Category: Blog

The following is a repost of an article by Jane Eisner first published on Forward.com on May 4, 2016.

http://forward.com/opinion/339951/will-new-jewish-effort-force-new-york-to-change-sex-abuse-laws-at-last/

Sara Kabakov had never done this before. Never driven three hours from her home in Ithaca, N.Y., to the state capitol in Albany nearly 200 miles away, never tried to enter the mosh pit of lobbying lawmakers, never thought of herself as a political activist.

But there she was yesterday at the capitol, seeking an audience with her state senator, meeting with other legislators, learning from other advocates, all in service of persuading them to protect victims of child sexual abuse.

She was moved to do this by a simple act of bravery: Last January, Kabakov shared her own story of sexual abuse at the hands of Marc Gafni, the former rabbi and spiritual guru. “I am the woman Gafni molested when she was 13 years old,” she wrote in an exclusive essay for the Forward . “This is the first time I am telling my story in my own name.”

Gafni was a Yeshiva University rabbinical student five or six years her senior, who regularly molested her at night in her bed when he would stay at the Kabakov family home for Shabbat. The abuse continued for months; the pain and confusion lasted for many years, exacerbated by the refusal of an array of Jewish leaders to take Kabakov’s story seriously. By the time she was able to fully address what happened, she was 38 years old.

And in New York State, that was 15 years too late.

That’s because New York has one of the most cruel, reactionary laws in the nation, ranking right down there with Mississippi, Michigan and Alabama as states that advocates say are the worst for victims and the best for predators. Victims of sexual abuse in New York have only until the age of 23 to bring either criminal charges or file a civil lawsuit against their alleged abusers, one of the shortest windows in the country.

While other states have reformed their laws — Georgia did so last year — legislators in Albany have rebuffed repeated attempts by the indefatigable Queens assemblywoman Margaret Markey. Since 2006, she has championed the Child Victims Act , which in its current iteration eliminates the civil statute of limitations in the future and creates a one-year window when older abuse victims can bring their claims. A companion bill would eliminate the SOL in criminal cases in the future.

The measures have passed the state House and have been left to die in the state Senate, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stayed uncharacteristically silent.

Sensing a growing national disgust with this kind of harmful politics, Markey and State senator Brad Hoylman from Manhattan, both Demcorats, organized a two-day lobbying blitz continuing today. The lawmakers and their supporters are veritable Davids battling the Goliath of the Catholic Church on this, and the church’s compatriot in blocking real reform, Agudath Israel of America, which represents ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Hart was in Albany yesterday, too. He considers this advocacy part of his rabbinate — not only because of his pastoral obligation to hear and heal the pain of fellow Jews, but out of the shameful recognition that too many Jewish leaders have denied the seriousness of child abuse for too long.

“Early on in my rabbinate, I sat in a room of survivors who shared stories of abuse, and heard how rabbis and Jewish institutions had failed these survivors over and over again,” he told me. “I feel like it has to change. Religious institutions should be places of healing, places of hope and protection for people — not the other way around.”

This urge to protect institutions from allegations of abuse that may have happened long ago is rooted in ignorance and fear. There’s no need for either anymore. We know from research and countless human examples that it may take an abuse victim decades to be able to even verbalize the experience, especially when the abuser was a person held in high esteem, like a rabbi or teacher.

“It can take a lifetime to learn how to speak up to Jewish authority,” Kabakov told me as she drove home from Albany. “It can silence people. It silenced me.”

And then there’s a deeper fear that Kabakov names, one that especially afflicts Jews and other minorities — fear of bringing shame onto one’s own. “That’s probably one of the biggest barriers to changing the paradigm of silence,” she said. “Everyone is afraid of persecution, of stigma, and we don’t want to add to it.”

We simply have to get over it, if for no other reason than suppression of abuse inevitably leads to more harm and more communal shame. The Jewish advocates in Albany yesterday, along with their coalition partners from other faiths, are not disrespecting their communities and traditions by lobbying on behalf of child victims. They are acting out of love made desperate by denial and suffering.

Do the right thing, New York. Allow the victims their voices. Let their stories be heard.

Jane Eisner

Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, became editor-in-chief of the Forward in 2008, the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national news organization. Under her leadership, the Forward readership has grown significantly and has won numerous regional and national awards for its original journalism, in print and online.

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The following is a repost of an article by Stephen H Dinan first published May 3, 2016 on the Huffington Post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-h-dinan/boycott-marc-gafnis-movie_b_9829656.html

I’m writing to bring attention and sound a serious warning about what are, in my opinion, deceptions taking place around the movie RiseUp, which has been enrolling many trusted leaders and has begun a major fundraising campaign at Generosity.

I strongly urge you to educate yourself and others and consider boycotting this movie due to the participation of Marc Gafni, who appears to be using credible authors, speakers, musicians, and business leaders to establish a socially-acceptable front.

Gafni has been the subject of more than 35 recent articles in the press that describe a very troubling history, some of which are included below.

In January, more than 100 of the most respected rabbis and cultural leaders in the Jewish world came together in a Change.org petition to give a very strong warning of the danger Gafni poses. They said, “Marc Gafni has left a trail of pain, suffering, and trauma amongst the people and congregations who were unfortunate to have trusted him.” As further support to their statement, more than 3400 other signatories from all periods of Gafni’s life signed as well, many with extensive comments.

