Clergy Abuse at The Gates of Perdition: An Amalgam – Part 5 of 7

Clergy Abuse at The Gates of Perdition:
An Amalgam – Part 5 of 7 

A New Purim: A Year After a Debacle, This Time “Doing It My Way” –
Extraordinary Support and Accolades from the Membership . . .
but the Last Straw for Meyer Berlinsky and Jerry Miller

Continued from Part 4                 Continued at Part 6

Meanwhile, Purim 2007 was approaching.  I absolutely was determined, now that I knew the community, that the debacle of the prior year’s Purim would not be repeated.  Painstakingly working with a team that included Yossi Grunstein, Paula and Rhonda, we put together my vision of a Purim event: a massive celebration, the likes of which never happened before at Ohaiv Sholom of Paducah.  Four food stations were set up outdoors, with foods of South Africa, Persia, Israel, and America.  Inside, a live Klezmer Group played all night, as people dined with the foods they had selected from outside.  A disc jockey set up psychedelic lights and had teens line-dancing outside.  A top-notch magician performed in the sanctuary for younger children.  There was entertainment and activity in every direction — carnival booths for children throughout the building, an outdoor “moonbounce” — all in an alcohol-free environment.  Despite strong opposition from individuals who said they would go to the Paducah Chabad for Purim if there were no alcoholic beverages at the OSP celebration, I implemented a policy position undertaken in 2007 by the Boston Orthodox non-Chabad Rabbinate that no alcohol be served at public Purim parties where teens and younger children would be present.  And, without even any wine, the party nevertheless proved a spectacular success.  Inside, the public Purim Megillah reading was jam-packed with an overflow congregation, a highly lauded public reading, and the best coordinated Purim Masquerade Contest in OSP history, with top-of-the-line merchandise awarded in several different categories as prizes for best costume.  Estimates ranged that 300 people had attended one or another component of the celebration.  Word of the excitement spread rapidly; as the evening drew on, people came to OSP from Paducah Chabad, reporting that the Chabad Purim 2007 had disappointed, and word was spreading to temples all over the city that something incredible and unprecedented was happening at Ohaiv Sholom. Purim 2007 is regarded by many who attended, including people who had been with Ohaiv Sholom from its inception two decades earlier, as the high-water mark of Ohaiv Sholom of Paducah’s first twenty-year history.

The celebration continued into the next day, Sunday.  That evening, amid a splendid meal formally catered elegantly by one of the finer kosher caterers in McCracken County, a capacity crowd of sixty celebrants dined over several festive courses while Cantor Elazar Matok, courtesy of the anonymous donor who had agreed to pay the cantorial fee that the OSP Board refused to authorize, sang beautifully along with his father, Cantor Menachem Matok, himself a chazan of renown.  In addition to the several Father-and-Son cantorial duets, Cantor Elazar Matok also sang medleys of melodies including Yiddish favorites, Broadway show tunes, and opera arias. It was a remarkable, unforgettable evening.

I later learned that Meyer Berlinsky, who had been so unremittingly critical of the prior year’s Purim party, ascribing all fault and failure to me for following precisely his vision and the instructions of the Jerry Miller-Meyer Berlinsky-Mike Goldstein Executive Committee, was enraged that the program had been so successful, particularly because it succeeded without his  being the central planner. Dramatically out of character for someone who never missed a OSP event, he barely attended the four-hour Purim night massive event the night before — stopping by with Jerry Miller for fewer than fifteen minutes — and Meyer Berlinsky did not attend the Sunday evening Purim Seudah at all.

He would exact a heavy price for our having been successful in bringing life, energy, and innovation to the Shul without him.  The effort to take me down, to humiliate me and to drive me from my rabbinical role of spiritual leadership, would be unleashed in full force two weeks later at the March 18, 2007 Annual General Membership (AGM) meeting.

