Judaism

Police probing sex offender rabbi who told cancer patient to refuse treatment

November 10, 2019

Rabbi Eliezer Berland shrouds himself with his talit (prayer shawl) at the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, as he is put on trial for sexual assault charges, November 17, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Elliezer apparently receives messages from god through the tiny television he has strapped to his head.

Police have opened an investigation into convicted sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland following an investigative report alleging he told a cancer patient not to accept medical treatment and instead pay him money so that she will live.

After her daughter died as a result of that advice, Nurit Ben Moshe filed a police complaint on Thursday, with her lawyer arguing that Berland’s conduct constituted manslaughter.
“I’m here so no mother will suffer like I suffered and in order that [Berland] will pay for what he did,” Ben Moshe was quoted saying by Channel 13 news as saying outside the police station.

The investigation will focus on trying to get inside information from Berland’s supporters, a tough task since they are a closed circle and tend to be extremely devoted to their leader. Many of them have taken violent action and threatened those who speak against Berland.

The report on Channel 13’s “HaMakor” program last month detailed how Berland instructed Ben Moshe’s daughter to forgo cancer treatment and instead pay him thousands of shekels to pray for her to be cured.

Among his instructions were for her to eat a simple diet including soups made only from orange vegetables, something the report said had a significant negative impact on her health.

After intensive efforts by Ben Moshe, Berland eventually gave the go ahead for her daughter to seek medical help, but by then the cancer was already too advanced to save her.

The investigative report featured extensive hidden camera footage, including of Ben Moshe giving Berland thousands of shekels to pray for her daughter.

Berland has long been known to take “pidyonim” — contributions in exchange for blessings. In late-night visits, and surrounded by dozens of followers, Berland frequently shows up at Israeli hospitals across the country, unattended by staff, to bless the sick, according to footage uploaded by his followers.

In one instance, journalists made up the case of a woman declared brain-dead, with Berland promising to revive her for a NIS 20,000 ($5,700) fee.

Activists who have spoken to The Times of Israel in the past have cited several cases of followers who, they say, have sold their houses or have been plunged into debt for these benedictions, in what they argue is tantamount to extortion by a leader with undue influence over his followers.

The donations — provided by ostensibly consenting adults for a religious service — are not illegal under Israeli law.

Long considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers, Berland fled Israel in 2013 amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted several female followers. After evading arrest for three years and slipping through various countries, Berland, 81, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2016 on two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault, as part of a plea deal that included seven months of time served. He was freed just five months later, in part due to ill health.

Since then, he has resumed his activities as the leader of the Shuvu Bonim community, an offshoot of the Bratslav Hasidic sect that has been disavowed by the broader Bratslav dynasty.

Former L.A. Rabbi Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

October 30, 2019

Former Los Angeles Rabbi Menachem (Mendy) Weiss was sentenced on Sept. 9 to six years in New Jersey state prison for aggravated sexual assault, with no possibility of parole for three years.

Weiss, 47, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault on a boy between January and June 1999, when he was living in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. As part of his sentencing, Weiss also must register as a sex offender, is subject to parole supervision for life, and is to have no contact with the victim or his family.

The married father of nine moved to Los Angeles not long after the assault. He was living in the Pico-Robertson area at the time of his arrest in March 2018, and had been working as a faculty member and director of the Israel Center at Milken Community Schools and as an associate rabbi at Nessah Congregation. Upon news of his arrest, both organizations immediately suspended him. Weiss also previously served as the executive director of Sephardic Tradition and Recreation, a Sephardic youth organization in the San Fernando Valley.

During the sentencing hearing, the victim read a statement describing the trauma he has lived with his entire adult life.

“Over the last 20 years, I have suffered tremendously,” he said in the statement, which was provided to the Journal by Jewish Community Watch, an organization dedicated to preventing the sexual abuse of children in the Orthodox community. “I have had severe depression. I acted out. I felt empty. I felt and continue to feel extreme shame. I had and still have difficulty with social relationships. I was confused about my sexuality. I had morbid, suicidal thoughts. A strong feeling of inadequacy and complete lack of confidence. Emptiness. Shame. Shy and introverted. Sexual dysfunction. Damaged goods. I abused drugs. I lost aspirations and dreams of accomplishing anything in life. I became closed and withdrawn.”

