‘We Would Have Lost Our Community’

Jewish immigrants of the Bnei Menashe arrive at Ben Gurion airport.

Jewish immigrants of the Bnei Menashe arrive at Ben Gurion airport.

A Kassam rocket had just landed across the street, but it couldn’t wipe the smile off David Lhundgim’s face, as he entered his apartment in this embattled town near the Gaza border.

Born in the rural provinces of northeast India, Lhundgim has lived in Sderot since he moved to Israel in 2007, and by at least one measure he seemed to be well-adjusted: Lhundgim didn’t flinch when he heard bombs explode outside.

For him, immigration to Israel was the fulfillment of a biblical promise; explosions were but a minor nuisance.

“After 2,000 years in exile we would have lost our community,” Lhundgim said. “All of our lives were about how to move to Israel and keep the commandments.”

It’s not hard to understand why Lhundgim sees his life story as one of biblical prophecy fulfilled. Until age 24, he lived in a remote corner of northeast India in a community that believes itself to be descended from the ancient Israelite tribe of Menashe. Ritual similarities to Judaism — such as an animal sacrifice around Passover time strengthened those beliefs.

Today, Lhundgim is among some 2,000 Bnei Menashe who live in Israel; another 5,000 are in the pipeline waiting to immigrate. This week, the Israeli government gave approval for 899 more Bnei Menashe to come.

The community has been permitted to move en masse despite practicing rituals in India with only glancing similarity to Judaism and claims of ancient Jewish ancestry that some politicians and experts find dubious.

“This is a bluff,” said Avraham Poraz, a former Israeli interior minister who temporarily halted Bnei Menashe immigration a decade ago. “They don’t have any connection to Judaism.”

The Bnei Menashe are hardly the first group to make claims of ancient Jewish ancestry in a bid to gain Israeli citizenship. The Falash Mura, Ethiopians who claimed to be descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity more than a century ago, were brought to Israel starting in the early 2000s.

But unlike the Falash Mura, whose immigration, absorption and conversion to Judaism was largely organized and funded by the government and the Jewish Agency, the Bnei Menashe’s immigration has been wholly organized and financed by a private organization — Shavei Israel, a nonprofit that aims to bring groups with Jewish ancestry to Israel and reconnect them to Judaism.

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar greets members of the Bnei Menashe in Givat Haviva, an Israeli absorption center where they will live while undergoing conversion to Judaism.

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar greets members of the Bnei Menashe in Givat Haviva, an Israeli absorption center where they will live while undergoing conversion to Judaism.

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar greets members of the Bnei Menashe in Givat Haviva, an Israeli absorption center, where they lived while undergoing conversion to Judaism.

Shavei founder Michael Freund, a conservative columnist and former aide to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is almost singlehandedly responsible for bringing the Bnei Menashe to Israel. His organization has provided them with a Jewish education in India, converted them in accordance with Orthodox standards and brought them to Israel, where they were settled initially in West Bank settlements — all on Shavei’s dollar.

Founded in 2004, Shavei now works with groups of claimed Jewish descent in Europe, South America and China. Permanent Shavei emissaries are stationed in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Poland, Italy and India — places with particularly large populations of potential recruits.

With an annual budget of approximately $1 million, the organization funds Jewish education and programming for what it calls “our lost brethren,” brings them on tours to Israel and, in some cases, manages their immigration.

“Many of them are looking for ways to reconnect, and it behooves us to reach out to them and facilitate that process,” said Freund. “It is a strategic opportunity, and it is one that is not being exploited to the fullest.”

Nowhere has Shavei’s focus been more intense than with the Bnei Menashe. Freund began working with the group in 1997 while an aide to Netanyahu. He reached a deal with the government to allow 100 Bnei Menashe to immigrate every year under the auspices of Amishav, another organization working with the Bnei Menashe. When Netanyahu was voted out in 1999, Freund joined Amishav and soon began running its operations.

Freund sent teams of Jewish educators to Bnei Menashe communities in the Indian provinces of Manipur and Mizoram to teach Orthodox Jewish law and a right-wing narrative of Israeli history. Lhundgim said he was told that the West Bank, along with the entire land of Israel, belongs to the Jews.

Amishav settled the initial groups of Bnei Menashe immigrants in Israeli settlements in Gaza. When Freund joined the organization, he housed hundreds of Bnei Menashe in Kiryat Arba, the Israeli settlement adjacent to Hebron in the West Bank.