I strongly recommend reading the petition, as well as 75 of the comments on the petition that share many terrible first-hand accounts. It’s also valuable to watch the video testimony of Gafni’s third wife, and Rabbi Ingber.

These accounts state that, in the Jewish world, Gafni went through many congregations and changed his name several times, trailed by allegations of sexual abuse, plagiarism, lying, financial misdoings and more.

In more recent circles, the allegations of misdoings have continued, leading many to break with him completely (Terry Patten’s article is a great example).

In January, I joined with 33 other respected authors and leaders including Deepak Chopra, Jean Houston, Andrew Harvey, John Robbins, and Joan Borysenko to publicly pledge not to have anything to do with Gafni or promote anything he is a part of, based on our direct or indirect knowledge of the harm he has caused others.

It’s important for speakers in the movie or those promoting it to know that, perhaps unbeknownst to them, by participating in this film they may be directly giving more power, influence, and money to this man and his close collaborators.

In my opinion, it is deceptive that Gafni’s presence has been removed from the movie’s fundraising sites, even though it has been co-envisioned, written, and co-produced by Gafni, according to his own website at the Center for Integral Wisdom (see screenshot here if removed at the original link, where you’ll need to scroll way down). The text reads:

Rise Up Movie from the Success 3.0 Summit With Michael Bernard Beckwith, Marc Gafni, Barbara Marx Hubbard and special Guests John Mackey, Tony Robbins, and Hillary Swank, and interviews with speakers and guests of the summit. Directed by Michael-Shaun Conaway, co-envisioned and written by Marc Gafni, co-produced by Kate Maloney, Alex Melnyk and Marc Gafni

It appears that the RiseUp production team is now minimizing or hiding Gafni’s role during the fundraising and enrollment process for leaders.

However, RiseUp has long been listed as a project of Gafni’s Center for Integral Wisdom, of which he is clearly the primary founder and leader (see New York Times article). They also announced via email on April 6, 2016 that Success 3.0, the in-person Summit in which Gafni played the leading speaking role, was rebranding into RiseUp.

Plus, there is an upcoming event announced on the Center’s website in which Gafni’s bio includes the following line: “Marc is also the initiating visionary and co-director of the Success 3.0 Summit and RiseUP.”

In addition, there are Facebook pictures posted on March 15, 2015, by Gafni’s close ally and Board member Chahat Corten (original post, reprinted here) that discuss filming the movie and that show Gafni clearly in a director’s role as well as being filmed himself. There is also an old trailer of RiseUp in which Gafni is featured (see minute 1:34) and a place where he mentions his work on the movie in a voice recording leaked to the Forward (see minute 7:50 here).

In addition to the publicly available facts, there was also a leak of information from the most recent Center for Integral Wisdom Board meeting. I was informed through an ally that they explicitly discussed that the strategy for the movie and Summit would be for Gafni to call the shots from behind the scenes, then appear as a “surprise guest” at the Summit that will follow the movie (if not be in the movie himself).

The reason all of the above is important is that Gafni has been called a “New Age Cosby” in the Huffington Post. Several women have come forward publicly with detailed stories alleging sexual abuse when they were minors (Sara Kabakov and Judy Mitsner). He’s been accused by the former mayor of Salt Lake City of plagiarism. Major recent articles about him have addressed other serious allegations in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Alternet, Forward, Tablet, Jewish Week, and many more.

One noteworthy piece was called “In Recorded Conversation, Gafni Considers Strategy Against His Critics“ and consisted of an accidental leak of a recording to the Forward in which Gafni, his lawyer, and his PR person discussed which news organization to sue to send a warning to others.

I have personally spoken at length with 9 victims from Gafni’s past and I’m aware of more than a dozen others by name, most of whom are scared to share publicly, some because of threats. Hearing their reports of trauma has been truly awful to witness.

These survivors have told me that Gafni is masterful at deceptive seduction and then exerting varying degrees of mental control over people, which includes getting people to lie for him. One survivor quoted him as saying, “I don’t bring anyone into my system that I can’t control.” These survivors report that when he first meets someone he can be quite charming, intelligent, and winning but soon finds a weak spot or a blind spot with which he can manipulate them over time. This behavior is typical of sociopaths, a diagnosis that has been commonly applied to him.

In addition to the above, there are other things I believe are deceptions as well.

Arianna Huffington was initially used as one of the top headliners in the movie and for their February 2017 Summit, which was initially advertised on the fundraising page (since taken down). It turns out Arianna had not given authorization to use her name and “had no idea that they were using her name as a participant for their February 2017 Summit” according to her press team. Her office issued the following statement to Mark Oppenheimer, the author of the New York Times and Tablet articles, who tweeted it out: “Arianna does not…have an affiliation w/ Marc Gafni or with this movie. She was not aware that her name was being used to help raise money for this.”

RiseUp subsequently removed Arianna from the campaign but RiseUp had nonetheless already raised over $250K while using her name without her knowledge or consent. Arianna is still listed in the online Forbes profile on the film, so she was clearly being used as a major headliner.

