Remembering Abner Weiss’s Final Years At Beth Jacob

I’m told: Gadi Pickholz’s is distorting the facts. The audacity to twist the story around!

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Rabbi Abner Weiss had affairs with married women in his congregation prior to Yuli Aranowitz.
We knew and did nothing because we did not want to hurt Shifra’s feelings. We also did not want to break up the marriage.
– He was very bold about it, almost asking to be stopped.
– Shifra says that when she was served divorce papers, she was surprised and shocked. The woman had no clue.
– When Abner went to England, Shifra stayed behind for one year. They agreed that she will complete her tenure at L.A. Unified and retire. Lucky for her otherwise she would have lost not only a husband but her pension and health benefits, too.
– He came to visit her during that time and she thought it was her he came to see.
– At the end of the year as she was packing to leave, the divorce papers came. It hit her like a ton of bricks.
– We all gathered at the S’uddah Shishit before her trip. None of us knew what took place. She got up like a lady, then calmly and elegantly told us in a few words that she is not going to England and that they are getting divorced. You could have sliced the air with a knife. Some people even cried.
– I never heard her speak ill about the rabbi or Yuli. She quietly moved on.
– It seems to that the Beth Jacob membership never forgave the rabbi.

I liked the rabbi very much. I was very uncomfortable with his behavior during the last years at BJ. I got over it. He and Yuli have a right to be happy. If Shifra is OK and moved on, who am I to begrudge them? As a pulpit rabbi, he served the community well and had wonderful Drashot and political speeches. I missed him a lot during the present rabbinate leadership. I know that I am not the only one…

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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