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Case of Rabbi Lewis Brenner

(AKA: Louis Brenner, Lipa Brenner, Lippa Brenner)

Brooklyn, NY

Convicted of child molestation.  The original charges included 14 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.  He agreed to plead guilty to one count of sodomy in the third degree, a Class E felony, in exchange for a sentence of five years' probation.

Prosecutors said Brenner had sexual contact with a youth he met in the bathroom of the temple they both attended. The molestations allegedly took place over a three-year period that ended in 1995 when the victim was 15 years old.

Note:  Rabbi Lewis Brenner's daughter Yochevad, is married to Rabbi Ephraim Bryks.  

If anyone has a photograph of Rabbi Lipa Brenner, please forward it to The Awareness Center


CALL TO ACTION:  Contact Rabbi Paysach Krohn and Demand he stop promoting alleged child molester, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks. Remind him if another child is harmed that he could be held liable in a civil suit.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Certified Mohel

E-mail: pkrohn@brisquest.com

Toll Free: 866-846-6900

NY: 718-846-6900


Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents:

  1. Retroactive Effect Given Megan's Law Fed'l, State Rulings Diverge, Judge Notes  (03/14/1997)

  2. Court To Hear Sex Offender Registry Case  (05/20/2002)

  3. Rabbis Trial Begins (07/12/2002)

  4. Tripping Up The Prosecution (05/28/2003)

  5. Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Rabbi Lipa Brenner and Alleged Sex Offender, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks  (11/13/2007)

Also see:  


Retroactive Effect Given Megan's Law Fed'l, State Rulings Diverge, Judge Notes

New York Law Journal - March 14, 1997, Friday

BY CERISSE ANDERSON

http://www.usajewish.com/scripts/usaj/forum/forum.idc?ForumID=24&ArchiveID=121

A BROOKLYN rabbi who pleaded guilty to one felony count of sexual abuse must register as a sex offender under New York's version of Megan's Law even though the criminal act occurred before the law became effective and though he was sentenced to probation instead of jail time, a state judge has ruled.

Ruling yesterday in People v. Lewis Brenner, filed in Supreme Court, Kings County, Criminal Term Part AP F1, Acting Justice Charles J. Heffernan noted, after an extensive review of 15 opinions in 13 cases across the country which have considered whether Megan's Laws should be applied to all offenders retoactively, that "there is a marked divergence of opinion between federal and state courts."

An edited version of the decision will be published Monday.

Justice Heffernan said he agreed with the majority of state judges who have considered the issue that, when applied to Mr. Brenner, New York's Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) was not punishment, since Mr. Brenner already had felt the sting of community rejection upon his arrest. Thus, he said, the retroactive application of the notification provisions of the law was not unconstitutional as a violation of the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Furthermore, the judge said, the Legislature intended the law to apply to offenders sentenced to probation as well as to those who serve prison time. But, he said, prosecutors had failed to produce evidence that would justify classifying the 65-year-old man as a Level 2 Risk which would require notification to law enforcement agencies and possible announcement to the community of his "approximate" address (based on his zip code) and criminal background.

A Level 1 Risk, a "low" risk of repeat offense, requires notification of his address and background only to law enforcement agencies.

The original Megan's Law requiring notification to law enforcement agencies, and in some cases the public, of a defendant's status as as previously-convicted sex offender was enacted in New Jersey after the molestation and murder of Megan Kanka by a released sex offender whose history was unknown in the neighborhood where he and the child lived. All the remaining states have since enacted child sex offender registration laws.

Shunned in Community

Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan found the notification provisions of SORA amounted to punishment and thus were unconstitutional as an ex post facto law and permanently enjoined its retroactive enforcement in Doe v. Pataki, 940 F.Supp. 603 (appeal has been argued before the Second Circuit and is pending). Justice Heffernan, however, said he was unable to reach the same conclusion for Mr. Brenner.

