By Vicki Polin (Examiner.com)
July 15, 2012
Last week Rabbi Moshe Hauer released a letter which included a photograph of Rabbi Stanley Z. Levitt in hopes of protecting unsuspected children from harm. Rabbi Levitt was arrested back in 2009 in Boston and charged with sexually abusing students at a Jewish day school more then 30 years ago. Jury selection on Levitt criminal case begins on July 30, 2012 at the Suffolk County Superior Courthouse in Boston. Stanley Levitt currently resides in northeast Philadelphia, but also maintains a residence in Baltimore, MD.
According to Hauer’s letter, Levitt is not allowed in any orthodox synagogue except for Shearith Israel Congregation (also known as the Glenn Ave. Shul), which is under the leadership of Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer. The letter continued by assuring the Baltimore community that Stanley Levitt would be closely monitored when going in the hallways and or the restroom, that he was mandated to be accompanied by another adult. Due to the seriousness of the allegations pending against Levitt in Boston, he is not allowed to get into any in synagogue service such as reading a Torah portion, saying any blessings to the congregation, etc. This is an amazing unprecedented response to be getting from the ultra-orthodox community in Baltimore.
Several community members in the Baltimore orthodox community voiced their concerns regarding the fact that Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer is in charge of monitoring Levitt. His synagogue has been known to be a harbor for other alleged and convicted sex offenders residing within the eruv (ultra-orthodox Jewish community) of Baltimore. In the past it has been reported that Rabbi Hopfer attempted to conduct his own investigations regarding allegations of sex crimes, instead of encouraging community members to make hotline and police reports. One such case in which many believe there was an obstruction of justice is the case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau, who is the principal of the Torah Institute (TI) of Baltimore. Allegations arouse several years ago that Eisgrau had allegedly molested his daughter. When a police detective attempted to investigate the case he was told that no one knew who Eisgrau or his daughter was. A reliable source stated that community members were instructed by rabbi Hopfer along with other members of the Vaad of Baltimore (Jewish religious court) not to assist law enforcement officials in this matter. The fear was that letting the rest of the world know that problems like this existed in the charedi world, could bring on another pogrom or holocaust.
Recently, a Hillel rabbi from Baltimore came into possession of a Torah (Jewish bible) from the holocaust. He was looking for someone who was trained to repair the scroll. Rabbi Stanley Levitt is a trained sofer stam (scribe) and had the qualifications needed to do the repairs. According to standard policies an individual who handles a Torah has to do so within the guidelines of purity, which includes going to a mikvah (ritual bath), prior to doing the work.
When Levitt applied to do the repairs on the holocaust Torah, he was interviewed three times prior to his application for the work was sent off the information to a Vaad in London (Jewish religious court). Immediately a member of the Vaad did a "Google search" of him, and learned of the allegations made against him along with the pending court case, which was found on The Awareness Center’s website. This was enough information for the Vaad to choose someone else to do the work.
Even though the Vaad of Baltimore has been aware of the allegations made against Levitt for several years it took the son of the Hillel rabbi to have the letter sent out by Hauer to be sent out. The truth is protecting children is everyone’s responsibility. According to Jewish law, every adult is a mandated reporter. If you suspect a child is at risk of harm, pick up the phone and call your local child abuse hotline. It is the only way to ensure that offenders are taken off the streets and that our children stand a chance at being safe.