Yirmiyahu Lhundgim, David’s cousin, who immigrated to Kiryat Arba in 1999, says Amishav didn’t teach him to differentiate among the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

“They said it was the land of Israel, so we would live anywhere,” he said. “We didn’t know anything about it.”

In 2002, author and translator Hillel Halkin wrote a book about the group called “Across the Sabbath River: In Search of a Lost Tribe of Israel.” He concluded that though the group may have had distant Jewish ancestry, none of its recent forebears were Jews.

“What is specious is the myth that these people in northeast India for generations lived Jewish lives,” Halkin said. “They were animists. They were not monotheists and did not practice anything remotely resembling Judaism.”

At a 2003 Knesset hearing, Labor Knesset member Ophir Pines-Paz accused Amishav of “turning these people into sacrifices of Israeli right-wing policies.” Later that year, Poraz suspended the Bnei Menashe’s immigration.

In 2005, then Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar endorsed the Bnei Menashe’s claim to Jewish ancestry. Immigration resumed the following year, but the newcomers were settled in northern Israel rather than the West Bank.

“We wanted to make it clear that there was no hidden political agenda,” said Freund.

Freund claims that Shavei is apolitical, but some of its activities suggest it has a right-wing agenda. A 2012 trip of Poles of Jewish descent organized by Shavei visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a mostly Arab city in the West Bank, and spent Shabbat in Mitzpeh Yericho, a settlement deep in the West Bank.

Freund says such tours are meant to show participants the land of Israel and Jewish historical sites. Settling early Bnei Menashe arrivals in Kiryat Arba was a practical rather than ideological decision; Freund wanted them in a religious environment, and Kiryat Arba was willing to accept them even though they had not yet formally converted.

If Freund’s objective is to make faithful Jews out of the Bnei Menashe, he may well be succeeding. David Lhundgim is a practicing Orthodox Jew who studies daily in a yeshiva. He has heard the doubts cast on the Bnei Menashe, but like the rockets that occasionally fall around him, they do not shake his faith.

“The whole goal was to come to Israel,” he said. “Every Jew needs to know that the essence is to return. A person who thinks that exile is OK has a mental disorder.”

Haredi Leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman Attacked In Bnei Brak Home

Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the leader of the non-hasidic Lithuanian Ashkenazi community, was attacked at his home in Israel.

Shteinman, 99, suffered a bruise on his chest but was unhurt otherwise during the attack in Bnei Brak early Wednesday morning, The Jerusalem Post reported. His attacker — a haredi Orthodox man in his 20s — was arrested after being restrained by associates and followers of the rabbi until police arrived. The attacker shook and yelled at the rabbi.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered the attacker to be held over until Thursday and sent for a psychiatric evaluation.

Witnesses told police that the man said he was hearing voices telling him to attack Shteinman, The Jerusalem Post reported. The haredi news website Kikar Hashabat reported that the attack was related to Tuesday’s elections in which Shteinman’s Degel Hatorah party won eight seats on the Jerusalem Municipal Council, even though Moshe Lion, his endorsed candidate for mayor, lost.

 

High Energy

Marbin will bring its rock, jazz, gospel and  Israeli-folk fusion music to Baltimore on Nov. 7.

Marbin will bring its rock, jazz, gospel and
Israeli-folk fusion music to Baltimore on Nov. 7.

Guitarist Dani Rabin can’t help but laugh when he tells stories about Marbin, the traveling rock, jazz, gospel and Israeli-folk fusion band that he and fellow Israeli Danny Markovitch, who plays saxophone, founded after they met in Israel in 2007. Rabin had recently graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and Markovitch had just completed his military service. Together, in 2008, they moved to Chicago seeking musical fame and fortune.

“There are so many outrageous stories,” said Rabin. Like the time when he and Markovitch “scammed” their way into (Pat Metheny Group drummer) Paul Wertico’s house. “We showed up with all our equipment and just convinced him to listen to us play.”

Wertico ended up hiring them to perform at his daughter’s bat mitzvah.

In 2010, the two Israelis joined forces with Chicago-based drummer Justyn Lawrence and bassist Jae Gentile who are both African-American.

“We’ve spent at least five hours a day driving in a van together for the past three years, and it’s usually hilarious. We’ve become very close,” said Rabin, 28.

