I wrote a post yesterday about the astonishing revelation in the Sydney Morning Herald that a former Sydney Chabad rabbi, Baruch Lesches, had absolved himself of responsibility for a sex abuse scandal at his yeshiva. He operated under the theory that the abused boys had consented to the abuse. A related comment suggested that “goyim” are so avid for sex they do it with dogs.
The Australian Orthodox Jewish community has been riven by a number of such scandals. Those under Lesches’ watch are but a few. In fact, the government has decided to create a Royal Commission to investigate all forms of child abuse both in government sponsored facilities and schools, and in private/religious schools.
I’ve been doing more digging on the Lesches story, especially the U.S. aspect of it and come up with some deeply disturbing information. In addition, I’ve identified the alleged abuser. Before I name him I want to be clear that he’s not been convicted or even charged with any crime (though there is an ongoing police investigation of his actions by the Australian authorities).
The man’s name is Gug Hayman. I have confirmed this through a variety of sources. But the first known public exposure of his identity in connection to these alleged crimes was in the comment section of Failed Messiah. Hayman was a “gofer” for Rabbi Lesches and the Chabad yeshiva which the latter directed. In that capacity, he’s alleged to have molested at least four boys. On discovery of the first victim, Rabbi Lesches met with and warned Hayman not to repeat his sexual abuse. The rabbi did not report the incident to police, nor alert other staff so they could monitor Hayman. The latter later repeated these offenses with three subsequent victims.
The Orthodox community has a nasty habit of shipping accused molesters out of the country on first notice of their offenses. This is supposed to quiet the matter, save face for victim and accuser, and keep nastiness out of the press. Something like this happened in the case of both Rabbi Lesches and Hayman, though neither was spirited from Australia for some time after these misdeeds took place.
Hayman left the country and emigrated to Los Angeles (more about that later). Lesches, with the aid of Gug Hayman’s brother, Avraham, landed in Monsey, NY, where he became the Chabad rabbi. The synagogue’s website proudly notes that Avraham (whose English name is “Arthur”), a shul member, has offered a $36,000 donation, which would match gifts to the school’s building campaign:
Avraham Hayman, the noted philanthropist and mainstay of our Cheder, has agreed to Match up to $36,000 in donations in honor of the recent sixth Yahrzeit of Leah Miriam Hayman, A”H. Any family who donates $100 to $999 will have their donation matched dollar for dollar, donations of $1,000 per family will be double matched with an additional $2,000 contributed by the Hayman family.
One can’t help but wonder whether Rabbi Lesches’ obscene justification of the crimes, as evidenced in the audio tape, was influenced by the new job essentially proffered to him by a Hayman family member.
Sources in Australia tell me that Gug Hayman also offered a large loan to a senior rabbi in the Sydney Orthodox community in the midst of these events. A source surmises that the funds were delivered to Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, who himself is implicated in several sex abuse and financial scandals. Rabbi Feldman is known to have suffered financial problems. Hayman seems to have been in the right place at the right time, and became his financial godsend. Once again, rabbis who are supposed to be moral models for the Jewish community have allowed money to blind them to their obligations.
Now back to Hayman. When he arrived in Los Angeles, he naturally wanted to be around children again. But the community knew something (there is a debate how much it did know) of his past. So he was directed to a special outreach program of Jewish Family Service to the Orthodox community, Aleinu. The director, Debbie Fox, told Hayman that for him to be given approval to work with children he’d have to undergo therapy, take a battery of psychological tests and a lie detector test.
Apparently, Hayman had not completed the process when she began receiving inconvenient inquiries about Hayman:
”I have no idea how anyone found out – but calls are coming daily from many sources. So far, we’ve been protecting you…We have NEVER had any evaluation take nearly this long.
For your security – you must complete it and we must get the evaluation report and recommendations.”
The most shocking phrase is “we protected you.” Further, she uses the term “for your security,” which confirms the notion that JFS was either directly protecting him or participating in an organized operation by others to do so. Even if you choose to interpret these phrases to mean that JFS knew about his background and was protecting him from public exposure, this notion too is troubling. It raises the question why a social service agency committed to the welfare of Jewish families and children would “protect” a suspected child abuser.
JFS’ defense was even lamer than this email. It released a statement claiming Fox was a “nationally-recognized” expert in this field and that at the time she dealt with Hayman she had “no direct, specific” knowledge of allegations against him. Which begs the question: if you don’t have such knowledge then why are you subjecting him to these tests? In short, JFS staff knew this man was damaged goods, but they claim they didn’t know how damaged.
