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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Press Release - Ohel Jewish Childrens Home and Family Services

              Call for OHEL Leadership Change

CONTACT:         The Voice of Justice VoiceOfJustice613@gmail.com
FOR PUBLIC RELEASE       Sunday, February 27, 2011

The recent revelations about OHEL Jewish Children’s Home and Family Services in Brooklyn written by Hella Winston of the Jewish Week on February 24, 2011 were, without question, profoundly disturbing, but sadly, not entirely unexpected.

For many years OHEL has been awash with rumors and allegations regarding their staff not reporting incidences of sexual abuse to proper authorities as required by law. In addition, many supervisors at OHEL have reportedly instructed staff not to report the allegations of sex abuse.  These allegations of OHEL’s non-compliance with Federal and state reporting guidelines put the entire organization in jeopardy of losing its government funding and non-profit status.  It also puts senior staff and Board of Directors in jeopardy of possible criminal prosecution.

Further, serious concerns have surfaced in the community concerning the partnership and relationship between OHEL and KOL TZEDEK, which is a project of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, created to combat sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish Community.  KOL TZEDEK's mission statement calls for providing support and assistance to victims and their families. Unfortunately this relationship appears to be a political one, without any substance at all. OHEL, a major partner with KOL TZEDEK, has not provided any emergency support to victims or families of the victims, especially in the recent high profile sex cases in the community, all of which resulted in convictions.

Neither David Mandel, the CEO of OHEL, nor any one of OHEL’s staff, have ever been present at any of the court trials relating to sexual abuse in our community, nor have they reached out to any of the families involved with any compassion or assistance. OHEL, which is one of the largest non-profit agencies in the New York City area, providing mental health and foster care services, should have reached out and offered its services to victims, alleged victims, and their families.
As Rabbi Yosef Blau, a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, pointed out, OHEL is an extremely important institution in our community and operates vital programs that are crucial and needed for the families in our community. However, these troubling issues cannot be swept under the rug. They must be dealt with in order to banish the dark clouds that impede OHEL’s overall effectiveness and compliance.

We respectfully ask OHEL’s Board of Directors to initiate an external investigation. A team of independent professionals, not associated with OHEL, must be invited in to carry out these duties. The external investigation and the implementation of their suggestions will hopefully bring about reinvigorated and honest leadership to the helm of OHEL. This investigation should be similar to the investigation of the Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU) wherein confidence was successfully restored, (specifically after the Baruch Lanner scandal), resulting in the hiring of a new executive leader.  We hope for similar results in this matter.

We firmly believe that bring new leadership to OHEL, specifically a CEO with clinical experience, to guide the agency through this pivotal and difficult period in the agency’s history, will help to restore OHEL’s original vision and vital mission of protecting Jewish children and strengthening Jewish families.




  1. Here's an old case in which Ohel stonewalled a police detective who was conducting an investigation regarding a past sex offending employee.


    ‎"Now-retired sex-crimes Detective Sal Catafumo recently told The Post that his 1984 investigation of a bogus Borough Park rabbi who had reportedly molested "hundreds" of children - including some Ohel orphans - while working as a child counselor got nowhere when cops tried to question the agency.

    "They weren't cooperating," Catafumo said. "Kids... had complained to Ohel and it was swept under the rug ... [and] never reported ..."
    The rabbi was indicted, but he fled to Israel."

  2. The Coalition Against Legal Abuse is comprised of men and women, aligned to combat corruption within the Brooklyn NY District Attorney’s office. Witnesses to crimes against families, men, women and children in the New York area, should contact the Coalition immediately, in confidence. 1-800-958-2904, coalitioncalany@gmail.com

  3. Asher Lipner, Ph.D.February 28, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    It is a tragedy that an institution that was founded with the most wonderful communal aspirations and has suceeded in accomplishing so many great programs has been corrupted by individuals who have an agenda of self-interest.

    Every organization that is even remotely in charge of so much "mamon hekdesh" (communal money) needs to be subject to the greatest transparency and oversight, as people driven by politics, greed, personal ambition and power hunger can hijack even the best institutions.

    In this case, there are many rabbis and communal leaders who have been protecting pedophiles and sexual abusers from being held accountable for their actions. The reasons are varied and have been expounded on in the media and the internet, and they include the wish to protect the community's image, in Rabbi Zweibel's words the fear that a Jew could go to jail, and as the Agudah and Torah Umesorah have admitted, a fear of lawsuits against institutions that cover up molesters. Ohel has covered up the cover-ups.

    Ohel's CEO, David Mandel, has made a deal with the devil, selling out the safety of Jewish children for the "kavod" and money he gets from the backing of these misguided leaders.

    In order for Ohel to clean house he has to go. It is time for the Board of Directors to invite an investigation, but NOT by the community itself which cannot police itself, but by law-enforcement agencies that will investigate the criminal and illegal activities that have gone on. And as Rabbi Blau, Shlita, recommended, it is time for new executive leadership.

    Like Tevye wished the Czar, I wish Mr. Mandel health and happiness and long life and all good things, far away from a position of power over Jewish children.

    Let us have an Ohel we can all be proud of and that the abused children in our community can count on for protection and advocacy.

  4. There definately has to be an investigation and while they are at it they should look into Hillel Sternstein who I believe is not fit to be a therapist. Ohel has alot to answer for and I think it is about time they start doing so!!