"While four of the six state courts which have considered the issue have rejected such [retroactivity-related] challenges . . ., decisions in four of the six federal cases on point have espoused a contrary view, either directly or by pointed suggestion. Appeals in two of those cases are now sub judice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits," the judge noted in his 111-page opinion.

Justice Heffernan said he agreed with the analyses and holdings of the Supreme Courts of New Jersey and Washington State, the U.S. District Court for New Jersey and a state Supreme Court justice in Rochester, N.Y., all of whom rejected the contention that retroactive notification constituted punishment.

After conducting a hearing last October, the judge concluded that Mr. Brenner had been subjected to shunning within his Orthodox Jewish community (he had to resign from the temple he founded and received a letter threatening him unless he stayed off the block where his congregation was located), but "it would appear that defendant has been able to retain considerable stability in his life with limited exceptions." Justice Heffernan noted that Mr. Brenner had been accepted by another religious congregation despite knowledge of thecharges in the case.

"[Defendant] failed to demonstrate that the effects of any form of community notification, should it be authorized, would be appreciably beyond those which arose without such notification," he said. Thus there was no basis for a finding that the notification "would be an affirmative disability or restraint upon defendant."

Mr. Brenner had been charged with 14 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child arising from sexual contact with the same youth whom he allegedly met in the bathroom of the temple they both attended. The sexual contact was alleged to have been committed over a three-year period until October 1995, when the then 15-year-old told authorities.

He agreed to plead guilty to one count of sodomy in the third degree, a Class E felony, in exchange for a sentence of five years' probation.

Mr. Brenner was represented by Marvin E. Schechter. The case was prosecuted for Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Nancy M. Slater.

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Court To Hear Sex Offender Registry Case - Case Could Affect Oklahoma Law

May 20, 2002

http://www.channeloklahoma.com/okl/news/stories/news-146914120020520-090533.html

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider a constitutional challenge to some registries of known sex offenders, the second case the court will hear involving lists meant to keep tabs on potentially dangerous sex criminals.

The court said it will hear an appeal from Connecticut, where a federal judge struck down the state's sex offender registry last year. The judge found that the law violated the constitutional rights of past offenders, because their names were placed on the list without a chance to prove they are no longer dangerous to society.

SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY

Is it unconstitutional? What do you think?

The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and the registry is no longer publicly available.

The case could affect more than 20 states, including Oklahoma, with similar laws requiring community notification based on the offender's record rather than an individual evaluation of his or her current likelihood to repeat the crime.

A high court ruling against Connecticut could force states to hold separate hearings for sex criminals to assess whether their names, addresses or other identifying information will be made public.

All states have laws requiring some kind of list of sex criminals, but some provide the public with names of only those offenders deemed dangerous. Still other states have hybrid laws, making the names public in the cases of serious sex crimes, but taking a case-by-case approach when the crime is considered less egregious.

The registry laws are usually called Megan's law, after Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl raped and killed in 1994 by a neighbor who was a convicted sex offender. Her parents didn't know his history when he moved in across the street.

The registries take conviction records already publicly available through police or court records, and compile them in one place. Information on Connecticut sex offenders is still publicly available on the old piecemeal basis.

The Bush administration backed Connecticut in asking the Supreme Court to step in.

"Megan's laws serve vital government interests by assisting law enforcement and enabling American communities to better protect themselves, and in particular their children," the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer wrote in court papers.

Solicitor General Theodore Olson noted that federal law requires states to have a registry, or face a reduction in federal funding.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia also filed a friend-of-the-court brief backing Connecticut.

The Supreme Court will hear the case in the term that begins next fall.

The court will also hear a separate constitutional challenge to laws in about a dozen states that publish names, addresses or other personal information about convicted sex offenders on the Internet. The question in that case is whether such publicly available lists, which include names of people who long ago served their sentences, amount to unconstitutional double punishment for the same crime.

Connecticut's registry was also available over the Internet, but that factor was not the key to the case the high court agreed to hear Monday.