I’m guessing that well-connected members of the L.A. Orthodox community exerted pressure on JFS to accommodate Hayman. They did this in Sydney. They did it in Monsey. Why wouldn’t they do it in Los Angeles as well?
Coincidentally, in the next annual budget cycle JFS took a big hit from Federation and reduced programming and staff. Debbie Fox was let go and the Aleinu program restructured.
These scandals derive at least in part from the insularity of the Haredi community and it’s rejection of modern values. Though Halacha absolutely denounces sexual abuse, clearly there are factors (like money) that attenuate that prohibition. And there simply is not enough independence or internal monitoring or review to resist these pressures. Chabad proudly rejects modernity including the very values that might help it reinforce halachic bans on abuse.
For example, Manny Waks, the leading Jewish community advocate for sexual abuse survivors in Australia has been accused by leading figures in the Chabad community of m’sirah, betraying fellow Jews to the authorities. Such charges amount to a grave violation of morality, both Halacha and general standards of decency. In other words, if Chabad faces such scandals it has only itself to blame.
The point of this post is not to bash Chabad or Orthodox Jews. It is to demand that they adhere to the values they profess but don’t observe. It is to demand accountability and transparency rather than opacity and apologias.
In closing, it’s appropriate to quote an e mail I received from one Pinchos Woolstone (who sounds like he stepped out of a Jewish version of a Dickens novel), a Chabadnik who’s a dear friend of Avraham Hayman and deeply disturbed by my post. I take the following as the highest form of encomium (or hamlatza in the language he would understand):
You have no credibility you are a twisted looser hiding behind a putrid blog.
Thanks to Failed Messiah, which has been covering this story for some time and published some of the material mentioned here.
Disclosure: I lived in Los Angeles for nearly twenty years. During that time I benefited from services offered by Jewish Family Service there. In fact, I find it one of the most important and useful resources offered by the organized Jewish community. So I do not have an axe to grind against JFS. Just the opposite.
Not umlike the Catholic church, orthodoxy is often oblivious to sexuality. A total misunderstanding of PTSD and long term psycho sexual ramifications of sexual abuse. Ignorant at best, the Rabbi took it to point that the Goyyim have it worse. Their abuse can start, god forbid, at 5yo and our abuse starts only at 10yo. Our sexual abuse starts later. We are better than the Goyyim once more.
Must rid society and culture of its patriarchal structure which enhances abuse of power – Rape In Christ’s Name.
Cathy Savage says
Tragically, the Weberman case is not the only such case currently in the news. Several other cases of alleged abuse have been reported in the international press in the last few weeks, including one which is currently tearing Golders Green apart. This case involves a formerly highly regarded Hassidic and charismatic rabbi to whom people flocked to seek his advice. He is accused of sexually interfering with married women under his care. This is a Rav raised in the Haredi-orthodox community of NW London, whose prominent father is one of the early Hassidic leaders who settled in Golders Green long before it was a popular place for Haredim to live. His case involves the abuse of his position as a self-appointed marriage counsellor.
Pinchos Woolstone says
Rabbi Boruch Lesches was not hired by Mrs Abraham Hayman, there was was an arduous selection process which led to a board decision to hire the Rabbi.
Mr Hayman has been an extremely generous supporter of his community’s institutions over many years, hes has “bought” no one, especially his Rabbi.His recent generous matching offer co-incidenced with his first wife’s Yahrzeit.
Rabbi Lesches made his postion clear in his apology and any attempt to connect him to the alleged activities of persons living in other parts of the United States are incorrect.
Further, it is correct Rabbi Pinchus Feldman in Sydney has had financial problem but to brazenly state that he is implicated in sexual scandals is a lie and libelous.
Mr Silverstein you need to do must more accurate research before you put pen to paper.
Richard Silverstein says
Nice to know that Rabbi Lesches’ Australian defenders are taking to the threads to defend him. BTW, since you’re in Australia how would you know what sort of process was in place at Chabad of Monsey in choosing him for the job. How do you know whether Mrs. Hayman played a role or no role? And why would you claim she played no role when I never claimed she did? I claimed Mr Hayman’s gelt played a role.
Further, I tied him to the outrages of Gug Hayman who wasn’t in the U.S., but under Rabbi Lesches’ supervision in Sydney at the time they took place.
As for Rabbi Feldman, if he did nothing wrong why is he refusing to talk to the reporter who broke this story? What is he attempting to hide?