The Journal spoke with the victim by phone. He asked to be referred to by only his initials: M.A.

“I want people to know they can come forward and there is support and there is help and that you can get these people,” he said.

Meyer Seewald, founder and executive director of Jewish Community Watch, said in a statement, “It took superhuman courage for this victim to come forward.”

Seewald told the Journal Weiss could potentially have faced a longer sentence if he had chosen to go to trial. He added Jewish Community Watch took an active approach in supporting M.A. after Weiss’ arrest.

“We were supporting the victim. We were working with the police,” Seewald said. “We were involved.”

NJ rabbi gets 18 months in prison for sex with underage prostitute

September 4, 2019

Image result for Rabbi Aryeh Goodman

A New Jersey rabbi was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his involvement in the human trafficking and prostitution of a 17-year old girl.

Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, 37, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, also will have to undergo a year of supervised release. The sentence was announced on Wednesday.

Goodman met the teen at the hotel on February 1, 2018 and paid to have sex with her after answering an online advertisement for the girl, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. He turned himself in nearly a week later to the East Brunswick Police Department while accompanied by his attorney.

At the time of his arrest, he was running a religious learning center out of his home.

Goodman is registered as a Tier 3, or high-risk sex offender, after being arrested in 2013 for molesting a youth while serving as a camp counselor in 2001. He accepted a plea deal and served prison time for that incident.

Rabbi Accused of Sexual Harassment Resigns After Second Woman Comes Forward

August 22, 2019

Image result for August 22, 2019 (JTA) — A rabbi accused of sending sexually inappropriate text and voice messages to a woman living on a Tacoma-area military base is resigning his position. “I write to notify you that I am resigning my position as Rabbi of Chabad of Pierce County effective Sunday, August 11, 2019,” Rabbi Zalman Heber said in a statement provided to the Tacoma News Tribune by his attorney. It is not clear if he will continue as director of the organization. Last summer, Traci Moran, whose husband Jared is a soldier at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, alleged that Heber had been sending her sexually inappropriate text and voice messages for close to a month despite her objections. Heber “completely denies” Moran’s allegations of sexual harassment, his attorney told JTA last month. Heber’s resignation comes after The News Tribune on Friday published a report about a second woman who had come forward. Chabad member Kim Shomer described to the newspaper a similar pattern of harassment and an attempt of unwanted physical contact. Shomer said she and her husband, who is not Jewish, first met Heber at their youngest son’s circumcision in 2007, and began weekly Kabbalah study sessions with Heber in March 2015. Shomer, 50, and her husband, Spencer Freeman, 49, formally split from the Chabad Jewish center in December when they learned of Heber’s treatment of Moran. Shomer and Moran have met, and Shomer and her husband went to court hearings to support Moran. The couple told the newspaper that they would not rule out legal action against Heber and Chabad.

(JTA) — A rabbi accused of sending sexually inappropriate text and voice messages to a woman living on a Tacoma-area military base is resigning his position.

“I write to notify you that I am resigning my position as Rabbi of Chabad of Pierce County effective Sunday, August 11, 2019,” Rabbi Zalman Heber said in a statement provided to the Tacoma News Tribune by his attorney.

It is not clear if he will continue as director of the organization.

Last summer, Traci Moran, whose husband Jared is a soldier at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, alleged that Heber had been sending her sexually inappropriate text and voice messages for close to a month despite her objections. Heber “completely denies” Moran’s allegations of sexual harassment, his attorney told JTA last month.

Heber’s resignation comes after The News Tribune on Friday published a report about a second woman who had come forward. Chabad member Kim Shomer described to the newspaper a similar pattern of harassment and an attempt of unwanted physical contact. Shomer said she and her husband, who is not Jewish, first met Heber at their youngest son’s circumcision in 2007, and began weekly Kabbalah study sessions with Heber in March 2015.

Shomer, 50, and her husband, Spencer Freeman, 49, formally split from the Chabad Jewish center in December when they learned of Heber’s treatment of Moran. Shomer and Moran have met, and Shomer and her husband went to court hearings to support Moran.

The couple told the newspaper that they would not rule out legal action against Heber and Chabad.

