This morning I found a comment by Orthomom on Friday’s Gourmet Glatt/Five Town’s Vaad Post. Since she does not have an e-mail address on her profile I posted a response on her blog. While reading the rest of the comments I noted that many of her comments were made by someone named anonymous. As I continued to read it seems as if everyone has the same name…anonymous. Must make it tough on Shabbos, “Ya’amod: Anonymous ben Anonymous Rivi’ee” How do you know who the Gabbi is calling?
Upon Further reading I found two types of posters, those who support the VAAD who don’t want people to know their names and those who disagree with the VAAD but are afraid that the Rabbis will take retribution on them. If the people of the five towns fear their Rabbis, then they have problems that are much worse than Kashrut. Later in the day I was sent to another blog UN-KOSHER KASHRUT The one post on the site was the “anonymous” letter I posted on Friday. Among the 125 plus comments on the site was a beautifully written letter by someone named Sherree Belsky and it was written the one of the Vaad controlled newspapers the 5TJW. Sherree says she expects retribution from the towns Rabbis because she spoke her mind. And she asks very interesting questions about who is really behind this mess.
With all due respect to the Vaad Harabonim of the community I disagree with you in regard to the boycott of Gourmet Glatt. In all honesty I fully and completely believe that the Rabbonim were completely and totally misled in this regard. I work with at-risk children and parents in the parsha and things are rarely as they seem. I have found that out and taught that countless times. That is something that most people don’t realize till they are knee deep into the parsha and over their heads with the issues.
The one thing that is ABSOLUTELY TRUE in ALL cases is that most things stem from LOSHON HORAH and that LOSHON HORAH is a KILLER. It destroys people, families and yes businesses. Also Egos kill. Egos are destructive and we see that when dealing with the children who wind up in the street and we can see that in this instance as well.
WE can not sit back and allow the EGO of one individual, who is supposed to be a Rabbinic leader cause so much chaos in our community. We cannot and must notsit back and allow a business who served this community for so many years crumble by the wayside because an outsider to this community has seen fit to demand this of our Rabbonim. I will say this again, things are not always as it seems. I personally have written and tried to contact many of the local Rabbonim to ask them to review and reconsider their positions. I have asked that they speak to Rabbi Pincus their own Vaad appointed Mashgiach who was placed by their own authority in Gourmet Glatt. Not one Rav spoke or questioned him. What is wrong with this scenario?
How can our Rabbonim send this family to be slaughtered and be hung out to dry only by the so called “fat file” of the one individual RAV who is the Rav Hamachsir they hired? Where are his credentials? What makes him more reliable and more dependable than the OU trained Rabbi Ashkenazy or the Vaad placed Rabbi Pincus who is in the store every single hour the store is in operation? Who sees more of what is going on in the store, Rabbi Eisen or the mashigach Rabbi Pincus? Something just doesn’t seem right here. Why wasn’t Rabbi Pincus questioned before the fate of this family and this well loved and established store was determined? Who orchestrated this disaster? Was it our well respected and well loved Rabbonim of the Five Towns or was it the outsider to this community who doesn’t really care about us? And don’t give me that baloney that he is strong and authoritative and that is why people are talking about him this way. He is a bully and his mistakes and reputation in Brooklyn precedes him and follows him around.
Why didn’t the community get to vote on whether to accept him or not after the disasters he was involved in back in Brooklyn? Why should he be trusted heading up this issue here with Gourmet Glatt? Why does he have the right to bring in past discrepancies with Gourmet Glatt when the Rabbonim don’t look at his past discrepancies to see who is actually telling the truth? And why on earth did he not produce the “chickens” in question from the very start. Did GG have the right to examine the chicken, labels or receipts to determine whether or not it was purchased from their store? Why all the secrecy? Did the issue of who is Shomer Shabbos die when the Shomer Shabbos line was removed from the Vaad Teudot? What right does Rabbi Eisen have to discuss whether or not the Bolenders are Shomer Shabbos or not? That information should be strictly confidential and if asked he should refer the questioner back to the family. Any reply in the negative is being Motzi Shem Rah. If a Rav Hamachsir could be a Motzi Shem Rah, one has to question his commitment to truth and honesty in regard to this family.
