Connecting The Dots In The Rabbi Leib Tropper Story

When you look at Guma Aguiar’s (Israeli billionaire who’s suing Rabbi Leib Tropper) profile, you see that though born Jewish, he was raised Christian, and in Houston he sought out a Christian congregation but met Rabbi Tuvia Singer and became turned on to his Jewish identity.

Shannon Orand lives in Houston. She used to work for Rabbi Tuvia Singer. Her domain name, promotes Rabbi Tuvia Singer.

Guma has a big fight with Leib Tropper.

From FailedMessiah:

Although not the first person to do so, Guma Aguiar, a billionaire former backer of EJF who has been in a long running dispute with Tropper, sent some of those tapes to Aguiar has long contended that Tropper has embezzled money from EJF, and launched a court case against Tropper in Israel over the summer in an attempt to recoup money he says he personally gave Tropper to distribute to various Israeli charities. It is unclear how Aguiar got the tapes.

This woman goes to work for Leib Tropper and has this affair and tapes the calls and disgraces Rabbi Tropper.

Orthodox Jews do not approve of rabbis abusing their power to have sex with women, but neither do they approve of women who are weak enough to allow rabbis to plook them. They shun such women.

Even the blogosphere is reluctant to write about Shannon Orand more than necessary. They see her as a victim of a dastardly rabbi. I think every decent person feels sympathy for her.

I have a hard time regarding her as a blameless victim. She consented to have sex with Rabbi Tropper. He’s a 59-year old man. He could not force her physically.

You say he had power over her? That he controlled her conversion?

Rabbi Tropper only had as much power as she gave him.

I’ve been in several conversion programs. Yeah, I’d easily slip into thinking that the rabbis have all the power and that I am a victim, but that’s because I’m sometimes weak and easily slip into feeling like a victim.

I know a lot of people who would never sleep with anyone they did not want to, even if it meant losing their conversion or their job or their home. Many, perhaps most, people I know would rather sleep on the streets than sleep with some creep.

I had a situation 14 months ago that threatened my conversion. The only rabbi in town, I thought at the time, who would sponsor my conversion and allow me to daven in his shul, said the only way he would sponsor me is if I removed this website, and started another one where he was my editor.

I thought, oh, I’m a victim. I have no choice. And I told the rabbi I’d go along with this option.

Then I thought about it some more and said to myself, buck up bronco. Nobody can tell you what to do. There’s no way you want to allow a rabbi with no experience in journalism to be your boss. There’s no way you’re going to pull down seven years of hard work on If this is what it takes to get a conversion to Judaism through an Orthodox Beit Din, then forget it. I believe in my work. I’m not going to give it up.

I didn’t give it up. After three months, I found another rabbi to sponsor me. I found other shuls to daven in. My conversion took a little longer. I had some anxious months. I had many sleepless nights. I felt vulnerable and scared. I had that nasty English bully Rabbi Y.Y. Rubenstein taunting me and manipulating my Wikipedia profile so I looked horrible. He was ready to pounce on my vulnerability. He wanted to sue me in secular and religious courts.

I felt like collapsing. I felt horrible. I didn’t want this fight.

I was so anxious that I went back to therapy. I learned to retake control of my life.

Rabbis are human. Most of them love the power they wield, particularly over converts, but they only have as much power as you allow them. You never want to get into a deal you can’t walk away from. Once you stand up for yourself and demand to be treated with dignity, people tend to treat you with more respect.

Before I had this blog, a lot of rabbis treated me like dirt. They thought I was powerless. I had no money. I had no influential friends. It was easy to throw me out of their shuls and to speak ill of me and to break up my friendships.

Once I developed the courage to describe what was happening, all the rabbis suddenly became a lot more circumspect in what they said about me. Once they realized I could not be bullied, they started acting better.

When I’ve had power, I’ve acted like a bully. I’m not better than the abusers, I’ve just rarely had much power. When people allow you to bully them, it is very hard not to bully them. I had this very gentle girlfriend, and I would yell at her a lot because I could. If I was a rabbi and a beautiful woman offered me sex, it would be very hard to turn down.

I’m glad I have very little power or I’d be screwing everything in sight (except for my fear of God, and my fear of loss of relationships, and my other fears).

It’s hard for me to feel particularly bad for Shannon Orand. She posted so many pictures of herself online. She had so many online profiles. She had her whole resume online. She had her story online. If she was smart, she would’ve removed all this before getting into this mess. If she was smart, she would not have succumbed to Rabbi Tropper’s advances. If she was smart, she would not have agreed to take part in this sting.

I don’t see any animosity in the Jewish blogosphere towards her. We all feel bad for her. Our animus is reserved for Rabbi Leib Tropper, who appears to have acted like a creep.