Additionally, the movie is raising money as a non-profit “cause” on Generosity, a site created by Indiegogo specifically for humanitarian projects and thus one in which the usual Indiegogo fees are waived. There has been, to date, nothing on the fundraising page about what organization is the actual recipient of the funds. The lack of disclosure around what is clearly an engine for generating a lot of money with little discernible philanthropic purpose is troubling to me.

When fundraising began, it was interesting to note their $250K “goal” was reached on the first day with fewer than 100 contributors. In fact, the very first contributor was for $100K (anonymous), the third was from Alex Morton for $30K (since marked private), and the fifth was for $75K (from anonymous). Based on the number of people getting different prize levels, it appears that the second, fourth, and sixth contributions (all marked private), likely included at least one contribution above $50K and another above $20K. In other words, it appears to me that approximately $275K came on the first day from five individual contributors, in all likelihood from the first six contributions based on the number of other private contributions.

That was, in my view, intended to give the illusion of a big “success” in online fundraising by having their major funders put in $275K right away and artificially reach their initial $250K “goal” even though there were under 100 contributors overall.

The people whose good names and reputations are being used as the public face of the RiseUp movie need to know the above.

In my opinion, RiseUp does not warrant your support on any level and will be damaging to be involved with in any way, giving Marc Gafni a major financial and promotional platform for his next moves.

I strongly encourage you to boycott this film and to do what you can to educate your friends and allies as well.

I realize that I will likely attract attacks from Gafni and his allies (probably even those I have been friends with) by writing this article but I feel strongly about people fully educating themselves about Marc Gafni before deciding to support this film.

 

 

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The following is a repost of a press release first published on Prugent.com on May 3, 2016.

http://www.prurgent.com/2016-05-03/pressrelease407586.htm

New York Times reports CEO link to Spiritual Leader “Trailed by a Troubled Past”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LOS ANGELES, CA — National advocacy organizations for education and prevention of childhood sexual abuse are leading a protest at the inaugural opening of Whole Foods 365 store, May 25 in Los Angeles.

The protest is in response to Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey’s link to spiritual teacher and former rabbi Marc Gafni, as reported by The New York Times in December. Planning is underway for a coordinated protest at a Whole Foods store in New York City.

SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), NAASCA (National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse), and Peaceful Hearts Foundation (founded by Matthew Sandusky) are backing the protest.

On December 25, 2015, The New York Times reported Mackey’s affiliation with Gafni: “He [Gafni] added, ‘She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.'” And, “A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni ‘a bold visionary.’ He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni’s center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch.”

More than 100 rabbis authored a petition demanding that Whole Foods sever ties with Gafni, citing the former rabbi’s “many, repeated and serious allegations, both public and private.” Rabbi David Ingber, lead author of the petition, said planning is underway for a coordinated protest at Whole Foods’ Upper West Side location in New York City.

Mackey’s public statement, posted on his Whole Foods blog, says his affiliation with Gafni is “strictly a personal relationship.” His post includes a link to Gafni’s website and their seven-part video dialogue.

According to an April 6 story in The Forward: “A spokesman for Gafni said that Mackey had also left the board, ‘as all previous board chair members do.’ He added that, “There was no break between Mackey and Gafni.”

A spokesperson for Whole Foods emailed: “John no longer serves on Mr. Gafni’s board and has no connection to the Center for Integral Wisdom. That being said, there’s nothing else to say on this matter.” But leaders of advocacy organizations have voiced stern disagreement with Whole Foods’ statement, “there’s nothing else to say.”

David Clohessy, Executive Director of SNAP, from the organization’s press release (the group gained prominence on Oscar® night when actor Mark Ruffalo, director Tom McCarthy and and screenwriter Josh Singer of the Spotlight movie joined a SNAP protest against sexual abuse in the Catholic church):

“We hope it’s true that CEO Mackey is distancing himself from Gafni. If so, however, we disagree with the public relations staffer who claims ‘there’s nothing else to say on this matter.’ If you’ve hurt people, distancing yourself from a wrongdoer isn’t enough. You have a moral duty to do more. We hope to see tangible helpful action by Mackey very soon to lessen the harm he has caused by his irresponsible affiliation with and support for an admitted sex offender.”

Bill Murray, Founder and CEO of NAASCA:

As a community, we need to bring light into the shadows of the oft taboo issues of child sexual abuse — to stop the silence and change the culture. On the other hand, John Mackey and the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors have an opportunity here to impress the masses they’d like to reach with the Whole Foods 365 launch. Instead of stepping out of this discussion they should publicly step up to the plate by taking a responsible corporate stand against child sexual abuse as soon as possible.”

Matthew Sandusky, Founder and Executive Director, Peaceful Hearts Foundation:

“Whole Foods’ public statement, ‘there’s nothing else to say on this matter’ could not be more incorrect. For far too long we have allowed child sex abuse to remain in the shadows of silence. John Mackey and the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors have an opportunity to reach millions with an important message. Instead of maintaining the societal norm of silence around these issues, I would like to see them take a stand against child sexual abuse publicly — take a leadership role in getting the message across that we can no longer remain silent.”

SNAP, NAASCA, and Peaceful Hearts Foundation are independent 501(c)(3) organizations.