Not only that, but where did all the leaks of information come from. The dealings and meetings of the VAAD was supposed to be confidential. In arguing the points with my own neighbors, a neighbor of mine told me that he was at a VAAD meeting. How did that happen? Do you have to have a platinum financial statement to attend? Who determines who gets in and who stays out? I want to go to; I have an opinion and I want to be privy to the workings of the VAAD. I want to know why the salaries of the mashgichim are not on a payroll run by the VAAD. I am very disappointed about what I have heard because I have been a bookkeeper and office manager for almost 20 years of my married life. In addition, when I formed my non-profit I went strictly by the book. One more question about the mashgichim, what kind of training do they get? Why is it that all a high school boy needs is a letter from his Rebbe that he is Shomer Shabbat? Would you trust your 17 year old to be a Masgiach? What does he know about Kashrus?
The boycott has nothing to do with Kashrus and it has nothing to do with trusting Gourmet Glatt. The boycott is just simply whether or not each individual in this community respects their individual RAV. It has nothing to do with whether or not they back the VAAD. It has nothing to do with whether or not they believe there should be a unified VAAD and only one supervising agency in the community as you claimed, Larry. Because that isn’t the case at all, we have found out through our own individual research that there are many stores, caterers and various establishments that have different hechshers and supervision. At this point not many people respect the VAAD as a whole; they do however respect each and every RAV as an individual.
Why not then buy whatever we need in Trader Joes, Key Food & Stop and Shop. Why should Supersol and Brach’s gain from Gourmet Glatt’s loss. How absolutely ridiculous is it to say “boycott” when the only real issue a Rav should have said was “don’t buy meat or chicken or prepared foods” until further notice. Everything else should be scrutinized for proper hechsherim. How foolish to allow your kehillos to buy from a goy rather than a Jew. And doesn’t a consequence have to come to an end? Everyone except for Rabbi Eisen and the Rabbonim that are too confused understand that this has gone way too far. He has brought shame, humiliation and chilul Hashem to this community. We will never be the same after this. No one will ever respect the VAAD again, it is the laughing stock of all other agencies that call themselves VAAD Hakashrus. The only way to save face for the VAAD of this community, is to get rid of the trouble maker and that would be Rabbi Eisen and hire someone from within the community who would actually care about both the people and the establishments who are feeding the people here.
The worst of it remains that we are very smart and wise consumers. No one reading this is stupid. If anyone of you went into Supersol and told them you bought a “bad” chicken they would tell you to bring it in with the receipt. So right from the start, there was something suspicious. It is very easy to believe that this was a setup from day one, and due to the fact that our Rabbonim are so fine and so ehrlich, they simply fell for it. They believed their employee, because why shouldn’t they. Why would they not trust him and believe what he was saying and telling them. I believe he set them up and because they are such exemplary Jews, they were manipulated by a master manipulator. Now you can argue with me and say that I am wrong. Well go ahead and prove it. Prove me wrong. Produce the chicken and speak to the witnesses. There is a long list of VAAD placed mashgichim including Rabbi Pincus (that the VAAD neglected to fire when they pulled their hechsher from the store) that they can speak to. It is not too late to reopen the investigation and start from scratch. Then if you prove I am wrong, I will shut my mouth and sit back down.
There are many questions that have been raised about the workings of the VAAD that no one wants to answer. Only the bloggers are busy talking about it because everyone else is afraid of the Rabbonim and afraid to voice an opinion. If the Rabbonim did this to Gourment Glatt, what will they do to us? I was told to keep my mouth shut because they won’t support my organization and they won’t help my kids anymore. So if you hear anything bad about me or my organization coming from the local Rabonim, you will know why. It will be because I voice my opinion OUT LOUD.
I sent 2 emails to the President of the vaad, Steve Savitzy when this all started that went unanswered. Not even the courtesy of a pat reply. Everyone is talking about the fact that the Vaad is not a “Non-profit” agency, yet there is no response from the VAAD. Everyone is talking about the fact that Rabbi Eisen is getting an enormous salary, way over $100,000 a year, yet no response from the VAAD. Everyone wants to know why Rabbi Chait was fired, or rather why Rabbi Eisen made him so miserable that he was forced to leave. Everyone is aware that he is still not making a parnasah and that it is a big busha on this community. Why did our Rabbonim allow this to happen to such an Ehrlich man? Who had the authority to do this? Why was this outsider allowed to dirty our name like that?
