Chicago Letter Counters Israel: Students can Drop Meisels Seminaries and Others Can Accept Them

By Yerachmiel Lopin (Frum Follies blog)
August 8, 2014

Two days ago on August 6, 2014, Rabbi Shmuel Feurst, one of the three dayanim (rabbinical judges) of the Chicago Special Beis Din wrote:

By this letter, I certify that according to Jewish law (al pi halacha)
1. any student currently enrolled in any of the following seminaries, Pninim, Binas Bais Yaakov, Chedvas Bais Yaakov or Keser Chaya, is free to attend any seminary they wish, and
2. any seminary is free to accept any student they wish including students who withdraw from the aforementioned seminaries.

Rabbi Feurst explicitly rejects the ruling (and thus, the authority) of the Israeli Beis Din (IBD) of Rabbis Shafran, Malinowitz and Gartner which forbade students from switching and other seminaries from recruiting or accepting them.

The seminaries named above were under the control of Elimelech Meisels and according to the IBD they were transferred to the control of the IBD and Mr. Yankie (Yaakov) Yarmish. They are embroiled in this controversy because Meisels admitted abusing students, and Chicago’s rabbis are not persuaded that the enablers have been removed or even of the extent of and nature of Meisels removal.

A few students have switched quietly and other seminaries have quietly accepted the students. But only the Nachlas seminary of Zvi Bloom is openly recruiting those students. This ruling will doubtless make some of the seminaries more willing to admit students (when and if they have space) and will make some less secretive about it. On the other hand, it is a political question how many other seminaries will be afraid of the influence and power of the IBD and will not be willing to publicly defy them.

One thing is crystal clear. It seems less and less likely that Chicago and the Israel Beis Din will find a middle ground, a point of compromise.