Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ken Wilber on Rabbi Marc Gafni's Sexual Misconduct

[If you are linking here from another site, please also see my update on this topic. Thanks.]

Apparently things have been moving quickly on the Rabbi Marc Gafni case, so much so that I just heard about it this morning on the Ken Wilber blog. Yet these allegations seem valid and, more importantly, they are not new (see below).

Here is Ken Wilber's response, which seems about as balanced and compassionate as humanly possible, given the situation.

On Tuesday, May 9th, 2006, three women from Bayit Chadash, a spiritual community in Israel headed by Rabbi Marc Gafni, filed complaints of sexual misconduct against Gafni with the police. Upon reviewing relevant testimony, the steering committee of Bayit Chadash decided to remove Marc Gafni from the Bayit Chadash staff. (See below for the formal announcement.)

Subsequently, rumors have been rife. After long conversations with many of the concerned parties, I have come to the following conclusions. At this time, these are my personal opinions, and are open to immediate revision in light of any further evidence. Marc Gafni is a close friend of mine, but in circumstances like this, friendship decidedly takes a backseat to ethics and justice. In my opinion, the viewpoint that takes the most number of perspectives into account is the more likely to be the better moral judgment, with the Basic Moral Intuition the ultimate guide.

These are my conclusions at this time:

1. There is substantial truth to some of these allegations.

2. This has caused something of a feeding frenzy for the mean green meme, which is understandable but I believe inexcusable. Frankly, some of these have reached pathetic portions.

3. Nonetheless, there is some truth to these allegations because of grave wrongdoing on Marc’s part, and I believe this wrongdoing is due not just to bad judgment on Marc’s part, but to a pathology or dysfunction affecting Marc.

It goes on from here. Read the rest.

Here are some links that suggest Rabbi Gafni has a history of questionable behavior, which would be obvious to anyone who thinks about it. Sexual predators develop over time.

The Awareness Center: It's hard to say how much of this is true -- they are really out to get Gafni.
Luke Ford: An in-depth look at Gafni's life.
More from Luke Ford's blog: Gafni's questionable claims of education.

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ebuddha said...

Well, I have sympathy for Ken, as his friend is going through this, but this response is a bit confused, and definitely unsatisfying.

Anonymous said...



Marc Gafni Should Be Scene As A Danger to Women and Children.

Born as Marc Winiarz, Marc Gafni changed his name several times using multiple spellings. Winiarz is also known as Mordechai Winiarz, Marc Gafni and or Mordechai Gafni..

Winiarz/Gafni grew up in the midwest, yet went to both high school and college in New York. After college he became a Rabbinical student at Yeshiva University, yet did not get his rabbinical ordination (smeicha) from YU. Instead, Mordechai Gafni obtained his ordination from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.

In 2004, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the spiritual leader of the Israeli community of Efrat, was going to revoke the rabbinic ordination he gave Rabbi Winiarz/Gafni many years ago when they had a close rabbi-student relationship. When Gafni heard of Rabbi Riskin's wishes, he wrote a letter "returning" his semicha to spare his former teacher any further embarrassment.

In the early 1980's, when Mordechai was nineteen he sexually abused a thirteen-year-old girl in her home. It wasn't until many years later that Marc Gafni confessed to the molestation while being interviewed by Gary Rosenblatt, editor of the New York Jewish Week. Marc stated: "I was a stupid kid and we were in love," the rabbi said. "She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her"

In 1983 Mordechai Winiarz was married to his first wife. He was also a youth leader for a group called "JPSY" (Jewish Public School Youth). The group involved working with at risk teenagers. It was during this time he was accused of molesting a fifteen-year-old girl and an attempted sexual assault of a young adult woman. At the time the rabbis accused him of cult like practices. Both women went to various rabbis looking for help, yet nothing was done except he was chased out of town, moving to Boca Raton, Florida. There was some sort of scandl and he fled Florida suddenly.

In 1991 he left the Unitied States to start a new life in Israel, changing his name to Mordechai Gafni.

May, 2006 new allegations were made against confessed child molester Rabbi Mordechai Gafni . This time the allegations were made by three women who filed a complaint with the police in Haifa (Israel). The new claims were of professional sexual misconduct / clergy sexual abuse. The alleged offenses occurred during Torah lessons given by Gafni.

Immediately after the charges were filed Rabbi Mordechai Gafni confessed and fled Israel for the United States. He first landed in Boston, MA, where it is believed he stayed with one of his many female friends. There were rumors that soon after arriving in Boston he continued on to Boulder, CO and stayed with a colleague and then moved on to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Marc Gafni is involved with the Buddhist community of Salt Lake City. It is believed that he is in the process of trying to reinvent himself again as he did back in the 1980's after the first allegations were made against him of child molestation. Marc Gafni is considered dangerous to women and to both male and female children. Rumors are floating around that he is involved in BDSM community (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, Masochism).

The Awareness Center is seeking justice for all of the survivors of Rabbi Mordechai Winiarz (past and present). If you have any information regarding the current location of Rabbi Marc Gafni please notify The Awareness Center, Inc.

The Awareness Center, Inc.


Anonymous said...

Why is he not in jail? Why do people support this slimey molester? Speaks volumes about who THEY are.

Anonymous said...

Wilber's seeming support of Gafni is very disturbing.
It will be very interesting to see how Wilber stands by his friend if these latest allegations are proved true.
Where does this leave the so-called men's movement headed by men who believe it's okay to sexually abuse women and girls?

william harryman said...

My understanding as of now - Gafni had sex with these women, who were his students. He did not coerce them, though manipulation in some form is likely. He has been admitted back into the Wilber realm of I-I sanctioned events, and has close Wilber associates conned into supporting his return to teaching.

If he were a therapist he would have lost his license - he's not, and no one has stepped up to confront these serious ethical violations, so he is free to do it again - and offenders like him continue to offend until stopped.

This is a HUGE set-back to the men's movement, especially since he is teaching on male spirituality and spiritual sexuality - wrong man for the job, IMO.