I personally want to know why the VAAD office was closed on Chol Hamoed Sukkos? All restaurants and “cooking” establishments were open. Who ever heard of such a ridiculous thing? How could the Vaad be closed when it is needed for shaalos the most? During a Yom Tov? I personally was in GG when Rabbi Yosi the second Vaad Mashgiach was no where to be found. I asked Rabbi Pincus how come if the Vaad required two mashgichim why weren’t there two there. He answered that Rabbi Yosi had left. It was 2:00. I asked him why he hadn’t called Rabbi Eisen. He said he had and look what happens. He called in front of me and left a message at the Vaad office and one on Rabbi Eisen’s personal cell phone. At 2:00 the next day I called Rabbi Pincus and asked if Rabbi Yosi had returned to GG the previous day, he answered in the negative. I asked if Rabbi Eisen had returned his call. The answer was also negative. It was 24 hours later. If the Vaad had required that GG maintain 2 Vaad mashgichim at all times, then who is responsible if one of those mashgichim leave, GG or the Vaad? What is an establishment to do if the Mashgiach leaves and the Vaad is closed for the holidays and Rabbi Eisen makes himself unavailable to them? This all happened before the boycott. You can see why GG was already looking into alternative Kashrus Supervision. Rabbi Eisen was setting them up for failure by not answering their calls, and making himself unavailable to them.
You can now all understand why I am upset and why I am writing in to voice my complaint and frustration. I love our Rabbonim and respect them dearly, however I feel they were manipulated to see what Rabbi Eisen wanted them to see. I want to publicly acknowledge my appreciation and respect to those Rabbonim who were working diligently behind the scenes to try to work on a viable solution to the problems. Please don’t give up. You see things that others do not. You seem to have Ruach Hakodesh and your eyes are more widely open to the truth. Please continue to search out the truth. It will come out in the end as it always does. I only want you to do whatever you can so that the truth comes out before it is too late to turn the clock around and undo the damage that has already been caused. I know that you believe that Mark is arrogant and full of himself. He may very well be. He also may be very frustrated and stressed out always trying to figure out what his nemesis is up to next, and what his next ploy is going to be. What one person sees as arrogance another more compassionate person might see as frustration, defensiveness and stress, having been pulled into and probably setup in front of local Rabbonim who really don’t want to hear his side of the story. The Rabbonim were probably all sick and tired of always congregating to see Mark Bolender “in court”. Always being left to ask, why is it always Gourmet Glatt and not Supersol or Brachs that is having all these issues. Good question, and once again I would say that Rabbi Eisen is the master manipulator…once again a job well done.
We don’t need a Rav Hamachshir that has doubled the expenses of the Vaad. If the Vaad Harabonim truly wants only one Kashrus Supervising Agency in this neighborhood then choose one that you can all agree on. A suggestion was made on one of the blog sites that I personally think was brilliant. Maybe you should consider bringing in the Queens Vaad to supervise this neighborhood. Check out their website. It seems to be a well-oiled machine. There are no secrets and their rules of operation, training, hiring, and guidelines are listed like a student handbook. If nothing else, maybe you can hire them, to set us up with a working VAAD that actually knows their right hand from their left and one that will not charge fees and salaries off the top of an egotists head saving the consumers some well deserved bucks which can be used towards their huge yeshiva tuitions.
Let’s stay focused here. Kol Yisroel areivim zeh la zeh and that includes our fellow Jews at Gourmet Glatt. Let’s stop this Chilul Hashem that was perpetrated. Let’s stop showing the employees of Gourmet Glatt what one man can do to rip apart an otherwise solid and unified religious community.
I am proudly signing my name both the email I sent Larry Gordon at 5Times Jewish Times and here. I hope you all send letters to the Editor. Deadline for printing is Tuesday.