The registry was created in 1998 and operated by state police. Users could search by town for lists of resident sex offenders. It listed the names, addresses and, in most cases, pictures of nearly 2,100 offenders. The Web site received 150,000 hits per month, state police said.

Two anonymous sex offenders sued the state, claiming they are no longer a danger to society and should not be stigmatized. The men claimed the registry violated their constitutional right to fair treatment in the courts by denying them a chance to keep their names off the list.

According to the Justice Department, laws similar to Connecticut's are in force in: Alabama; Delaware; the District of Columbia; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Louisiana; Maryland; Michigan; Mississippi; Missouri; New Mexico; North Carolina; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Virginia; West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The case is Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. John Doe, 01-1231

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Rabbi's trial begins

by Elaine Silvestrini- Freehold Bureau

Asbury Park Press (NJ) - June 12, 2002

FREEHOLD - Jury selection began yesterday in the case of a rabbi accused of sexually molesting two teen-age students while he was principal of Hillel High School in Ocean Township.

Rabbi Baruch Lanner, 52, of Fair Lawn is charged with two counts each of aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child between 1992 and 1997.

Endangering the welfare of a child is the most serious of the charges, and it carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in state prison.

Lanner is being represented by a team of three lawyers, who also employed a jury consultant to sit with them in the courtroom during jury selection. The defense maintains that the two teens have motives to lie about Lanner because they blame him for setbacks in their education and their lives.

Superior Court Judge Paul F. Chaiet has granted permission to an out-of-state lawyer, Marvin E. Schechter, to represent Lanner, along with lawyers Julian Wilsey of Livingston and Tama Beth Kudman of Hackensack and New York.

The government's case is represented by a single assistant prosecutor, Peter Boser.

Schechter, who is former president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has tried more than 100 cases and has been an adjunct faculty professor at Fordham Law School, according to court papers submitted by the defense.

He has lectured on topics, including "Sex Crimes - Defense Techniques" and "Voire Dire (jury selection) Techniques."

According to the New York Law Journal, Schechter represented Brooklyn Rabbi Lewis Brenner, who pleaded guilty to a charge of sodomy after being charged with 14 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to the Journal, prosecutors said Brenner had sexual contact with a youth he met in the bathroom of the temple they both attended. The molestations allegedly took place over a three-year period that ended in 1995 when the victim was 15 years old, the Journal reported. Rabbi Brenner was sentenced to five years probation.

The Lanner investigation reportedly began after one of the victims' allegations were reported in New York Jewish Week in July 2000. The newspaper conducted an investigation that turned up abuse claims by 25 of Lanner's former students, most from the job he held before he came to Hillel High School in 1982.

Mindful that allegations of sexual abuse by clergy are a hot topic in the media, the judge yesterday assembled a larger-than-usual pool of 100 potential jurors and gave each jury candidate a questionnaire to complete. The jury candidates were then sent home and directed to return to court today.

Ordinarily in non-capital cases, jury selection is conducted differently, with oral questioning of potential jurors by the judge, who addresses his inquiries to a panel with directions for people to raise their hands if a question applies to them.

Among the questions contained on a three-page questionnaire given to jury candidates yesterday was, "Do the recent scandals of a sexual nature that are affecting the Catholic church have any bearing or affect your ability to be a fair and impartial juror?"

Potential jurors are also being asked their religious affiliation and whether they or any family members or friends have been the victim of sexual abuse or harassment.

While he did not screen the entire panel yesterday, Chaiet did excuse at least three jury candidates who felt they could not be fair because of the nature of the charges.

He also began hearing excuses from some jury candidates who felt they could not sit for the expected three-week trial. A total of 14 people were excused for hardships ranging from scheduled medical procedures to lack of income or scheduled trips.

The judge did not accept all excuses, and refused to release a physician, for example, who said he worked in a hospital and has patients and new residents coming in. Chaiet told the doctor his staff could fill in, and directed him to "take a seat" in the jury box.

