New York – Interview with Conference of European Rabbis: Rav Dunner Speaks Out

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    Cllr Aba Dunner Executive DirectorNew York – The Conference of European Rabbis is the primary Orthodox Rabbinic organization in Europe. It was founded in 1956 on the initiative of British Chief Rabbi Sir Israel Brodie, and its current executive director is Rabbi Aba Dunner. All the chief Rabbis across Europe joined the organization, and attended its first conference in Amsterdam.

    It is now run by a standing committee of 25 members which meets twice a year, and just met in Moscow. The Five Towns Jewish Times and VINNEWS spoke with Rabbi Dunner in an exclusive interview concerning the recent statement by the Conference of European Rabbis about the EJF (the Eternal Jewish Family).

    Interviewer: Firstly, can you tell me about the Conference of European Rabbis?

    RD: We are an umbrella organization of all the Chief Rabbis in Europe ranging from Dublin to Kazikstan. They turn to us for guidance. It was designed to prevent the non-authentic forms of Judaism from entering Europe.

    Since then, the Conference of European Rabbis has been active in four main areas. The office in Brussels deals with combating anti-Semitism, and attempts to stop Shechita. There is also a “Lo Tishkach” department identifying the 20,000 Jewish cemeteries and mass graves in Europe and to protect them. The fourth area is to establish a Bais Din in areas where they do not have them in order to stop what we call, “Cowboy Geirus and Gittin.”

    INT: What else does it do?

    RD: We also have a department that builds Mikvaos. A Rav without a Mikvah is like someone with one hand tied behind his back. How can a Rav discuss Taharas HaMishpacha without access to a Mikvah? This is something else that we do.

    INT: One would think that there would be worldwide condemnation against Leib Tropper, the former leader of the EJF, and its organization – yet there is virtually nothing. Why is that?

    RD: We are amazed why it is. We unmasked this organization and the chap who ran it, I would not call him Rabbi – before this scandal.. We found him to be a control freak and a megalo-maniac, we found him to be so disrespectful of Rabbanim that there was a unanimous vote of the standing committee to make sure that he and his organization do not enter Europe.

    Having a seminar of mixed intermarried couples to convert is so bizarre – this was all done in order to gain favor with their sponsor.. We decided, en masse that we wanted nothing to do with EJF .. We are amazed that the Gedolim have not come out against this. We do not understand this at all.

    I will press and will continue to press very hard to continue to ensure that this organization ceases from its nefarious activities.

    INT: Are you aware of any improprieties by this organization in terms of pushing onto the batei Dinim questionable Geirus?

    RD: I have heard stories from America in this regard, but do not know firsthand. I have found the tape to be so terribly shocking, however, that anything can be.

    INT: Have you experienced this organization undoing a proper Geirus?

    RD: I have only heard that they do such things but do not know of anything for certain. I like to know names and facts before I take a stand on something as serious as this.

    I have no idea what their criterion [for geirus] is, if a geirus came in we would make inquiries. We do know of certain unscrupulous batei dinim – there are questionable rabbonim. We look at the geirus that comes up on the table.

    This EJF was a random organization, a private organization by a miniscule Rosh Yeshiva in Monsey. What are we talking about here? He has no experience. It is a private organization that got numerous people involved in it for reasons that we all know.. He tried to assume authority and dictated to people what they can and cannot do.. I don’t know why Mr. Tom Kaplan would do this..

    INT: Are you convinced that these tapes are legitimate?

    RD: Yes, absolutely. I heard the tapes, I know his voice. They are absolutely, totally, and completely genuine.. The whole thing is sick. Never in my entire klal life did I ever experience anything like this. It is quite sick I am 72 years old and, unfortunately, I was exposed to these tapes. I had to hear things that never in my life I would thought to hear. To think of the person and what he did. So unbelievable and so terrible!

    IINT: But what about the possible good work that he may have done here? Should we throw out the entire organization because of what he did?

    RD: Yes, absolutely. Mendelson translated the Tanach into German. He was an apikores. I once asked my father (Rav Dunner‘s father was the head of Keddassiah)- He said, “Abba, it is Assur, this is apikorsus any work that he has done has apikorsus in it..

