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Among Friends

Leib Tropper spent his way into the rabbinic elite—and, even after his fall, those other rabbis are unwilling to condemn him

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Leib Tropper (Photoillustration by Tablet Magazine; Tropper photo from RationalistJudaism.com; background photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.)
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When Shannon Orand asked Rabbi Leib Tropper to help her study to become a Jew, he asked for sexual favors in return, she says

In May 2007, Leib Tropper arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, to preside over a grand conclave of prospective converts to Judaism sponsored by his Eternal Jewish Family organization, which offered “Cadillac conversions” to non-Jews as part of an effort to seize control of the conversion process outside of Israel. Buoyed by a $4.8 million infusion of cash from the billionaire Thomas Kaplan, an oil and mining mogul who is currently president of the board at the 92nd Street Y in New York, the fast-talking rabbi with global ambitions and a smooth line of patter had offered would-be Jews a special treat: an all-expenses paid weekend of discussions on topics like “Becoming Part of the Jewish Family” at the Arizona Biltmore, a spa resort on 39 acres at the foot of Phoenix Mountain that is part of the Waldorf-Astoria chain.

While offers of Ayurvedic massages and luxury accommodation may seem at odds with the somber, discouraging face that ultra-Orthodoxy has traditionally turned to prospective converts, Tropper, by most accounts, did not seem particularly interested in relaxing halachic codes to accommodate the modern world. A biblical literalist, he played an active role in an effort by a group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis to ban the books of another rabbi, Nosson Slifkin, who believed that the world is older than the Jewish calendar—that is, 5,770 years. In 2006, among his other duties, he took it upon himself to retroactively invalidate the conversion of a woman who subsequently dared to violate ultra-Orthodox codes of modesty by wearing pants.

As a newcomer to the fraught business of conversions—and, according to people who dealt with him, someone who could at times be an abrasive individual—Tropper appears to have been willing to augment his personal power at the expense of his conversion candidates, a vulnerable group whose well-being is supposed to be protected from oppressive behavior by millennia of explicit rabbinical teaching and practice. To his students, he presented himself as a learned teacher who could help them reach the God they yearned for. In the billionaire Thomas Kaplan and his multimillionaire nephew Guma Aguiar, Tropper found a pair of patrons who, in exchange for access to the leading halachic authorities in New York and Jerusalem, would help the rabbi reinforce his newfound influence over the conversion process with lavish spectacles in American cities like Phoenix and Boston as well as at the luxurious David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. In addition to paying for food, drink, and hotel rooms at five-star hotels, Tropper also used Kaplan and Aguiar’s millions to curry favor with some of the most elevated rabbinic authorities in the world—including Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, one of the ultra-Orthodox world’s pre-eminent scholars, and Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar.

The world of spa vacations at the Biltmore was a long way from Tropper’s home base in the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Monsey, New York, where the rabbi ran a small yeshiva, Kol Yaakov, that specialized in “returning” non-observant adult Jews to Judaism. For more than two decades, Tropper—who was born into a rabbinic family on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and educated in Jerusalem—instructed returnees to Judaism, called ba’alei teshuva, on the laws of Torah in a modest brick-and-stucco house outfitted with a basketball hoop in the narrow parking lot out back. He got his start at Ohr Somayach, one of Monsey’s largest adult yeshivas, but splintered off to start Kol Yaakov in 1981 with help from a late New York couple, Louis J. Septimus and his wife, Edythe, for whom the school’s building is named.

The backing provided by Kaplan and Aguiar, Kaplan’s now-estranged nephew, was on an entirely different scale. The largesse provided by the two men over the years—at least $8 million, according to financial documents filed with the IRS—gave the rabbi entree into the insular world of the Israeli rabbinate—a cloistered group of men who, with the approval of the Israeli government, determine who can and cannot be considered a Jew, whatever their level of religious observance. By the time Tropper got to Phoenix, he could offer their imprimatur to reassure nervous hopefuls that he was the one conduit to becoming “a real Jew.” “If we ever make aliyah, there isn’t going to be any question of my Jewishness,” one Tropper graduate, Lucia Schnitzer, told the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix before the 2007 Biltmore weekend. “If my daughter wants to marry a Kohen, there isn’t going to be any question.”

In the past month, Tropper has been undone by the emergence of audio and video recordings that seem to indicate he tried to use his position to coerce a student, Shannon Orand, into having sex with other men in exchange not just for her conversion to Judaism but for cash. According to a student who answered the door at Kol Yaakov on Sunday, he remains in charge of the yeshiva, but Dovid Jacobs, Tropper’s former right-hand man, told Tablet Magazine the rabbi has been removed from his positions at both Eternal Jewish Family and its parent organization, Horizons Bais Achiezer, which have separate offices a few miles away from the yeshiva, in the neighboring town of Suffern. Tropper did not respond to requests for comment.

In the weeks since Tropper’s downfall, none of the rabbis who facilitated his meteoric rise in the Jewish world—men whose lives are devoted to the pious observance of God’s word—have stepped forward to publicly condemn Tropper for his violations of ultra-Orthodox codes on modesty and extramarital sex, let alone for his apparent willingness to use his position of religious authority to exploit the single mother of two young children for sex. The deafening silence parallels the response from the Roman Catholic Church after allegations of widespread child abuse surfaced in 2002; in diocese after diocese, bishops chose to protect the abusers, and settle generously with the victims, rather than forthrightly condemn what any parishioner would rightly see as an abomination in the eyes of God. “A community is measured by how it responds to something like this,” said one ultra-Orthodox rabbi. “The right-wing yeshivishe world is in damage control.”

As recently as November, when Tropper’s son got married, the list of rabbis who either attended or sent blessings included Elyashiv, and Reuven Feinstein, the son of the Rav Moshe Feinstein, who died in 1986, the most respected ultra-Orthodox halachic authority of his time. In addition to his impressive lineage, Reuven Feinstein is a widely respected figure in his own right and the head of the Yeshiva of Staten Island—which received a $3 million gift from Kaplan and Aguiar’s family foundation in 2008. Tropper gushed on his blog after the celebration, “The chuppah looked like a who’s who of the Torah world!”