 

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Mark Oppenheimer, the New York Times journalist who wrote a December 25th piece on Gafni,
tweeted the following on May 2, 2016:

“for those int. in the #marcgafni story…this was his project, but his name has been taken off: http://riseupthemovie.com …and w/o her knowledge, Arianna Huffington was listed as part of it. Her office issued me this statement: Arianna does not…have an affiliation w/ Marc Gafni or with this movie. She was not aware that her name was being used to help raise money for this.”
When the campaign launched, she was listed as one of the top 3 headliners and the lead headliner on the RiseUp Summit in February. She has since been removed, but only after the first $275,000 had been raised using her name.
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While Marc Gafni has been removed from the RiseUp movie and fundraising sites and his team is telling people he has nothing to do with the movie, it’s clear from many lines of evidence that it really is his movie.

#1 – Until May 1st, he has still been listed as featured in the film, as co-envisioning it and writing, and co-producing it.

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cap1vlcsnap-2016-05-01-16h18m30s252#2 – The following text has been listed until May 1, with screenshot evidence below

Rise Up Movie from the Success 3.0 Summit

With Michael Bernard Beckwith, Marc Gafni, Barbara Marx Hubbard and special Guests John Mackey, Tony Robbins, and Hillary Swank, and interviews with speakers and guests of the summit.

Directed by Michael-Shaun Conaway, co-envisioned and written by Marc Gafni, co-produced by Kate Maloney, Alex Melnyk and Marc Gafni

vlcsnap-2016-05-03-15h18m21s137 - Copy

#3 – An early version of the trailer in which Gafni appears at 1:34

#4 – Gafni’s close ally and Center for Integral Wisdom Board member Chahat Corten wrote the following on Facebook on March 15, 2015, followed by multiple pictures of Gafni clearly in both directing, speaking, and collaborating roles.  Pictures also depict Barbara Marx Hubbard and Michael Bernard Beckwith, both in the movie.

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#5 – Gafni references the movie as part of their think tank interview in recording leaked to the forward (start around 6:50)
#6 – Center for Integral Wisdom announcement post for Riseup, clearly referencing “our” generosity campaign.
cap 13 - Copy - Copy

#7 – In a bio for an upcoming event listed at the Center for Integral Wisdom, Marc is listed as the co-director of RiseUp with the following language:

vlcsnap-2016-05-03-14h33m29s76 - Copy

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The following is a repost of an article by Joe Perez first published on joe-perez.com on April 28, 2016

http://joe-perez.com/blog/2016/04/an-apology-as-a-former-marc-gafni-defender/

In 2011, I became friends with Dr. Marc Gafni, currently the head of the Center for Integral Wisdom. I visited him and listened to him extensively discuss the allegations of various parties (mostly women alleging emotional or sexual abuse), and learned that he had an archive of private materials in his defense. I perused the private materials and, after some deliberation, came to see matters much as he did, as a misplaced and unsubstantiated vendetta.

In all of my deliberations, I relied mainly upon public information and his private archives, except for one scandal. It was the scandal that brought Marc and I together, actually. Tami Simon, the head of Sounds True, cancelled Marc’s book deal, alleging that Marc had been inappropriately involved with two persons, one a student. Marc expressed regret about some of his behavior, such as asking for privacy/secrecy from the women, but not all of his behavior. I interviewed the two women and attempted to interview Tami. When Tami refused an interview, I posted a blog post with my interview questions for her. I really didn’t feel I had enough information to judge Tami, but I did feel that Marc’s behavior while problematic was not an obstacle to his continued involvement in the Integral community.

In 2012 and 2013, I collaborated with Marc on a variety of projects, the most important being my work to help ensure that the website for Your Unique Self got off the ground. For over a year I was an independent contractor for the Center for World Spirituality (which would later be renamed CIW).

Last year, new information came to light — as I have written publicly and which I and Robb S. published in a Facebook forum — and I withdrew my support for Marc’s role with the CIW. For one thing, there was the secret I-I Report which Marc had long touted as a vindication. I read the Summary and it was deeply flawed and did not address some of the most serious allegations against him. It contained a paragraph full of falsehoods about the Sounds True story: every single sentence contained a falsehood or half-truth! I can think of no other explanation for the lies in the I-I Report Summary than that Marc lied to the report’s author, knowingly spreading a falsehood that in turn was being used to bolster Marc’s credibility with Board members and supporters. It reeked of cover up, not exoneration, and I told Ken Wilber and the CIW Board Chair so. I even leaked the I-I Report Summary on Facebook so the truth would get out there, even if it meant creating a rift.

Once I saw conclusive evidence that Marc committed a serious lie, I became resistant to Marc’s explanations regarding the older information which had been publicly available on the Internet regarding Marc’s misdeeds. I don’t know what to think of all these past allegations, but I certainly don’t dismiss them as I had for years earlier, believing Marc’s narrative instead. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to see through the smoke sooner, but I had been earlier won over to Marc’s self-defense, and it took my personally uncovering something indisputable (the lies regarding the Sounds True scandal) before I could be more open to the perspectives offered by the earlier victims.

