A major news organization has a story coming out on rabbis Avrohom Union of the RCC and R. Moshe Hafutah of 90035

I wonder how this will affect those people who rely on these rabbis’ Batei Din (Jewish law courts) for conversion and kosher certification?

According to Rabbis.org:

Mar 20, 2014 — Rabbi Avrohom Union is the Dayan and Menahel of the Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of California. He grew up in North Miami Beach, Florida, and attended the Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach. Upon graduation, he went to the Mesivta of Greater Miami and then to Telshe Yeshiva of Chicago. This was followed by eight years in Bais Hatalmud in Jerusalem, four of them in Kollel.

He received his semicha from the Israeli Rabbinate and later received the dayanut qualification of Yadin Yadin from HaGaon Rav Dov Schwartzman. He did undergraduate studies at the University of South Africa and completed his Masters in Psychology at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. Rabbi Union felt that a degree in psychology would provide him with additional expertise and insight in his pastoral and community work.

Rabbi Union was rabbi of the Constantia Hebrew Congregation in Cape Town, South Africa, where he also served as a Dayan for the Cape Beis Bin. In the United States, he was the Rabbi of Young Israel of Beverly Hills. He has given many adult education classes for various organizations over the years, and currently serves on the faculty of the Jewish Learning Exchange as well as Ohel Sara Seminary for Women.
Helping people and helping them live Jewishly is Rabbi Union’s favorite aspect of being a rabbi. He takes pride in raising a family of committed members of Klal Yisrael, promoting unity in the local orthodox Rabbinate, and building a Vaad as a platform for serving the community.

Prior to his first Yom Kippur in Cape Town, he met with the board to review the service and the local customs. He asked them why they blow the shofar after Maariv instead of after Neila, contrary to the established minhag. They told him that as soon as the shofar is blown everybody will run for the doors. “Let’s see” he replied. That Yom Kippur, he turned to his congregants as Neila ended and told them what the board said. “They think you are going to run. They think you will have had enough. But I think that after such an uplifting and meaningful Yom Kippur, you will want to do the right thing and remain for Maariv after the shofar. I believe in you”. With that he gave the signal to blow the shofar, the doors remained as they were, and his president chuckled that the Rabbi had won this round.

His advice to younger rabbis who are at the start of their rabbinic career is; treat your congregants with dignity and genuine ahavas yisrael and they will respect you even if you are demanding.

Rabbi Union served as the English editor of Mashiv B’halacha, a publication of the Mechon L’Horaah and has published numerous pieces in the Shaarei Tzedek journal of Choshen Mishpat case law. He is involved with Nefesh, the organization of Orthodox mental health professionals, and he also works with his wife Tova, in training kallah teachers. He currently sits on the Halachic Advisory Board of Magen Yeladim International Child Safety Institute.

Rabbi Union is married to Tova (nee Reis) who is the Girls’ Middle School Coordinator for Emek Hebrew Academy. They have 9 beautiful children and seventeen grandchildren.

If you get to have any kind of conversation with Rabbi Union, he’ll be sure to let you know he has a masters degree in Psychology. He’s the greatest rabbinic street fighter on the West Coast. His handshake is soft but his will is steel.

Here is some background on R. Moshe Hafuta. He has a sister married to Kabbalist Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto.

From the Jewish Journal Apr. 3, 2013:

After Doheny Kosher scandal, what does the future hold for L.A.’s meat market?

On Thursday, March 7, at 6:10 a.m., a van and an SUV sit in adjacent parking spaces, in the lot of a McDonald’s near the junction of the 101 and the 405 freeways, their rear lift-gates open.

Mike Engelman, the driver of the SUV, with the help of the driver of the van, loads something into the back of the SUV. Then Engelman, who owns Doheny Glatt Kosher Meat Market, one of Los Angeles’ largest distributors of kosher animal products, drives off, headed to Pico-Robertson to open his shop.

Almost exactly one hour later, in the parking lot behind Doheny Meats, the mashgiach (rabbinic overseer) from the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC), who had unlocked the doors to the store and the distribution center just 10 minutes earlier, is nowhere in sight. Engelman signals to an employee to unload the SUV. The employee takes out eight boxes, hundreds of pounds of unidentified meat or poultry, and wheels them into the store through its rear door.

This entire sequence was captured on video by a private investigator, and on Sunday afternoon, March 24, Rabbi Meyer H. May, president of the RCC, watched the video in horror. What he saw wasn’t just Engelman undermining the supervision of his agency; he also saw the rabbinic supervisor, who is never supposed to leave the premises, break with RCC protocol.

All this was revealed on March 24, the day before Passover. At sundown the following day, hundreds of local families at their own seder tables, as well as thousands of customers at resorts across the region, would be sitting down to eat their traditional Passover meals featuring meat and poultry that had passed through Doheny’s doors.

May and his rabbinic colleagues at the RCC revoked Doheny’s certification. They also declared at the same time that all meat sold by Doheny Meats up until 3 p.m. that day could still be considered kosher.

The aftermath of this scandal is still playing out, but it has already rocked Los Angeles’ kosher industry in a way that hasn’t happened since 1990, when the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC) removed its certification from Emes Kosher Meat Products after a rabbinic supervisor found an empty box in the store’s dumpster that had come from a non-kosher poultry supplier.

This time the scandal implicates both Doheny Meats, believed to be among the largest distributors of kosher animal products on the West Coast, and the RCC, a prominent and widely trusted kosher certifier. As a result, the scandal could have far-reaching consequences.

If Engelman intentionally circumvented his mashgiach, as the videos appear to indicate, Engelman’s business, which he has owned for 28 years, will likely never regain the RCC’s imprimatur, let alone the trust of kosher consumers, and could be forced to close. The case is also a black eye for the RCC, in part because its protocols appear to have been breached on multiple occasions, and also because the breach was not discovered by the rabbis themselves, but by a private investigator who says he was working independently.

Further complicating the matter, the RCC also had received tips about suspicious practices at Doheny years before this scandal broke — the agency says its own investigations turned up no evidence of wrongdoing — a fact that leaves many local observant Jews questioning whether the RCC is up to the task of supervising the approximately 100 kosher restaurants, markets and caterers that bear its hechsher (seal of approval) across the city.

From Haaretz, Jan. 25, 2017:

Rabbi Pinto Released After Serving Jail Time for Bribery

Kabbalist Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto served one year in prison after being convicted of bribery and other corruption offenses.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto was released from prison early Wednesday morning after serving a one-year sentence for bribery. The senior police commander Ephraim Bracha, who was involved in the corruption scandal, later committed suicide.

The disgraced kabbalist rabbi was convicted of bribing Bracha, who was head of the Israel Police National Fraud Investigation Unit, in May 2015. Pinto was also found guilty of attempted bribery involving a similar sum, and with obstruction of justice.

He was sentenced to one year in prison in a plea bargain and was also ordered to pay a fine of 1 million shekels ($260,000).

His appeal to reduce his sentence to six months’ community service, given his deteriorating medical condition, was denied by the Supreme Court last January.

Pinto is considered one of Israel’s wealthiest rabbis. The great-grandson of a famous Moroccan-born mystic known as the Baba Sali, he amassed his fortune while serving as spiritual guru to the rich and powerful in Israel, New York, and elsewhere.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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