In the wake of Tropper’s resignation from EJF, in mid-December, Feinstein declined to condemn Tropper’s activities or distance himself from EJF. Indeed, Feinstein issued a statement indicating he would increase his work with Eternal Jewish Family, to ensure that the organization would “continue to be guided by the highest halachic standards.”

To some, Feinstein’s circumspect response to the Tropper scandal was reminiscent of his silence on two other recent scandals involving sex and the abuse of rabbinic authority, both of which involved members of Feinstein’s family, the sons of his sister, Shifra, and her husband, Rabbi Moshe Tendler. One, Mordecai Tendler, was dismissed in 2006 from his post at a synagogue in Spring Valley, near Monsey, after a congregant accused him of seducing her into an affair with threats the she’d never find a husband unless she slept with him. A few weeks later, Tendler’s brother, Aron, resigned as principal of an Orthodox day school in Los Angeles amid allegations that he had “inappropriate” relations with female students.

Feinstein, of course, wasn’t involved in either of those incidents. But Feinstein’s willingness to take strong public stands on abstract questions of morality—including some as minute as whether or not men can return handshakes proffered by women (they can, to avoid embarrassing the other person)—only underscored, to some, his unwillingness to say even a single word about much more obvious abuses of Jewish law and halachic authority by eminent rabbis within his professional and family circle. (Feinstein did not return a message from Tablet seeking comment.)

It remains unclear what the future of Eternal Jewish Family will be. Kaplan has served as the organization’s chairman; his attorneys told Tablet last week they don’t know whether he will remain in that role. The group currently has a caretaker leader, after the rabbi initially announced as Tropper’s replacement—Elya Wachtfogel, head of a yeshiva in the Catskills hamlet of South Fallsburg, New York—subsequently released a letter saying he had not, in fact, taken the position. “The rumors which were spread of late regarding the EJF organization, alleging it is under my direction, are in error and baseless,” Wachtfogel said, in a handwritten declaration. Nothing further about Tropper, or his transgressions, was said.

If the silence of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate is meant to keep members of their community in the dark, and shield the authority of the rabbinate from shame, it has been countered by outraged discussion on ultra-Orthodox blogs, whose commenters have been following the money that passed through Tropper’s organization—and venting their anger at the ongoing silence from the halachic establishment. One anonymously written blog, The Unorthodox Jew, called on Feinstein to shut down “this house of prostitution.” A commenter on the blog called for a letter-writing campaign to “as many Orthodox-affiliated Jews as possible, alerting them to the unworthiness of our so-called ‘gedolim’”—a Hebrew term used by ultra-Orthodox Jews to refer to their leaders. “King Lear should be obligatory reading in the ultra-Orthodox world, along with All the King’s Men,” wrote another person. At another highly critical blog, Daas Torah, a commenter wrote: “The chillul hashem”—insult to God—“of Tropper’s scandals is only getting worse with time like a festering untreated cancer.”

One of the few religious authorities to speak out publicly on the Tropper case has been Aba Dunner, the executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis, a group that publicly opposed Tropper’s incursion onto its turf even before the scandal; last week, Dunner published an op-ed in the Five Towns Jewish Times, a New York-area paper catering to Orthodox readers, in which he accused Eternal Jewish Family of conducting a “bounty hunt” for new Jews, by allegedly paying local rabbis to funnel intermarried couples into its fledgling conversion courts. “Tropper is a fraud,” Dunner wrote. “The organization he created is in his image and is therefore a fraud too. The creators of that image are fraudsters and hucksters who are trying desperately to keep the line to Mr. Kaplan’s millions open.”

CORRECTION, April 19: An earlier version of this article inaccurately described Rabbi Moshe Tendler as the uncle of Rabbi. In fact, Tendler is Feinstein’s brother-in-law.

MORE: Allison Hoffman outlined the entire Tropper scandal here.
MORE:
Allison Hoffman profiled Guma Aguiar here.
MORE:
Tablet Magazine’s Marissa Brostoff profiled Shannon Orand here.
MORE:
Read transcripts of the phone calls, plus hear some audio clips, here.

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Noach Eger says:

While much of this article may be correct, the author loses credibility on a number of counts.
The inclusion of the accusations against M. Tendler has been shown time and again to be very questionable if not down right false. That he was railroaded by the RCA which was looking for a convenient scapegoat has been demonstrated.
The inclusion of “The Unorthodox Jew” as an authority just because he writes a blog is laughable.
The failure to mention the condemmation by R’ Shternbuch of the Badatz in Jerusalem speaks volumes about the author’s lack of balance and fairness.
The thrust of the article may be correct, but it has no credibility!

Jew Dude says:

Although some of the content of this article is true – the dripping sarcasm and the complete and utter disdain that this author has for ultra orthodox Jewry undermines her entire credibility. This article is not worthy of a point by point rebuttal.

Yeshivish Jew says:

Noach Eger either has a dishonest agenda or has no idea what he is talking about.

Mordechai Tendler was found guilty by a half dozen Jewish courts that run the gamut from modern orthodox to yeshivish to Chasidish.

While it is true that it is sloppy reporting to only mention Rabbi Dunner opposing Tropper while omitting Rabbi Sternbuch and all of his fellow dayanim (judges) on the Eidah Charedis of Jerusalem, Rabbi Bloch, Rabbi Bechofer, Rabbi Shain, the London Beis Din and others, it is probably not intentional as the outside world doesn’t have a clue who these people are.

The Unorthodox Jew is not anonymous. He revealed his identity a month ago as Rabbi Feivel Mendlowitz, grandson of the venerable Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz. And he is an authority since he has singlehandedly had several pedophiles thrown in jail and fraudsters disgraced when no one else would act.

I have no problem with the author showing disdain for Tropper’s backers. Their behavior is outrageous and should be strongly condemned by anyone with a conscious. They bring disgrace on Orthodox Jewry.