He believes that having culturally diverse band members has made Marbin’s music unique. “It’s a new idiom.”

“Danny and I are heavily influenced by Israeli music from the 1960s to the 1980s. We’re more studied and less intuitive,” Rabin said. “Our people have been studying for 3,000 years. Justyn and Jae are Gospel musicians, and Gospel musicians don’t learn to read music, they do it all by ear. They groove like no one else. It’s a magical combo.”

So far, Marbin has released three CDs. The group’s most recent album, “Last Chapter of Dreaming,” was released this year. The band performs approximately 250 times a year all over the U.S. and although he loves Israel, Rabin said that Israel can’t offer them enough places to perform.

“I couldn’t do there what I do here. Israel is small, and the borders aren’t friendly,” he said.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, Marbin will be in Baltimore, performing two sets at Tir Na Nog in the Inner Harbor.

“I guarantee it will be great,” Rabin said. “We really play our hearts out, and it’s very high energy. We always make fans.”

For more information, visit Marbinmusic.com. For tickets, visit tirnanogbaltimore.com.

In The Game

Azi Rosenblum’s RemSource is being considered for a commercial slot at the Super Bowl.

Azi Rosenblum’s RemSource is being considered for a commercial slot at the Super Bowl.

Azi Rosenblum could be the only person at this year’s Super Bowl who doesn’t care for football. At least, he hopes he will be.

Rosenblum and his company, RemSource, have made it to the second round of Intuit’s Small Business Big Game Contest. At the time of this writing, a panel of judges was considering RemSource for a third, semi-final round. The prize, should it win, is a television commercial spot during Super Bowl XLVIII and a trip for two to the game.

“When I think about winning, honestly, the only thing I think about is my son’s face,” said Rosenblum. “Don’t get me wrong. Going to the Super Bowl would be amazingly cool, but telling my son that he’s going to the Super Bowl, that would be cool.”

Rosenblum started RemSource in 2009 with his sister, Gali Wealcatch, as a two-person operation based out of Rosenblum’s basement in Pikesville. Today, the company has nine full-time employees, a real office and almost 50 clients, some of whom are in places as far away as Israel.

RemSource is a small business that offers administrative services to other small companies looking to outsource some of their administrative aspects in order to give themselves more time to focus on more important issues. The company specializes in assisting what Rosenblum calls “soloprenuers.” That is, one- or two-person businesses that provide a specialized service to customers.

“The idea was to provide for soloprenuers, microbusinesses and very small owner-owned-and-operated businesses an ability to have an administrative resource — to stop being responsible for all those things that come up during the day that have to get done to keep the business moving — so that they can focus on what their talent is, what their skill is, the thing that they wanted to do when they went into business,” said Rosenblum.

In a sense, RemSource is a one-stop shop for all the operational support a small business could need. From answering phone calls to scheduling appointments and keeping books, RemSource offers clients the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes services that most people don’t get too excited about doing themselves.

“We like the generic stuff,” Rosenblum said.

He compares his company’s approach to an emergency clinic of sorts. When a small business comes to RemSource looking for help with administrative services, they begin with a one-month trial period. During this time, Rosenblum said, RemSource and the client work together to identify the client’s most critical needs. When the client seems to be stabilized, the situation is re-evaluated to determine whether there are any other places RemSource could step in.

“It’s like a triage type of thing,” he said. “And when they’re ready to expand and they’re ready to ask us for more services, we can grow their package with them.”

Having worked with businesses ranging from cosmetics to plumbing to legal services, Rosenblum and Wealcatch say they cannot pick a favorite business they’ve helped grow.

“I’m living the same reality that every one of our clients is,” said Rosenblum. “Watching a business owner experience growth — that’s what we’re here for.”

Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter — hnorris@jewishtimes.com

What’s next?
Voting to advance to Round 3, which required each contestant to submit a brief video in Round 2 describing their business, ended last week and the pool of contestants will be reduced to 20 by next week. These 20 semifinalists will face a voting round by Intuit employees, who will then reduce the field to four finalists before voting opens again to the public to determine the grand-prize winner. At the time of this writing, RemSource was waiting to hear if it made it to the semifinal round. To learn more about RemSource or to cast your vote, visit smallbusinessbiggame.com/ MD/RemSource/384633.

Comprehensive, Holistic Support

102513_Comprehensive-Holistic-SupportWhen Chaya Appel-Fishman started her own website aimed at providing advice for Jewish women seeking help with entrepreneurial business, she had no idea it would spread into anything more than an online resource.