Once I began to see Marc in a more ambiguous light, his halo was gone from my sight. I no longer wished to have any role defending him publicly from any charges, especially ones about which I did not have first-hand information. I believe I have made it clear that I am no longer a “Gafni defender” or “Gafni collaborator”. I regret the role I played in the past which without my intent may have made things worse for other people, women and men in Gafni’s past and current associates. I am sorry deeply that I did not see the light so that I could have disavowed Gafni publicly earlier, and I would advise others to not collaborate with him. I wish I could have seen reason to disavow him earlier, but my judgment was clouded and I was unwilling to look deeper into the stories of his victims to find facts that I might have overlooked. It was a moral failing, not just a logical error, which I regret.

If I have not made a bigger fuss over this apology, it is because I do not agree with those individuals who have gone on a vendetta to ever prevent the man (Gafni) from earning a living as a scholar and book author. From what I have read, Gafni’s books have wonderful, brilliant, incredibly useful ideas (as I see it). People who want to read his writings or learn from him, buyer be warned, ought to be able to do so. He has been found guilty of no crime. To the extent possible, I would prefer we could just agree to leave him in peace to continue his intellectual contributions or live his life as he wishes. If others cannot just leave him be, but insist on policing community standards of behavior, then I think we will continue as an integral community to be haunted by this shadow for many years to come. I will not persecute the man, but as I have said I do not think he is suitable to lead CIW.

Below: My initial statement regarding Marc.

——

FROM: JOE PEREZ

TO: MARC GAFNI

3:16 PM 12/30/2015

RE: The report is flawed

Marc,

Buddy, I’ve read the II report summary a couple of times, and I know some of this stuff pretty well. It’s flawed in many ways. It doesn’t serve as a vindication of you, the way I’m afraid you think it does or want it to be.

It omits consideration of several of the most defamatory pieces that are written about you, including the two incidents of you with underage women.

It mischaracterizes [REDACTED] role at CWS and falsely says she wasn’t a student. How did that happen? I think this is intentionally misleading (i.e., lie). Once the report is scrutinized publicly, how many other lies or misleading statements will be found?

The repeated allegations of plagiarism IMO would need to be investigated in a full official independent report. You deny them, I know, but to the public you have been called by powerful and influential people a “pathological liar”. This is just too much to give a pass on without some sort of independent look at it … and I don’t know if the CIW Board has the balls or energy to do that.

There’s a whole laundry list of allegations against you over the years that it doesn’t cover in sufficient detail — maybe the detail would be in the full report, I don’t know.

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that looks iffy to me… plus Robb has now written that he thinks *you* secretly wrote or ghost wrote the report.

The report says you’re no longer a spiritual teacher. I don’t think that’s accurate.

People are saying (correctly) the report reads like it was written by you, in your characteristic style. This undermines its credibility.

It doesn’t rebut any of the specific first-person women’s accounts, as people on Facebook have correctly pointed out. This might be in the full report, but my guess is that that report is probably never going to come out publicly. Am I wrong?

Robb makes a totally valid point about the sheer bulk of allegations against you over the years from a very wide range of communities, all speaking to a pattern. The report calls it false pattern making. I think an impartial, objective standard would say “I don’t know *exactly* what he’s guilty of, but he’s a liar. He’s guilty of ENOUGH. Let’s let him live his life, but not put him in the lead of a spiritual organization.”

This is just for starters. I don’t want to try your patience with a longer email.

I’m being honest with you here. There are no saints in this story, you or Robb being the main protagonists. In my heart I want to believe there are no villains either.

You spoke last night of the Center being with you on this, and Facebook being irrelevant. Facebook is basically the public right now. It’s the Center v. the public, with the public polling overwhelmingly against you (and me, as a supporter and defender).

And that’s a recipe for a cultish community, not a credible public institution. Your/CIW’s strategy for addressing the allegations of statutory rape was basically a fail. You tried, CIW tried. It didn’t convince. Retreating to an insular intellectual environment may work for some people, but I don’t think it would work for me.

Let me speak to egoic considerations. Honestly. I try not to think about it, and hope it doesn’t influence me. But I’ve got a book coming out in two months. People are unfriending me and openly attacking me too in vicious terms. It would probably be in my best interest to step away until this thing settles down and focus on my book, and step back from defending you on Facebook. I know you’ve heard all of this before, too many times (sad).

This isn’t a “Joe turning against Marc, Marc going to call to give Joe a verbal hug that will make it okay” email. This is a “Joe telling Marc his trust in Marc’s honesty and ability to perform in his official capacity as leader of a scholarly think tank is shaken, but not utterly destroyed, and I don’t know what I’m going to do or say, feeling a need to take a breath and step back a bit. I got sucked into playing the role of your public defender on Facebook and it may be time for me to stop trying to control things so much and just let the process unfold.”

Much love,

Joe

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The following item is a repost of an article by Carolyn Baker first published to the Huffington Post on January 22, 2016.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carolyn-baker/in-the-shadow-of-new-age-_1_b_9032460.html

In her Time Magazine article “In Praise Of Darkness,” professor, author, and Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor speaks of “full-on solar spirituality.” According to Taylor, solar spirituality excludes the inevitable darkness of human experience which on the one hand feels ominous, yet without confronting it, the spiritual journey is incomplete.

“Darkness” is shorthand for anything that scares me — that I want no part of — either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there, along with the fear of dementia and the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night-lights to leave on. At least I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. The witches have not turned me into a bat. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.