“In the wake of Tropper’s resignation from EJF, in mid-December, Feinstein declined to condemn Tropper’s activities or distance himself from EJF. Indeed, Feinstein issued a statement indicating he would increase his work with Eternal Jewish Family, to ensure that the organization would “continue to be guided by the highest halachic standards.””

You can’t continue that which never existed…

They are LYING about hiring someone for a replacement and these idiot yeshivah bochurim are still following as blind cattle.

Didn’t we learn better in the youth of our elders for the atrocities that they saw? Did they lament not questioning the German govt? Everyone grab your bubby’s and zaide’s and ask them to remind the Jewish public.

Nick Nafsack says:

This article confirms the widely held view that Tablet has an agenda other than reporting facts.

Tropper has not been found guilty in a court of civil law, nor in a Bet Din. Until either or both of these happen, Tablet is nothing but a vicious gossip monger seeking to besmirch the entire Torah observant world that it clearly despises.

In all likelihood, given the bizarre history of his accuser, she set out to entrap the Rabbi.

Why don’t you brave folks at Tablet do a story on the sordid past of the accuser?

One of the things that I always found suspicious about EJF was that they tell the yeshivish community they are fixing intermarriage. Yet, I’ve come across one intermarried who was going through them. If they are here to fix the intermarriage problem, why do they even work with single mothers (ahem, like S.O.), singles and married couples converting together? In fact, their now defunct website did not mention they dealt with those not intermarried. Why?

Finally, information came to me later that they will give certificates to Orthodox men after attending a workshop for them to be EJF dayans. These men aren’t necessesarily rabbis. So, explain to me how they have high standard….

Nick,
(Hey, also my goyisha name… sort of-Nicole.) While it is true that he has not been convicted in a civil court, it is also true that he has not broken the law-outside of the prostitution factor. It’s not against the law to commit adultery with a consenting adult. Prostititution would be hard to prove because of the line between “just helping out a friend” and “active solicitation” would not hard to establish. Furthermore, who is there to bring charges? If S.O. did, she incriminates herself.

While it is true that he has not been convicted by a beis din, has he been to one? Who could possibly be a fair dayan, as so many have taken his organization’s money?

Furthermore, I agree with you wholeheartedly that S.O. was not blameless one bit. I was disappointed to hear that she was converted. She needed the money. She accepted the money. Then she didn’t want to provide services so she smeared Tropper for having made the deal with her. I don’t know how people can’t see that which I find to be plain as daylight. Am I the only who noticed that on one of the recordings, she was trying to get him to leave his wife for her?

Tape 4:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfHOAszAVsw&feature=channel
at 3 minutes is where that discussion starts.

Additionally, the difference is that Tropper put himself in a position where he is expected to have higher morals than to have an affair with someone to whom he is supposed to be a mentoring.

Even outside this sexual misconduct lies the point that he declared his conversion baytai dim to be superior to all others, when in fact they were not. He declared that he charged candidates less money, when in fact most other baytai din (not considering indy rabbis who make their own beis din, as they do charge steeply) charge the same or less. I paid about $950 less than your average EJF convert for my conversion.

Tropper is a fraud. He is now busy trying to appoint figure heads to run Horizon’s/ Bais Achiezer, so that he can still have access to all of Tom Kaplan’s money. An investigation is underway, and it will be interesting to see who he appoints as his figure heads “replacement”.

An interesting footnote is that one Of Tropper’s backers Nachum Eisenstein was also staunch supporter of Mordechi Tendler.

I posted another comment but, it had a link (I shouldn’t have done that.) I think it went into moderation.

Tape 4 on YouTube… starting about 3 minutes, S. O. is trying to get Tropper to leave Leiba for her.

The Baruch Lanner affair some years back illustrated that it is up to the press to blow the cover off crimes that are being covered up by the establishment. The Charedi world must ask itself why its leadership is so reticent to speak out about Tropper’s behavior and why it continues to give the impression of being relatively silent about his actions. The same was true for the RCA and OU after Lanner’s activities were publicly revealed.

Not Impressed says:

Why bother with the facts? Mordechai Tendler was taken to court by his accuser and lost in civil court and the appeal. Aaron Tendler was never charged with anything and outside of shoddy blogs, I’m surprised the standards are so low at Tablet. Does anyone check the facts before repeating smears?

Not Impressed says:

Yeshivish Jew is not telling the truth. Tendler never had to opportunity to appear before a Bet Din. He never had the opportunity to cross examine his accuser. He was convicted in blogs – most of which disappeared the day he won in the Court of Appeals.

Where are those blogs today?

New Hempstead News?

Canonist?

    This new discovery has caused much excitement amongst many archaeologists from around the globe and causing some debate on this issue as it was previously thought that the Ark of the Covenant was permanently lost. Of all places in the world Panama it would seem to be the most unlikely place to have discovered this ancient relic the Ark of the Covenant, however new evidence substantiates the claims that the lost Ark of the Covenant was smuggled to Mesoamerica by Malchiah using the Phoenicians and was hidden in a cave in Volcan Chiriqui in the republic of Panama. Check out their link at http://thearkofthecovenantdiscovered.com/ Chiriqui archaeological sites.

Yahalomi says:

So Nick Nutsack now wants to blame the victim in this nasty business? Her background is irrelevant to the facts to which Tropper has admitted.

Yeshivish Jew says:

Ignore all these “sad sack” trolls defending Tropper, Tendler and other perverts. They have been trolling the internet from the get go to plant lies and cover ups.

Tropper was found guilty by the Jewish court of Eidah Charedis in Jerusalem who had the audio authenticated by experts in Hollywood. Even if Tropper was “entrapped”, the filth coming out of his mouth was not induced by drugs or hypnosis. He is a willing pervert.

Mordechai Tendler appeared before Rabbi Mottel Auerbach’s court of 7 rabbis in Monsey who found him guilty. Rabbi Wosner wrote a lengthy responsa outlining M. Tendler’s guilt according to Jewish law. These same parameters apply to his brother Aron Tendler who was forced to resign from the synagogue and school he worked at.