Jury selection was set to resume this morning.

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Tripping Up The Prosecution

By Stephanie Saul - Staff Writer

Newsday - May 28, 2003

Last in a series.

http://www.nynewsday.com/templates/misc/printstory.jsp?slug=nyc%2Dpros0529&section=%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fqueens

Former New Yorker Avrohom Mondrowitz has built a quiet, comfortable life as a college professor in Jerusalem.

The syllabus for his business administration course at Jerusalem College of Engineering is posted on the Web, along with his phone number.

Mondrowitz is living so openly, it's hard to believe the psychologist and self-styled rabbi is wanted for allegedly sexually abusing four Brooklyn boys, ages 10 to 16. The charges against him include sodomy.

"I don't want this hydra to lift its head again," said Mondrowitz, declining to discuss his 1985 indictment on 13 counts. Once the host of a radio program in Brooklyn, Mondrowitz will be arrested should he ever re-enter the United States, according to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

But according to U.S. Justice and State department documents, Hynes' office approved a decision in 1993 to drop efforts to extradite Mondrowitz, a U.S. citizen who has been sheltered by the Israeli government since he fled the United States in 1985.

Michael Lesher, a New Jersey attorney who obtained the federal documents after years of research on the Mondrowitz case, said the decision to drop efforts to return Mondrowitz to the United States is an embarrassing one, considering the severity of the charges.

A spokesman for Hynes, Jerry Schmetterer, was at a loss to explain the decision.

"We don't know anything about the State Department closing its file," said Schmetterer, calling the federal records a "mystery."

"We have nothing in our files to indicate we ever made that decision," said Schemetterer, emphasizing that the Mondrowitz file is still kept in a prosecutor's desk in the event Mondrowitz ever returns from Jerusalem.

Escape to Israel is merely one of the factors that can hamper prosecution of alleged sex abuse in the Orthodox community.

Police and prosecutors find that victims of alleged sexual abuse in those communities are discouraged from coming forward.

Intense pressure is often brought to bear on complainants who bypass rabbinical courts -- the community's preferred method of settling disputes -- and instead go to secular authorities. Witnesses, who are often young, become fearful and wavering. And prosecutors face pressure from a community that votes as a cohesive block.

One woman, whose son was called to testify about an alleged instance of abuse, said that extraordinary pressure was placed both on her family and on the family of the alleged victim.

"I had rabbis coming by. They threatened we'll have curses in our family. It might sound silly to you, but it was very frightening," said the woman.

She said that rabbis supplied her with a statement from a psychologist who had never examined her son, saying he was not fit to testify.

In Brooklyn, with its large Hasidic community, police have been confounded by the outcomes of some cases they investigated involving the Hasidim.

At a loss to explain the cases, some cops in the 66th Precinct, which includes Borough Park, have shrugged their shoulders and paraphrased a line from the Jack Nicholson film "Chinatown" -- "Forget it, Jake, it's Brooklyn."

One of those who recalls making the remark was retired police Capt. William Plackenmeyer, who worked for many years in Brooklyn. "In Brooklyn, it almost seemed like there were two penal codes, one for the Hasidic community and one for everyone else," Plackenmeyer said.

But Hynes' office says decisions on prosecutions are made without regard to political considerations or community pressure.

"We prosecute sex crimes. We prosecute allegations of child abuse, sex abuse," said Schmetterer. "Trained investigators conduct these investigations and come to a conclusion. They make the decision."

The arrest of a popular rabbi in the Bobox Hasidic sect in January 2000 provides another example of the pressure that can be placed on those who complain to outside officials. In that case, a 9-year-old boy accused the Brooklyn rabbi, his tutor, of physically and sexually abusing him.

In the end, Hynes' office threw out all charges against Rabbi Solomon Hafner. Schmetterer said they were found to be baseless.

But before the case was resolved, the police assigned 24-hour protection to the complainant's family, according to a law enforcement source. The family had been threatened by members of the Bobov community, the source said.