East Brunswick rabbi pleads guilty to sex charge

May 3, 2019

This was Rabbi Aryeh Goodman’s second arrest on charges of inappropriate conduct with a minor.

Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, former executive director of Chabad of East Brunswick, admitted in U.S. District Court in Trenton that he paid to have sex with a 17-year-old girl; she was a victim of sex trafficking.

Goodman, 35, a registered sex offender from a 2013 crime, is under house arrest until his sentencing although he is permitted to travel to pre-approved locations during the week of Passover, according to records from the April 12 hearing. Calls made to his attorney, Eric Kanefsky, to find out the names of the specific locations were not returned.

Chabad of East Brunswick was affiliated with Chabad of Central NJ until 2013.

Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, administrator at Rutgers University Chabad House, which is affiliated with Chabad of Central NJ, told NJJN that Goodman was not on campus for Passover; his parents, Rabbi Baruch and Sarah Goodman, are Chabad’s campus activities directors. “Absolutely not,” he said. “[Goodman] has not been in the building for several years since this began.”   

Preschool At D.C. Synagogue Accused Of Enabling ‘Systemic’ Child Sexual Abuse

April 17, 2019

A preschool at a prominent Jewish synagogue in Washington, D.C., enabled sexual abuse against numerous children for years, a new lawsuit filed Monday alleges.

The families of eight children previously enrolled at Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Edlavitch Tyser Early Childhood Center say the preschool and its leader, Deborah “DJ” Schneider Jensen, failed to protect students from a child sexual predator over a two-year period, according to the complaint.

The families allege Jordan Silverman, a teacher at the preschool, subjected numerous children, including their own, to “regular and systemic” sexual abuse beginning in March 2016. The lawsuit alleges the children were between ages 2 and 4 at the time of the abuse.

The 74-count complaint alleges the abuse, perpetrated against both male and female children, included the most “grievous, demeaning and damaging forms of sexual abuse.”

“Mr. Silverman categorically denies engaging in any inappropriate or illegal contact with children at Washington Hebrew Congregation,” his attorney, Shawn Sukumar, told HuffPost. He declined to comment further. Silverman has not been charged with a crime.

Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia confirmed to CNN that an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of children at the school is currently ongoing.

Jensen, head of schools for Washington Hebrew Congregation, hired Silverman to teach at the preschool despite having no professional background in teaching or child care, the complaint alleges. Previously, he worked for 20 years as a photographer in Vermont, before moving to Bethesda, Maryland, according to the lawsuit.

Silverman was often alone with the preschoolers, the lawsuit alleges, even though child development centers in Washington are required to enforce a “two-deep policy,” which requires two adults to be present at all times if one or more children are present.

The policy is “the number one deterrent of children being abused in an institutional setting,” Michael Dolce, the attorney representing the families, told HuffPost. “It’s a very effective way to guard against the unknown abuser.”

But Silverman was “allowed and encouraged” by school administrators to be alone with individual or small groups of children on an almost daily basis, according to the lawsuit.

Dolce would not describe specific aspects of the alleged abuse, citing the ongoing police investigation.

The number of people who have no religion has risen 266 per cent – one third of the population – in three decades

April 5, 2019

  • People with no religion accounted for 23.1% of the U.S. population in 2018
  • By comparison, Catholics make up 23% and Evangelicals account for 22.5%
  • The three are now statistically tied as the largest religious groups in America
  • Meanwhile, mainline Protestant Christianity has seen a 62.5% decline in believers since 1982, to now account for just 10.8% of the U.S. population

The number of Americans who identify as having no religion has risen 266 percent since 1991, to now tie statistically with the number of Catholics and Evangelicals, according to a new survey.

People with no religion – known as ‘nones’ among statisticians – account for 23.1 percent of the U.S. population, while Catholics make up 23 percent and Evangelicals account for 22.5 percent, according to the General Social Survey.

Those three groups now represent the largest the religious groups in America.

This graph illustrates the shift in religious ideologies since 1972, with a sharp decline in the number of mainline Protestant Christians and a dramatic uptick in the number of people with no religion. Known as 'nones' those religion-free Americans are now statistically tied with Catholics and Evangelicals as the largest religious groups in America

The survey has tracked a broad swath of American trends since 1972, offering comprehensive insight into the evolving face of religion over more than four decades.

Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University who analyzed the data, said that experts have several theories about why the number of ‘nones’ has risen so dramatically in recent decades.

‘One of them is that many people used to lie about what they were,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘Many people were (always) atheist or non-religious, but it was previously culturally unacceptable to not have a religion in America.’

Convicted sex offender rabbi claims he can revive the dead – for $5,400 fee

March 24, 2019

Men gather to pray during a demonstration in support of Eliezer Berland outside the court in Lod, Central Israel on July 26, 2016. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)

Sex convict rabbi Eliezer Berland promises he can revive people who were officially declared brain dead, if family members pony up some NIS 20,000 ($5,400), according to a television report on Thursday that exposed the working of the miracles-for-cash services offered by the shadowy leader of the Shuvu Bonim community.

Berland has long been known to offer “pidyonim,” or kabbalistic benedictions, to the ill, whereby they receive a blessing after donating money. In late-night visits, and surrounded by dozens of followers, Berland frequently shows up at Israeli hospitals across the country, unattended by staff, to bless the sick, according to footage uploaded by his followers.

Israeli journalists from Channel 12 news, seeking to unearth how it works and after encountering victims of Berland’s scheme, invented the case of a 35-year-old woman, “Yael,” who was declared brain dead.

They contacted Berland’s aide Natan, who was initially circumspect, saying he would have to check as it was a case of brain death. “If it wasn’t brain death, I would promise you that he would revive her,” he tells them, tacitly acknowledging the irreversible loss of all cognitive functioning.

But getting back to them after consulting with Berland, Natan says his mentor is confident he can do it. It would cost NIS 20,000, he says, vowing that the woman will be brought back to life. “At least once a week, the rabbi revives the dead in all sorts of ways in the hospital,” the Berland aide reassures them.

After they balk at the price, Natan puts Berland on the line.

“Bring NIS 20,000 within an hour, at 1 a.m. I’ll be at Rambam [medical center in Haifa],” the rabbi tells them.

“Wait, but Rabbi Berland, the doctors said she’s brain dead,” interjects Channel 12 reporter Yoav Even.

“The rabbi knows this,” replies Natan the aide.

“Yes, I can revive her. I’ve already revived people who were brain dead, who were totally paralyzed, people with cancer… against which they didn’t stand a chance,” Berland says, adding that he performed “total miracles, total miracles.”

“If you bring me NIS 20,000, she’ll wake up. There will be a miracle. Her brain will start to work, you’ll see her brain starting to work,” said Berland.

Natan later updated the journalists that Berland would offer the blessing remotely after the money was transferred, and wouldn’t show up at the hospital.

In a statement to the TV station, associates of Berland insisted that his religious services do not cost money.

“There is a matter of pledging money to charity during a time of suffering. The rabbi himself blesses and prays and doesn’t deal with money at all. If the money comes, it’s immediately distributed to the needy,” a statement from his associates said.

“We are witness to hundreds and thousands of stories of people who were saved by the blessings of the rabbi, which are supernatural,” the statement added.

Activists who have spoken to The Times of Israel in the past have cited several cases of followers who, they say, have sold their houses or have been plunged into debt for these benedictions, in what they argue is tantamount to extortion by a cult-like leader with undue influence over his followers.

The donations — provided by ostensibly consenting adults for a religious service — are not illegal under Israeli law.

In a recording recently obtained by The Times of Israel, which is punctuated by derisive laughter by his followers, Berland boasted of exploiting a woman who donated tens of thousands of dollars.

Long considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers, Berland fled Israel in 2013 amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted several female followers. After evading arrest for three years and slipping through various countries, Berland, 81, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2016 on two counts of indecent acts and one case of assault, as part of a plea deal that included seven months of time served. He was freed just five months later, in part due to ill health.

He can raise the dead but can’t cure his own health problems. Hmmm.

Since then, he has resumed his activities as the leader of the Shuvu Bonim community, an offshoot of the Bratslav Hasidic sect that has been disavowed by the broader Bratslav dynasty.

