Skip to main content

MILWAUKEE JEWISH COMMUNITY SAFETY ALERT!

I am publishing this letter today to notify the public of an individual named Tuvia Perlman and the immediate threat he poses to the safety of any and all children in his vicinity.
I first met Mr. Perlman when I was 18 while attending an organization called JONAH (a Jewish conversion therapy organization that was shut down in 2015 after losing a lawsuit). When I met Mr. Perlman, we were on a retreat together called Journey Into Manhood, this retreat was facilitated by an organization called People Can Change. After this retreat, Mr. Perlman, who lived in Baltimore used to call me often, to the point where even at that time I felt extremely uncomfortable by his calls and long voicemails.
Mr. Perlman as far as I knew at that time, had recently stopped being a teacher at a cheder (Hebrew word for elementary school). In a group setting that was facilitated on by JONAH on their premises in 2007, Mr. Perlman admitted to the entire group that he molested at least 2 of his 12/13-year-old students.
At the time, I blocked this out for multiple reasons. I myself am a survivor of sexual abuse and to be in the same room as someone who was admitting to committing the very same thing that I was trying to heal from, was horrific to the point where I literally blocked this out of my mind.
However, I’ve never forgotten Mr. Perlman and what happened during that group session. In 2014, while I was in the middle of a lawsuit against JONAH, one of JONAH’s main witnesses confirmed my claim about this incident. JONAH’s very own witness admitted under oath that he also remembered Mr. Perlman’s admission of molesting children. To be clear, as of now, there are two people who were in that room who heard Mr. Perlman’s admission and who are ready to publicly declare so. I am one of those people, the other was the witness in question who in recent days has agreed to confirm this information so as to protect the safety of children.
This note is being published today because on Friday morning I was informed by Meyer Seewald, founder and director of Jewish Community Watch (JCW), that Mr. Perlman had relocated to Milwaukee at some point in the last few years and that he might be running a boys choir. I immediately started reaching out to people in Milwaukee and was able to confirm that not only had Mr. Perlman been the assistant director of a boys choir, he also occasionally taught at the Milwaukee Yeshiva called Yeshiva Elementary school, Mr. Perlman’s son is a full-time teacher there as well. In the course of investigating this, the principal of this Yeshiva, Rabbi Dovid Kossowsky contacted me on Sunday to let me know that “Rabbi [Tuvia] Perlman does not teach here and will likely not teach here anytime in the future.”
When Mr. Perlman made his first shocking disclosure in that group session at JONAH he mentioned that he quit his job as a teacher because he recognized the fact that he was a danger to his students. I think that part of me hoped that he stuck to that train of thought and stayed away from children but sadly I was proven wrong. I was naive and hoping that whatever good I thought Mr. Perlman had inside his heart would prevail. That turned out not to be true and I regret not making this public statement sooner.




Tuvia Perlman from behind, teaching children. Photo courtesy of Ruach website. 

