I read with interest Gary Rosenblatt’s column on the 10th anniversary of The Jewish Week’s breaking of the Rabbi Baruch Lanner story (June 18).
More than 15 years ago, I was a high school senior at Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., and an active member of the NCSY youth group. It was in that capacity that once I met Rabbi Lanner, who made an appearance at the New England Region’s Spring Regional in West Hartford, Conn., I believe.
As someone who has worked with numerous survivors of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community over the past 10 years, I have been privileged to bear witness to the stories of people who, after having their voices taken away from them, become able to speak for the first time, in the course of their healing, about the horrors they have endured.
‘Watershed’ Lanner expose has led to communal efforts to deal with improper sexual behavior.
Editor and Publisher
The tenth anniversary of the public exposure in these pages of the “Lanner scandal” provides an opportunity to reflect on, and appreciate, how much has changed for the better in the last decade in responding to rabbinic sexual abuse.
With it all, though, communal vigilance is still vital because the problem remains, as do the impulses to overlook or cover up allegations of wrongdoing in high places. And there are voices in the community calling for putting ethical standards in place in synagogues, schools and camps.
Baruch Lanner, a former yeshiva high school principal and religious youth group counselor who was convicted in 2002 in New Jersey of sexually abusing two teenage girls, appears no longer to be on the New Jersey, Florida or national sex offender registries.
Lanner, 59, an ordained Orthodox rabbi, was sentenced to seven years in prison, but did not begin serving his sentence until 2005, after his conviction was upheld on appeal. He was released on parole in January of 2008. According to the New Jersey Department of Corrections, Lanner’s parole ends next month.
Freehold, N.J.: She was 14 and an incoming freshman at a yeshiva high school in New Jersey. He was 45, a married rabbi with three children, and the principal of the yeshiva at the shore. He was also one of the most prominent Orthodox Jewish youth leaders in America.
Yet once a week, the rabbi would call the 14-year-old student at home, proclaiming his love and promising she would be his wife someday.
At school he would summon the teenager to his office, where he would grope her private parts while she sat powerless and disgusted.
Freehold, N.J.: Were the Venetian blinds open or closed? After nearly three weeks of court testimony, the question about the level of privacy in a yeshiva high school principal's office was at the crux of the defense's case in the trial here of Rabbi Baruch Lanner, the disgraced former national Orthodox youth group leader.
It is no secret that Rabbi Matt Tropp's job as director of the largest region in the country of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) was on the line following allegations of teen abuse by Rabbi Baruch Lanner two years ago. Not only had Rabbi Tropp long called Rabbi Lanner his rebbe and mentor, but he was considered his "hatchet man," according to several former NCSY members.
Freehold, N.J.: Marcie Lenk's first response on hearing of the guilty verdict last Thursday in the trial of her former mentor, Rabbi Baruch Lanner, on child sexual abuse charges was a sense of relief.
Lenk, a 36-year-old Ph.D. candidate in religion at Harvard University, has been part of an informal network of former National Conference of Synagogue Youth members who have been struggling for many years to convince Orthodox authorities to prevent the 52-year-old Rabbi Lanner from having any contact with children.
They still don't get it. That's what some critics are saying this week about the Orthodox Union's official "it's not us" reaction to the sex abuse conviction of its former national youth leader, Rabbi Baruch Lanner.
The rabbi, 52, a longtime senior official at the OU's National Conference of Synagogue Youth, was convicted last Thursday on six counts of sexual abuse of two teenage girls in the mid-1990s. The girls were students at the New Jersey yeshiva high school Rabbi Lanner served as principal, as well as members of the NCSY Etz Chaim chapter he led for many years.
Freehold, N.J. - Rabbi Baruch Lanner, once a prominent national Orthodox youth group leader and New Jersey yeshiva high school principal, was convicted late Thursday of sexually abusing two teenage girls while they were his students in the mid-1990s.