On Sunday, Oct. 27, the Baltimore chapter of The Jewish Woman Entrepreneur will launch, becoming the organization’s 12th chapter.

“There are a lot of resources out there for women entrepreneurs,” said Appel-Fishman, “but for Jewish women entrepreneurs, and particularly observant women entrepreneurs, there is very little that can offer comprehensive, holistic support.”

The JWE hosted its first conference in May 2013 in New Brunswick, N.J. The event was attended by 300 people from 13 states, said Appel-Fishman, adding that more than 800 women have reached out to the organization since it evolved from a website into a nonprofit organization.

The initial conference was geared mostly toward observant women, but Appel-Fishman stresses that the group is open to anyone who is interested. She has even met a few non-Jews looking to The JWE for guidance.

The JWE seeks to offer Jewish women professional help through a three-pronged approach. These include:

• Substantive business education through opportunities such as regular webinars offered on the organization’s website.

• Mentoring programs that match women with similar lifestyles or industries together to provide support for clients.

• Community-building programs such as conferences and local chapter meet-ups that help professional women by linking them with other professionals in their region.

While men are more apt to talk about business in a social setting, women usually discuss other, non-work related topics when they get together, said Appel-Fishman. As a result, many women don’t realize the potential their friends and neighbors have for helping them in their professional lives. Part of The JWE’s mission, she said, is helping women to realize this potential.

“[Women] don’t realize how many other women there are out there who are equally as sophisticated [as men] in business,” she said. “It just doesn’t come up the same way that men bring it up.”

Miriam Gittel Rosenblatt, co-founder of the Baltimore chapter of The JWE, said the chapter’s inaugural event will provide attendees a chance for “constructive networking.”

“Some people kind of come out of the woodwork who you didn’t even know own a business or they’re outside of the Orthodox community, so people are just not aware of them,” said Rosenblatt.

In addition to Rosenblatt, who owns a graphic design company, is co-founder Devorah Baron, who owns an ultrasound business. Rosenblatt says she expects women involved in fields such as sales, children’s therapy and baking to attend the event as well.

For Baron, who began her business eight years ago, a resource such as The JWE “would have been awesome.” Instead, she found her own way through the process of trial and error. Now, she is excited about the opportunity to mentor other Jewish women looking to start out on their own.

“I’m happy to share that with other women who are going through it,” she said, adding that the night could serve as a tool to help professionals connect and grow their businesses together.

The theme of the night is “Creating a Culture of Excellence in Business.” Dr. Sanford J. Siegel, president and CEO of Chesapeake Urology Associates, will keynote the event. Dr. Siegel helped build Chesapeake Urology into one of the top 25 places to work in the Baltimore area, according to Baltimore Magazine.

Deborah Gallant, who also spoke at the national conference in May, will then lead a workshop with attendees. Gallant is a business coach with an M.B.A. in marketing and management of organizations from the Columbia University Business School.

The event will take place at the Milk and Honey Bistro from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18. For more information, visit thejwe.com.

Baltimore Icon Passes

Edward “Eddie” Dopkin will be remembered as an important thread in the fabric of Jewish Baltimore.

Edward “Eddie” Dopkin will be remembered as an important thread in the fabric of Jewish Baltimore.

Baltimore lost one of its most recognizable personalities Saturday, Oct. 19, with the passing of Edward “Eddie” Dopkin.

Dopkin, a Baltimore native who lost a three-decade-long battle with leukemia at the age of 61, was the owner of Miss Shirley’s Café and The Classic Catering People, among other local restaurants. Miss Shirley’s garnered national attention when it was featured in publications such as Food Network Magazine, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. Classic Catering serves as the official caterer of the Baltimore Ravens’ training facilities.

Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home was filled to near capacity Monday afternoon, as Baltimore came to pay its respects to a man who, for many, embodied the city.

Not only was Dopkin a fixture in and around the Baltimore area, but “he was the fixture,” said Linda Blake, who worked with Dopkin after relocating to the city. “He is Baltimore to me.”

“Whatever he could do he would do,” said Ken Banks, who said he attended the funeral to pay his respects to the man who had helped him with numerous events hosted by his construction company.

Rabbi Steven Fink opened the service with a poem by Linda Ellis. The poem discusses the dash between the date a person is born and the date on which he or she passes.