Not Impressed says:

“Mordechai Tendler appeared before Rabbi Mottel Auerbach’s court of 7 rabbis in Monsey who found him guilty. Rabbi Wosner wrote a lengthy responsa outlining M. Tendler’s guilt according to Jewish law.”

Oh please. He never appeared in front of the Bet Din. And yes Wosner wrote a lengthy responsa that made no sense whatsoever.

And what any of this had to do with Aron Tendler is anyone’s guess.

Yeshivish Jew says:

Tendler troll “Not impressed”,

Tendler DID appear at Rabbi Orbach’s court at the urging of his father Moses Tendler, hoping he would be able to clear his name. But as Rabbi Orbach told the Jewish Week newspaper, Tendler was brimming with far out lies and conspiracy theories that any fool could see right through.

Rabbi Wosner simply quoted all kinds of halachic authorities from the past 1000 years. Nice try to discredit the responsa. And the content of the responsa applies to both wayward Tendler boys as anyone who reads the part about accusations in Jewish law can see.

raquelle says:

congratulations, about time someone started putting the pieces together, honest clean facts, good questions, the shame is none of the rabbaim/gadolim involved are speaking publicly. I believe the rca also put out a statement re tropper offering confidential support and counseling to any potential or actual victims who seem to have been forgotten in this disgrace.

Michal, I listened to youtube tape no. 4 starting at the 3-minute mark, and there is nothing on the tape to suggest that Ms. Orand wanted him for herself, for him to leave his wife, or anything like that. I previously was sympathetic to your plight as described in your comments to the DT blog, but I am sorry to say that the things that you are hearing her say on the tape are all in your head, and make me wonder about your perceptions of the things that you described in your comments to the DT blog. I really am sorry to have had to say it, but your attack on Ms. Orand is totally unfounded and needed to be addressed.

Shannon says, “you’re married… I don’t think you could be with me at all, even if you wanted to. It’s just not possible. That’s been from the beginning. Hasn’t it?”

And Tropper says he can’t figure out why she has gotten tempermental lately… He turns her down flat, “even if I was single, I couldn’t marry you darling sweetheart. ” He claims she’s too assertive for him and he says he can’t marry a woman like that.

Shannon was whispering something while he was talking and the equipment was getting interferenc.

Then he talks for a while… I find him difficult to understand. He mumbles…

Charles says:

As others have already claimed in the past a little fact checking and some research show how the content of Hoffmans articles are constantly full of factualy untruths or half truths, or what others have claimed to be “sloppy reporting”.
Here are some examples: (I encourage others to varfy for yourselfs the sources that I will bring which clearly discredits the authers content in many areas. The sources below are availbable for everyone to see).

1.Hoffman writes: “In 2006, among his other duties, he took it upon himself to retroactively invalidate the conversion of a woman who subsequently dared to violate ultra-Orthodox codes of modesty by wearing pants.”

FACT CHECKER:
A. Wikepedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leib_Tropper (which quotes an EJF press release, 30 May 2008) regarding this incident: “Tropper denied this accusation, claiming the woman had in fact been breaking the Shabbat since immediately after her conversion, and that his role was confined to relaying this information to the appropriate authorities.”
B. According to Jewish law a conversion can not be invalitated by a single person, but requires a Jewish court (Bait Din). R’ Tropper does not have a Bait Din nor is he part of one.

2.Hoffman writes: “but [R' Tropper] splintered off to start Kol Yaakov in 1981 with help from a late New York couple, Louis J. Septimus and his wife, Edythe, for whom the school’s building is named.”

FACT CHECKER:
After fact checking with the kol Yaakov faculty and Septimus family members they have both stated that the Septimus families invovemant in Kol Yaakov was not untill the late 90’s. This can be varified by asking any of the Kol Yaakov faculty, or anyone from the Septimus family.

3.Hoffamn writes: “In the weeks since Tropper’s downfall, none of the rabbis who facilitated his meteoric rise in the Jewish world—men whose lives are devoted to the pious observance of God’s word—have stepped forward to publicly condemn Tropper for his violations of ultra-Orthodox codes on modesty and extramarital sex, let alone for his apparent willingness to use his position of religious authority to exploit the single mother of two young children for sex”

FACT CHECKER:
A. TABLET MAGAZINE, Jan. 14Th 2010 , http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/23581/converted/ : “Yet speculation about her relationship with Tropper—which, ORAND MAINTAINED IN HER EMAIL TO TABLET, NEVER ACTUALLY INVOLVED DIRECT PHYSICAL CONTACT—have continued on ultra-Orthodox blogs”

B. Failedmassia.com Jan. 14th 2010, http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2010/01/exclusive-shannon-orand-in-her-own-words- 567.html quotes Orand: “That’s when I bought the camera. I didn’t have time to set it up. The date’s wrong on the video. When I saw it I said, oh, that’s wrong.He wanted to get me together with his wife. He said he wouldn’t touch me. I didn’t know if she was going to do it. He asked what it would take to get me together with his wife. I said it made me very uncomfortable. I tried to get out of it a little bit and Tropper could tell I was uncomfortable. He said: Maybe if I wasn’t there you’d be more comfortable. Then I talked to Leba and found out she’d never really been with a woman. She’d just been making up stories to please Tropper. They were just lies. She’s very submissive. She’s a victim in all this. So I told Tropper I’d be much more comfortable if he wasn’t there, and if it would be an ‘encounter’ we’d tell him about later. Tropper wanted to be there for the last five minutes. He still said he wasn’t going to touch me but I wasn’t so sure, so I went out and bought the camera. Leba and I didn’t do anything. We just rehearsed our story, the story we would tell Tropper. When he called to say he was coming we got undressed and waited.”

C.VosIsNeias.com Jan.7Th 2010, http://www.vosizneias.com/46424/2010/01/07/jeusalem-woman-in-ejf-scandal-speaks-out-after-reciving-conversion-to-judaism-in-israel/ quotes Orand as stating that she signed a written statemant that there was no sexual relation with R’ Tropper.