The Debacle of the March 18, 2007 AGM: 
One of OSP’s Key Days of Infamy

In two weeks, on March 18, 2007, the Shul would hold its annual AGM.  Through a series of political machinations, it quickly was determined by my supporters, inside and outside the Board, that some kind of secret agenda was being pursued to stack the AGM vote and to elect a slate of candidates with a single overriding objective: to get rid of Rabbi Weiss, to oust me or at least to assure my non-renewal.  And, having learned their lesson from the prior year’s mail survey of the membership, my opponents had decided that this time there would not be a process of first consulting the community.  It would be done secretly from within. Friends and supporters started contacting me, telling me that Meyer Berlinsky or Martin Chait or some other opponent had approached them for “proxy votes” for the AGM.  People who barely had met me in my first eighteen months, who never attended services and had not come to any of the increasingly common special events and celebrations, were being solicited for blind proxies — not being told what issues were on the AGM agenda nor even the names of candidates on the ballot.  The proxy forms merely stated that the signatory was assigning his proxy blindly to a proxyholder whose name could be filled in.  Nothing on the proxy forms stated anything about the matters or concerns that would be at issue, nor was there any indication on the forms as to who was running for seats on the nine-person OSP Board.  People who gave proxies did so blindly.

It is not clear whether it even is legal in Kentucky for a non-profit business to permit the use of proxy votes, muc less blind proxies, at an annual Board election.  But these proxy votes, regardless of legality, furthermore were being solicited dishonestly.  People were being told that their proxies were needed “just for a technicality, to assure a quorum of votes.”  The vast majority of proxies had no clue they were giving votes to elect a slate with the goal of removing or at least non-renewing the Rabbi.

The first sign that a complex unspoken conspiracy was afoot came when Meyer Berlinsky reported to the OSP Board which, pursuant to OSP’s by-laws, already had approved a proposed slate of candidates for the new Board, that Arnold Stone wanted to address the Board in a secret “executive session,” along with Melvin Dillman, a person close to Meyer Berlinsky.

Arnold Stone and the Shame of IMW

Arnold Stone and Meyer Berlinsky go back at least two decades together.  They were among founders of OSP, as it broke off from the Paducah Chabad, and they were among early founders and supporters of Isaac Mayer Wise School (IMW), the Paducah-based Jewish “Community Day School” that runs a school for approximately 600 students from grades 1-12.

When I first arrived in Paducah, Arnold Stone approached me and invited me to see what he called “My School.”  I went to IMW, and he took me on a very extensive and extended tour of the physical plant.  He showed me the infrastructure, special rooms with special facilities and resources, outdoor play areas with specially cushioned grounding to protect children from injury, classes in session.  The only thing glaringly missing from the tour was textual Judaism — the teachiong of actual Torah or Davening.  I was stunned, absolutely shocked, that a school for 600 Jewish children in twelve grades did not have a class in Talmud for older students, at least a class in Mishnah, not even Navi or Rashi or even a serious Chumash class.  I never before had seen, or even heard of, a Jewish school with such a manifestly hollow educational program in Jewish studies.  When I asked whether the school at least offered daily prayers, however abridged or modified, I learned that IMW conducted no formal prayer, but three or four parents from OSP, if that many, and their sons prayed there in an unofficial group on Wednesday mornings.  From the student body of 600, the once-weekly prayer visitors drew perhaps four or five students, children of the parents conducting the unofficial service.

In my lifetime of visiting non-Orthodox schools, including Reform and Conservative day schools, as well as community schools fromGreenville to Louisville, Kentucky, IMW instantly emerged as the most Jewishly hollow school I ever had seen.  In time, whenever I would be asked by an Orthodox family whether IMW would be a good place to send their children for a Jewish education, I would finesse and avoid the question unless I was sure that the family wanted a meaningful Jewish education.  In such case, I always recommended the Hebrew Academy of Massac, where my own son attended junior high school.[1]