While Barbara Brown Taylor is not part of the New Age movement, her brilliant assessment succinctly captures a reality which has incessantly escaped that movement, namely that darkness must be valued as wholeheartedly as our veneration of the light.

Marc Gafni: A New Age Cosby?

While American culture has been recently rocked by ubiquitous allegations of Bill Cosby sexually assaulting women spanning at least the past fifty years, a lesser-known but equally repugnant scandal has erupted among the professional purveyors of “solar spirituality,” namely a plethora of accusations against New Age teacher and former Rabbi Marc Gafni. Born Marc Winiarz and sometimes known as Mordechai Gafni, the spiritual guru, according to Wikipedia, has been accused by multiple women of sexually assaulting them, dating back to 1980, and he himself has admitted to having had sexual relationships with girls as young as 14. He was also accused of molesting a 13 year old girl over a period of nine months. I do not wish to enumerate or comment on all of the accusations against Gafni because the focus of this article is not litigious. Nevertheless, some accusations beg to be mentioned.

In the December 25, 2015, New York Times article “A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed By A Troubled Past,” Gafni’s long history of accusations of sexual abuse was examined as well as his associations with the founder of the Integral spiritual community, Ken Wilber, and with Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey. Clarifying the definition of “Integral,” Barbara Marx Hubbard stated that, “Integral theory is based on the understanding that evolution itself is an expression of a spiritual universal force of creation embodied in each one of us as us, as unique selves.”

In Sara Kabakov’s article of January 13, 2016 in Forward Newspaper, “I Was Thirteen When Marc Gafni’s Abuse Began,” she writes, “Right now there are children in the Jewish world, and in other communities, who are being abused and forced into silence. Their parents and teachers don’t know what is happening. I know, because it happened to me. I am the woman Gafni molested when she was 13 years old. This is the first time I am telling my story in my own name.” Kabakov tells her story in depth and also recounts her healing process and her struggle to recover from years of sexual abuse and emotional manipulation at the hands of Gafni.

Only days before Kabakov’s story was released, Forward Newspaper published a daring piece that came after Gafni’s team mistakenly sent Forward a recording of them plotting a strategy of suing journalists. The tape is extremely revelatory and includes Gafni’s statement, “Let’s have a separate meeting, and figure out — do we want to sue someone and who would that be?” Gafni said to Michael Wright, his press representative, and Christopher Marston, his lawyer. Earlier in the conversation, Gafni said: “If we do decide to take action someplace, maybe the Forward would be the test case.”

Another damning piece regarding Gafni, “Gafni Faces Fallout From New Age Community,” was published by Jewish Week on January 5. The article states that, “Already some 25 New Age leaders — including Deepak Chopra, the best-selling author; Andrew Harvey, founder of the Institute for Sacred Activism; Craig Hamilton, CEO of Evolving Wisdom; author Jean Houston; and Stephen Dinan, CEO of The Shift Network — have signed a public statement disavowing themselves from Gafni.”

Perhaps the most thorough piece to date is from William Harryman writing in his Integral Options Café blog and highlighting the psychological aspects of Gafni’s devastating actions. Harryman notes that,

“One of the many things missing in the NYT article, and most of the ones that have followed, is a recognition that Gafni’s pathology is not only emotional and sexual manipulation and other forms of abuse, it is also a sociopathic personality that almost hides the malignant narcissist within. The NYT article exposed some of the controversies surrounding Gafni (which has led to the current outrage in the Jewish community and in the integral community, but in each instance allowed him to refute the allegations with no further exploration of the facts or statements by the victims.) What could have been an important document revealing Gafni’s 35-year pattern of abuses–interpersonal, sexual, and control–became little more than a PR piece for him and his ‘think tank.'”

Harryman, who has two Masters degrees in counseling psychology, states that he has worked extensively with survivors of sexual abuse, and pointing to Gafni’s repeated defense that his abusive encounters were “consensual,” Harryman argues that,

“It is also important to understand that Gafni works hard to make these issues be about pseudo-consensual sex because the reality is much darker. His survivors ARE sexually manipulated, and there are consistent reports of debasing sexuality (woman as whore), but the sexual relationships are simply the seduction that brings women into his circle of influence. Once he seduces someone, then he begins the process of mind control, shaping their thoughts and experiences so that they come to see things his way.”

Additionally, Harryman dares to use the term sociopath to describe Gafni and adds,

“Sociopaths… can be VERY charming and seductive, and if you’ll notice in some of the online statements, even those who have distanced themselves from Gafni marvel at his charisma. It is the charisma that lures women, and it also lures in supporters (financial) and defenders (students). Once they are seduced, especially the women, Gafni’s mask will begin to slip. These women discover the porn addiction, the rage, the manipulation of others, the lack of remorse, the debasing sexuality, and the inability to tell the truth. Understandably, they are frightened of him, and when they escape, they remain trapped in silence out of fear or reprisal — because if they do speak out, he will call them liars, or say they are mentally unstable, and on an on.”

In telling her story, Sara Kabakov (above) reinforces Harryman’s perspective.