    The same goes to an organization that has been founded by this depraved individual.. He has no right whatsoever to have a Yeshiva.. He is a man that should stay home and be happy that nobody stones him. The same goes for his organization..

    Let Mr. Kaplan put his money into Jewish education. Schools are dying because of this economic situation. That is the future of Klal Yisroel.. He could do so much more with his money. The amount of money that has gone down through this black hole is sinful.. Don’t pollute our Jewish world with this type of organization..

    INT: What would you recommend American Rabbonim do in the meantime?

    RD: They should organize themselves and come up with an alternative method of evaluating geirus.. There are very capable and fine Rabbonim in America. They are quite capable of doing it themselves and working it out themselves. I am sure they can do that to put their house in order.. They should not take money from such an organization..

    INT: What in your opinion should Rabbis do who have accepted money personally when they attended these EJF Conferences?
    ..
    RD: If someone got personal money they should give it to tzedaka, as being part of the backers of EJF – they should immediately give it away. Not back to the EJF. But chas veshalom they should put it in their pockets..

    They should also write a letter to EJF and say, “We want nothing to do with the organization and the funds we received we are forwarding to the following tzedaka organization.. The mosdos of chinuch.” If there is all that money, it should be given to a useful purpose..

    INT: Are there any other statements you would like to say regarding this situation?

    RD: I call upon every single Rav in America to look at themselves in the mirror and say to themselves:

    “Did I do the right thing [in taking EJF money]? For the sake of Chillul Hashem we should show that when the truth comes out, we should say we made a mistake. We know the truth – a genuine mistake. We were wrong. We therefore say, “EJF goodbye! Close down. We don’t need you.” and say to Tom Kaplan, “Please use your money for education.” – That is my call to them..

    INT: Thank you Rabbi Dunner, this has been most enlightening.

    RD: Thank you.

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    47 COMMENTS

    1. INT: Are you convinced that these tapes are legitimate?
      RD: Yes, absolutely. I heard the tapes, I know his voice. They are absolutely, totally, and completely genuine..

      Oh, so he is able to judge authenticity be hearing voices on a tape? There is no possibility of altering tapes and cutting and pasting different parts to incriminate someone? As a Rabbi he should know that without two kosher witnesses who see and testify in beis din, it is forbidden to decide that someone is guilty.

      For shame!

      • How can you even raise the possibility that the tapes are not authentic? Tropper himself admitted that they were real!!
        Yet Tropper claims that all he did was talk in an untzniusdike manner, nothing else.

        But I repeat, Tropper HIMSELF ADMITS THE TAPES ARE REAL!!! Not only has he never denied that they were fake (as anyone in such a situation would do) BUT IN HIS STATEMENT HE EXPRESSED REMORSE FOR HIS UNTZNIUSDIKE TALK.

          • He wishes to express his regret for the turmoil caused by his departure from the Eternal Jewish Family organization and for what has appeared to be conduct not within our significant laws of modesty. Rabbi Tropper now looks forward to a return to both his studies and time with his loving family, as well as to personal introspection. He thanks those outside his closest circle of friends for respecting his privacy.

      • And “Rachel” is now a “true converted Jew” by a legitimate kosher frum Beis Din in E”Y who didn’t demand “favors” in return for her conversion. Her belief in Judaism and her pure desire to be a Jew even though she was abused by a so called Rabbi, and even though she suffered by the hands of so called Frum Jews, did not waver because her neshoma begged to be connected to Hashem.

        Kol Hakovod to you Rachel!!! Welcome aboard. May you see much nachas and simcha among us.

    2. “The fourth area is to establish a Bais Din in areas where they do not have them in order to stop what we call, “Cowboy Geirus and Gittin.”
      So the are only concerned with “cowboy gittin”….are they monitoring existing non cowboy gittin that both parties are being treated kehalacha and that the dayanim are shouldering their responsibilities properly? I haven’t hear that the “aguna problem is not an issue in Europe”? Am I missing something?