"They excoriate the victim, they run them out of the community, they make sure the victim will never marry," said sociologist Amy Neustein, who, with Lesher, researched the Hafner case and frequently writes about domestic abuse in the Orthodox community and provided documents for this article.

The boy's family later moved from Brooklyn to the quieter Bobov community in Monsey. The family would not talk to Newsday, but a friend said the move was an effort to escape community pressure.

While Hynes' office was examining the boy's allegations, the Bobov community convened a rabbinical court, a bet din, to conduct its own investigation.

The child's uncle later complained that rabbis on the bet din had asked the family to sign a document saying the boy was crazy so that they could get the criminal case thrown out. Several members of the bet din either did not return calls from Newsday or declined to discuss the religious court's proceedings.

Meantime, according to the law enforcement source, Bobov rabbis appeared in Hynes office' to plead in Hafner's defense.

Hynes' spokesman Schmetterer would not confirm or deny that such meetings took place, but he said it is not unusual for Hynes' office to meet with community leaders on cases.

After the bet din decision, the five-member panel posted notices throughout Borough Park clearing Hafner. "Rabbi Hafner's comportment with [the child] has been in complete accordance with both Torah law and the law of the land, and a parent should not hesitate to engage Rabbi Hafner as a tutor for his/her child."

With intense pressure from the community common in such cases, families also come under indirect pressure not to go public with their cases.

The social stigma attached to being the victim of sexual abuse in the general public is magnified within the Hasidic community, sources said, so much so that Hasidic victims can find it difficult to marry within the community.

And, as with sex-abuse allegations generally, parents fear causing further psychological damage to their children by placing them on the stand.

In 1995, for instance, Hynes' office charged Rabbi Lewis Brenner with repeatedly sexually abusing a boy starting in 1992 and ending in 1995, when the boy, then 15, told police. Among other places, the alleged encounters occurred in the bathroom of the rabbi's Brooklyn temple.

In a statement to the court, the boys' devastated parents said he could not even attend school, he was so troubled by "a raging cyclone of hate."

"Our son is with us physically today, but his self-respect, dignity and sense of worth were stolen from him at the tender age of 12," the boys' parents said. "Do you realize that you destroyed a world and our family, Mr. Brenner? You have stolen from our son the very essence of his life, his hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future."

The charges against Brenner initially included 14 counts, including sodomy, sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a minor. But a plea agreement whittled the charges down to one felony, stunning a Brooklyn judge.

"Given the nature, gravity and frequency of the sexual contact alleged in the felony complaint, this court was surprised by the People's plea offer and requested of the prosecutor a statement why it was forthcoming," said acting Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Heffernan in a court ruling.

The district attorney's office told the judge that the boy's family agreed to the plea bargain ... Recently, an official of the district attorney's office said the family did not want to go through with a trial.

The plea arrangement left Brenner a free man -- he got 5 years probation.

Brenner is the father-in-law of Ephraim Bryks, a Queens rabbi who was the subject of a story in Newsday on Tuesday.

Two teenagers told Canadian police years ago that Bryks abused them when they were youngsters. Bryks has never been charged with a crime and has denied the allegations.

After Brenner's plea deal, he asked the court to exempt him from the sexual abuse registry on grounds that his behavior occurred before the law was passed.

Heffernan refused.

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Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Rabbi Lipa Brenner and Alleged Sex Offender Rabbi Ephraim Bryks

The Awareness Center - November 12, 2007

The following article was written by Rabbi Paysach Krohn, and is about convicted sex offender, Rabbi (Lewis) Lipa Brenner. While reading the article remember that Rabbi Ephraim Bryks's wife is Rabbi Lipa Brenner's daughter; and Rabbi Paysach Krohn is married to Rabbi Ephraim Bryks's sister.

It's a known fact that Rabbi Paysach Krohn has a long history of protecting those who allegedly, perpetrate crimes against children. An example of this is the fact that to this day he still helps his brother-in-law, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks get speaking engagements.