New York rabbi faces new child sex charges

December 22, 2018

 

លទ្ធផល​រូបភាព​សម្រាប់ Aryeh Goodman,

Aryeh Goodman, serial pedophile, sex trafficker and a danger to children seen here with his next two victims

 

A March 20 court date has been set in Middlesex County Superior Court for an East Brunswick rabbi charged in connection with human trafficking and forced prostitution of a 17-year-old girl.

Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, former executive director of the Chabad of East Brunswick, is charged with one count of engaging in prostitution with a child and one count of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly having sex in an unnamed East Brunswick hotel with the girl, who is from Lancaster, Pa.

Accompanied by his attorney, Goodman, 35, turned himself in to the East Brunswick Police on Feb. 6. He was later released pending his court appearance before Judge Michael A. Toto, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Andrea Boulton.

Gabriella Colon, 18, and Richard Ortiz, 23, both of the Bronx, were also arrested in the case and remain in the Middlesex County Jail on 11 criminal charges, including human trafficking, promoting prostitution of a child, criminal restraint, and a number of child pornography offenses, including manufacturing, distribution, and possession of pornography.

Goodman was one of 30 men who allegedly paid to have sex with the 17-year-old girl, according to the prosecutor’s office.

In a previous case, in January 2013, Goodman was extradited to Pennsylvania where he pled guilty to two counts of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age. Those offenses involved complaints about several incidents of a sexual nature with a 12-year-old boy, who accused Goodman of the acts while the rabbi was a counselor in the summer of 2001 at Camp Menachem, a Chabad facility in Lackawaxen Township, Pa.

The original indictment charged him with 12 counts; he pled guilty to two and the rest were dismissed. In October 2015, Goodman was sentenced in Pike County, Pa., to 11 to 23 months in prison, and the terms of the sentencing included completing a sex offender counseling course and refraining from having contact with the victim or his family. NJJN was unable to determine how much time Goodman served in prison.

Goodman’s name did not appear on the New Jersey State Police sex offender list available to the public; however, a law enforcement official who asked to remain anonymous told NJJN that offenders are divided into three tiers, with level three being the most serious; only the names of offenders in the top two tiers are available to the public, and Goodman is a tier one offender, according to the official.

In 2006 Goodman and his wife, Ora Malka, launched Chabad of East Brunswick on Lexington Avenue, which focused on education, operating the Chai Early Childhood Center, as well as the Chai Central Hebrew School. The Hebrew school, for children ages 6-14, closed in 2013 after charges against Aryeh Goodman were filed, but the early childhood center remains open.

The end of the world. Again. (Yawn)

December 21, 2018

 

លទ្ធផល​រូបភាព​សម្រាប់ Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi

Nir Ben Artzi, using his magic forehead box to tell the future

 

Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi, an Israeli mystic with a substantial following, has been warning of an increase in volcanic eruptions as part of the end-of-days process preceding the Messiah, who the rabbi maintains is present but waiting to reveal himself. Hiding out at Burger King, no doubt.

“The Creator is purifying the world from the filth of the snake in order to prepare the way for the Messiah to be revealed in the world,” Rabbi Ben Artzi said in his weekly sermon that was published yesterday. Because most sinners live around the Pacific basin, right?

A volcanic eruption in Indonesia followed by a large earthquake is the most recent event that has caused concern among geologists that we are entering a global period of increased seismic activity. Several rabbis weighed in, recognizing the volcanoes as a necessary part of the end-of-days that immediately precedes Redemption.

Mount Soputan, a 6,000-foot peak in Minahasa on the northern part of Sulawesi island in central Indonesia, erupted twice on Sunday morning, spewing ash more than 24,000 feet into the air. A two-and-a-half mile exclusion zone was enforced around the mountain. Residents were also urged to wear masks in case of ash rain, as authorities kept the volcano’s alert level at the second-highest level.