4. Heres another out of the box example of Hoffman’s fabrications. On Jan. 13Th she writes in Tablet Magazine http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/23483/con-game/ : (regarding an EJF rabbinic conference) “Amar turned up, along with Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv”
FACT CHECKER:
Rabbi Elyashav was not there. This has been confirmed by conference paticipants as well as R’ Elyashav’s family. This can be farified by asking either of the above.

There are more examples of Hoffman fabrications in her articles. The examples above are only a few samples.

In adition to being factualy dishonest, she discredits herself by quoting sources as unorthodoxjew blog. The equivelent to that would be an axample of someone writing an article on the catholic priest sex scandal and quoting Hustler Magazine as an example of the common church-goer’s view regarding the issue.
She also quotes from Daastorah blog ,someone who has had a personal fallout with Tropper years ago as a source to show what the general orhtodox view on the issue is.
Such tactics of reporting is fankly beyond the pail.

While Leib Tropper is certainly guilty of the attempt to trade conversions for sex and for his sexual relationship with Mrs.Orand, this blog has an agenda on their hands to taint observant jews as much as possible and it is also not interested in writing the truth. If it was not biased and was looking for the truth , it would not cover up Mrs. Orand’s premeditated active participation in framing leib tropper fueled by the money of his enemy (the one who is now in a psychiatric hospital) and the one who arranged her “conversion” with the rabbis who got 3.2 million dollars from the same enemy (guma aguiar).

The lack of Mordecai Tendler facts in the comments above is disturbing.

1) Mordecai Tendler was accused by multiple women of sexual improprieties.

2) Multiple batei-din found him incompetent to serve as a Rabbi and that the accusations of sexual issues are indeed true. The most substantial psak was written by Rabbi Benzion Wosner of Monsey, and co-signed by over a dozen rabbis – ranging from YU, Modern, Yeshivish and Chassidish. Rabbi Chaim Schabes, who had previously been friendly with Tendler and has a shul next-door to Tendler, co-signed the psak. The psak states clearly that DNA evidence proves Tendler’s guilt, among other very specific details.

3) Mordecai Tendler **never** denied the allegations against him. His case was dismissed from court based on Tendler’s defense that seducing married women is not a valid basis for civil suit. Nothing more. See Supreme Court of the State of New York County of New York case #05117629 (Justice Jane Solomon)

4) After investigating the accusations, and giving Mordecai Tendler plenty of opportunity to defend himself, the following organizations severed their relationship with him (employee or otherwise):
– Yeshiva University (where he was paid to give a weekly shiur)
– Kehillat New Hempstead (the shul he founded)
– Rabbinical Council of America
– Jewish Family Service of Rockland County
– Lma’an Bnos Yisrael (agunah support organization)

5) There is an audio cassette of Tendler attempting to lure a woman into his home for sex. The tape was played to many Rabbis and leaders in the Monsey Jewish community, including individuals in the organization listed above.

6) The Rabbinical Council of America hired the Texas-based firm, Praesidium, a risk-management company that was also used by the Catholic Church to investigate its priest-sex scandals. Praesidium. Praesidium recommended that Tendler be suspended from the RCA based on the outcome of their investigation. (The RCA did not release details of the investigation’s findings.)

The following are not facts, but are details provided by reliable witnesses. Take this with a grain of salt, if you choose.

A) One of Tendler’s accusers recorded tapes of her sexual encounters with Tendler. When she told Tendler about the tapes, he offered her $40,000 for them. That offer is also on tape.

B) A semen sample was obtained by one of Tendler’s accusers, and sent to a lab to compare against a sample of Tendler’s son’s hair. The DNA lab confirmed that the semen is Tendlers (paternity DNA testing). Tendler declined to participate in an independent DNA test to disprove that the semen is his.

Yeshivish Jew says:

The “fact checking” from Charles is a farce.

Tropper can and has manipulated batei din.

Kol Yaakov and the Septimus family are not reliable sources on when the financial arrangement started.

http://theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com/2010/01/among-friends.html

You can read about Louis Septimus in the comments here. UOJ is not “Hustler”. He is a rabbi who has exposed and had arrested all kinds of pedophiles and thieves.

His rebuttal of Tropper’s pimping is simply incoherent.

What “personal fallout” did Rabbi Eidensohn have with Tropper? Even Tropper admitted on his blog that they have never met.

Clarification:
Rabbi Benzion Wosner wrote two piskei halacha. The first was in 2004 and was no co-signed by anyone. The full Hebrew text is available here: http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/HaravWosner%27sT%27shuvah.pdf

A separate psak was written on March 29, 2006, which is the one I cite above. That psak makes clear the DNA confirmation among other details.

Anyone wanting to verify the above information should contact Rav Wosner, Rav Feivel Zimmerman, Rav Orbach of Forshay, Rav Avrohom Yaakov Schorr, Rav Avrohom Cohen (from Blueberry Hill), Rav Chaim Schabes, Rav Yisroel Ciner, Rav Schwartz (of Wesley Hills), Rav Yosef Yitzchok Rosenfeld, Rav Nussen Spiegel or any other Monsey Rav.

Here is the NY Supreme Court decision throwing-out the case against Tendler, because seducing a woman is not a valid basis for civil suit in New York (even when done by clergy).
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2007/2007_06504.htm

Charles can’t spell, either. I have trouble taking people seriously when they can’t spell.

Michal, the lines you quoted are at most neutral, so let’s look at them in context and from Shannon’s perspective. She sought his help in the conversion, he came on to her for sex, and she started recording their phone conversations. Knowing full well that she was recording, she said to him, “you’re married… I don’t think you could be with me at all, even if you wanted to. It’s just not possible. That’s been from the beginning. Hasn’t it?” There is not a scintilla of desire for him in that quote. And in response, he complained about her becoming temperamental — defined as “erratic: likely to perform unpredictably”. This is entirely consistent with him *complaining* about her not being willing. I am hoping that if you read the above and think about, you’ll agree that she didn’t start the recorder so as to record herself coming on to him.