    3. Something sounds strange here how can a dayon give an opinion without first hand knowledge?
      INT: Have you experienced this organization undoing a proper Geirus?
      RD: I have only heard that they do such things but do not know of anything for certain
      INT: Are you aware of any improprieties by this organization in terms of pushing onto the batei Dinim questionable Geirus?
      RD: I have heard stories from America in this regard, but do not know firsthand.

      Sometimes you need a nutty sheriff to stop the wild cowboys from doing “Cowboy Geirus and Gittin.” and in America THE ONLY ONE to do that was, and still is the EJF. The EJF git rid of Tropper and now they might be able to do some good work for klal Yisroel in a quite way.

      • The Jewish community needs a ‘nutty sheriff’ about as much as it needs the bubonic plague. We need responsible leaders like Rav Dunner who have common sense instead of more self-important nuts.

    4. I would like to say, there is a very big difference in Yiddishkiet in USA and Europe. In Europe things are lot more organized. You cannot open up your own Bies Din, or Kashrus. The Lieb Tropper scandal or the Monsey meat scandal could have never happened in Europe. I know from first hand knowledge, that in UK one cannot get married by any Frum Rabbi, with out consulting with the Office of the Chief Rabbi to make sure that everything is 100% Kosher.

    5. Clearly, “Chaim” is an EJF employee. Yes, you cannot fake a voice for so long and his speech patterns for so long. Anyone that believes the tapes are forgeries after hearing them is a naar, plain and simple. People that knew him their entire lives have recognized his voice. Technology can’t do that. Let us also realize that the young lady is also in on this scam, and the Rabbi that has been dealing with her. So the bad guys spents millions of dollars in forging the tapes, hiring a girl to lie, and buying off an EJF Rabbi with a sterling reputation.

    6. Tropper is and always was an az panim period, I do not know why anyone was ever gores him at all. When I was in Long Beach in 1983 or 84 he spoke and criticized the great baalai mussar of the previous generation the Rosh Yeshiva called him a mechutzaf and stated that he would never be welcomed back.

      That incident was enough for me to know that something was not 100% with him.
      Then there was the incident with him throwing out his first wife and marrying a woman that he put through geirus.

      Isn’t this a bit odd a “Rosh Yeshiva” divorcing his wife of many years and marrying a newly converted woman. It should have raised eyebrows from the start.

    7. “INT: Are you convinced that these tapes are legitimate?
      RD: Yes, absolutely. I heard the tapes, I know his voice. They are absolutely, totally, and completely genuine.. “

      Isnt it baffling how the same people that openly admit that they hated and despised Tropper BEFORE this whole story broke, are same guys that over night became experts at autenticating tapes and detecting if the whole thing was fake.
      What a coincidence!!
      The rest of us who never heard of Tropper, or the ones that did and never had anything against him, are willing to believe that the same person who reliesed the tapes ,who happens to be a billionaire, who happed to also vow revenge on Tropper might have had a hand in all this. Just maybe.
      Notice that not one Gadol has believed the whole story.
      I think that says something.
      Also it might be a good idea for anyone who wants to judge if the whole Tropper scandal is true, to first do some research into 1. The women on the tape, 2. The billionaire who reliesed the tape. and the history he had with Tropper 3. The people that are out there screaming that Tropper is guilty. And what theyre relationship was with Tropper BEFORE the story broke.

        • He lives in the hills (SF), true. He is supporting Tropper like a solid stone! as is Rabbi Reuven Fienstien and many others.

          How did all his enemies suddenly become THE experts (who everyone has to rely on) on audio technology?
          did they all take a crash course together (in beween yenting LH on blogs)?

      • Could you possibly try to screw your head on straight? This Billionaire did nothing but trust Tropper to distribute millions of dollars to of his money for tzedaka to eligible organizations such as yeshivas and tzedakah organizations that never received the money and never even heard of Tropper. Tropper was the one who recommended the recipients to THIS billionaire that YOU are trying to make out to be the villain in the case.

        The research on the “WOMAN” is very simple through the internet. It shows she worked for Tropper/EJF so that pans out. It shows she loves Yiddishkeit, so that pans out.