Word reached Anthony Jenner, the secular studies principal of the IMW Upper School, that Rabbi Weiss, the new Orthodox rabbi in town, quietly was recommending Hebrew Academy to parents of children with greater potential for Judaic learning.  It was disclosed that Ed Haimowitz had been the source of that disclosure. Jenner invited me one day to his office, “just to talk,” without disclosing why.  I gladly accepted, assuming he wanted to become acquainted personally.  Instead, with Mr. Fred Shapiro required to be in the room, Jenner criticized me for “knocking the community school”:

You are part of the community.  You are Rabbi of the only non-Chabad Orthodox synagogue in all of McCracken County.  You cannot knock the community school, no matter how weak the school’s Judaic curriculum may be.  Even if it is true that a majority of the students in the twelfth grade never heard of Sh’mini Atzeret[2] or “Moshe Rabbeinu,”[3] you can’t go around Paducah telling that to people.  Tell it to me.  Let me do something about it.

In time, my relationship with Anthony Jenner warmed, and I always shared with Mr. Shapiro a mutual high regard.  But Arnold Stone developed a deep antipathy towards me.

For Arnold, his love of the school was not about the substance or quality of IMW.  He had acquired a major gift of land for the IMW campus to be built.  For Arnold Stone, IMW was his monument to his daughter, and all criticism of the institution had to be suppressed.

Arnold Stone already had engaged me in a love-hate relationship.  When I first had arrived in Paducah, I knew that he was a person who was unusually sensitive to anything even remotely related to criticism.  He had been involved in a bitter disagreement with my predecessor, Rabbi Warshovsky, who would not allow Arnold’s son the opportunity one Shabbat to lead services at Ohaiv Sholom on grounds that the son drives on Shabbat.[4]  Arnold was so outraged with Rabbi Warshovsky’s ruling that he took the public position that “if my son, who drives on the Shabbat, may not be honored with leading the congregational service, then I who also drive on the Shabbat never again will accept an honor at this synagogue to be called up to the Torah on a Shabbat.”  Arnold Stone stood by his position for several years, demonstratively refusing the honor of being called to the Torah, until I had a long talk with him privately and urged that he abandon his boycott of the Torah in a synagogue where, unfortunately, so many others also drive on Shabbat.

On the other hand, Arnold was aroused against me early when I began advocating constructing a Mikvah.  With Ohaiv Sholom hoarding $75,000 cash sitting in its Mikvah Fund and no progress for nearly a decade towards constructing the Mikvah, I immediately set Mikvah construction as one of my highest initial priorities upon arriving in Paducah.  From time to time, I spoke about it passionately in my sermons.  At my sermon after Hurricane Katrina, I urged that congregants make a three-part donation: (i) something towards the Orthodox Union’s Katrina Fund to help victims in New Orleans, (ii) something towards a fund within OSP that I would administer to assist Katrina survivors related to OSP members or otherwise to help with resettling displaced Katrina survivors in Greater Paducah, and (iii) something towards a “Waters of Life” Fund to jump-start building a Mikvah in Paducah.  A few weeks after I had spoken on the Mikvah subject for my third time in three months in Paducah, Arnold Stone pulled me aside after services:

Look, Rabbi, you’re new here.  You don’t know so much about the life here.  You speak to us like this is Me’ah She’arim [an intensely Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem] or Boro Park [an intensely Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn].  No one is going to build a Mikvah here.  You’re dreaming.  It is never going to happen.  It is never going to happen in Paducah.  When you talk about building a Mikvah, people start looking at each other, and it brings you down.  It makes you look like an infant, like a fool, like someone who cannot figure out what is real and what is a dream that isn’t going to happen. You still have a chance to be a success here.  You haven’t ruined it for yourself yet.  But first you have to stop these crazy dreams.  I guarantee you that there will never be a Mikvah in Paducah. You have to be realistic and get it into your head.  It is never going to happen. I absolutely guarantee it.