“What mattered most of all was the dash between those years,” reads the poem.

Dopkin, said Rabbi Fink, squeezed as much life as he could in his dash.

“Eddie was a Baltimore icon,” said Rabbi Fink. “[He was] one of the most charming people in Charm City.”

Dopkin’s involvement in the hospitality industry started early. His parents owned The Beef Inn and a small catering company in Northwest Baltimore in the late 1960s and 1970s. He helped establish Classic Catering more than 40 years ago and Miss Shirley’s, named in honor of a catering employee and personal friend, in 2005.

Dopkin’s sister, Harriet Dopkin, described her brother as an innovator and a helper. She described how when she was little and wanted to be a scientist, he didn’t discourage her by telling her that’s not what girls do. Rather, he built her a lab in their parents’ basement.

“As my brother’s body grew weaker, his wisdom deepened,” she said.

Sister Anna Dopkin added that the knowledge that his time was limited and that any day he could wake up sicker than the last resulted in his determination to live a big life. She continued on to say that her brother was an out-of-box thinker and a decisive problem-solver.

“The bigger the disaster was, the better he was,” said Anne, adding that she expected she will continue to be stopped on the street by strangers telling her stories of how her brother helped them.

In 2004, Dopkin served as board chairman of the Restaurant Association of Maryland. He was a longtime member of RAM and was active in the Government Affairs Committee.

Several politicians, including Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, attended the service. Several more issued statements or took to social media with statements of support for the Dopkin family.

“Saddened to learn about the passing of @MissShirleys owner Eddie Dopkin. He did so much for #Bmore & will be missed,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman over Twitter.

Doug Gansler’s Twitter account said: “Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Eddie Dopkin. He will be missed.”

Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter — hnorris@jewishtimes.com

Emily Osmou Velelli

102513_Emily-Osmou-Velelli

Emily Osmou Velelli lived to the age of 100. She will be remembered as a mother, a grandmother and a survivor.

Emily Osmou Velelli, daughter of Jacob and Regina and wife of late husband Emmanuel, was born 100 years ago on June 27 on the island of Corfu, Greece.

As a young educated woman she went to work in Athens at the textile store of her older brother, Marcos, where she met her husband-to-be, and it was described as love at first sight. In 1934, the two were wed in Patras, Greece at her parents’ home. They had two children, Josephine in 1936 and Regina in 1942.

The destruction and pain of World War II spread and beginning in 1942 deeply affected Greece. Ultimately only 10 percent of Jews in Greece survived the Holocaust. Velelli, her husband, children and parents were among them, thanks to the kindness of the Michalos family, who, while sharing scant resources and even endangering themselves, helped Velelli’s family escape and survive the Holocaust.

After the war, Greece slowly began to rebuild, as did Velelli’s family, with two more children, Victor and Rachel. With the assistance of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the whole family came to Baltimore in 1956.

“She did everything in her power to make sure we stayed together, looked out for each other and loved each other,” said daughter Regina Frances, 71. “She always impressed upon us how important the fabric of the family is. You respect and love your elders, you sacrifice for your family.”

Velelli’s strength would carry her through the trials of living in a new country, through hard work as a seamstress in a men’s clothing factory and through the challenges of her husband’s illness and passing. She also continued to cook and bake into her late 90s. Her spinach-and-cheese pies and baklava were crowd pleasers, as were her koulouria, the special cookies she would share with the family each Chanukah.

“She always called the family her jewels,” said daughter Rachel Glaser, 64. “She was like a magnet for the family; she was the center, she grounded us. Whenever anyone had news to share, you told Yaya (grandmother in Greek) first. The connection to her got stronger with each new generation.”

Those generations include four children, 10 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Noted Glaser: “Everyone in the family feels they are better people because of her, and they were all devoted to her.”

Melissa Gerr is JT senior staff reporter and digital media editor — mgerr@jewishtimes.com

Between Victim And Perpetrator

102513_Between_Victim_Perpetrator

David Kaye has been accused of raping Rebecca Pastor in Baltimore 23 yeas ago.

There is no statute of limitation for the crime of rape in Maryland.

That law has become increasingly relevant to Rebecca Pastor, 46, of Essex County, N.J.

Pastor, who was manipulated and raped in her Fountainview apartment 23 years ago — on Christmas Day 1990 — returned to Baltimore last week to meet with police and provide evidence of the incident, which sent her into years of therapy. Now strong and passionate about stopping her perpetrator and preventing other women from going through the hell she experienced, Pastor is telling her story out loud and encouraging others like her to come forward.

