Chosen: Crimes and Misdemeanors

The Weekly Blotter

How much money did Chabad steal? That’s the question Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg, father of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, the Chabad rabbi murdered along with his wife Rivka and four others in a terrorist attack two years ago at the Chabad House of Mumbai, India, wants answered. Tuesday, Rabbi Holtzberg accused the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of “large scale manipulation and falsification of records… to grab” his late son’s Chabad House building as well as “pocketing millions of dollars” raised by Chabad to renovate the badly-damaged building in Mumbai. Eliran Russo, an Israeli businessman living in Mumbai who is representing Holtzberg, said Chabad-Lubavitch had raised a large amount of money to repair the building and had made some payments, but had pocketed a most of the money raised and refused to provide an accounting to the family. (Indian Express)

Despite worldwide publicity and a pervasive and well-publicized fundraising campaign, Chabad admits to raising only $1.6 million dollars, $850,00 of which it says was put into trust for Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg’s surviving son, Moshe, who is now four years old. A Chabad spokesperson said the Brooklyn-based Hasidic group strongly denies the “outrageous and absolutely false” allegations made against it by Holtzberg and Russo. (Failed Messiah has the original text of the New York Times story, which has the $1.6 million figure and says Chabad will use any funds raised that are not used for Moshe’s care for the rebuilding of Nariman House. The Times new version of the story leaves that figure out and omits the pledge to use the remaining funds to rebuild Nariman House, but the Times strangely does not list any corrections for this story.)

Nachman Holtzberg says he waited 1 1/2 years but Chabad did not start rebuilding the Mumbai Chabad House, also known as Nariman House. So he raised money and began the renovations himself. Chabad took Holtzberg to Indian court to stop the renovations, which Chabad claims were done without the proper permits. Holzberg responded by suing Chabad. (New York Times)

An American couple was arrested for allegedly drugging and kidnapping their 21-year-old daughter. The girl, who alleges she was abused by her parents,  had fled the US and was living with relatives in Bnei Brak, Israel. She was found apparently drugged and incoherent with her parents on a plane that was about to take off from Ben Gurion International Airport for Bucharest. (Ha’aretz)

Several ultra-Orthodox yeshivas were caught embezzling millions of dollars from the Israeli government. The fraud, which is said to widespread, involved identity theft and used false IDs and stolen IDs to get undeserved yeshiva student stipends from the government. (Ynet)

Members of a kabbalah cult charged with horrific child abuse were sentenced to long prison terms. The cult members were trying to perform an exorcisms by force-feeding a child feces and by locking another in a suitcase for three days. Members severely burned children and beat them, and then rubbed salt in their wounds. The cult’s leader, Rabbi Elior Chen, is still on trial. (Ynet)

Ultra-Orthodox umbrella group Agudath Israel of America successfully lobbied to exempt private and religious schools from New Jersey’s anti-bullying bill. Agudah called the bill an “unprecedented government intrusion into private schools.” (Failed Messiah)

Billionaire Modern Orthodox industrialist Ira Rennert is being sued by Peruvian children and their families who say Rennert’s mining interests have poisoned area children. “We are looking at children with a community average lead blood level of 32, which is off the charts by American standards,” Attorney Michael Hugo said. “I’ve seen children test in the 70s . . . In New York if a kid gets a 10, he’s rushed to the hospital.” The Brooklyn-born Rennert also owns America’s largest private home, a 66,000 square foot behemoth in a suburb of New York City. (New York Post)

An Ethiopian teenager went to a ritual bath in Bnei Brak, Israel but was allegedly turned away by a screaming chronologically adult mikva employee. “Don’t come in, you stink, you’re a stinking kushi!” [A derogatory Hebrew slang word for a black person, similar to the N word in English.] The employee then allegedly punched the 13-year-old in the face. The boy ran home as the employee pursued him. Just outside the boy’s home, the attacker allegedly hit the boy’s 15-year-old brother and threw a brick at him. He also allegedly attacked the boys’ aunt. (Ynet)

Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, the ultra-Orthodox teacher who pled guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and who has been accused of dozens of child sexual molestations spanning nearly forty years, was arrested Saturday night in Brooklyn and charged with violating his order of protection. (Failed Messiah)

Kolko apparently violated his order of protection by “glaring” at one of child victims. (The Jewish Week)

Tian Sheng Lin, 53, died from injuries sustained when he was struck by Nechama Rothberger, a teenage woman who was allegedly texting while driving. Rothberger was originally charged with a misdemeanor. The DA’s office hasn’t yet upgraded the charge. (New York Post)

Ultra-Orthodox politicians blocked a Tel Aviv transportation plan meant to reduce teenage drunk driving accidents, which proliferate on Friday nights when bus lines are by law closed for the Sabbath. The city wants to run special buses to and from night clubs, but the mayor refuses to implement the plan due to pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners. (Ynet)

The Antidote

If she wants to know how to run the New York City public school system, its chancellor should “hop in her limo and check out” a new Brooklyn public school run by a Chabad hasid. (New York Daily News)

Shmarya Rosenberg publishes His reporting has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Forward, JTA and many other publications. He was named to both the Forward 50 and the Heeb 100 in 2008.

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About The Author

Shmarya Rosenberg

Shmarya Rosenberg has been published in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Moment Magazine, the Forward, Tablet, StarTribune, Jewcy, Sh'ma and Heeb, and was profiled in the New York Times, Ha'aretz and the Jerusalem Post. His work has been cited in dozens of newspapers and broadcast media sources worldwide, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Observer, AP, Des Moines Register, Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post, and CNN and CNBC's America Greed. He is the publisher and editor of

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