Peering out at the reporters and TV cameras clamoring around the entrance of his religious girls school in Brooklyn last week, Rabbi Hertz Frankel's mind raced as they demanded he comment on his crime. It was a serious crime, a federal felony involving no-show teachers, fund diversions, false job titles and clear breaches of the separation of church and state. It was one Frankel had quietly pleaded guilty to the previous week.
Rabbi Hertz Frankel, a Galitzianer by birth and Litvak by training, has served as administrator and spokesman for the Satmar chasidim for four decades. As the highest-ranking non-Satmar in a group whose doors are usually closed to outsiders, he has served as interpreter at communal functions and liaison with public officials.
But until his guilty plea in the public schools fund-diversion scheme made the front page of The New York Times last week, he was probably better known in some foreign corridors of power than in most parts of New York City outside of Williamsburg.