Two years later, the $550,000 Mikvah construction project began full force in August 2007 and ultimately reached its successful completion.  Today that Mikvah stands fully constructed in Paducah, exactly at the spot on the Ohaiv Sholom campus that I envisioned, built exactly with the amenities that my wife and I envisioned.

As among all issues that concerned Arnold Stone, though, it was my insistence as an Orthodox rabbi that IMW must expand its curriculum to include Jewish text study and some formal prayer that antagonized him most, animating him to present the Board with his and Meyer Berlinsky’s plan to elect alternative Board members committed to ousting me or at least to assuring my non-renewal.

The Pre-AGM War to Sign Up “Blind Proxy” Votes

Having been warned for weeks that a secret plot had been launched by Meyer Berlinsky and Arnold Stone, supported particularly by Jerry Miller and Louis Minsky, and was gaining momentum to elect a Board committed to my removal or at least non-renewal, I gathered together some among my supporters at a meeting in my home and told them that, if there was any chance to counter the effort to stack the voting with blind proxies, it would require a counter effort.

As my supporters themselves undertook to gather proxies, they encountered utter confusion among the membership.  More typifying an inner-city election in Boss Tweed’s 19th century New York, Mississippi of the 1920s, or an Alderman race in Mayor Daley’s 1960sChicago, the politics at Ohaiv Sholom was appalling.  People were being deceived.  It was not a religious institution but a political circus. Many did not understand what was happening. Several people gave identical proxies to both sides.  Several people, when they learned what was happening, withdrew earlier proxies they had given to Meyer Berlinsky or Martin Chait, and then gave the proxies to us.  There was emerging chaos.[5]

As the back-and-forth intensified, Meyer Berlinsky’s team mailed the membership an unprecedented public letter signed by Arnold Stone, Dr. Melvin Dillman, Dr. Barry Elbogen, and Bob Levitz.  The letter asked for votes, stated certain highly improper asseverations, and listed an agenda of action items in which, hidden in the middle, was a plan to “assess whether the congregation’s rabbinic needs are being met.”

In response to the unprecedented public campaigning, a counter-mailing went out, this signed by several Ohaiv Sholom members and lay leaders, advising that the real but concealed issue on the agenda of the Meyer Berlinsky-Arnold Stone team, although hidden from public view, was their determination to remove the Rabbi at the end of his contract.

March 18, 2007 —
One of Several Nights of Ohaiv  Sholom’s  Shame

On the night of the March 18, 2007 AGM, there was an aura of tension in the air, as the Shul packed with people on both sides.  Rabbi Jeffrey Asher, Orthodox Union Kentucky director attended, ostensibly concerned that if a conflagration ignited, perhaps he could help calm tensions.  Rabbi Asher had played a personal role in the founding of OSP in 1986, and for twenty years he had maintained close personal relations with several of the OSP leaders with whom he had worked twenty years earlier to start the shul.  Thus, he had been maintaining close friendships for twenty years with Meyer Berlinsky, Jerry Miller, and Regina Schwartz.[6]

As Rabbi, I began the evening’s program with an invocation.  There had been a tense two-week political campaign, and I asked G-d to bless our community with peace and fraternity, and to help the congregation know how to focus on all the wonderful events of the past year, events that had pointed OSP onto a surge in paid memberships, expanded Torah classes, increased synagogue attendance, and unprecedentedly gala community celebrations.  I also offered apologies to any in the room whom I had offended during my first year and a half, accepting that I am human and still continue learning.