In the book "Around The Magid's Table", Rabbi Paysach Krohn portrays Rabbi Brenner as a righteous man even though he was being accused as being a child molester at the time. When Artscroll learned that Rabbi Brenner was barred from Yeshiva Torah Vodaas because of his sex crimes, they removed the story from later editions of the book. Back in the 1990's rumors circulated that Krohn new about the allegations when he published his book, yet decided to ignore them.

The original charges against Rabbi Brenner included, 14 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.  Brenner agreed to plead guilty to one count of sodomy in the third degree, a Class E felony, in exchange for a sentence of five years' probation.

Prosecutors said Brenner had sexual contact with a youth he met in the bathroom of the synagogue they both attended. The molestation's allegedly took place over a three-year period that ended in 1995 when the victim was 15 years old.

On June 24, 2007, both Rabbi Paysach Krohn and Rabbi Ephraim Bryks presented at a Shabbaton (weekend retreat)

CALL TO ACTION:  Contact Rabbi Paysach Krohn and Demand he stop promoting alleged child molester, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks. Remind him if another child is harmed that he could be held liable in a civil suit.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Certified Mohel

E-mail: pkrohn@brisquest.com

Toll Free: 866-846-6900

NY: 718-846-6900

_______________________________________________________________

Around The Magid's Table

By Rabbi Paysach Krohn

Published by Art Scroll (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)

718-921-9000

Children's Children.

Family Life, Page 97 - 101

Being a rav in a small town, far from any city with a large Jewish population, is often a lonely and thankless job. True, there is much to accomplish, but the challenges which need to be overcome on the way to building a day school, solidifying a minyan of shomrei Shabbos (Sabbath observers), or convincing people to uphold and maintain standards of kashrus and family purity always seem to be uphill struggles. More often than not, a rav in an area with a limited number of Jewish inhabitants gets the feeling that the Jews he is dealing with are simply not on the same wave length as he is.

One such rav was R' Lipa Brenner, who had been inspired to enter the rabbinate by his mentor in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, R' Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (1886-1948). After a few years of serving as a rabbi and principal in a small town in New Jersey, R' Lipa was becoming exasperated. The local baalei battim (laymen) were not cooperating with him in his endeavors, and R' Lipa's accomplishments seemed to dim with every passing year. Meanwhile to add to his dilemma, business opportunities beckoned from New York. Aside from the potential financial security that was so alluring, Lipa might finally have the opportunity to provide his children with the chinuch (education) that he felt was proper and essential.

In a quandary as to whether or not to leave the rabbinate, he decided to travel to Eretz Yisrael (Israel) and seek the advice of Vizhnitzer Rebbe, R' Chaim Mayer Hager (1898-1972). R' Lipa obtained his tickets and passport, and made the trip. However upon his arrival he was informed that the Rebbe was preparing to leave for Lugano, Switzerland, and would receive no more visitors before his departure. And so R' Lipa followed him to Switzerland.

In Lugano, R'Lipa made his way to where the Rebbe was staying. He waited his turn to see the Rebbe and, when he was finally ushered in, the Rebbe asked R'Lipa to sit beside him at his table. Seated across the table was another rav from Tel Avivi. After a few moments the rebbetzin came in with a glass of hot tea for her husband. Before she could even put the tea on the table, the Rebbe gently admonished her and said, :Please bring two more glasses of tea. We are three rabbanim here about to have a discussion."

R' Lipa was astounded. The Rebbe had referred to him as a rav, and talked of him as though he were a peer. R' Lipa trembled as he realized the significance of the title the Vizhnitzer Rebbe had inadvertently bestowed on him. But perhaps it wasn't inadvertent? Did the Rebbe know that he was thinking of leaving the rabbinate? R' Lipa never bothered to find out. Then and there he resolved his own conflict. He would retain his position as rav.