Last month, Pastor found out that Yeshaya Dovid Kaye (David Kaye), who had come to her apartment in Baltimore under the guise of helping her secure a get [Jewish divorce] and then allegedly raped her, was not in jail but rather a mere eight minutes from her home — living at his parent’s house. And, as of last week, he was looking for work — anywhere in the Jewish community that he could find it.

When Rebecca took initial action 23 years ago, including contacting two prominent New York rabbis, she was told that “the situation was being handled.” Subsequently, she went through her own healing. Ultimately ,seven years ago thought she had closure when she heard through the media that a Rabbi David Kaye was jailed for sexual offenses. When she contacted the news outlet to report her case, she was told they had enough information and did not need her testimony. She learned roughly one month ago, through a communication that was sent out by two New Jersey pulpit rabbis to their congregants, that the jailed Rabbi Kaye was in fact a different Kaye. Her alleged rapist was free, and she learned that he had allegedly sexually assaulted dozens of women, at least four who informed rabbis of their plight (though the women will not go to the police or talk on the record) in such verifiable detail that these rabbis felt empowered to warn local residents.

102513_Between_Victim_Perpetrator1The advisory, signed and sent to congregants in the West Orange, N.J., area by Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler and Rabbi Mark Spivak, warned them of “the presence of a potential perpetrator” in hopes that congregants could “protect themselves and their families.” The message named Kaye, termed the allegations against him “serious” and advised him not to attend their shuls “for the foreseeable future.”

Almost immediately after Pastor saw the warning, she phoned the rabbis to tell them her story.

Since then, with the help of Rabbis Zwickler and Spivak and Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Yosef Blau, Pastor said she has identified information that strongly suggests Kaye has a long history of allegations of rape against him, including in Israel, Germany and other locations. The information, according to posts on the website adkanenough.com and reports by the rabbis and Pastor, indicates that Kaye portrays himself as an upstanding rabbi (his ordination could not be verified at the time of this writing) and then psychologically and religiously manipulates Orthodox women, building trust and playing on their deep religious faith to convince them to succumb to him sexually.

The rabbis were not surprised by the stories and information that Pastor found. According to Rabbi Zwickler, “We did our homework,” before sending out the notice. “We verified the stories; these are credible people.”
Stories include, for example, a Chassidish woman who said she was raped but is unwilling to submit her name (or even tell her own family about the incident) for she is traumatized and terrified to tell her husband for fear she would be kicked out of her home. Another woman, who is going by Chana, says Kaye convinced her that he had a prophetic vision that she would suffer a tragic death if she did not cleanse her soul by submitting to him; she complied over several months.

A former member of the administration at Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, where Kaye taught for a period, confirmed on condition of anonymity that Kaye “left the school in the middle of the year, and it was not by choice.”

The administrator noted inappropriate interactions with young female students.

Another rabbi, who also refused to use his name for fear of repercussions from his place of employment, noted that he had heard countless rumors about Kaye’s actions over the course of more than one decade.

102513_Between_Victim_Perpetrator2Rabbi Blau, mashgiach ruchani [spiritual counselor] at Yeshiva University, told the JT that he had been contacted by many people with concerns over Kaye’s behavior for many years and was personally responsible for getting him fired from one position. However, he said, “There was no mechanism to do anything beyond getting him fired.”

In Pastor’s case, Kaye learned of her plight to receive a get from her young husband from a mutual friend, Moshe Rothschild. He had grown up in Kaye’s community but had no idea about Kaye. Kaye volunteered to help Pastor, and over the course of two weeks, from the time Rothschild contacted him until he offered to visit Pastor in Baltimore for counseling and assistance, he systematically learned about her and groomed Rothschild for information, asking him for facts about her family — details that only someone on the inside would know. Pastor said when Kaye arrived he knew what her husband and son looked like, he had information about her sisters and other family members. He told her that he had a prophetic vision that her 2-year-old son would die before he turned 3 and described the family members standing by the casket. In shock, Pastor sat down on her couch, breaking down in tears. Kaye sat down beside her. He put his hand over her mouth and forced himself upon her.

When he was finished, Pastor kicked him out, screaming. He threatened her that if she told anyone about the incident, he would ruin her life.

