Rabbinical court in Israel denounces rabbi for sexual misconduct


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A rabbinical court in Israel has denounced a rabbi and educator who lives in Israel and the United States for sexual misconduct with women.

Rabbi Meir Pogrow, a resident of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, who founded the Master Torah study program, is accused of misusing his authority and position as a rabbi to have sex with married and single women “who were under his influence.”

The ad hoc court of senior rabbis in Israel said in its ruling that Pogrow is forbidden to have any dealings with women, both directly and indirectly, and warns women and girls to have no contact with him. The ruling also forbids women from visiting the Master Torah website and listening to his lectures.

The members on the beit din, or rabbinical court, who signed the ruling are Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Chaim Zev Malinowitz of Beit Shemesh and Gershon Bess of Los Angeles.

In addition to the ruling, a “public danger warning” was issued signed by Malinowitz and Bess, as well as three other rabbis.

“It is our obligation to notify and warn women and girls in the strongest and most urgent terms to distance themselves from any interaction from this individual as well as from his presentations [through Master Torah, etc.] or from any sphere of his influence in any possible manner,” the warning said. It also calls on men to sever all personal interaction with Pogrow.

The others to sign the warning are Rabbis Mordechai Willig of the RIETS rabbinical seminary of Yeshiva University, Yitzchak Berkovits of Jerusalem and the former rosh kollel of Aish Hatorah, and Rabbi Elimelech Kornfeld of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

Pogrow taught at Yeshiva University High Schools of Los Angeles and the Michlalah seminary in Jerusalem, and was head of the kollel of Aish Hatorah in Jerusalem and Austin, Texas, according to The Jerusalem Post. He has been ordained by several authorities, including from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and is qualified as a rabbinical judge.

Pogrow would not comment on the allegations when asked by The Jerusalem Post.

He did tell the newspaper: “I was never presented with any specific allegations when I visited the rabbinical court,” and said he was never contacted by the rabbinical court after his meeting with it.

At least one victim, who was 15 when she first met the rabbi and then continued the relationship when she came to Israel for religious study, told the Post that she has filed a complaint with the Israel Police.

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