The question of responsibility is an important one here: how can it be that people like the directors of JONAH knew that Mr. Perlman was a child molester and chose not to report that? How could JONAH put survivors like myself and abusers like Mr. Perlman in the same room and support groups? Through the legal proceedings with JONAH it became very clear that the staff at JONAH were either purposefully not informed on issues of childhood sexual abuse or they just didn’t care. Arthur Goldberg, who founded and directed JONAH said under oath that he didn’t believe he had a moral obligation to report suspected pedophiles to the authorities. But, I am under no illusion that JONAH was a dangerous and reckless organization, so when Mr. Goldberg made that statement in his deposition I wasn’t exactly surprised.
What troubles me though is what my understanding of what’s taking place within the Milwaukee community right now. My first call was to the director of the boys choir the Mr. Perlman directed in 2015, this individual was extremely helpful and provided me with a list of people I should contact regarding this matter. Two of those people included Rabbi Doniel Meister and Rabbi Bentzion Twerski of Milwaukee. The choir director made me aware of the fact that Mr. Perlman had worked for Mr. Meisels who runs a kiruv organization.
My conversation with Rabbi Meister was extremely frustrating and painful. It was abundantly clear from our conversation that Rabbi Meister was woefully uninformed about the issues of sexual abuse and was intent on trying to protect Mr. Perlman. Rabbi Meister implored me to speak to members of the Twerski family who could “handle” this appropriately, and I called Bentzion Twerski.
But it was my conversation with Rabbi Twerski that was most shocking. Rabbi Twerski admitted to me that when Mr. Perlman moved to Milwaukee a few years ago, they received some kind of warning about Mr. Perlman and that he was a potential danger to children. Rabbi Twerski insisted that because of that warning, they made sure Mr. Perlman did not have access to children. I asked Rabbi Twerski how he could make that claim given that we know Mr. Perlman was teaching children at the local school as well as managing a choir, and Rabbi Twerski’s response to me was that now that they have more concrete information they will have to take more serious steps to prevent Mr. Perlman from having access to children.
Rabbi Twerski could not seem to explain the inconsistency in his contention that Mr. Perlman wasn’t given access to children when in fact, he was.
My goal in publishing this today is first and foremost to notify the public at large that Mr. Perlman is a dangerous man who should not have any access to children under any circumstances.
I also would like to note that if in fact, Mr. Perlman did hurt any children during the time he spent in Milwaukee while community leaders were aware that he was dangerous, they are responsible for those victims.
I believe that anyone, especially mental health professionals who ever supported JONAH, especially publicly, (I’m looking at you Norman Goldwasser), are guilty too. It is clear public record that Bentzion Twerski and Norman Goldwasser supported JONAH (torahdec.org). Both Twerski and Goldwasser spoke at JCW events and were promoted by JCW. While JCW no longer has any dealings with Doctor Goldwasser, they have not made any public statements about him and the fact that they no longer endorse him or send patients to him. So long as they don’t do that, they continue to at least create an illusion that they support or endorse Doctor Goldwasser. In terms of their other speaker, Rabbi Twerski, what happens from here remains to be seen but I do believe that any organization dedicated to protecting victims of abuse must maintain as much distance as possible from anyone who is even perceived to have enabled abuse which in this case, it seems as if Bentzion Twerski had information that could have potentially protected children but chose not to act on that information.
I know that there are some who wanted me to hold off on publishing this so that they can investigate who covered for Mr. Perlman in Baltimore and while I think those efforts are important, I don’t believe I can wait even one more day to notify the public about this dangerous man. As Rosh Hashanah nears, if Mr. Perlman goes to your synagogue or is around your children, please remember this statement when you think of the safety and well-being of your children.
I currently do not have a photo of Mr. Perlman but if anyone reading this happens to have one or find one, please send it to me so that I can include it in this note.
Finally, to the victims of Mr. Perlman, I am so sorry that I did not make this statement sooner. If you haven’t yet, please consider coming forward and filing a police report. If you need support or more of the actual evidence cited in this note, do not hesitate to reach out to me directly. By coming forward you will begin the very long but important process of confronting a severe injustice committed against you and many others by Mr. Perlman and the people who protected him.
Let it be clear that I have evidence for every claim in this statement.
For questions or comments please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly either on Facebook or via email: chaim89@gmail.com
Please share widely to make sure that children are protected from this man!

Update as of 10:14pm:
the principal of the school that employed Mr. Perlman sent out an email to parents concerning this post:
"Dear Parents,
We have become aware of allegations made against a former part-time
employee of Yeshiva Elementary School during his employment at an
out-of-town organization. This is the first time YES has been made
aware of this and we are unaware of any allegations pertaining to this
person's employment / activities at our institution.
Our children's safety is our top priority. Please remember that the
laws of Lashon Hara and Rechilus (slander and gossip) apply to this
situation, and therefore, if you have concerns you would like to
discuss, please contact me directly at dkossowsky@gmail.com to arrange
a time to speak.
Sincerely,
Dovid Kossowsky"

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sharing Stories With Deborah Feldman

Discussing plans for our futures, finding the humor in our similar and traumatic pasts and enjoying uncommon empathy, Deborah Feldman and I had coffee on the Upper East Side on a bright Friday morning. My time with her was a refreshing pleasure and an honor. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots. Deborah helped me with something that I’ve been trying to navigate lately. Deborah reminded that I’m not an ex gay survivor, an ex Chabad, a gay man, a Jew, an activist, etc.; she told me that who I am is just Chaim Levin — who just also happens to have an interesting story to share and an opportunity to inspire change. She insisted that we all have our own lives and personalities that we must care for, cultivate and celebrate.

Deborah had entered mainstream media a few months ago with her fascinating memoir. I haven’t had a chance to finish reading her book yet; in fact, I just started the other day. But with every page, I…

Update on Tuvia Perlman

On Tuesday, I published a Facebook post about a man named Tuvia Perlman, who worked as a teacher and a choir director in Milwaukee after moving there from Baltimore. Mr. Perlman admitted to molesting multiple minors; he made this admission in a room full of people that included myself, this was in 2007. Mr. Perlman made these admissions to multiple people on multiple occasions. It was just 4 days prior to writing and publishing said post that I found out he had relocated to Milwaukee from Baltimore a few years ago and had been working with children in Milwaukee both as a teacher, choir director, and private tutor up until this past summer. What I said in that post and what I will say again here, is that it isn't something like god (or whatever higher power you'd like to refer to), that enables such a dangerous situation to happen. It's the silence of community leaders like Rabbi Bentzion Twerski who was warned by someone in Baltimore that Mr. Perlman posed a danger to chi…