It looks like another archive of recorded ultra-Orthodox malfeasance has been taken offline. As of today, lostmessiah.wordpress.com is no longer available. The blog page now reads: “lostmessiahdotcom.wordpress.com is no longer available. This blog has been archived or suspended in accordance with our Terms of Service.”
This happened shortly after the blog administrator posted an apology and retraction for a post published titled “An Apology, Louis Kestenbaum, Joel Kestenbaum and Fortis Property Group“
It is unclear if the site’s status is temporary, or if the blog, and its entire archive of unrelated material will remain permanently offline.
In 2018 I posted NY Blogger Unmasked and Sued by Kestenbaums, Fortis Property Group, for Libel Wants Court Case Public about a law suit filed against the blogger.
Whether the removal action was taken by WordPress, the blogger, or a forced condition by the Kestenbaums/Fortis, the result is the same; the cover-up of the blogger’s years of reporting financial crimes, child sexual abuse, cult behavior, and hypocrisy in the religious Jewish community.
As I pointed out in my last post, Frum Watch Down?, the most active reporter of crime and malfeasance in the ultra-Orthodox/Haredi and Orthodox Jewish communities, Frum Watch, was also recently taken offline. Comments on the matter indicate Facebook suspended the page after it had been reported multiple times in an active attempt to bring it down:
“Yes, looks like they have reported us en masse. But we are currently working on a new, independent website. Keep you posted!“
Though encouraging that a replacement is forthcoming, again, an archive of lost material may never be recovered.
Censorship practiced religiously
Both websites above, and this one, were created as a response to the buyout of the FailedMessiah blog in 2016, by a group called Diversified Holdings, representing the interests of the ‘religious Jewish community.’ In a February 3, 2016 post the new owners of the blog posted the following:
“You are probably wondering what the future holds for “Failed Messiah”? Who are the new owners? We are a group of people dedicated to protecting the reputation of the Orthodox Jewish community. A community that keeps to our tradition, and sets our standards high to protect the sanctity of G-d’s name. This can be accomplished in two ways. Firstly, we will present articles and conversations that speak to what Hashem truly wants from us. Secondly, we will continue to pursue and expose people that create a desecration of G-d’s name.“
This too was a planned cover-up, though more effectively a shutdown, since the site’s archive has remained mostly intact. The new owners posted enough mundane material and ‘feel-good’ stories to fill the first two pages, and made some of the site’s accessibility and readability more difficult. Then they abandoned it.
The history of these bully tactics, cover-ups, and censorship predates the FailedMessiah blog. Incarnations of Orthodox Jewish watchdog sites cropped up over the last couple of decades; originally on platforms like message boards, they evolved through the blogging craze, and most recently appear on social media platforms.
Before personal blogs lost popularity to social media, FailedMessiah was possibly the most popular of sites reporting on the misbehavior and crime of the Haredi and Orthodox Jewish world. Other site like Luke Ford (active), Jewish Outreach: What Your Rabbi Isn’t Telling You (live, inactive), and Unorthodox Jew (active), sprang up with with reports shared by victims and informers within the Jewish religious communities. Oftentimes these sites would report on each other’s stories, add relevant information, and increase exposure of a news item.
In this 2008 Luke Ford interview with Leah Kleim (who was raised Chabad and found problems within the organization), she describes a history of exposing Chabad and other rabbis for various acts of malfeasance, many sexual in nature:
Luke: “How many rabbis have lost their jobs because of you?”
Leah: “Thirteen to sixteen.”
Luke: “Can you list some names for me?”
Leah: “Number one is Mendy Cornfeld in Miami. There was Alexander Hirsh and Chaim Wertzberger. They got jobs in other organizations from Satmar. After that, I can’t mention their names because they did get help.”
Luke: “How did you get information on all these child molesters?”
Leah: “People contacted me.”
I researched one of the above mentioned cases, and there was apparently a Chabad shliach/emissary/missionary in the Miami area named Mendy Kornfeld. He was assigned a post as an ‘outreach’ rabbi by the Chabad Lubavitch organization in 2003.