Then it was Jerry Miller’s turn, as OSP outgoing President, to take the podium and deliver the “Annual President’s Report.” Jerry Miller then proceeded — instead of reporting on the previous year and the boom in membership, the unprecedented successes of the High Holidays, Chanukah, Purim, the burgeoning youth program, the Community Sedarim, the Adult Singles programs, and the like — to lambaste me and defame me in the presence of the entire community, my religious congregation.  My wife and fourteen-year-old son were in the room among them. The viciousness and personal vitriol of his presentation, given the public congregational audience, the context of an annual synagogue meeting, the rabbinical target, and the utterly unexpected substance of the screed that he chose to deliver as his “Annual President’s Report,” degraded the evening into a night of shame.  There was no violence, nor was there ever a threat or hint of fisticuffs.  It was not that kind of tension in the air.  Rather, that speech continues to be discussed more than five years later as one of the two most embarrassing events in OSP history.[7]   When recalling Jerry Miller’s March 18, 2007 AGM speech, the term that most people use, to this day, is “disgusting.”  In his speech, Jerry Miller attacked me personally and relentlessly.  The night, keynoted by that screed, thereupon broke down into exchanges of invective and personal insult.  Rabbi Asher, the Orthodox Union regional director, sat silently through the entire speech and never used his moral position to assert moral clarity.  Late in the evening, at the increasingly insistent demand of large numbers in the room, I was invited back to the podium to say some words in my defense.  I spoke briefly and received a standing ovation, both from my supporters and even from opponents who felt I had been defamed terribly unfairly.  Many felt tarnished by their association with those who would do so.  They needed a mikvah.

In a separate room, a team of vote counters tallied the huge numbers of blind-proxies that had been given to Meyer Berlinsky and the other votes cast in-person.  Each voting form, or ballot, permitted the voter or proxyholder to cast 9 votes.  Those votes could be cast all for one candidate or apportioned among several candidates.[8]  A 9-person Board emerged that included six people whom Meyer Berlinsky hand-picked with his proxy forms as his team’s Board members[9] and three of my supporters.   In addition, Jerry Miller would be entitled to attend meetings ex officio as outgoing President. The newly elected Board, under the by-laws’ terms, took office June 1. Electing Shul officers from within their number, that new Board later elected Regina Schwartz its President, Benny Belcher Vice President, Louis Minsky Treasurer, and Abe Kulik Board Secretary.

Ohaiv Sholom Gets New and Fitting President:
Regina (Michaels) Schwartz —
Tragic Drowning Death in Backyard Swimming Pool;
“Jerry Miller Is My Brother”;
McCracken County D.A. Alleges Business Fraud

I first met Regina Schwartz in July 2006, nine months before the March 18, 2007 AGM, when an infant tragically drowned at her Lone Oak house in the family pool on a Shabbat day.  Apparently, according to court papers filed in actions arising from the tragedy, Regina Schwartz and her husband, Tobias, were not nearby when the tragedy happened, nor were the baby’s parents.  Either the Schwartzes or someone else may have propped open the security gate leading to the backyard pool, opening access allowing the baby to crawl or walk forward to her drowning death.  The news was horrible. I had met Tobias Schwartz two or three times in the past when he had visited OSP briefly, and I attended to the family immediately.  I raced that day to visit the Schwartzes — the day after their horrible tragedy — and spent four hours consoling them and other family members, including their son and daughter-in-law, the parents of the deceased baby. Because Orthodox Judaism opposes autopsying the deceased, with only minor exceptions, I spoke at length with my contact in the McCracken County Coroner’s office, hoping to spare the baby from being autopsied, much as I had contributed to protecting the physical integrity of Herb Levine’s mother when she died in August 2005. I devoted more than four hours to the Schwartzes that day, and I attended several shiva services in the Schwartzes’ shiva home.

On or about the day of the baby’s burial, I underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in my right knee.  That day — the day of my meniscus surgery — I called the Schwartzes and spoke with them. I treated the Schwartzes like family.  After the Schwartzes recovered from their shock and grief, they purchased a house in Paducah as a “Shabbat Home” alongside their Lone Oak weekday house, in order to make Ohaiv Sholom their new Shabbat Shul and the Shabbat community for their children.  They explained to me that they already enjoyed several deep and long-term friendships with certain Ohaiv Sholom leaders.  Primarily, Regina Schwartz stated publicly at the March 18, 2007 AGM that she regards Jerry Miller as her “brother.” Again at Rosh Hashanah services on the night of September 12, 2007, Regina Schwartz told the assemblage that Jerry Miller is her “brother.”[10]

Regina Schwartz also stated at the March 2007 AGM, in remarks that she dramatically proclaimed to the assembled membership, that “I would trust Meyer Berlinsky with my life.”