I suspect but have no evidence that Shannon Orand was paid a nice amount of money by Guma Aguilar to set up Rabbi Leib Tropper.

While everyone hates Rabbi Tropper these days, and for good reason, it’s hard to have much admiration for Shannon Orand and for those who set up Rabbi Tropper.

If she is sincere in her desire to convert to Judaism, she’ll need to move to another city. She’ll find an Orthodox synagogue willing to give her a chance and an Orthodox Beit Din willing to give her a chance to convert.

I remember in 2001 when I was kicked out of Young Israel of Century City and then pleading to get back in, Rabbi Elazar Muskin (after phoning every Orthodox pulpit rabbi in town to warn them against me) advised me to leave town.

That’s the traditional Jewish approach to these things. Have a shanda? Move. Start anew.

This worked better before Google.

You can’t have great accomplishments (such as converting to Orthodox Judaism) without overcoming equally great obstacles. That’s the way of the world. You can’t play in the NFL without a lot of natural talent and a lot of hard work. You can’t join the elite — and make no mistake, Orthodox Jews have been an elite for thousands of years, yep, for millenia, the term “Orthodox Jew” has been a title of prestige — without demonstrating the right stuff.

Right now I am sacrificing to achieve teaching certification in Alexander Technique. It is a three year program. It costs about $23,000. That’s money I don’t have. I’m currently $30,000 in credit card debt. My cards are about maxed out.

So what do I do? I work as hard as I can. I blog my heart out. I borrow money from everyone who will lend it to me. I live hand to mouth to accomplish my dream.

Through two more years of Alexander training, I will strengthen my health and my capacity to work. I will graduate with a marketable skill. Everybody I talk to about Alexander Technique is interested. I figure I’ll be able to build up a strong practice and pay off my credit cards and my other borrowings and start saving so I can marry and have children and live like a mentch.

Even if Leib Tropper was entrapped, he still fell for that and thereby disqualified himself from a rabbinic role. This guy can’t be trusted. On top of that, Leib Tropper was never a good guy. It’s hard to feel sorry for him.

Leib Tropper has a long history of destroying people to make himself look good.

He took Guma Aguilar’s money and used it to buy himself power and friends and sex. Leib told Guma he would disperse the money to all kinds of places. Guma’s now suing Tropper because he’s skeptical of these claims.

Tropper used Guma’s money to buy off a lot of big rabbis, making it sound like he was giving them big donations.

Tropper used Guma’s money to make himself look like a hero.

On the other hand, anyone who set up Leib with sex to destroy him is hardly doing a mitzvah.

I had people who came to me and wanted me to set up Rabbi Steven Weil in some sort of shanda. I said no. I won’t engage in this sort of behavior, and frankly, I don’t think Rabbi Weil would succumb.

NJG posts to Dov Bear: “Listening to the audio on YouTube made me cringe. Not just because of the material being discussed, but because Tropper sounds like a) he’s really not that smart, and b) like an audio caricature of a typical Brooklyn-ey, Yinglish-speaking macher- talking much too fast, Yeshivishe accent and Gemarishe rhythm and cadence to his speech, like he’s going over a sugya instead of talking with a blonde from Texas whom he’s shtupping and pimping out. Oy.”

It doesn’t surprise me that a rabbi would succumb to sexual temptation, but trying to pimp the woman out to his friends, well, that’s edgy.

Leib Tropper is on his second wife. I wonder what caused the end of his first marriage? Wife number two was a student of his.

Miryam Bat Amram writes:

Dear Luke, I know you went through hell in this town with synagogue membership and the conversion process. You always had my sympathy and moral support.

I do not know Shanon BUT, I do know Rabbis in general and some specific scum begs like Tendler &Tendler &Associats or Tropper…The Rabbis are holding a position of leadership and are being paid to be moral leaders. (You are just a volunteer) They come across holier
then though and brake our trust. They should pay for it.

Now what about Shannon Orand, you ask? Nothing. She may be everything you say and more. This does not make the Rabbi’s less guilty. One thing I’ll give her: That as bad as it was for you, I honestly believe that it is 1000 times harder for any woman to take on the Male Rabbinate Mafiosos.

From Shannon Orand’s MySpace profile:

Former Christian who was raised in the Evangelical and Messianic movements.

Since I left Christianity, I’ve had the privilege of watching many come out of the church and learn to worship the ONE G-d of Israel… including my father, an Assembly of God minister for nearly 35 years.

I praise G-d every day for organizations that work at bringing the un-molested Jewish scriptures to the world, and exposing the manipulation and horrific tactics used by Jewish Evangelists to steal Jewish souls.

Today, I dedicate all of my time and efforts to this cause… “Bringing precious Jewish souls back to the truth and beauty of the Jewish faith”.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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