Jun 19, 2016

PSA: local educator declared rasha by Beis Din

This is very difficult,for me personally, but it is important so I feel I must join in making this announcement.

I am just going to copy the text from the Daas Torah blog:


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT Meir Pogrow (founder of Master Torah program) has been determined to be a rasha by beis din and that it is prohibited for women to have any contact with him

Another tragedy, Meir Pogrow a brilliant, popular and influential Torah scholar has been found guilty of various prohibited and disgusting activities with women for a long period of time. He has used his Torah knowledge as a means of seducing women. As a consequence the beis din has announced that it is prohibited for women to have any contact with him. In addition a number of well known rabbis have signed the psak of the beis din. He is a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh and lectures widely around the world. For the appropriateness of anyone listening to his shiurim see Igros Moshe (E.H. 1:96).

The following letters were published by the beis din involved in the case:


I must say the variety of the rabbonim signed on this letter is interesting, impressive, and telling. It attests to the seriousness of the nature of the announcement. It is not just Haredi or just MO or just hassidic, not just in Israel or in the USA, not just from one particular city. They have the rosh yeshiva YU, local rabbonim from RBS (where Pogrow lives), an important rav from Jerusalem, a hassidic rav, a rav from Los Angeles (where Pogrow used to live and teach - though I don't know if that is why this rav was included).

This story has been going on for a long time, and only recently came to its "conclusion" with this psak beis din. The story that put it over the top was the one posted publicly by Tamar Schoor on Facebook.

I say this is particularly difficult for me because Meir Pogrow and I have been friends a long time - over 25 years - and I am friends with some of his siblings. We learned in yeshiva together and Meir came to my wedding in Los Angeles (he was in the region at the time, but still had to travel a few hours to be there). Over the years we have lost touch, even though we live in the same neighborhood, as busy people often do - we were each busy with our families and lives - but every now and then bumped into each other around the neighborhood and at simchas of mutual friends.

He is dynamic, charismatic and very outgoing and friendly, so it is easy to get caught up in his attention, and considering the situation, that can be dangerous. He travels a lot and in his teachings, he is in contact with people all over the globe, so his reach and influence is wide.

It pains me, but it is important. And it is particularly difficult due to the pain his family his surely going through. Not only the pain of the case itself and the ramifications to the family, but the pain in knowing that everyone around them is talking about it, imagining things, wondering, accusing, and the like.




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16 comments:

  1. If so many rabbis have accepted the need for public shaming, then I guess the facts are solid and the man has not been able to reform himself though I would like to know that he was given a chance to repent and reform and this is only a last resort.
    In Rav Alon's case, we know that he was repeatedly warned and restricted, did respect but then ignored those restrictions by the Takana forum. In Rav Sheinberg's case, less tolerance seems to have been shown since I understand the evidence was more damning and the rav did break the preliminary restrictions put on him by a local forum of rabbis.

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  2. while I dont know most of the details of the case, I do know that this has been going on for at least close to 15 years, and he has been given the chance to go clean. He has now admitted to at least some of the charges against him in beis din. this case has been going on for a long time

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    1. What I cannot understand is that since this has been known for many years, why did the Rabbonim not issue a public warning until now, which could have saved many people?

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  3. 15 years of giving him a chance to go clean instead of reporting to the police. All the rabbis and machers who knew and covered up should be on that paper next to his name - he didn't operate in a vacuum.

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    1. I don't necessarily disagree with you, but I think you have to ask yourself the following question. What would you do if you had a rav with whom you had a good relationship with and this rav was inspiring many to accomplish great things in torah. And you heard some rumors that this rav was doing inappropriate things. But it was only rumors, there was no actual evidence. Would you immediately denounce the rav and put him in cherem and warn everyone and anyone that this rav is dangerous? It's easy to point fingers at rabbanim that they covered things up, but you have to realize these abusers operate in a very clever manner such that it's extremely difficult to clearly see that they are guilty. It creates a major grey area.

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    2. You shouldn't put him in cherem without clear evidence, but you should definitely issue a public warning!

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  4. Daniel GoldmeierJune 21, 2016 12:09 AM

    or you could turn it over to the proper authorities, as required by law, who are trained and have the resources and are tasked to investigate these types of issues.

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    1. I am not justifying or making any claims whatsoever.
      I merely want to point out that many rabonnim hold it is halachically ossur to give someone to the authorities.

      I am not necessarily saying that is my opinion, I am just informing

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    2. Daniel, what if a person is only doing things forbidden in Jewish law e.g אשת איש which is not illegal in secular law nowadays?

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    3. It's quite simple - if a person in an organization - especially one that deals with children, has reason to suspect sexual improprieties - it is the obligation of other leaders who are aware to report it. Simple. People may have all sorts of reasons for not doing so, halachik or otherwise. I simply don't care. I think any rabbi or person in a position of power who knew/heard/suspected and did nothing, is wrong - and I don't care how pious they are - to me that shows they're not pious at all.

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    4. Mordechai, what does that have to do with anything - if it's not a violation of secular law than it has nothing to do with the secular law. Here, there is a lot of reason to believe/suspect that secular laws were broken. Or did he wait for every student to turn 18 before he did anything to them?

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    5. I'll clarify you said "or you could turn it over to the proper authorities, as required by law" which implied that there is some recourse to the law. I was just asking if he hasn't broken the law how it is best to deal with a situation like this? Also I believe the age of consent here is 16 not 18.

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  5. from what I am reading on other sites, particularly the Magen facebook page, what he did (or at least what is known and what victims stepped forward about) were not illegal acts. it was seemingly all consensual and legal adults. Last year a law was passed that would make teacher/student rabbi/follower relationships illegal, but that doesnt affect anythign retroactively. This is a large reason why he has not been prosecuted and put in jail. if minors were involved, they havent stepped forward

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    1. Rafi - wonderfully worded post and I very much share your sentiment. but i think you misunderstood Magen. Rumors for many years. Hard evidence only recently. And there is a legal statute of limitations. So no legal case can be pursued. Illegal acts were committed. In the US, for example, they are trying to extend or even get rid of the statute of limitations on sex crimes. But there have been 2 major lobbying groups against such extensions - the Catholic Church and...the Agudah.

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