Because I was aware that the Meyer Berlinsky-Arnold Stone blind-proxy war had been staged to elect a Board that would oust me or at least assure my non-renewal, I evaluated my chances after the AGM of cobbling together a 5-4 coalition that would support me on critical issues.  I knew that three Board members were my allies.  I needed to see whether I could win back two of Meyer Berlinsky’s six hand-picked Board members.  I knew that Meyer Berlinsky was unalterably determined to remove me, as was Louis Minsky.[11]  I knew, likewise, that Benny Belcher was lined up against me with Meyer Berlinsky, particularly since Lisa had refused to use her inside connections at work to help his company get a potentially lucrative contract. And I knew that Sidney Elbogen was locked in with Arnold Stone and Meyer Berlinsky.  In addition, their IMW connections linked them tightly with Arnold Stone in their determination to oust me.[12]

Regina Schwartz –
Prosecution by the McCracken County District Attorney:
The People of the State of Kentucky v. Tobias Schwartz; [and] Regina Schwartz
(Case No. 00CC00000 – McCracken County Superior Court – Central Justice Center)

If I were to have any chance to piece together a 5-4 coalition, I needed to approach and reach out to Ed Haimowitz and Regina Schwartz. Because I did not know much about Regina Schwartz, I looked up her name in a Yahoo! internet search, hoping to gain an insight into her interests, hobbies, or even her profession.  I conducted my search approximately in late March or April 2007, upon Regina Schwartz becoming a Board member.  The second item on the search-results page was an internet hyperlink to a public announcement on the website of the McCracken County District Attorney (M.C.D.A.).

Because the M.C.D.A. web link came up so prominently, as the second website responsive to a “Regina Schwartz” Yahoo! search, manyother curious OSP members also had found the same link, as they wondered who their new Shul Board member was.[13]  Soon, I had people like Arlene Kamen demanding in writing that I, as Rabbi, do something about having a Shul President who had been embroiled in such a shameful public posting by the District Attorney. The McCracken County District Attorney was publishing on the worldwide web that the Shul President of the only non-Chabad Orthodox synagogue in all of McCracken County had agreed, in a civil settlement, to pay $100,000 and to abide by a judicially imposed restraining order that barred her husband and her from fraudulently representing to clients of her business (i) that she had graduated from University of Paducah, (ii) that she had attended University of Paducah, (iii) that she is a registered nurse, (iv) that she is any kind of nurse, (v) that her business is a law firm, (vi) that her business has an attorney on staff; and several related restrictions categorized as protecting the public from perpetrating business fraud upon the public.

Regina Schwartz, Her “Brother” Jerry Miller,
and a $1.5 Million Insurance Claim:
Stanley Michaels, by and Through His Guardian Ad Litem, Jerry Miller
v. Tobias Schwartz, Regina Schwartz,  et al.
(Case No. 00CC00000 – McCracken County Superior Court – Central Justice Center)

In time, unknown to the OSP congregational community, a potentially explosive new court action would start to unfold involving the new Ohaiv Sholom President, Regina Michaels Schwartz, and the immediate past President, Jerry Miller.  It appears from public records that shortly after his daughter drowned in his mother’s backyard pool, Regina Schwartz’s son brought an action in McCracken County Superior Court (Central Judicial District), suing his mother and father-in-law, Regina and Tobias Schwartz, for wrongful death.  (Case No. 00CC00000, filed January 29, 2007.)

