCA president responded that if they needed something like this, “we’ll do it ourselves.”

Despite Joanne’s testimony, the Forward and the Jewish Week ran stories suggesting Rabbi Tendler had “paid off” the Jamaican housekeeper, and thus tampered with witnesses. Writing in the Jewish Week, Gary Rosenblatt said, “The woman was led to believe that she was summoned as part of the RCA investigation, which was not the case.”

In fact, aside from meeting Joanne when the source brought her to his home, Rabbi Tendler had nothing to do with the beit din or the sworn statement given to the attorney.

“I orchestrated everything,” said the source.

The source believes rabbis at the RCA told the midwives about the documents they had received, giving them the motive and opportunity to call the papers and give the stories this new “spin.”


In February, Mrs. Tendler traveled to Israel to meet with an assistant to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, considered by many to be the preeminent arbiter of Jewish law in the world. According to the source, Rabbi Elyashiv’s assistant reviewed her files and declared, “It is murder every minute that the RCA is not vindicating him.”

However, said the source, the assistant warned Mrs. Tendler that he feared the RCA may have its own “agenda” and he advised her to arrange her own beit din to adjudicate the matter.

Shortly after her return to the US, the Tendlers’ attorney called, informing them that the RCA’s attorney has summoned them to a plenary hearing. The Tendlers’ attorney responded that his client had already heard from the committee, telling him that there was no necessity for him to attend.

Rabbi Tendler authorized his attorney to inform Rabbi Herring and the RCA that he agreed with the committee’s decision that his presence was unnecessary. Besides, neither the RCA nor the committee had yet responded to the wealth of material Rabbi Tendler had already sent them

“Rabbi Tendler never had a problem attending a fair hearing governed by halacha. Throughout his ordeal, he cooperated with the RCA beyond whatever was humanly possible,” said the source..

Next Step

Nevertheless, when the RCA expelled him two weeks later, one of the reasons the group gave was that he had failed to cooperate with them or attend their hearing..

In short order, Yeshiva University, where Rabbi Tendler had been giving a weekly shiur, told him that because of the RCA ruling, his services would no longer be welcome.

A bright spot for the Tendlers has been the support given to them by their community and the shul.

“But they still are going to want to clear his name,” said the source.

While the source did not know exactly what their next step would be, it’s a safe bet to assume they will insist on following the order laid out by the beit din of the Chief Rabbinate.

“The Tendlers are vigorously pursuing his total vindication, and they expect to be completely successful,” said the source.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing story. Now I realize what nonsence I have been hearing about this story. It is obvious that Tendler is being framed. Loshen hora is a wicked and terrible thing.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is obvious that Tendler is being framed."

Yep. I personally know both the midwives and RMT quite well. There is no doubt that those two women have been trying for years to frame RMT because he did not side with them on various issues (both personal and professional/healthcare).

I feel bad for Midwife II's husband and kids. The husband is a nice, normal guy. It is a shame that his wife has ruined their family reputation. I know personally that the yeshiva that their son attends (a very prominent yeshiva in Monsey) has discussed taking precautions to avoid becoming the targets of Midwife II's attacks.

10:32 AM  
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Based on the investigative reporting done by the Jewish Voice, the allegations made by the accusing women seem to be falling apart. Of course everyone (how many different people against Tendler ARE there here anyway) on this blog will shriek and wail, but out in the real world, RMT is well on the road to vindication. The RCA will have to "put up or shut up" and either show up to beis din, and prove their words, or defy the Chief Rabbinate Beis Din's psak, refuse to go to a beis din with RMT, and lose all credibility (whatever they have left in their own rabbinic circles) which would also render their decisions worthless. Either way, the accusing women and the RCA better come up with some proof fast, or they are going to be laughed out of the news. And those midwives, whose names ARE on public record as well as on their website, should be run out of town.
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You know, this is all so 'Tohu Vavohu'- without form and desolate! Sexual abuse, or sexual indiscretions as they may be, are generally not exactly performed in front of an audience that would fill Yankee Stadium. And as such, witnesses for these actions are hard to come by. And so, all we have to date is a plethora of insinuations that would sink the HMS QM2.

As if all this was not complicated enough, enter the Bais Din HoEzori. (1) This BD states that the attorney for MT- the Tovai'ah (plaintiff)- asserts that the RCA (the Nitba- defendant)is not subject to any BD in America. They aren't? Please cite the Makor (source) for this in Shas and Poskim.

(2) The BD HoEzori claims again that the RCA is however, subject to the BD HoEzori, because 'Ki MiTzion Taitzai Torah.' Yet, if you examine Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat Hilchos Dayanim Siman 14, you will note that the Rama (R' Moshe Isserles) states, "Now we have no more Bais Din HaGadol (great BD), or Bais Hava'ad (BD where many scholars meet)....." That is, there is not any BD in the world that has more leverage in Halacha, then itself. After all, in Halacha there is the concept of Zechus Nitba (the right of a defendant to choose his own BD). Doesn't Zechus Nitba apply to the BD HoEzori as well? Are we all learning the same Halachos?

(3) Again, the BDE asserts that the question of MT's removal from the ranks of the RCA, may only be decided by any competent BD wherever. But, didn't the BDE state that the RCA is not subject to any other BD, but only to the BDE? You can't swing a dead cat around by the tail here, without hitting some inconsistancy!

The Rabbinate can be a wonderful and fulfilling profession. I know this for a fact. Yet, the one disadvantage to being a Rav today, is that on occasion, one is obliged to behave like one. When faced with a virtual Tsunami of the shame and embarassment that result from allegations of sexual impropriety, it is inconceivable to this writer how any responsible Rav could bear
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This entire Chillul HaShem Bifnai Am Va'Aidah will only degenerate further into the diurnal muck in which it presently finds itself. Worse even, this entire debacle and fiasco will affect the reputations of all Rabbanim- many of which are true Yirei Shamayim. What a time to be alive!!

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