Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brief Statement by Former Student of Rabbi Manis Friedman at Beis Chana

Personal Note: The following article was relayed by a former student of Rabbi Friedman. My own personal thoughts and reflection will be forthcoming very soon. -Chaim Levin

Written by Sara Pruce

It is interesting to me that so many people are surprised by the words of Manis Friedman that have recently been exposed. As a person who has spent some time in his company, I am not in the least bit surprised. Upset, yes, surprised, not at all. Maybe I have been waiting for this. For him to word things a little less articulately so that his actual intentions are obvious.

I believe this man is dangerous. He is capable of sounding brilliant, while being ignorant. He is capable of making people feel understood, while belittling their experiences.

It is true, what he said, he is not a psychologist. He does not understand trauma or abuse. When I was in his company I experienced the death of a six year old boy who I had held dear. When I heard the news of his death, I was so broken inside. I cried, and the Rabbi´s reaction to my tears was to accuse me of not being a believer. If I believed in god, I would know this was meant to be. That it was something good. That is the most insensitive, ignorant reaction to a person’s emotion I can imagine.

His words on molestation are equally hurtful and ignorant. However, what I am clear on, is that this is not an isolated incident.

I worry for the people who cannot see past his articulate, diplomatic voice. It is dangerous to an insulated community to have a revered elder who is so closed to the obvious problems that exist.  

I was once at a lecture on Judaism and Justice, where we were asked whether we thought being religious helped or hurt our cause. I thought it was obvious, that being religious made people more sensitive and motivated them to do good. However, one member of the group spoke up and said that sometimes, people get to a point in their religion where they think that praying for things to be alright is enough, and they stop trying to fix the problem. I believe it is imperative to look at ourselves really closely and make sure we are not in that place. There are problems that need to be fixed and we need to use religion to motivate and sensitize us, not as an excuse to do nothing.

I have deep respect for the members of the community that are beginning to come forward and talk about how much damage abuse can do. I have deep respect for the parents who are attending lectures on keeping their kids safe, who are talking to their children and who are investigating claims. I have respect for the people who are believers but do not allow that to cloud their view, do not allow that to hurt innocent people.


  1. He is, in fact, dangerous to victims of abuse. ( Or as this article points anyone in a vulnerable state.) My friend attended his Bais Chana program as a young teen. She went to talk to him one day, and revealed to him that she was traumatized by the sexual abuse and molestation her father did to her at age 12. He told her that her guilty and shameful feelings are coming from the fact that she enjoyed it!!!! How twisted is that to tell a young girl!!!! These stories have to get out so he is not seen as some 'guru' in Chabad.

  2. It is sad to hear stories of an almost deliberate choice of the writer of this article and the above commentby to misunderstand what is being said Incidentally, Rabbi Friedman helped me through a tremendouslly difficult time in my life with kindness, compassion and wisdom. Dis these writers pause to think about what was said or simply go off with a visceral reaction and partial understanding. In America's 'instant' society, the concept of actually working to understand an idea - as opposed to accepting a handy slogan - is frighteninly foreign.

  3. i dont know what it is, maybe its that he must fit everything into judeism - and chabad judeism. its as if in every situation one must make sure to point out the opposite, counter-intuitive way of thinking about things. just to show that chabad has the ultimate answer to everything. I had this same exact experience in london yeshiva with a mashpia there. instead of listening and talking about things he would always just shove the answer at you, without letting you have any feelings about anything. maybe its because the Rebbe had such a strong approach to things, and often had innovative ways of seeing things, people feel the need to imitate. unfortunately this is very distructive - as it ignores our feelings about something, it doesnt allow the natural course of things to play out. im sorry if this all sounds like gibberish, its difficult to express how i feel about it, anyway his attitude in this other video of his pretty much sais it all - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tyLWjbbuM4&list=UUnkB28NTo_OxXTYjCUv7m5Q&index=4

  4. I met Rabbi Friedman in the earliest days of Bais Chana. He impressed me in a very negative way immediately. His colleague, much the same, but in a more frightening way as he was very seductive and manipulative of my housemates, in seeking their adoption of Lubavich "lifestyles." As far as I know, the leader, Rabbi Zeilingold, has always been a pillar of ultra-orthodoxy, using my own terms. I considered these people to be dangerous, and it turned me against Lubavich altogether, as being far too like Scientology. I feel for anyone drawn in and trapped by such people, who exploit weakness and confusion. But that seems to be the message of most orthodoxy today, to suck people in and then control them, even mercilessly. If you have a spine, you must use it to stand up for yourself.

  5. This seems like a malicious ignorance. A defiance and willful refusal to try to understand something foreign to him. Quite dangerous, alarming, and unsettling. For those who believe with absolute certainty in emunas chachamim are in great danger being around this man

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