        The HISTORY the billionaire had with Tropper is also easy to verify by doing an internet search and reading HIS side of the story which shows that HE has proof via emails from Tropper’s secretary that Tropper never sent the money to the intended recipients.

        So the question remains, who ARE YOU and why are you defending this negative example of a Jew? Whoever gave him smicha should revoke it immediately!!!!!!

    8. Anonymous 18 is Tropper’s spokesman? Or is this Tropper himself, bichvodo ve’atzmo? If I were he, I would also hide behind anonymity. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. He does not deserve privacy (his prelude to a comeback) – he deserves eternal Jewish bizayon.

    9. !. Tropper never admited the tapes were real.
      2. He has been denying it the whole time.
      3. His wife is not a geores. (lol, the strories people think up!)
      4. There is no question a lot of people wish and hope the story is true.
      5. There are many people that are giddy by his downfall.
      6. He has the support of many Gedolim.
      7. Who is this unknown Rabbi from England anyways?
      8. Good Shabbos!

      • It is people like you that causes such low lifes like Tropper to exist. He has no symathy as he is a person with no morals. Many were not suprised by the tapes as they knew him well and nothing would suprise them! This idea of denying facts and living the lie causes people to loose faith in our Rabbonim. Tropper should have been thrown out years ago,

      • You got to be kidding. His wife is not a geores, she’s a ballas teshuva? Does that change the circumstances of his dumping his first wife and, as a supposed prominent rabbi and rosh yeshiva, marrying a ballas teshuva (who is also implicated in the goings on in the tape)?
        Rabbi Dunner is a talmid chachan ben a talmid chacham. How dare you compare some trollop make believe religious faker witha true gadol like Rabbi Dunner, shlita ???

      • 1. He never denied it.
        2. To whom?
        3. His first wife was not a geores, his second wife is. Who knows who his third wife will be?
        4. Nope, it is a black mark on the Jewish people. We all wish it didn’t happen especially for the sake of Shannon.
        5. Don’t know him and never heard about him before this, but if that is true there must be a very good reason behind it.
        6. Really? Who? Which Rav has stood up and vouched for his honesty, decency and reliability?
        7. ??????
        8. Gut voch and we should only know nachas and simchas by all yiddin.

    10. Chaim said: “As a Rabbi he should know that without two kosher witnesses who see and testify in beis din, it is forbidden to decide that someone is guilty.”

      This is ridiculous and false, the Gemara says in more than one place that a person about whom a strong rumor of Arayos goes out, one should even shame him publicly! Go learn a blatt gemara. As for anonymous:

      !. Tropper never admited the tapes were real.

      His resignation and statement about ‘tznius’ is a clear admission.

      2. He has been denying it the whole time.

      where?

      3. His wife is not a geores. (lol, the strories people think up!)

      No, his current wife is a baalas teshuva who he was mekarev. He divorced his first wife and married her. It was a dodgy matzav.

      4. There is no question a lot of people wish and hope the story is true. There are many people that are giddy by his downfall.

      If that is so it is because he made alot of enemies. That doesnt say much good for him.

      6. He has the support of many Gedolim.

      I havent heard any say so, but if it is true they should be ashamed of themselves.

      7. Who is this unknown Rabbi from England anyways?

      Unknown? He has been the top askan in Europe for decades.

    11. Rabbi Dunner is one of the few Rabbis who seek the truth, have not been bought up by troppers $$$ like many other Rabbis.
      If the torah says that bribery blinds then we CAN NOT trust Rav Reuven Feinstein who feceived $3M. This is a fact he can not deny, it is on the IRS from 2008. Even if it was only his yeshivah , but he is on the payroll.

    12. S!. Tropper never admited the tapes were real.
      His resignation and statement about ‘tznius’ is a clear admission.

      “CLEAR”?
      B”H I dont see things as clearly as you about other jews.

      2. He has been denying it the whole time.
      where?

      You need to know where he was every time he denied it? At home, office, the store. Happy now?

      3. His wife is not a geores. (lol, the strories people think up!)
      No, his current wife is a baalas teshuva who he was mekarev. He divorced his first wife and married her. It was a dodgy matzav.

      Why not stick with the Geores story? Sounds even “dodgyer”.

