Jewish author connected to Rabbi Hershy Worch’s former synagogue (Hamakom Synagogue) in Australia writes a book about an abusive Rabbi

Jewish Whistleblower writes:

Jewish author connected to Rabbi Hershy Worch’s former synagogue (Hamakom Synagogue) in Australia writes a book about an abusive Rabbi who is "a charismatic US rabbi who rides into town on a page of Kabbalah, bringing with him an irresistible mix of personality, mystical teachings and guitar playing".

Sound familiar?

I don’t believe the following is about Hershy Worch. It’s about the type of man who gave Worsh semicha (rabbinic ordination) — Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

Yvonne Fein writes for the Australian Jewish News:

This week, Hybrid Publishers will release my latest novel, The Torn Messiah.

Between its covers, I have told a strange and disturbing story about rabbis and students, masters and disciples.

The Torn Messiah is a psychological thriller set in contemporary Melbourne.

It centres on a charismatic New York rabbi who rides into town on a page of Kabbalah, bringing with him an irresistible mix of personality, mystical teachings and guitar playing.

Melbourne’s vulnerable Jewish youth flock to him, hungry for any teaching which will show them a way of identifying Jewishly beyond the narrow confines of Holocaust and Zionism.

And while the protagonists are Jews who walk our well-known, Caulfield streets, the tale inside the novel is a universal one, grappling with a global dilemma.

How should we respond to the enchantment of those who would fill our brains with exhilarating ideas, our hearts with music and pleasure and yet manipulate our consciousness for their own dubious ends -– sexual, spiritual or emotional?

What defence can we mount against such a profound abuse of power as well as against the potent seductiveness possessed by texts, ancient or modern, when they combine with bitter-sweet melodies filtered through generations of suffering.

The Torn Messiah reveals how an authority figure steeped in spiritual mysticism can endanger the susceptible and the defenceless and perhaps it asks more questions than it is able to answer.

In addition to the above, JWB includes this in his email:

2)
http://www.j-net.com.au/synagogues.html

NAME Hamakom
CONTACT Yvonne Fein
PHONE 03 9528 4382
EMAIL frad@ozemail.com.au
WEB

3)
http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/Worch_Hershy.html
Regarding Rabbi Jeremy Hershy Worch – While in Melbourne, Australia
From a group of men and women in Melbourne Australia who wish to remain anonymous – December 6, 2004

Hershy Worch came to Melbourne, Australia with his wife and young family in 1995. He was initially employed by the Hillel Foundation. As rabbi of the Hamakom Synagogue, he was then financially supported by members of his community from the years 1995-1997.

During this time both his behaviour and demeanour with his female students were consistently predatory, manipulative and abusive. He proactively sought ‘romantic’ and sexual relationships wtih many many women, specifically targeting those who were emotionally vulnerable and fostering acute dependency. He consistently used his role as counselor to make sexual advances towards those who came to him in need. He had ‘romantic’ sexual relationships with married and unmarried women who ranged in age from 20 to 50.

His inappropriate behaviour towards female students included:

Physical sexual interactions

Predatory behavior in the pursuit of women: e.g. late night phone calls and invitations to teach women privately.

Using the teaching of Torah as a tool of seduction.

Using group situations with himself at the centre – that utilized his musical, vocal and narrative ‘talents’ – to manipulate individuals and create a cultic environment around ‘Kabbalah’ classes.

Using his relationships with students to influence them to ‘rescue’ him by financially and publically supporting and defending him.

His abuse of his position as rabbi, chazzan and counselor traumatized this community leaving wounds that took and are still taking many years to heal. Reputations were publicly compromised and personal lives were taken over.

Those who have followed his career since he left Australia and returned to the United States have observed a repetition of these patterns. We trust that with our testimony and others you will do everything within your power to expose Hershy Worch and warn individuals and communities who may be vulnerable to his ‘teachings’ and promises of insight and enlightenment.

4) Sample pages from book
http://www.hybridpublishers.com.au/titles/48.html

5) Interview scheduled in June
http://www.shalom.edu.au/limmudoz/contentPageM.php?pageName=sessions

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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