Eric (or is it Leib?): He (you?) came on to her and she started recording the actual conversations. The only way you could see it as frame up, is if you are Leib or one of his minions. What evidence do you have that she received money from Guma? And even if she did, how does that at all exonerate him (you?) for the sex talk and phone sex? Lastly, what evidence do you have that the rabbis received $3.2 million dollars? We already know that Kaplan gave Tropper (you?), Feinstein, and others associated with Tropper (you?) many multiples of $3.2 million. What does Shannon’s conversion rabbis have to do with Topper (you?)?

amandel says:

Please tell me why Shannon Orand needed to be converted on 1/7/10 since she claims her mother’s ancestors were Jewish and according to her My Space account, she was already Jewish prior to her last login date of 8/19/09. Look at her “details” below her picture!
http://www.myspace.com/shannonorand
Something is not kosher here!!!

NCSY sent Stuyvesant kids from their deceptive public school clubs to Rabbi Tropper’s yeshiva, succeeding in getting those kids to give up the best college education in the nation for some TRUE higher learning.

http://kvetcher.net/?s=moshe+zucker

AI,

1) I am not exonerating Tropper.I actually wrote that that he is guilty. Hi sguilt is actually extreme on many counts. At the same time, Shannon is also guilty, for even if she would be in need ofmoney, no one was holding a gun on her head,and as soon as this began she should have left him to begin with. (The conversations on the tape infers a strong relationship between before these tapes).

2) The same form that states that R’ Reuven received 3 Million have rabbis associated with Guma receiving 3,2 million (and maybe more).

3) In the summer there was an article in oneof the haredi peridoicals having the Rabbi of Safed(R’ S. Eliyahu) who was one of the three rabbis in this conversion connected with Guma (there was a picture of them together) and that Guma donated to his institutions large sums of money.

4) The tapes were disseminated by Guma to FM. Guma is a known enemy of tropper.

that she got converted by a quickie conversion, while another Beit Din was in middle of the process,(and Rabbis who have no authority to perform conversions in Israel) by rabbis associated with guma clearly shows the direct connection andlink between guma and shannon and the guma’s rabbis in the whole matter.

6) In sum: Tropper,Shannon and Guma are all guilty in this mess.

Yeshivish Jew says:

Eric sounds like an EJF insider who wants Tropper and his bad PR out but wants to keep pocketing Kaplan’s millions himself.

Guma did send the tapes to FM but only after Ezekiel 8 did. Guma was only forwarding from the source.

Eric is also a callous jerk for downplaying the coercion that Shannon was under.

Eric:
The fact that you have included the obligatory statement that Tropper — which is, after all, patently obvious — does not make the balance of your message contained in 4 numbered points any more credible.
1. You are blaming the victim, Shannon, for exactly, what? That she didn’t keep her clothes on the very first time Tropper and/or his wife came on to her? OK, so what? She wasn’t Jewish yet. She was under the control of someone who had an incredible amt of power over her. So she didn’t use her best judgment. FFBs who don’t come from her background and don’t walk in her shoes have no right to judge her. But even considering that one misstep, she acted appropriately. She minimized the damage by not only breaking it off but by creating evidence so that he would not hurt her any more. As far as the money is concerned, she worked for him as EJF’s representative in Houston and was entitled to be compensated.
2&3. The Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation tax return for 2008 that shows $3 million going to Feinstein’s Mesifta Tifereth Jerusalem in Staten Island does *not* show $3.2 million going to the conversion rabbis from Tsfat and Hevron as you allege. http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2009/12/kaplan-foundation-tax-return-2008.html
4. You have still not connected Guma to Shannon. Shannon’s tapes appeared to have fallen into Guma’s hands — which could have happened in any of a myriad of possible ways. There is no way of knowing how that happened. You have not proven your essential allegation that Guma paid Shannon. I don’t know how you can call a conversion by a beis din comprised of respectable rabbis at the culmination of a 2-1/2 yr process as a “quickie” conversion. Hashem should protect us for the punishment that we deserve for treating serious committed conversion candidates like that and then sullying the status of their conversions in this manner.
5. There is no 5 to respond to.
6. Is conclusory. You have not shown either Shannon or Guma to be “guilty” of anything.

Non Human View says:

The human penis seems to have a mind of its own. Friends this thing must undergo a second circumcision before it can be brought under complete control. If history has taught you anything it’s that the human penis is responsible for more than just reproduction it seems that this fleshy attachment has caused more problems in your world than the grains of sand in your oceans! All humans in favor of a 2nd circumcision vote yes.

Non Human View says:

Same problem different denomination read here: http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Ginsburg_Jonathan.html

In The Know says:

Ezekiel 8 is none other than the holy UOJ.

AI,

The fact that you took upon yourself to attack anyone who disagrees with you as not credible does not make you any more credible.The fact that you guys quell any discussion about the blatant open questions about guma and about shannon over this issue makes your points even less credible.

2 & 3 Lookin the same page that puts Tiferet Yerushalayim as a recipient of 3 Million put’s American Friends of Bet El for 3.2 Millions! (I cannot provide the exact magazine (Shaa Tova or Mishpacha in the summer. But it was reported there how Guma donated large sums of money To Rabbi ELiyahu).

1) I am not denying her need for money and that she worked for Ejf. That by itself does not make her a “victim”; the fact that she was not jewish yet, does not make it any better for a candidate for conversion to engage in these sexual relationships, and who knows about the grave prohibtions of a jew entering into such relationships with non jews. How in the world was a serious prospect for conversion not aware of the terrible sin of helping a jew into this terrible sin. She is an adult who should control herself under such situations. AS far as “judging her”; for that matter one should not judge prostitutes who come to their situation due to their and the background they come from. And for that matter, one should not judge any person no matter what he/she does for everyone has his/her set of hardships and background which places them in their predicament.

4).The tapes just fell from the sky from shannon’s hand into guma’s by the birds! And Guma immediately disseminated to the public. (And she after all claimed to have given only to rabbis to keep it from leaking and all of a sudden in came to Guma’s hands?!?!)
The connection is there in the open shouting to anyone who is blinded by those who want to shove under the rug the open indication of an immoral connection betwen both of them.