      4. There is no question a lot of people wish and hope the story is true. There are many people that are giddy by his downfall.
      If that is so it is because he made alot of enemies. That doesnt say much good for him.

      It says much about the valdity of the story, when his enemies are spreading it.

      6. He has the support of many Gedolim.
      I havent heard any say so

      I have.

      but if it is true they should be ashamed of themselves.

      A gadol hater. Should have known.

      7. Who is this unknown Rabbi from England anyways?

      Unknown? He has been the top askan in Europe for decades.

      A european ASKAN? thats all you got?!

    13. No. That’s not all. Rav Shternbuch. Rav Elya Svei zatzal. Numerous Gedolim and poskim hold that Tropper is slime. The problem is that he is also a bully and anyone that speaks up gets smashed.

    14. I am shocked to see Rabbi Dunner being motzi shem ra about Reb Moshe ben Mendel mi-Dessau. Some rabbonim of the time gave haskamos to the Biur or subscribed to it — including R. Akiva Eiger and R. Yaakov Zvi Mecklenburg, and many more used and discussed it. Even those who — like the Noda biYehuda — disagreed with the project of translating into sophisticated German, on the grounds that teachers would spend too long explaining the language to talmidim, never accused R. Moshe Mendelssohn of apikorsus. Even the Hasam Sofer, who did not want his descendants to use the Biur, did not say this! There is not a single word of apikorsus in the Biur, and I challenge anyone to prove otherwise. These accusations should not be thrown around, destroying the reputation of frumme Yidden, especially those who can no longer reply.

      • Sorry sir. You are mistaken. Moses Mendelsohn was a senior and one of the founders of the German Haskalah movement. The gedolim forbade using his biur because of who he was, not because of its content. (Sefer Torah sh’kosav min).

        Would you study a chumash with a pirush by Torquemada, however good the pirush was?

    15. I have never heard of this Tropper or his organisation but whenever I hear or read of all the other Rabbonim coming out against one particular Rabbi I am reminded of the vicious and completely unfounded attacks against the Belzer Rebbe in the early 1980s, incidentally also based on tapes that neither he or his chassidim denied.
      Enough said?

    16. The lot of you – do some research before asking who R’ Aba is. He is the son of the head of kedasia, the brother of a current kedasia dayan, the father of Bentzion Dunner zatzal.

      • Rabbi J. Dunner z”l was not head of Keddassia. Rabbi Henoch Padwa was. He was succeeded by his son, the present rov, Rabbi Efraim Padwa.
        Rabbi Dunner was titular Rosh Beis Din (in name only), a position that was abolished at his death. Except in very rare circumstances he never sat in on a Din Torah and then only when there were other rabbis there far more learned than him.
        BenTzion Dunner (son of Reb Aba and son-in-law of Willy Stern) was a very rich and very charitable man who was killed r”l in a car accident. He as found to have traces of cocaine inside him when examined after the accident.

    17. Mendelson has only one recorded instance of clear apikorsus. He writes that sefer tehillim are the incoherent rantings of someone who is disjointed and states that they are not dovid hamelech. And yes, tropper is a million times worse than mendelson was

    18. #40: what is the evidence that the Biur was banned because of its author? First, I challenge you to produce any evidence of a ban. The Noda BiYehuda specifically did not ban it, and his son and others continued to use it. Second, I challenge you to produce any evidence that reservations expressed about it — by the Noda biYehuda, for example, were because of its author, who was widely respected as a talmid chochom. These reservations had to do with one issue only: whether it was right, at that time, to use a chumash with a sophisticated German translation in the classroom. Why do R. Akiva Eiger and the Maharam Schick, among so many others, quote the Biur, if you are right?? Why was the Biur — without the translation — used in Yeshivas Etz Chaim in Yerushalayim? Why is Reb Zundel Salanter’s personal copy, with his handwritten notes, in the National Library?
      #41: I would very much like to know where you think Rambaman says anything of the sort about Tehillim. This does not sound like him at all, and I would be shocked if it were true.
      We should not be motzi shem ra by throwing around accusations of apikorsus. And the fact that “everyone knows it” doesn’t make it true.

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