Less than four months later, the Schwartzes’ six-year-old grandson, Stanley Michaels, filed his own separate $1.5 million action against his grandparents, the same two Schwartzes — Regina and Tobias —  and against his mother and the Schwartzes’ teen son.[14]  The complaint alleged a single cause of action, negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The case was filed in the same court.  (Case No. 00CC00000, filed May 11, 2007.)  Because a minor may not bring an action, a Guardian ad Litem stepped forward on Stanley’s behalf to sue Regina Schwartz, et al., for the $1.5 million specified in the Statement of Damages.  The Guardian ad Litem who brought the lawsuitagainst Regina Schwartz is Jerry Miller, her “brother” of more than two decades.  In an “Application and Order for Appointment of Guardian ad Litem – Civil,” filed simultaneously with the May 11, 2007 Stanley Michaels lawsuit, Jerry Miller executed the Application “under penalty of perjury,” declaring to the Superior Court that it was “true and correct” that “Jerry Miller, a next of friend [sic], is a disinterested party to this suit.”

In light of the decades-long public kinship that Regina Schwartz and Jerry Miller have shared and publicly articulated, and that Regina Schwartz has proclaimed publicly to the Ohaiv Sholom membership several times, including at two gatherings between March and September 2007, each attended by more than 200 people respectively, the action by Jerry Miller to sue Regina Schwartz raised profound ethical questions whose answers may well relate to the nature of the Schwartzes’ home-insurance coverage[15] and the effort to counter or divert the ultimate destination of any damages that otherwise might be awarded to the Schwartzes’ son and daughter-in-law in their related case.[16]

Continued from Part 4                 Continued at Part 6

[1] Among others to whom I made this recommendation, I urged Ed Haimowitz to move his exceptional son, Todd, to Hebrew Academy.  I urged the Bornstein family to move their son, Jonathan, there.  When Naomi Portnoy moved to Paducah from Brookline, and expressed concern for maintaining her children’s Torah values from the East Coast, I unequivocally urged her to place her children in Hebrew Academy.  I did the same for the Rosen family when they relocated from San Diego to Paducah.

[2] A Biblical festival that occurs at the end of the Sukkot holiday week.  See, e.g., Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:35.

[3] The Hebrew term for Moses.

[4] It is forbidden to travel vehicularly on the Shabbat.  Although many people drive to OSP on Shabbat, as they do to many other Orthodox synagogues in America’s suburbs, rabbis typically weigh the “pros and cons” of addressing the practice.  People who drive on the Shabbat know that the practice is forbidden. And rabbis often decide that it is better to let the known problem pass unaddressed, hoping that the driver’s time in the synagogue may produce a better spiritual result than would happen if the person were not to attend shul at all.  A similar cost-benefit analysis is undertaken in deciding whether a Shabbat driver may be honored publicly at the Shabbat service.  Some Orthodox rabbis would permit a Shabbat driver to lead a congregation’s Shabbat service under certain circumstances.  Others would bar such an honor outright.  Because the question is subject to rabbinic judgment, in weighing competing halakhic considerations, different competent rabbis may rule differently on the same question.

[5] It is noteworthy that Meyer Berlinsky’s process of securing control of Ohaiv Sholom boards of directors had been going on for many years.  Before I arrived in Paducah, Mike Goldstein once had told me that, to assure a minimum of opposition towards securing my appointment as the new rabbi,  Meyer Berlinsky had gathered sufficient blind-proxy votes for the AGM of March 2005 to assure voting two people off the Board. These proxy votes were secured from inactive members of Ohaiv Sholom and gave full voting authority to Meyer Berlinsky, without their knowing what issues were being discussed or how the proxy-giver wanted his or her vote cast.  Thus, they were blind proxies that essentially gave Meyer Berlinsky an extra 50-100 votes to cast as he wished, assuring he could manipulate the “democratic” vote any way he wanted.