Big Holes in this Story says
I too live in the LA community and know Gug peripherally. Your article states that upon arriving in LA Gug wanted to work with children. I’m not sure where you got this from or where you think he was trying to work. Factually it’s not true. He moved to LA and was very busy looking for a new wife (which he eventually found). He made a lot of money in real estate in FL and works in real estate here in LA as well. He never tried to work with kids. The testing that he was undergoing came about as a result of his victim/s contacting Rabbis here in LA and wanting to make sure he’s not a threat to kids in LA. Aleinu was facilitating this testing. Please sharpen up your story.
Richard Silverstein says
Big Hole: I will check this out. But it makes no sense that Gug agreed to undergo these tests unless he wished to be around children. Why would he need to ensure he wasn’t a threat to children unless he wanted to do so?
I will contact JFS to inquire.
Your comment is hardly a “big hole” or hole at all. That gives away your prejudice in his favor.
Sydney Mum says
Sorry mate, while it is noble of you to take up a cause, a big majority of your facts about Daniel Hayman and Rabbi Lesches are incorrect.
I am not defending the comments of Rabbi Lesches, he does not represent the Sydney community or its opinions.
Daniel Hayman does not hang around kids, he was allegedly in a group of teenagers while in his early twenties and everyone who knows him knows that he is the most infantile guy around.
This does not excuse his terrible behaviour in any way but does give you the context, which is enormously different from your way off the mark assumptions. You discredit yourself with your speculations.
Richard Silverstein says
So you’re claiming he’s not a pedophile because his alleged victims weren’t children, but teenagers? Or are you accusing four victims of being liars?
BTW, there was 10 yrs age difference between Hayman & the victims; or are you repeating the lie offered by Rabbi Lesches that the victim & alleged perpetrator were almost the same age (thus implying the victims could consent to their abuse).
Get your facts right. You don’t undergo lie detector tests to work with children, you undergo a register check…
Richard Silverstein says
You do undergo lie detector tests if victims accuse you of abuse and you deny it. Besides, Gug was on no such register of sex offenders because he hasn’t (yet) been convicted.
Fred Plester says
The consent of under-age persons to sex is irrelevant: that’s why its called “the age of consent.”
“Teenagers” as a term applies to thirteen years and upwards, so “teenagers” is not a blanket term meaning “of age and morally mature”.
I’ve been aware of organised efforts to support and assist the sort of men who do this since the seventies, (more related to their connections to a certain level of power within communities rather than any specific ethnic or religious community) and arguments that minors consented, or had a natural inclination to consent, or benefited from the relationship, usually characterize such a support network putting out covering fire and laying smokescreens. I’ve heard these arguments very many times and am unaware of any occasion when there wasn’t a self-serving reason for them.
The universality of the problem shouldn’t deter us from trying to get rid of it wherever we can and wherever it happens to be exposed.
Amsterdam’s only Orthodox Jewish school and Abuse in the Dark Room.
[Parents] have questioned why Ephraim S. was permitted to leave the Netherlands for Israel last November when he was already the target of a police investigation. According to the Telegraaf, Ephraim S. was offering private lessons in Israel through an online education portal. Several of his acquaintances in Israel told JTA he wants to clear his name in the Netherlands but is busy preparing to enter the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Back in Amsterdam, the families of the alleged victims are dealing with the psychological fallout from the alleged abuse. Ehud’s father says he hopes in time his son will reveal more about what happened in the dark room during lessons with Ephraim S.
Richard Silverstein says
@Oui: Hey, that’s terrific, now the IDF will have an accused child molester serving. Perhaps he can put his predilections to good use in molesting Palestinian children in the Territories! Sorry for the mordant humor, but the case merits it.
TODAY: November 5th 2013.
Daniel Hayman charged over child sex at Bondi’s Jewish Yeshiva centre
You have omitted important information-
1. Gug was never an employee of Yeshiva.
2. He never worked with children. Not in Australia and not in the U.S. He was indeed a youth counselor during his late teens/ early twenties (most young men in that community act as camp counselors).
3. He was not shipped overseas when the disclosures were made. Nor was Lesches. The alleged abuse occurred 20 years ago and was disclosed (for the first time) soon after. Both men lived in Sydney until relatively recently.
4. After the disclosure, Gug went overseas to find a wife and he returned and raised a family.
Re-work your “reportage” to include these salient facts.
I see all the apologists posting their lies here so allow
me to correct just a couple of points…. 1)Hayman did work for
Yeshivah at the time and when Feldman and Lesches found out about
the victims Hayman was rushed off to NY to find a wife… 2)Moshe
Gutnick met 2 victims face to face right before Feldman found
out…..So his story of an anonymous call is a lie… Thank you for
the link to the post I made at FM blog months ago…I’d been
looking for that…))
From this weeks Australian Jewish News…..