The Orthodox Rabbis Of Los Angeles

Andy* emails me:

Dear Luke:
I have sent to you a thank you note over the years but I never told you why. I went through hell in LA when the rabbis there mainly of chabad but also agudah and Lakewood all banded together to destroy my family. I have not shared the story over the years because no one would believe that rabbis professing family values would actually be doing the opposite. I have never met people that I can honestly say were pure evil until I met the orthodox rabbis of LA.

Let me make perhaps a quick outline of the events.
I Beverly Hills High School
I meet my future wife. I had become frum by reading the kitzur shulchan aruch in high school in my spare time. I would go on Shabbat to R Wassermann and to the Lakewood kollel.
II I go to yeshiva in Far Rockaway.
III I go to the Mir Yeshiva in New York.
In that place I received the general Charedi approach to Judaism which means to learn Torah and to trust in God to provide and i believed this very seriously and it was under this belief system that I married and learned Torah under the foremost Talmudic scholar of those days r. shmuel berenbaum.
IV I go to Israel and become involved with Breslov–(with rav eliezer shelomo shick)
V My wife and our children and I return to California.
VI My wife wanted to belong to a community and that need to belong caused her to accept the Chabad system in those days. That was not against my will and in fact i encouraged it.
VII the lubavitch rabbis urged her to divorce me though we had seven children and had been happily married for ten years.
VII the rabbis of Lakewood and aguda also urged her to divorce me since i was learning Torah and not working.
A couple of weeks before the divorce I asked rabbi fassman the head of Lakewood “my wife told me that if you say not to get a divorce she will not ask for a divorce.” He said “I do not want the responsibility that there should not be a divorce.”
Incidentally another complaint about me was that I was learning kabala and I used the sidur ha’Rashash to pray (that is a sidur of kabala written by a Kabalist from Yemen by the name shelomo sharabi). This was one of the major complaints of chabad against me along with the fact that I was not working. I was not working because I had bought into the philosophy preached by Lakewood then and now that one must learn torah and trust in God to help. Most people in that system are supported by their parents or in laws.
(All the charedi rabbis then learned kabalah but they wanted to be considered as the only people qualified to do so not some baal teshuva down on his luck like me)

We were not lacking money but the charedi rabbis of LA I suppose found a good scapegoat since women’s lib was big in those days and I suppose they felt wanted to show themselves as heroes on the side of a poor neglected wife.

But I really don’t know and can’t understand why the rabbis there decided to destroy me and my family. (That was the year 1990.)

After 1990:

I – I return to Israel thinking that I could give my wife a cooling off period and also perhaps to be able to set up a home where I might be able to win custody of the children in case she would not want to return. That attempt failed.

II in 1993 I return to New York. My wife remarries. My children are sexually raped and abused in the frum schools they go to. The children are taken away and put into the frum foster care agency in Brooklyn.

My children are sexually abused while at that agency. That agency fights me in court and tries to have me painted as a child abuser and the courts being in the control of the frum in Brooklyn award custody back to my wife and her husband.

I finally get two of my children paroled to me after fighting not just that frum agency but many other frum agencies in Brooklyn that seemed to be all out to keep my children from me. I was granted by the courts the privilege of seeing me children once every two weeks but the almost never came. When I complained I was told to go to court but I was in court anyway which was in the process of giving my children back to an upstanding member of the frum community.

Before custody was awarded to my wife the Mir also turned its back on me. I was there one Shabbat when one fellow that was in custody of one of my children came to the Mir to daven. My son saw me and wanted to spend Shabbat with me so he went to get his older brother. Then the people at the Mir called the police on Shabbat and said I kidnapped my children.

III my children are back with my ex-wife and I never see them so I return to Israel. The courts were clearly in the pocket of the frum community in Brooklyn and the frum foster care agency there.

Certain Mitzvoth I still try to keep but I would not be considered frum by the frum world.

But mitzvoth still me a lot to me. You have to understand I really felt the holiness of the Torah. I don’t think anymore that Torah is from Sinai or the Talmud either. Yet I still feel that Torah was written under divine inspiration and meant to be a mythology to give life and meaning and personality to the One true God.

Dear Luke,
I. I had only learnt in yeshiva and (besides high school) had no other education. i was unfit for any type of work and upon my return to Israel I intended to sit and learn Torah in any yeshiva that would accept me. I thought that would be simple since every day in the Mir yeshiva there was some new collector (meshuch) from Israel collecting money for a different yeshiva and all of the collectors -meshulachim said that their yeshivas were taking in anyone off the street and providing them a place to learn torah. Ever yeshiva that had claimed that I upon my return to Israel was thrown sometimes (physically) out of yeshivas are for everyone as long as you are young and have rich American parents. The first place I was thrown out of was aish the breslov then the Mir etc
So in short I did not work and did not learn.
After my return to Israel however I was introduced by the some frum community to a nice girl. It turned out after the married that she had become a believer (Christian) and the frum had just scammed me as usually with one of their rejects so I divorced her.
Then another frum woman met me at the rabbinate and someone had told her I had money so she got me and spent all the time we were married trying to get her hands on my supposed great fortunes in America. It is along story and in fact I owe her a great debt because it was through her that I finally understood an amazing lesson. Her son was a diabetic in some Kollel and he used to learn medical books. i asked her about it and she said there is nothing wrong with science. I understood then and there that the frum approach of rejecting science was not the right attitude. I realized she must have picked this up from her background in bnei brak. So eventually I started learning science and math.
But I did divorce her because of the other problems that were there. But she was also a victim and had been indoctrinated that all Americans are rich.

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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