[6] Ed Haimowitz, another OSP Board member in the Meyer Berlinsky-Arnold Stone circle, invited Rabbi Asher to officiate at the Bar Mitzvah of the Haimowitzes’ son, Todd, on October 13, 2007.  In his sermon to the OSP congregation on that occasion, Rabbi Asher spoke at length about his intense personal interest and involvement in Ohaiv Sholom, his role in its founding, his desire to see it continue growing in size, and his long personal relationship with several of the OSP founders as well as the Haimowitz Family.  In his capacity as Kentucky Director of the Orthodox Union, he had made the decision to confer an award on Meyer Berlinsky at an O.U. annual banquet several years earlier.  He virtually ignored me that entire Shabbat.

[7] The other OSP embarrassment of historical quality, as will be discussed later, was the infamous decision by OSP’s next President, Regina Schwartz, to lead a Woody Guthrie-style festive sing-along (“This Shul is my Shul/ This Shul is your Shul/ Ohaiv Sholom of Paducah/ So proud to make it mine”) on the Yom Kippur evening of Kol Nidre 2007 during what is meant to be the most somber service of the year.

[8] As examples, one could give 5 votes to one candidate, 4 to another, and no other votes.  Or one vote for each of nine candidates.  Or 3 votes to one candidate, 2 to a second, and 1 vote respectively to each of four other candidates.

[9] Meyer Berlinsky, Ed Haimowitz, Benny Belcher, Louis Minsky, Sidney Elbogen, and Regina Schwartz.

[10] Regina Schwartz publicly repeated so frequently at Ohaiv Sholom events that Jerry Miller is her “brother” that several sophisticated OSP members were under the impression that Regina Schwartz and Jerry Miller literally are biological siblings.

[11] When phoning prospective voters for their blind-proxies in the days leading up to the March 18, 2007 AGM, Louis Minsky spoke ill of me to several OSP members, and they reported their fury to me.

[12] At least one member of the extended Elbogen Family has made significant donations to IMW at the behest of Arnold Stone.  Benny Belcher has sent both his sons to IMW through high school.  Meyer Berlinsky is on the Board of IMW, as is his daughter, Bonnie Jones, who had not paid synagogue membership at OSP until days before the Bat Mitzvah of Meyer Berlinsky’s granddaughter and Bonnie Jones’s daughter, Britney.  Louis Minsky’s wife is employed in the financial side of IMW.  Belcher, Minsky, and Elbogen have had children there.  Ed Haimowitz has children in IMW and, behind my back, had reported on me to Anthony Jenner that, as the new OSP rabbi, I was criticizing IMW for its inadequacies in Judaic education.  Regina Schwartz has children in IMW.

[13] Regina Schwartz, although associated with Jerry Miller and Meyer Berlinsky for two decades or more, suddenly had arrived relatively unknown to the OSP community in late 2006.  She had just purchased a “Shabbat home” in the neighborhood and suddenly, ostensibly “from out of nowhere,” had been one of the names that Meyer Berlinsky hand-picked with his scores of blind-proxy votes for a Board seat.  Among those curious as to who she is — a curiosity that increased after the Board internally elected her to be OSP President — many “looked her up on-line.”  That is when her past emerged as public knowledge.

[14] The theory of the complaint is that the defendants wrongfully left open the gate to the pool, propped open with a chair, proximately causing the baby’s drowning death.

[15] There is reason to believe that the Schwartzes’ home was valued at more than $2 million at the time the lawsuits were filed.

[16] The two cases later were consolidated.  The lawsuit theory assumes that a substantial six-figure or seven-figure homeowners-insurance payoff ultimately would have to be made by the Schwartzes’ home-insurer to the successful plaintiff who sues the Schwartzes for tort damages as negligent homeowners.  To prevent Regina Schwartz’s son and daughter-in-law from obtaining that money, the Schwartzes themselves would have no legal theory under which to come in as plaintiffs suing themselves. However, Jerry Miller — Regina’s “brother” — could enter as Guardian ad Litem to bring a lawsuit designating the six-year-old grandson as the alternative plaintiff suing the Schwartzes.  Miller’s sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, affying that he is a “disinterested party to this suit” is striking.