Since the publication of the December 25, 2015 New York Times article, over 40 other articles from a variety of sources have been published regarding the Gafni scandal. In addition, a number of spiritual teachers and authors have spoken out against Gafni and distanced themselves from him. One of the largest networks of spiritual teachers is Shift, which recently posted on its blog a statement of disavowal of Marc Gafni with a very specific explanation from one of its members, Andrew Harvey, which stated:

We, the undersigned, have concluded, based upon direct experience, investigation, or conversation with trusted allies, that we cannot endorse Marc Gafni as a teacher in any way. Furthermore, we will not feature him in any event, publication, or online activity we produce, nor will we participate as a speaker or promote any event in which he is featured.Signed by: Sera Beak – Author of Red Hot and Holy Adam Bucko – Hab Community Rev. Diane Berke – Founder, One Spirit Learning Alliance Deepak Chopra – NY Times bestselling author Stephen Dinan – CEO, The Shift Network Scott Edelstein – Author of Sex and the Spiritual Teacher Lion Goodman – founder, Clear Your Beliefs Andrew Harvey – Founder, Institute for Sacred Activism Craig Hamilton – CEO, Evolving Wisdom Harriet Hawkins – Center for Spiritual Living Livermore Valley Ross Hostetter – Founder, The Fieldwork School Jean Houston – Author of The Possible Human Kurt Johnson – The Interspiritual Network Anodea Judith – Founder, Sacred Centers Bill Kauth – Founder, The ManKind Project Rory McEntee – Foundation for New Monasticism Devaa Haley Mitchell – Co-founder, The Shift Network David Nicol – Founder, Subtle Activism Network Terry Patten – Integral Evolutionary Practice John Robbins – Author of Diet for a New America Ocean Robbins – CEO, The Food Revolution Network Robb Smith – CEO, Integral Life Mirabai Starr – Author of Caravan of No Despair Marcia Wieder – CEO, Dream University Claire Zammit – Founder, Feminine Power

Additionally, Change.Org published a petition entitled “Stop Marc Gafni From Abusing Again,” signed by more than 100 rabbis who stated that:

As a group of religious and communal leaders, we are motivated by the obligation embedded in the belief that whoever saves a single life, it is as if they have saved a whole world. Marc Gafni has left a trail of pain, suffering, and trauma amongst the people and congregations who were unfortunate to have trusted him. He has abused his extraordinary intellectual gifts and charisma to harm many who came to him in search of spiritual guidance and teaching. He has used professional alliances to legitimize himself by association, and thereby be able to continue creating more harm. As a result Marc Gafni is neither trusted, respected, nor welcome to teach virtually anywhere in Judaism. In community after community, those who have trusted him have had their trust betrayed. Some of those who sign here were severely mislead and even once defenders of Gafni’s integrity only to see that we too had been deceived.

Polyamorous Or Polyamoral?

Gafni defends his sexual proclivities as polyamorous, and to that orientation, he is certainly entitled. However, the trail of alleged sexual abuse documented by his accusers and those who believe them reveals manipulation, mind control, and ghastly incidents of misogynistic abuses of power over his victims. Moreover, Gafni touts himself as a “sexual pioneer” who is being persecuted for his polyamory in a manner similar to the way in which a gay man might have been persecuted for his sexual orientation in the 1950s, daring to compare his twisted sexual cannibalism with the benign sexual orientation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered human beings.

Chaya Kurtz nailed it beautifully in her article “How To Spot A Spiritual Sexual Predator:”

Anybody Who Ideologically Justifies Polyamory: If he’s really “progressive”, this man can quote The Ethical Slut. And since his predecessors in his spiritual lineage had multiple wives, certainly he should have them. While he is free to enjoy his spiritually-sanctioned dalliances, you’re in big trouble if he even thinks you’re cheating on him. After all, it’s Tantra! Or it’s Christianity! Or Abraham had more than one wife! He has so much spiritual mojo that he is simply gifting it to all the women he’s intimate with. How dare you refuse his gift!?

While Marc Gafni attempts to package himself as a spiritual and sexual revolutionary, he has shown himself to be yet another ethical train wreck–a sexual predator with a pretty face, an impressive resume, and terrifying charisma. Gafni is nothing more than a retread of an ancient archetype with which world literature is replete and religions in particular are infested. Whether it’s the prurient guru system of a variety of Eastern spiritual traditions or the Vatican’s soul-murdering path of sexual carnage among innocent children, the story is always the same: Power, control, manipulation, conquest, and psychological mayhem.

Where Are The Voices Of Solar Spirituality?

Marc Gafni is the co-founder, with Ken Wilber, of the Center For Integral Wisdom, one of many organizations promoting Integral Spirituality. According to Wikipedia, “Integral theory is Ken Wilber’s attempt to place a wide diversity of theories and thinkers into one single framework. It is portrayed as a ‘theory of everything’ trying ‘to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching’.” Gafni has been long associated with two heavyweights of the Integral movement: Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton.

In 2006, three women from a spiritual community in Israel, headed by Gafni, filed complaints with the police of sexual misconduct against him. At that time, Ken Wilber did not distance himself from Gafni but offered his opinion on the Jews School website:

I have stated my conclusion, after reviewing the evidence and as many perspectives as I can, that there is truth to some of these allegations and that this is due in part to Marc’s illness, and that as long as this dysfunction is not addressed, I do not believe that Marc should be teaching. But I want to point out that emotional illness can be treated and in many cases cured. Marc may or may not be sincere, and his therapy may or may not be effective–but that is exactly the purpose of the therapeutic board: namely, to make that decision, and not to let either of the partial sides do so. I do not know if this solution will work, but to date it is the only rational, compassionate, and fair one that I have heard, and therefore the only one which serves justice.