A Beis Din that a) that usually do not perform conversions and one of the dayanim is not even eligible to perform conversions in the rabbanut, b) steps in while there was another beis din dealing with it, c) whose members are aligned with the enemy of leib tropper d) and the enemy gave them large sums of money makes this conversion highly questionable.

5) In sum: you have not removed any of the blatant questions and serious misgivings about the behavior of mrs. shannon and attempting to erase guma conncetion by the flying birds won’t make her or him any more righeous and you anymore credible.

While Torah prohibits one from mistreating righteous converts; the torah does not tell us to close our eyes from seeing serious doubts in a convert. The torah does not say that when serious allegations are made and especially those that are seen publicly, that one shut his eyes and put a stamp of approval on questionable behavior and questionable conversion. On the contrary, torah does not want entrance to the jewish people to be introduced by mischiveous and immoral gates.

Yeshivish Jew says: “Eric is also a callous jerk for downplaying the coercion that Shannon was under”.

In Shulchan Aruch monetary coercion does not relieve an adult of his obligations and responsibility. Especially,dealing with serious offenses as illicit sexual relationships and the terrible sin of machshil a jew to have relationship with a nochrit! I guess Shulchan Aruch is also “callous jerks”. I would not comment on this, but to address the irony of someone who signs of as “yeshivish jew” who makes such a comment!

And for the record YJ:

Eric does not pocket a penny from tom kaplan and actually that in this state of affairs EJF should close down! (and neither does eric take a penny from his enemy on the other side of the coin: Guma who has other people milkng his money while kashering his shikssas wife as a Jew!).

Eric:
It appears that critical thinking is not your forte.
You accuse Orand of have framed Tropper; yet you have provided no proof of that whatever and you haven’t countered the simple truth to the story as she has revealed it.
You accuse Orand of having received money from Guma; yet you have provided no proof of that whatever.
You accuse Orand of having given the tapes to Guma; yet you have provided no proof of that whatever. All you have is done is speculate/hypothesize.
You accuse Guma of having given money to the rabbis from Tsfat and Hevron and pointed to the contribution to Bet El. You have not shown that Bet El has given the money to the rabbis from Tsfar and Hevron. If you provide me with the citation to a magazine article that Guma gave money to Rabbi — i.e., one of the two rabbis you say received money — I’ll be happy to look at it. But in the meantime, you have once again not provided proof of the contributions to the rabbis from Tsfat and Hevron.
To sum up, your attacks upon Orand, her conversion, her conversion rabbis, the procedures involved in her conversion and Guma, all indicate that you are either Tropper or one of his minions. You speak of their guilt. What exactly is Guman’s guilt? Of having given Tropper money that was diverted to other institutions, and for therefore having it in for Tropper? Even if it is conceded — for purposes of argument — that Guma and Shannon are “guilty” of something, their guilt pales in comparison to that of Tropper’s. The only people who could equate them and demonize Guma’s and Orand’s involvement is Tropper himself or one of his minions. Which are you?

I just came across Orand’s narrative of what happened of a “sexual” nature between her and Tropper and it is very instructive. http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2010/01/exclusive-shannon-orand-in-her-own-words-567.html
Tropper the creep, the menuval, talked both his wife and Orand into being naked together in a hotel room and he came in later. He did not touch Orand. Since Orand recorded this encounter with a video camera, her description of what happened has to be consistent with what can be seen on the video.
Orand distributed the video tape to rabbis and it leaked out. It is clear that Guma had nothing to do with her. If he had, she would not have been out money needed for the visitation hearing. The reason Orand settled and essentially capitulated on visitation rights with her son was because of the NY Post article concerning Tropper and her.
Bottom line is that if there is any “guilt” to be apportioned here, it is .3% to Orand and 99.7% to Tropper. She is a private person and her privacy deserves to be respected. My heart goes out to her. Tropper as a rosh yeshiva and wannabe player on the world conversion scene, deserves condemnation. Anybody who attempts to equate the “guilt” between Tropper and Orand has to be either Tropper himself or someone very close to him.

AI,

Yuo critical thinking is not that “forte “either.

And I would not belabor the points, just to say that you are probably one of the guma guys who are eager to have this man clean at all costs, to make look like a saint, so that your party will continue to attempt to get his money when he recovers.

But just to recap in short: The textent of Tropper’s guilt is the extent of shannon’s guilt! If the tapes are true (and I beleive they are) that put’s them both on the same boat on these relationships.

And as far as Guma, I know for a fact, that he gave large sums of money for people who helped out in the fake conversion of his wife! And I know for a fact that he has given sums of money some other parties. Some of them have not accepted his money because they were tied to the acceptanceof his wife as jewish and they did not want to rubber stamp his non jewish wife for money. But others, did not care. I cannot bring you that article for I do not have it. But it was there black on white stating how Rav Eliyahu received large sums from Guma.

And then we have all the links that everyone can see: shanon and guma manufacture the tapes and disseminate them jointly! The Beis din who comes to the rescue are people who had ties to guma by receiving large sums of money and the conversion happens by a beit din not recognized by the Rabbanut Harashit (which btw does not recognize this conversion).

all you manage to do is: Not answering any of these questions which is presented to you; (neither shanno’s innocence in the sexual relationship of a nochrit to a jew when ishe was “seriosuly” thinking to convert; neither the composition of the shady beit din; neither guma’s hands in getting these tapes and disseminating them 2) attacking the person who puts forth these questions by being Tropper or one of his minions (without any shred of evidence for this and talk about critical thinking for proving any of your allegations), 3) and to me you are a recipient of guma’s money or his minions attempting to keep this man clean when he is a shady man who had manipulate rabbis into making false conversion of his non jewish wife for money and continue to manipulate his recipients to help him out in making the diabolical plans of helping illicit relationships between jews and non jews and that was involved in this chillul hashem.