Despite these threats, Pastor turned to rabbinical authorities in the New York area. She was told she needed to secure evidence. She tried calling Kaye and tape recording his admission. The first time, he hung up on her. The second, she blurted out, “You raped me, and I am pregnant.”

She was not pregnant, but her trick served its purpose. Kaye panicked, told her she had to abort the child and wired between $300 and $400 through Western Union to Pastor to get the job done; Pastor is trying to secure those records. Rothschild, who is now a rabbi and tour guide living in Israel, corroborates the story. Until now, Rothschild and Pastor had not been in contact for several years.

But both kept copies of the tape recording, and while Pastor threw hers out after she thought her rapist was in jail, Rothschild told the JT that he kept his.

According to Kaye’s lawyer, Mitchell Liebowitz, “Ms. Pastor, by her statements, admits to a possible violation of Maryland’s anti-wiretapping statute, which generally prohibits nonconsensual recording of telephone conversations.”

Lauren Shaivitz, a lawyer, advocate and director of programming for CHANA, a local aid network for abused women, said that from what she knows of the case from an article that ran last week in the New York Jewish Week and from similar cases, she believes this incident of rape would be considered a felony in Maryland and would be charged as a criminal case. She said it is important for victims to know that they can file charges anytime while the perpetrator is alive, no matter how many years have passed.

Baltimore City Police confirmed Shaivitz’s sentiments. Though police could not speak in any detail about
Pastor’s case, Det. Brandon Echevarria said police do have ways to investigate allegations such as or similar to Pastor’s. He noted that the length of an investigation varies by case, but “once all avenues of the investigation have been exhausted, the detectives’ original case file is duplicated and delivered to the Office of the State’s Attorney for review.”

Debbie Teller (not her real name) who runs the website adkanenough.com, listed Kaye on her website several months ago, after Chana contacted her with her personal story. Since then, more than 80 others have responded, noting that they, too, were victims or know someone who was.

The JT contacted Kaye’s father, who confirmed that Kaye, along with his wife and children, was staying
at his home in West Orange, N.J. He refused further comment.

Liebowitz said he believes Pastor “still faces some very serious hurdles in connection with a criminal case going forward.”

Liebowitz spoke mostly off the record but did say that “Kaye unequivocally denies the allegations made by Ms. Pastor. … The reported statements are defamatory and lack credibility.”

(The JT contacted Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, at which Kaye worked from 2001 to 2009. According to Associate Vice President For Public Affairs Ron Shafra, “We received no reports of incidents of the nature described in recent press reports and are not aware of any such incidents.”)

Rabbi Zwickler told the JT that he and Rabbi Spivak did not come looking for this — Kaye’s parents were considered pillars of the West Orange Jewish community — but the situation “obviously escalated to the point where we felt we needed to make sure we protected the community.”

Rabbi Mark Dratch, head of the Rabbinical Council of America, said one of the biggest challenges that
rabbis face in these situations is that there is no formal mechanism for evaluating allegations. If victims go to law enforcement it changes the playing field. And while he admitted that the justice system is not infallible, he said that is the correct place for these types of cases to be handled. He said he supported Rabbis Zwickler and Spivak’s decision to send the notice and feels “they were very certain that the allegations were very credible.” He sees the move as a sign that “we are in a better position than we were 10 years ago. More rabbis understand the situation and the obligation to be proactive.”

Still, there is more that could be done. Pastor said she would like to see something such as The Kaye Law be instituted by rabbinical authorities, requiring them to turn immediately to proper authorities when a case such as this comes to their attention.

Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion said he and other area rabbis stress the importance of women turning to the police in the event of a violent crime such as rape. He told the JT, “This is definitely something necessary to do.”

“There is an unfortunate reality — we must contend with the same issues that our greater society struggles with. There are those who would use force or stature to take advantage of another, and we must adopt a zero tolerance approach when dealing with these matters,” said Rabbi Shmuel Silber of Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim. “We have an obligation to support victims of sexual abuse. We must exhibit compassion and empathy so that those who have been hurt will feel confident to come forward.  But empathy and compassion are not enough. We must work hand in hand with police and law enforcement agencies to ensure that our communities remain safe and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are forced to account for their deeds.”

Nancy Aiken, executive director of CHANA, said it is important to shed light on these cases to make it easier for other victims to come out. She told the JT that there are a lot of people walking around with these stories, and if they can feel comfortable coming forward, there may be some help.