Sherree thank you for using your name. And If anybody starts saying bad things of you …please let me know. There was a comment (anonymous of course that seemed to threaten Ms Belsky’s good work).
Sherree also posted an explanation of her letter:
I just want you all to know that I never work from speculation and I do check my facts. I did investigate to the best of my ability and everything I wrote I checked out. Rabbi Eisen himself told my husband and me that “the Bolenders where not Shomer Shabbos” when we bumped into him in Hershey Park on Chol Hamoed Sukkos. I was blown away by his brusk and brutal response, which he quickly followed up with “if they are let them prove it”. I felt that the come back was even worse than the original “NO!” to my husband’s question “are the Bolender’s Shomer Shabbos”.
I was very shaken by this exchange and was upset that any Jew should have to “Prove” that they were Shomer Torah and Mitzvos. So I went into GG and found Chaim Bolender in the office. I was embarrassed but I asked him and he gave me a letter from Rabbi Paltiel in Great Neck which he said Rabbi Eisen had as well. I went down to Chabbad of Great Neck to speak to Rabbi Paltiel. He wasn’t there but he called me back.
I didn’t take any of this whole issue with GG lightly. I went in to meet the VAAD mashgichim and ask questions. That is how I met Rabbi Pincus. I asked what procedures where implemented and carried out in the store as in relation to accepting deliveries and who signed for them. The VAAD mashgichim are responsible for all deliveries and they sign all the bills of lading and/or invoices. I was shown the corner where “questionable items” that the goyim find after opening boxes or the Bolenders themselves find and question RYE about are put. I was shown letters that the Bolenders sent to the VAAD and I was shown a log that the Bolenders had RYE sign in regard to products he told them they could use and that he told them a week later he never said they could use.
I went back to the Bolenders with every stupid rumor my husband brought home from shul and they corrected any inconsistency. NO they were never open on Shabbos or Yom Tov! No they did not take in chometz on Pesach. There was a delivery from Rubashkin that came in on Chol Hamoed that contained Kitnios not Chometz This was a mistake in the order and Rubashkin called later to apologize. They kept the voice mail message.
I bothered to go in and talk to the family and hear their side of the story. I bothered to talk to the VAAD’s own mashgiach and hear his side of the story. I asked questions and got answers. I went in to meet Rabbi Kravitz and asked him about the Kashrus and what he saw when he took over. I was shown the inside freezer and the meat room. There are many other customers who have stopped in the office or called on the phone to offer support, even though their Rabbonim did not allow them to shop there.
And one more thing you should know. They consulted with a Rav every step of the way, before hiring a new Mashgiach, before doing anything. They asked advice from Das Torah. I believe they felt that since the VAAD had such a low opinion of Mark, maybe they would respect another RAV better and that by having Rabbi Kravitz there, he would be able to answer to Rabbi Eisen more effectively. It wasn’t initially meant as a means to throw out the VAAD or to take the place of the VAAD. They really wanted to be so super careful that Rabbi Eisen couldn’t possibly find any fault with them. That was their original concept. Unfortunately, it wasn’t looked at that way. Rabbi Eisen took it as an affront and pulled the hechsher. Many of you don’t know this either, because you were all waving your support the VAAD banner, the Friday that the VAAD pulled the hechsher at 4:00pm, closing time…the letter was handed to an employee not directly to the owners. Please remember all of you, that the owners no longer had the keys. The 2 VAAD mashgichim and a set each and I believe Rabbi Eisen had one set and I believe Rabbi Hess (I am not sure if I am supposed to call him Rabbi, I don’t know if he has smicha. He is Rabbi Eisen’s assistant and is about 22, from what I am told. I don’t even know how much training he has in Kashrus. He works part time and learns part time)
At any rate, when they handed over the letter to the employee of the store, a goy, and spread the news all over town, they didn’t think it was important to hand over the keys to the store. They declared they were no longer going to supervise the store, they had taken the keys away from the owners of the store, they were the only ones in possession of the keys but didn’t deem it important to return the keys along with the letter so that the owners and/or management of the store could lock up and secure the facility for the weekend. How is that for mean and manipulative tactics? Rabbi/Mr. Hess did not produce the keys until GG’s lawyer was present and had already dialed the police.