***

That winder, back in New Jersey, R' Lipa received a call from the head of a nearby children's s foster home. This woman told him that five Jewish boys had been placed in her care. "School registration is coming up soon, and I feel that the boys should be given some background in Jewish culture," she said. "I am Jewish, although not religious, " she continued, somewhat apologetically, " and I just can't see sending these five children to a regular public school." She asked R' Lipa if he could find places for the boys in his day school. At least in a Jewish environment they would get to know something about their heritage." She went on to explain that the foster home could not pay any tuition because its budget covered only room and board. The children in the home were supposed to attend public school, which was free. As if to reinforce her point, she then added, "And don't think for a moment that any of these children's parents left us any money for parochial schools!"

R' Lipa realized that this was an opportunity to perform spiritual hatzalas nefasho (saving of lives). Tuition at the time was one thousand dollars per child, but maybe if he spoke to the members of the Board of Directors they would be willing to foot the bill for these children. He tried, but had no luck. As a matter of fact, the Board members were totally opposed to his idea. "Our school is not a charity organization," on of them said. "If neither the parents of the children nor the foster home will contribute at all towards their tuition, then we won't accept them. Finished."

The young rav was incensed. True, it wouldn't be easy for the school to absorb the cost of education additional boys, but it was the attitude of the Board members that enraged him. "They shouldn't be pushing away problems," he thought, "They should tackling them head on!"

R'Lipa thought about the situation for a day and then came back to the Board with his mind made up. "I won't allow these boys to fall by the wayside," he declared. "if the director of the foster home was considerate enough to contact us, it would be a chillul Hashem (disgrace of Hashem's Name) not to respond affirmatively to her suggestions. I will consider these children as my own and assume responsibility for paying their tuition." The Board members were stunned but silent, and the next day the five boys were enrolled in the town's Hebrew Day School

R'Lipa had no idea from where he would get the money. Already he was raising funds for the shul, the school, the mikveh and the chevra kaddisha. But he persisted in his search, all the while taking a special interest in these children.

One day he made an appointment with a wealthy woman who headed a prestigious store downtown. She hadn't been known for her charity in the past, but he felt that perhaps of the plight of these five boys would awaken within her a sense of sympathy. Miraculously it did, and by the time "R'Lipa walked out of her office he had with him a check for five thousand dollars -- the amount to necessary to cover the entire year's tuition bill for the boys.

****

The school year progressed as the boys advanced, each at his own pace. At year's end one of the five was reunited with his family, two remained in the day school, and two brothers, having made significant strides in their studies, were encouraged by R'Lipa and another teacher to enter fine yeshivos in New York.

The next year R'Lipa left New Jersey and eventually lost contact with the people there

****

More than two decades later, R' Lipa was visiting in the Matterdorf section of Jerusalem. It was Shabbos afternoon and dozens of children were playing in the streets. , which are cordoned off until nightfall. Suddenly a bearded young man came running over to R' Lipa, yelling, "Rebbe!!" R'Lipa turned around, but did not recognize anyone. "Rebbe,", the young man said, smiling, "you are R' Brenner, aren't you? You probably don't recognize me anymore. I went to your school back in New Jersey more than twenty years ago. come with me," the young man said warmly. "I want to introduce you to your grandchildren."

The young man took R' Lipa by the hand and brought him to where his wife was watching their children playing. (something in hebrew) -- Anyone who teaches Torah to a child of at his friend, it's as though he gave birth to him," said the young man, citing the Talmudic text (Sanhedrin 19b). "Thus, if I am your child, these are your grandchildren."

The young man was indeed one of the five from the foster home in New Jersey. R' Lipa had seen to it that he attend the Mirrer Yeshiva in New York, and from there the young man went on to become an outstanding talmid chacham. R'Lipa had all but forgotten him, but the young man had remembered him. The face of his mentor had been etched in the child's memory forever.

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Last Updated:  11/13/2007

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

--Margaret Mead

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