Further web searches revealed that he was removed from his post in or around 2007, when a new missionary Chabad couple replaced Kornfeld and his wife. Though details of the rabbi’s offense were not detailed in any Chabad source, artifacts of a scandal can still be found on the Internet. According to comments found in the archive of FailedMessiah, Mendy Kornfeld found himself in what could be called a ‘Kornfeld Camera Controversy,’ by allegedly exposing himself to Ms. Kleim who subsequently obtained photographs of the shliach masturbating:
“shliachbust said… Chabad does think that only Chabad matters.
Recently an ex Chabanik Leah Kleim posted pictures of a Shliach masturbating. In her article about the Shliach Leah wrote that he found her on the internet and said he wanted too help her. The help she got was the Shliach masturbating for her. Chabad has scared her into taking down the pictures.
they need to be exposed before they help more girls like Leah. May 26, 2007 at 12:28 AM”
“this is a serious issue ! Leah Kleim took down the post and the pictures of the shliach masturbating. his name is mendy kornfeld he is a shliach from florida. leah kleim posted some recent threats made to her by chabad because of the shliach she exposed. avrohom shemtov has followed leah in her quest to expose lubavitch. shemtov has posted a letter to the public stating that a lubavitcher reabbi mollested him these 2 have a lot of balls and can change chabad forever June 12, 2007 at 03:40 AM“
“shliachbust said… Does anyone know who paid Leah Kleim to take down the picyures of the shliach.
Does anyone have the pictures of the shliach? June 29, 2007 at 10:45 PM“
Another comment in the same thread by another commenter appears to confirm the event mentioned above did in fact happen, but attempts to justify it by pointing out difficulties or hardships suffered by Kornfeld.
Rarely does a Chabad missionary leave his post, since it is considered a ‘lifetime’ assignment. Yet since 2008 Kornfeld has advertised himself as an insurance salesman (though there is no indication that he forfeited his status as a “rabbi”). Some sources indicate he is working from his home state of Washington.
Another still places him in Florida.
Wherever he’s currently located, the history of Chabad scandal he left behind offers an example of a historical case that parallels Chabad scandals and subsequent cover-ups that still go on today.
A more recent example is the case of Nisson Friedman, son of the popular Chabad personality, Manis Friedman:
Chabad Rabbi Nisson Friedman, son of Chabad’s Manis Friedman, Removed From Pittsburgh Yeshiva for Child Sexual Abuse, Arrest “inevitable”
Prior to that now covered-up scandal (where no justice was reportedly served), his father, Manis Friedman, was heavily criticized by those outside of Chabad for making light of the crime of child sexual abuse:
Full Video/Audio/Transcript of Chabad’s Manis Friedman Trivializing Child Sexual Abuse
Chabad, like other Orthodox Jewish sects, rarely criticizes their own. And no action has been taken against Manis Friedman or his son by the Chabad organization. To her credit, Nisson Friedman’s wife divorced him and took custody of their child. Wife of Child Sexual Abuse Suspect Chabad Rabbi Nisson Friedman, Receives Interim Emergency Sole Custody of Son, Couple Currently Separated, Divorce in Process
The story of Nisson Friedman’s alleged crimes has since been all but buried, covered over by time and forgetfulness. His whereabouts and any follow-up to his alleged crime has remained unreported.
I hope this blog entry serves as a reminder to some about Orthodox cover-ups and their attempts to censor or erase history. Their organized efforts to hide the truth, makes them no different than larger religions (like the Catholic Church), or secular society, in which one can find the same behavior. Their facade of piety and Torah waving are lies intended to fool the ignorant (especially the unfamiliar targets of ultra-Orthodox Jewish outreach groups, like Chabad).
We’re watching the pattern of ultra-Orthodox Jewish crime and cover-ups reveal itself again today, as two of the most active blogs reporting Orthodox Jewish malfeasance have been taken offline within one week.
For potential victims of Orthodox Jewish crime, it is the equivalent of placing a stumbling block in front of a blind person. For the Orthodox groups engaging in, or associated with these crimes, it’s a yom tov (holiday; lit. good day).
Note: Lostmessiah’s Twitter feed is still active.