“There is almost never one victim,” said Aiken. “When someone comes forward, he or she may not get the
justice that is deserved, but almost for sure it will prevent another victim or another person from being victimized.”

Said Pastor in the name of one of her mentors: “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our own light.”

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief — mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

Bloomberg First To Receive $1 Million ‘Jewish Nobel Prize’

 New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the first recipient of the $1 million Genesis Prize, which is being called the “Jewish Nobel Prize.”

The award is set to be announced Monday, The New York Times reported Sunday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the prize to Bloomberg at a ceremony in Jerusalem in May.

The Genesis Prize Foundation was established in 2012 by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, a consortium of mega-wealthy philanthropist-businessmen from the former Soviet Union including Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan; the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel; and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The prize, which will be given out annually, is awarded to an accomplished, internationally renowned professional who is a role model in his or her community and can inspire the younger generation of Jews worldwide, according to the foundation’s website.

Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman who is in his third term as New York mayor, was chosen from among more than 200 nominees worldwide because of his “track record of outstanding public service and his role as one of the world’s greatest philanthropists,” according to the prize committee, The New York Times reported.

“Many years ago, my parents instilled in me Jewish values and ethics that I have carried with me throughout my life, and which have guided every aspect of my work in business, government, and philanthropy,” Bloomberg said in a statement issued Sunday, in which he said he was honored to receive the prize, according to the newspaper.

The prize committee, chaired by Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, also includes Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel; Meir Shamgar, justice and president emeritus of Israel’s Supreme Court; and Tova Strasberg-Cohen, a retired justice of the Israeli high court.

 

County Judge Approves Foundry Row Plans

Brian Gibbons and Leonard Weinberg II stand by the Solo Plant. Gibbons wants to turn the Solo Plant into Foundry Row. (Justin Tsuclas)

Brian Gibbons and Leonard Weinberg II stand by the Solo Plant. Gibbons wants to turn the Solo Plant into Foundry Row. (Justin Tsuclas)

A Baltimore County administrative law judge approved Owings Mills project Foundry Row’s development plans on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

“It was clear that we were going above and beyond and meeting all the requirements of the code,” said Brian Gibbons, chairman and CEO of developer Greenberg Gibbons.

Judge John E. Beverungen approved Greenberg Gibbons’ plan with several conditions, effectively allowing Foundry Row to move forward.

“Now we’re kind of free and clear, at least until the next step, whatever that’s going to be,” said Councilwoman Vicki Almond, referring to the numerous roadblocks those who oppose the development have attempted.

Foundry Row, a mixed-use development at the site of the former Solo Cup plant, will feature more than 360,000 square feet of retail and 60,000 square feet of office space. Wegmans grocery store will anchor the center. The Baltimore County Council approved rezoning the property for retail in August 2012, despite vocal opposition from neighboring developers. A referendum effort also failed to reverse the zoning decision.

Beverungen’s decision approved the plans with the conditions that all roadway improvements are made before use and occupancy permits can be issued, that any change to the vacant 241,000-square-foot warehouse on the property comply with certain zoning regulations and that the developer complies with American Disabilities Act regulations regarding roadway, sidewalk and pedestrian access.

Attorneys representing entities in opposition to the project called into question the safety of road improvements, ADA accessibility, parking and several other parts of the plan. After consideration, Beverungen ruled in favor of the developer. The companies seeking to have the development plans stopped, Painters Mill Executive Office Park Partnership LLP, Garrison Realty Investors LLC and 100 Painters Mill LLC, are owned by Howard Brown, chairman of David S. Brown Enterprises, Gibbons said. Brown is building massive transit-oriented development Metro Centre at Owings Mills and has been vocally opposed to Foundry Row.

“I’m disappointed by the opposition because I really believe this is a great thing for the community, and I think it’s going to provide a tremendous gateway,” Gibbons said. “I think it’s going to help the developments near it, in particularly Howard Brown’s.”

Demolition of the Solo Cup plant should be completed by the end of the year, Gibbons said. He hopes to submit detailed engineering and architectural plans in early 2014 – the next required approvals in the process – and will begin construction next summer if permits are in place.

He expects attorneys representing the opposition to file an appeal with Baltimore County, but he is moving full-steam ahead.

“I find that the Developer has satisfied its burden of proof and, therefore, is entitled to approval of the redlined Development Plan,” Beverungen wrote in his decision.