Monday, February 12, 2007

How Jewish communities are still promoting Marc Gafni

The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - February 12, 2007

October 1, 2004, The New York Jewish Week published a letter to the editor called "Abhorrent Column" (see below) by Rabbi Arthur Green.  

In the letter Rabbi Arthur Green referred to those who advocate for survivors of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni as "rodifim."According to Jewish law, a rodef can be killed on sight. You can't break the Sabbath to save the life of a rodef. "Din rodef" -- the Jewish law of rodef, which literally means one who chases and refers to a license to kill someone who intends to kill someone else.

To this day Rabbi Arthur Green has never apologized to the executive board of The Awareness Center, Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rabbi Heshie Billet, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the women who have been sexually assaulted by Rabbi Gafni and all of the other child victim advocates who have supported the victim/survivors over the years. Rabbi Arthur Green has put all of these individuals at risk of harm.

Since October 2, 2004, The Awareness Center has been demanding a retracting of Rabbi Green's statement and also that a public apology for making such a dangerous of statement.

I think it's vitally important to also mention that there are several other individuals who have neglected to make apologies to the past victim/survivors of Marc Gafni and also those who advocated for them. The individuals who have neglected to privately and publicly apologies include Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Rabbi Saul Berman, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Rabbi Shefa Gold, Rabbi Eli Hersher, Stephen Marmer, MD, Naomi Marks, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, etc.

Today the Baltimore Jewish Times published a story that was written by JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency). The article is called "Jewish Renewal Maverick Rabbi Carries On." In the article it quotes Rabbi Arthur Green, who continues to be the president of Boston's Hebrew College.

What surprises me is that the Baltimore Jewish Times has room in their paper to promote an organization that has never done the right thing when it came to the survivors of Marc Gafni. It's important to note that as of today the Baltimore Jewish Times has not published the entire JTA series called "Reining In Abuse," that explores many issues we are all faced with when it comes to clergy sexual abuse in Jewish communities. The editor of the Baltimore paper stated, they just didn't have room.Listed below are a few of the cases that have connections to the Jewish Renewal Movement
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni

Rabbi Michael Ozair

Rabbi Hershy Worch

Abhorrent Column
By Rabbi Arthur Green
New York Jewish Week - October 1, 2004

Although I am not a regular reader of The Jewish Week, a New York colleague sent me your column regarding Rabbi Mordechai Gafni ("The Re-Invented Rabbi," Sept. 24). It makes me wonder whether journalistic honors and awards are as rescindable as rabbinic smicha seems to be.

 I have known Rabbi Gafni for several years and think highly of his abilities as a creative teacher of Torah. As a trusted friend, I also know how he struggles with a personal history that includes some genuinely bad deeds done when he was quite young, some 20 years ago. He has been relentlessly persecuted for those deeds by a small band of fanatically committed rodfim, in whom proper disapproval of those misdeeds combines with jealously, anger at his swerving from Orthodoxy, and a range of other emotions.

Perhaps this rabbi should be made to confront his past more fully. A bet din before a mutually accepted rabbi would be the right setting for that. But the public press? Who set you up as ruler and judge over us? Is this responsible journalism?   

Rabbi Gafni has more or less been assassinated in the Jewish community. None of his explanations will mean much against the whispering that will accompany him forever, thanks to your article, within the confines of our extended gossipy shtetl. You have taken it upon yourself, on erev Yom Kippur, to drive a man away from Jewish life. In the absence of anything like a "smoking gun" evidenced in present or recent conduct, I find this journalistically and Jewishly abhorrent.

Contact Information:
Rabbi Arthur Green
Rabbinical School