Eric:
While you say you’re not going “to belabor the points”, you proceeded to do just that: repeat your unsupported allegations.
I assure you I never heard of Guma before December 15, 2009 — the date I learned of Ms. Orand — and may have been after that. If you think I am good enough to be one of Guma’s paid henchman, maybe I should approach him and ask him for pmt … just as soon he gets released from the court-imposed hospitalization. :)
Unlike you, I will really not repeat my responses to your tired unsubstantiated canards, but you did raise a couple of interesting new points.
First, using your analysis that if Ms. Orand and Tropper are both in the video, they are both equally responsible, the bank robber and bank teller are both equally responsible for the bank robbery because they both appear in the video.
Second, it is interesting to note that you criticize Guma’s wife’s conversion and say not a word about Thomas Kaplan’s wife’s conversion. You criticize Guma’s involvement in conversions — which is one of your entirely unsubstantiated theses — and say not a word about Thomas Kaplan’s continued well documented involvement in wreaking havoc with conversions in the Orthodox Jewish world. I don’t like to question conversions by Orthodox batei din, but the clear unmistakeable contrast between the lifestyles of Guma’s and Thomas Kaplan’s wives on the one hand — both the product of Tropper’s nefarious involvement — and Ms. Orand’s on the other sending her children to day schools, attending shul every shabbos, and living like a full fledged Jewess, is just stunning.
As I said above, I will not repeat my arguments in response to your repetitiously stated theories.

Ai,

1) Why do you think that you can accuse me of being a part of tropper’s minions and I cannot accuse you for your empty defense of guma’s involvement in this and other blatant questions about shannon?

2) AS far as giluy arayot is concerned they are BOTH bank robbers. And as it is perceived from the tapes themselves they were equally involved for a while. The questions that raise the strong suspicions that she framed him make her a bigger robber than troper (for tropper fell in for his lowlife proclivites of tayvos gassos and shannon, if the suspicions are true was in addition to being a robber, was the satan who was machshil him to rob with him!).

2) Guma’s wife is part in the conversions is one that I confirmed and verified as the truth. He gave to the rabbi who made the conversion thousands of dollars (who traveled to make “house call”! to the residence of jamie aguiar) and gave to the rabbi who assisted and helped the conversion happen (M. Lipshits from fort lauderdale) a half a million dollars. you can see this amount in the same paper that says that R Feinsten got 3 Millions, it also states thatChabad of Fort luaderdale got a half a million!). And it was widely known at the time (around three years ago) that the conversion was a sham (where she never wanted to keep anything of torah and mtizvot).

If you want to enlighten us about the status of Tom’s wife conversion be my guest. As far as I know (and i am not one of the recipients of a penny neither from tropper or from tom), I heard about these rumors but the information i got was that she is Jewish.I may be wrong. and it would be worthwhile to verify the information ifTom intended to give money to kasher HIS WIFE! Since you want from others to be able to prove these allegations I’m sure that you would back and document this allegation.

You are right, that guma’s wife lifestyle is not similar to shannon’s. however, that does not make her a saint and does not take away the strong equestions that are for everyone to hear! . Prior to her conversion, she heavily involved in illicit sinful relationships andmachshil a jew with giluy arayot. This is fact. There are strong suspicions that she was worked with an enemy to cause the downfallof another jew. Even if he was a criminal from before (and I don’t state that he was not), yet, the issue of machshil another jew (or jews..the satmar guy and who know what else?) in giluy aeayot that kanaim pogimboy is very serious. They are not going away just because you “say so” and neither will the go away just because rabbis who are firendly with the enemey suspected of having his dirty hands in this affair “say so”.

Eric asked for the source of my information concerning Tom Kaplan’s lifestyle, reported in last Sunday’s NY Times, and linked to and commented upon here: http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2010/01/tom-kaplan-coffee-for-me-worms-for-her.html

As far as continuing this conversation, I turn to any other readers of this page. I will only continue if there is a desire for me to do so. Is anyone interested in my continuing or do you agree as I do, that Eric is hopeless.

Excuse me Ai,

I was asking for documentation that Tom’s wife is not Jewish, not a comments in the blogosphere about Tom’s lifestyle and the critique thereof. Please document that she is not jewish and that she converted. Talk about allegations!

Al,
Why don’t you have your wife listen to it. She’s trying to manipulate.

Not human,
My grandmother was all for that…

Also,
I’m a gyoress and I had a rabbi who spoke dirty to me when I was looking for a rabbi. I kept looking. She DID choose to do it. She got herself into that mess. Also, working in an office for EJF, she probably made 10, 12 bucks an hour. Tropper was giving her large sums for the visitation trial lawyer.

If she needed money and prosituted herself out, people wouldn’t look so kindly on her. I don’t see how this is different. She accepted the money. She’s a big girl, she should know better than to take thousands and thousands of dollars from a married man.

Norman says:

Before anyone believes a word the auther says, check out this new one thats starting to float around:
http://lukeford.net/blog/?p=16286

Norman,

It does not help a bit. The tapes are there. Lots of things that are in the tapes make tropper guilty. Tropper is wasting his time by diverting his energies fighting tablet. Offering conversion in exchange for prostitution is enough to throw him out of any position of power and impact on judaism. If tropper really wants to exonerate himself, he has one option only: to tell the public what really happened and to prove them! Sewing doubts in people’s minds about tablet’s stadning in “ultra orthodox” world is a waste of time. It actually brings forth more people to UOJ, Eidensohn, and tablet and other stories that they write. Tropper, Remember clearly, you have NO OTHER OPTION but one, PROVE your innocence,or else dissapear from the public eye and do teshuva!

Norman says:

Eric Im confused. 1st you say “Lots of things that are in the tapes make tropper guilty.” So theres no hope for, ok.
Then you say: “Tropper, Remember clearly, you have NO OTHER OPTION but one, PROVE your innocence”. one second didnt you just say hes guilty? If hes guilty, how can he prove hes not?
The answer is: you believe there might be more to the story, huh? the tapes arent that damning once you know some back round, huh?

Norman,

He can prove his innocence only by proving the tapes are not authetinc and they are forged. As long as he does not do it (and he did not do it) je is presumed guilty!

http:/www.Troppergate.com run by an insider in Monsey is reporting that Rabbi Leib Tropper has formally resigned and told a select few, one of whom told him.

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