Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

On the Rabbi's Knee

ShareThis

The initial responses were hostile. “You’re a bit too bitter, even for my taste,” one reader commented. “Maybe you are just a typical extreme left-wing Jew who hates Rabbonim and the Torah.”

“You are entitled to your opinion,” UOJ replied. “ALL MY POSTS ARE FACTS, AS UGLY AS THEY ARE!!!!”

“FACTS,” his critic replied. “Like what, the New York Times?”

But, a day later, on June 27, came another anonymous comment claiming to confirm what UOJ had said. And then another, from someone saying he was molested by Kolko. And another, from someone claiming to be the parent of another victim, and mentioning a failed beit din.

This is the string of posts that Framowitz noticed on Google. On September 23, he told his story in detail as a comment, using only his first name.

“I too was molested by Rabbi Kolko,” he wrote, “both while a student in 7th and 8th grades and during those same summers whilst a camper in Camp Agudah. . . . He would insert his hands down the front of my pants and would begin to ‘search around,’ to say the least. At the same time he would pull me closer to himself, or would push himself forward against myself, sometimes even pushing me into the steering wheel, to the point that it hurt. Unfortunately I didn’t react or complain. I of course told my parents and tried on several times to explain to them what I was going through, but they didn’t want to believe me and my ‘stories,’ etc. So I just shut up and let the molestation and perversion continue. . . . I feel that it is about time that the wall of silence be torn down.”

A few months later, after getting dozens of similar comments and e-mails, UOJ listed Jeffrey Herman’s name and phone number. He says he hadn’t spoken with Herman—he’d just noticed him as a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, talking about a clergy sex-abuse case, and thought that anyone reading his site who wanted confidentiality might consider calling him. “The key for me,” UOJ says, “was that on his Website, Herman said that he had strategies for getting around the statute of limitations.”

UOJ posted Herman’s name and number. When Herman, in turn, sent an e-mail saying he’d be happy to speak with alleged victims confidentially, Framowitz saw the posting and called him. Herman, an observant Jew from Miami, has handled millions of dollars in sex-abuse claims against clergy and school systems, mainly against the Catholic Church. He says he was interested in working on Jewish cases for the same reasons he works on Catholic ones. “People say, ‘Oh, are you gonna go after a rabbi?’ ” he says. “That’s kind of a funny question to me. I see the kind of work I’m doing as protecting kids. Jewish kids are certainly as worth protecting as Catholic kids.”

On February 2, UOJ paid for a bulk mailing to Orthodox homes in Borough Park, Flatbush, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights that might be too observant to have access to the Internet. The mailing accused Kolko of molestation and Margulies of a cover-up and even included their phone numbers. That’s when UOJ says he started receiving threats—“We’re gonna get your family” and “We know who you are.” (Many of these e-mails have been forwarded to Herman.) People accused him of betraying his community and having an ax to grind against Kolko and Margulies. The Jewish Press ran an editorial blasting the mailing. A rival blog called End UOJ was created. But the most shocking responses came from those who believed that accusing Kolko of abuse—true or not—was worse than the abuse itself. “Certainly speaking evil of somebody, truth or otherwise, establishes the most severe of all wrongdoings,” one pseudonymous comment on UOJ reads—“far, far worse then [sic] ‘child sexual abuse,’ and the punishment far more severe.” The post goes on to claim that having sex with a child is punishable by 39 lashings “at the most,” whereas lashon hara is punishable by leprosy—“a far worse penalty.”

Now that there’s a lawsuit, UOJ feels vindicated. “Molestation is rampant,” he says. “It’s not a one-in-a-million case. There’s at least one in every school. And I’m going to go after them one at a time.”

David Framowitz has four adult children of his own now, with careers and graduate degrees. His kids have served in the Israeli Army and lost friends to terror bombings. He lives in a sunny, concrete split-level house near the West Bank, and considers himself a modern-Orthodox Jew now, wrapping the leather straps of tefillin around his arms every morning, praying three times a day, spending Sabbath at shul. He does not wear the black hat or suit or the curls of payes. He has told his children all about Kolko.


Related:

Advertising
Current Issue
Subscribe to New York
Subscribe

Give a Gift

Advertising