One hour after Mount Soputan settled down, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake shook the region with the epicenter about 100 miles southwest of Jayapura, Indonesia. …

El Al diverts flight after ultra-orthodox Jewish religious passengers become violent

November 17, 2018
We added this to our list of stupid religious tantrums.
Image result for el al
Ultra-Orthodox passengers onboard a pair of Israel-bound El Al planes that took off from New York on Thursday caused an uproar, with some reportedly becoming violent, over fears they would be mid-flight after the start of the Jewish Shabbat.
One of the planes ultimately diverted to Athens. The second plane was also considering diverting, to Rome, but in the end continued its flight to Ben Gurion Airport as scheduled, because of a medical condition affecting one passenger.
Both of the flights had been delayed by hours on Thursday due to stormy weather in the Midwest and East Coast that led to the delay or cancellation of hundreds of flights.
As a result, in the course of the flights, a number of passengers grew angry they would not arrive in Israel until after the start of Shabbat, despite being assured by the crew they would arrive before sundown Friday when Shabbat begins, according to a passenger on one of the planes.
In accordance with the laws of Judaism, observant Jews do not use electronics or light fires on Shabbat and also refrain from traveling in cars or airplanes. Exceptions are made for medical or security situations in which a life is threatened.
“After 24 hours to reach Israel, I am broken, broken mainly because of the lack of respect of people who are observant, who observe tradition and Shabbat, who took this issue a step too far,” wrote Roni Meital.
Meital praised the patience and the attempts to calm the situation by the El Al crew, but described the aggressiveness and unruliness of some the passengers even before the flight took off amid scares they would not reach Israel in time.
Meital said that “after six hours of flying, I suddenly heard screaming and saw a flight attendant crying after she was hit, pushed, amid threats they would break open the door to the cockpit.”
“I found myself standing and [physically] protecting flight attendants who were crying and who just wanted to catch their breath after the [violent] behavior toward them,” she wrote.
Shimon Sheves, a director general of the Prime Minister’s Office under former premier Yitzhak Rabin who was aboard one the planes, gave a similar account on his Facebook page. He wrote that he was awoken during the flight by shouts from religious passengers who realized they would not land until after Shabbat.
“Within a deep sleep, I hear shouts of ‘liars, fraudsters’ and hands waving and beating flight attendants who broke down in tears. If I didn’t see it, I would not have believed it,” he wrote.
Due to the uproar, one plane landed in Athens, where the ultra-Orthodox passengers disembarked to spend Shabbat before continuing on their way to Israel.
Those who wished to keep traveling, however, also had to exit the plane and wait three hours until an Israir flight took off for Israel.
On the second plane, the El Al flight was going to divert to Rome following protests from ultra-Orthodox passengers who did not want to violate Shabbat, but the flight continued to Ben Gurion Airport due to the medical condition of a woman on board who needed to reach Israel.
“The extreme weather in New York caused cancellations and delays of takeoffs for hundreds of flights for airlines, including El Al flights on Thursday evening,” the airline said in a statement to Hebrew media.
“Despite the many cancelled flights we succeeded in getting flight 002 out of New York for our passengers, with a stop in Athens. El Al made sure passengers had a flight that same day that continued to Israel,” it added.
El Al said representatives of the airline were in touch with the passengers who got off the plane in Athens and that they would travel to Israel after Shabbat ended on Saturday evening.
“We apologize for any discomfort caused to our customers, but as said we preferred to have the flight leave New York the same day,” the statement said.
“It should be emphasized the company does not tolerate violence toward the [flight] crew and we will determinedly and without compromise act in accordance with the law against any passenger whom a complaint is filed against, as we have done so far,” El Al added.

Minnesota rabbi charged in child sex sting operation

August 16. 2018

 

Image result for Aryeh Cohen

Aryeh Cohen, would be child molester

 

A Minnesota rabbi who works in student outreach was charged in a child sex sting conducted earlier this year.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen faces two felony counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing conduct with a child, the Pioneer Press reported.

Some 17 people have been charged in recent days in the undercover operation.

In most of the cases, the men responded to ads posted on Craigslist by undercover agents posing as young women or men seeking a hook-up.

Cohen, 44, who has no prior record, was arrested in February outside an apartment in North St. Paul, where the federal agent posing as a 15-year-old boy suggested they meet after a week of communicating through a hook-up site, the Forward reported.

Cohen was the director of outreach for the Minneapolis Community Kollel, an Orthodox community center that offers seminars and classes on Jewish texts and religious life. He ran the Kollel’s JWAY program for college students and recent graduates. He and his wife, Adina, also led private text studies with male and female students at the Hillel on the University of Minnesota campus, according to the Forward, though he was not employed by Hillel.

Cohen’s name was removed from the Kollel’s website.

The rabbi will appear in court in September. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.

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