Yes folks, these are the facts that I investigated and verified with the owners, workers, attorneys, some Rabbis, etc. As I said, things aren’t always as they seem. This is what I found out and this has been eating at me and keeping me up at night. It is not enough that I worry about teenagers and how they are going to make it through another day, I worry about why this man, Rabbi Eisen, hates this family so much he wants to destroy them. I hate Loshon Hora because it destroys peoples lives. I hate manipulative and evil people, but Hashem will take care of them because he is in charge and after 120 everyone stands before his maker and gives a din v’chesbon of all the good and evils they have perpetrated over their life span. Everyone pays for the pain and suffering they cause any other of Hashem’s children. I will say it again. I DON’T BELIEVE THAT THE RABBONIM REALIZED AND UNDERSTOOD EISEN’S GAME. I only hope they catch on quickly and stop the madness before he destroys us. And you know what else worries me? If he does this to the Bolenders who will be next. Is Ruthie at Sabra’s his next victim? Will all of you really sit idly by if he earmarks her next for slaughter?
In one day Sherree has given me tons of insight on whats going on. Also providing insight were some of the people afraid to use their names:
The VAAD is considered a mafia…every store owner will tell you that.
There is no Halachah that we need one VAAD in this comunity. Do we have one shul?
It’s funny, the one group that is preaching how important it is to have one VAAD in our community is the VAAD itself! Duh! That’s like telling all of my customers how importnat my store is and they should only buy from me. There are plenty of wonderful Jewish neighborhoods in this world, including Yerushalayim, that have more than one VAAD.
Competition is a wonderful thing. Certainly, you wouldn’t have store owners who feel they’re dealing with a mafia. Prices would probably come down too.
Here is another:
I am ashamed to be part of the five towns now… though i do continue to show my shopping support of GG, some of my less intelligent friends have not shopped there since the boycott. AND YES, MY RABBI STATED CLEARLY WE WERE TO BOYCOTT. I understand the bolenders chose not to sue so as not to bring more negative attention to us jews. I also understand that others are now contacting the NY times and USA Today reporters.. This will bring all the yidden down all across the country.. I can only pray that HaShem will remember those of the Vaadwho perpetrated this action ( as well as those rabbonim who stood idly by) and their dirty actions taken against a family of Jews and our community.
It should be sent to Newsday, I do agree, but sadly as a local business person I am scared of the VAAD and I will not sign my name as of now. The VAAD is scary and powerful and does act like gangsters.
There were also lots of posts from people in the neighborhood named anonymous they were afraid of community retribution.
Then there was the anonymous poster who told me twice to stay out of his communities business. That was after he posted this about Ms Belsky :
“I have a lot of respect for her and certainly hope that misguided individuals do not punish those kids because she had some strong opinions.”
To me it sounded like a threat, but this coward who wont post his/her name said it wasn’t just before they told me to stay out of the neighborhood’s business. This is what I said to the anonymous coward.
I speak even though I don’t live there [in the Five Towns]because I am a Jew. And because I am a Jew I detest when people with power abuse it by “beating up” on those with out power. In many different ways beating up on the powerless is something that is warned against many times in the Torah. You know the parts about widows and orphans stumbling block before the blind etc ? The Vaad is doing that and you are too. You post anonymously because it gives you power you can say what you want without the fear of someone disagreeing with you in person. Just like the Vaad when it has th 5tjn and the Star post their rumors.I only posted this morning to respond to a comment by Orthomom on my site. I continue to post because frankly the fact that you criticize without giving your name proves that you don’t have the convictions of your actions. You are scared, just like the businessmen who say they can’t talk because of fear of VAAD retribution. When people are afraid to ask Questions of the Vaad Rabbis you folks have problems that are a lot bigger than Kashrut.
Don’t tell me to stay out of it until you have the courage to tell those who have named themselves just who you are. I intend to fight for Justice in your town. It’s what Jewish people do.
When I was a kid I used to get beaten on by bullies on the way to school. What started out as a tongue in cheek post for me three months ago has turned out to be a battle against bullies like you and bullies like the Vaad.