Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
Last week, I wrote about how Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro of Bayswater, Queens, is a menace to the nation in his role of producing eloquent, sophisticated videos and writings against the State of Israel. These influence thousands of people in the non-Satmar yeshivah community and are lapped up by countless non-Jews and antisemites worldwide. But it turns out that Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro is also a menace to the nation for another reason entirely: there are numerous reports of his being a serial predator.
For many years, I had heard rumors of this, but nothing concrete. Then, after my post about him, more detailed information came to light. Malky Wigder posted the following:
"In the last few days, I’ve been contacted by numerous people regarding a comment I had made on Facebook about a sexual predator rabbi. I’ve been asked for details, corroboration, why I don’t complain to law enforcement, why I don’t speak to politicians, why I don’t make this a stand-alone post.
To be honest, I’m tired. I’ve always been vocal and far from shy about publicizing my encounters with rabbis, askonim, educators, therapists, and other influential figures with access to vulnerable populations. I’ve talked about the corruption, the exploitation, the degradation, the impropriety, the creepiness, the betrayal, the trampling of ethics and boundaries both legal and moral. I’ve complained loudly about the sexual assaults, the date rape, the unqualified “help” that only hurts and traumatizes those who need protection and support.
I’ve named them. I’ve named the so-called victims’ advocates who refused to hear me and act. I’ve named the rabbis who ignored my complaints about their colleagues and buddies. I’ve even tagged some of them on Facebook.
It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It’s depressing and infuriating.
But if it helps - and people I respect do believe it could help, here goes. I hereby give you my new series, posted publicly and with no apologies. Feel free to share. Feel free to pass along. Feel free to confront these individuals. And please, if you or anyone you know has been hurt or mistreated by these individuals, please add your voice, in public if you can, or privately and I will respect your privacy.
This is not about revenge, or personal animus, or payback for other harm these people may have done. Personally I’m so over all of this, it’s ancient history. I’ve moved on. I’ve adjusted my expectations of people like them. This is because these people are still out there, possibly hurting others, and I’ve been asked to speak up publicly in order to mitigate any further abuse.
Yaakov Shapiro is a rav in Bayswater, NY. I was an innocent and naive kollel wife in Lakewood when my then-husband heard him speak about chinuch and youth at risk, and decided to involve him in our marital issues. I was forced against my will to meet with him and speak to him. What followed was a series of very strange phone conversations, that got way too personal and improper, and culminated in him trying to engage me in phone sex. This happened several times. There was also an incident where I told him I was spending the night at a motel because I was desperate to get away from my husband for a bit. He showed up at the motel, saying he needed to talk to me, and proceeded to make very explicit sexual advances. I was too meek at the time to do more than push him aside and go to sleep. We did not have sex, and yet I believed the fact I let him in the room made me responsible. I remember the shame and guilt I felt the following day, as if I was the one who did something wrong.
There were several other instances where he contrived to be alone with me in his car, going as far as sending away my ride so I was stranded in Far Rockaway and had to let him drive me back. During those encounters he would drive to some secluded area and again try to kiss me, recline my seat, etc. He would also tell me about the young girls he hung out with, whom he was supposedly doing kiruv on, but what was going on was pretty nefarious and disgusting. I had the sense his wife was aware of all of this. If I remember correctly, he may have even said as much, but I can’t swear to it.
All of this, aside from being disgusting and traumatic to me, was also used against me by my ex and his family, as if I was somehow seeking this out and enjoying it. Never mind I begged not to have to speak to him. When I complained about him in order to be allowed to stop seeing him, he called me and cried about how they’re giving “him” a hard time, as if that was my fault too."
This report is credible. It is a detailed, sober account, not written with any view of personal gain. Furthermore, it is entirely consistent with reports by others. Following is a public statement from Rav Yosef Blau:
"I have known about Yaakov Shapiro for more than twenty years. He taught in a Yeshiva High School for girls and was let go for inappropriate behavior with students, though wasn’t enough specific information to pursue it further. Shapiro played the anti-Zionist card claiming that he was attacked because of his ideology. Years later when he was “helping” at-risk teenagers through Frumteens on the internet and he was written up in Jewish Action I complained to the OU and again the answer was that he was been criticized because of his extreme ideology. He had been the rabbi of an Aguda shul and was fired there as well."
In the last week, several other women have come forward with accounts of Shapiro's predatory behavior. However, for understandable reasons, they are so far reluctant to go on public record.
Unfortunately, New York has very deficient laws regarding legal recourse - child victims in New York have only until the age of 23 to bring civil or criminal claims. But publicizing and demonstrating Shapiro's crimes is immeasurably valuable in terms of raising other people's awareness of the danger that he poses, as well as giving solace to other victims.
If you are a victim of Yaakov Shapiro, please consider reaching out to Jewish Community Watch. Failing that, please post your account as a comment to this post, using a pseudonym. If you would like to contact me via e-mail, I promise to respect your privacy.
And there's now a second reason for the rest of us to ask bookstores not to carry Shapiro's book.