The UOJ Archives June 19, 2006
What has happened to good old-fashioned common sense? Most of us folk that make up the ranks of Orthodoxy crave the application of good judgment in our lives to the myriad of decisions that we are faced with every day. And when that judgment is applied to the welfare of our children, vigilance is the order of the day.
So how do we explain Kolko’s ability to stave off these persistent rumors that have dogged him for decades so effectively that he remained in the classroom until just a few weeks ago? We joked about our Cocoa Club and his Kolko Club. Rest assured, if these rumors reached the tender ears of a naïve thirteen year-old, they reached the hanhala of Torah Temimah as well. The previous failed bais din was more than enough for a thinking parent body to dispose of Yudi Kolko from the surroundings of children. Yet Kolko remained a rebbe, in class, enjoying unfettered access to young, vulnerable children entrusted to his care.
Lipa Margulies's crime was not only the lack of caring about your children, not only the pathetic trouncing of all that is sacred to mankind, but he literally spit in all the faces of his parent body, teachers, rebbes and the very foundation of Judaism; mentchlikeit. We were designated by God to set an example to the Nations of the world....oh what have we permitted to be done to us by one evil man?
Consider how this case would have played out if Torah Temimah were a public school. A complaint gets filed with the Board of Ed, and before an inquiry is conducted, Kolko is at the very least, removed from the classroom. Aren’t we supposed to be the smart ones?
Much of the blame lies in the basic human nature of people. We don’t want to believe that rabbis commit sins of moral turpitude. Nor do we want to find ourselves in the unenviable position of being betrayed by those we hope to admire and strive to emulate. It’s so much easier to shove aside the accuser because the alternative, acceptance, reflects so harshly on all of us, both as individuals and as a community. Had this gone on for a few months, or a year, perhaps such reason could be applied to the Torah Temimah hanhala.
But the sheer persistence of these rumors renders Marguiles and his minions absolutely responsible, as if they were in the room with Kolko b’shaas mayseh. Think for a moment what thirty years is. There is simply no excuse for not removing Kolko sooner. Sofek deorysah lchumrah should have been reason enough.
Ultimately, this cover-up may have occurred for no other reason than because it could. With the erosion of any sort of meaningful beis din process, until someone realized that catch phrases like “mesirah” and “rechilus” were just a smoke screen to pervert the truth and disguise the reality, there really is no hierarchy of accountability existing in Orthodoxy today. In fact, it’s become a joke. You don’t like a psak, buy another. For every rav that will tell you “no,” two more will not only tell you “yes” but tell you why the first rav is a lunatic. Sad, but the truth many times is.
I had a rebbe that once told me that mastering the four volumes of Shulchan Aruch were not nearly as important as the fifth – common sense. Our leaders, by failing to act sooner, have abrogated their thrones. We the people are on to them, and it will take more than reference to an obscure tosfos to regain our respect. There are more Kolkos out there. Let’s see who strives to fill the void at the uppermost echelons of Orthodoxy and exposes them.
Turning to the particulars of the case for a moment, let me state unequivocally that I believe David Framowitz. Common sense again dictates that a middle-aged man with a family doesn’t just come out of nowhere and make something like this up. And time does not dull every memory. I would venture that Framowitz remembers what happened to him in that old Plymouth like it was yesterday.
Indeed, Kolko’s belated removal from the classroom will reverberate through the Orthodox world the way Kennedy’s assassination changed the course of American history, and Framowitz is our Zapruder.
What Kolko’s removal says, regardless of the ultimate outcome of this case, to every Jew who has distorted our holy Torah to hide his behavior, to every Jew that fails to control the inclinations that drive them to sin at another’s expense, is that your days are numbered. We may take our licks for violating the laws of lashon harah. We may resort to profanity and less than sophisticated behavior. But we will not continue to enable those that prey on the weak by ignoring their cry. We will bring victims rights to the fore by aggressively pursuing those that prey on them.
If Orthodox "leaders" won’t say it, then the Orthodox will say to our so called leaders – zero tolerance. If we are going to call ourselves the am hanivchar, then we are going to start acting like the am hanivchar.
We will start reforming the yeshiva system as the next phase of our crusade, as we know full well that this would never have happened in a public school. Mitoch shelo lishmah, bah lishmah. The fact that Torah Temimah put Kolko “on leave” only after the suits were filed is pathetic and shamefully irrelevant at this point. What is highly relevant is that UOJ has demonstrated that late is better than never!
What remains to be done immediately, is to have Lipa Margulies removed from this yeshiva if it wants to recapture the name of a makom Torah. There is no room among our arba koslei hayeshiva for an evil opportunist to be present.
The leadership of the Jewish people must do just that; lead..... or the rishaim among our community will view this as just another story that they think will go away in time.
It will not; the lawsuit against Torah Temimah will be ongoing, making headlines in the national and international media.
Ridding our community of Lipa Margulies is not optional, it is no less than a chiyuv D'oraisa...ubeartah hara m'kirbechaw.