At that time, Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton published a lengthy defense of Gafni, asserting that the women in Israel had lied.

More recently in the New York Times, December 25, 2015 article, Wilber was quoted as saying that, “Marc has a lot of Shakti,” [Mr. Wilber said, using a Sanskrit word for energy.] “I don’t think he understood the impact it had on people.”

To date, neither Ken Wilber nor Sally Kempton have spoken out about the ongoing, incessant, enduring charges of sexual misconduct against Gafni that surfaced in 2006, 2011, and 2016. In fact, on Gafni’s website, one finds endorsements from Wilber and Kempton who have been aware of Gafni’s proclivities for years, yet neither have distanced themselves from Gafni. What are we to make of this?

Living In The Light, Ignoring The Shadow

For the past three decades, I have been a student of the immortal Carl Jung and currently as a life coach, a former psychotherapist, and an author, my life has been profoundly altered by Jung’s work. Perhaps most personally profound for me in the body of his work is the reality of the human shadow of which I was totally ignorant when in my thirties I wildly embraced solar spirituality

After many years of immersion in New Age spirituality, at the age of 40 my life fell apart as a result of my shadow blind spots. I subsequently entered Jungian depth therapy, and as I persevered in it, I quickly came to understand the extent to which my reliance on New Age spirituality had served to mask my pain and obscure the deep childhood wounds I needed to attend to in order to experience the wholeness for which I longed. My obsession with positive thinking and attempting to manifest a pain-free life had fostered within me an ego-inflation that was rapidly de-flated as I became more familiar with the ugly, obnoxious aspects of my shadow.

While basking in the sunlight of positive thinking was more pleasurable for me than allowing the presence of the so-called “negative,” it neither rang true nor felt consistent with the full spectrum of my humanity. As I read the works of Jung and as I opened to the reality of my own personal shadow, on the one hand, I felt more emotional distress, but on the other, exploring the forbidden territory of my psyche felt profoundly authentic and substantial. I soon realized that solar spirituality, focused primarily on the light, offered a dubious peace of mind at the expense of familiarity with my deepest humanity and the human condition at large. In fact, I came to understand that addiction to positive thinking precariously ignores the dark side of humanity and in doing so, conceals the shadow of manipulation, abuse of power, self-righteous arrogance, and compulsive control that lurk beneath the still waters of “living in the light.”

Seldom does one find discussion or instruction on shadow dynamics within the New Age movement. In an astonishingly hypocritical article by Marc Gafni himself, “Shadow Integration,” Gafni reveals that he has no idea what shadow work entails:

Why would you want to integrate your darkest impulses? Perhaps those impulses need to be transmuted and evolved. At the very least, it would appear that they need to be disciplined and controlled. Is shadow integration merely a sophisticated license for ethical libertines, as some spiritual moralists have wanted to claim? And if it is not, if shadow integration points to some profound and important intuition about our wholeness and enlightenment, as others have loudly claimed, but not explained, then what is it?

As he blathers on throughout the article, Gafni repeatedly reveals his ignorance of the shadow and implies instead that he has a fuller grasp of it than all of the world’s wisest teachers on the topic.

In my 2016 book Dark Gold: The Human Shadow And The Global Crisis, I offered a detailed definition of the shadow, bolstered by several other authors in the Jungian tradition.

For example, mythologist and student of Jung, Joseph Campbell, states that “The Shadow is, so to say, the blind spot in your nature. It’s that which you won’t look at about yourself. This is the counterpart exactly of the Freudian unconscious, the repressed recollections as well at the repressed potentialities in you.”

In The Shadow In America: Reclaiming The Soul of a Nation, Jacquelyn Small notes that:

Until made conscious the shadow causes us to act in ways that create catastrophe or explosions of emotionalism….When we try to deny the shadow, it multiplies. When instead, we choose to invite it in, we gain stability and expand consciousness, losing our self-righteousness, and becoming flexible, less defended, more balanced.

In her 2005 book The Sacred Purpose of Being Human, Small refers to the shadow as “…our holy grit. It’s the sandpaper in your psyche that rubs you raw until you make it conscious.”

It is important to understand that we commit to working with the shadow not only because failing to do so impedes our loftiest intentions but because we are “prospectors” in search of the “dark gold.” If there are precious metals to be mined, why would we settle for less? For as Robert Johnson reminds us in Owning Your Own Shadow, “…these disowned parts are extremely valuable and cannot be disregarded. As promised of the living water, our shadow costs nothing and is immediately—and embarrassingly — ever present. To honor and accept one’s own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime.”

Clinical and forensic psychologist, Stephen Diamond asserts that authentic spirituality requires consciously accepting and relating properly to the shadow as opposed to repressing, projecting, acting out and remaining naively unconscious of its repudiated, denied, disavowed contents, a sort of precarious pseudo-spirituality.

”Bringing the shadow to consciousness,” writes another of Jung’s students, Liliane Frey-Rohn (1967), ”is a psychological problem of the highest moral significance. It demands that the individual hold himself accountable not only for what happens to him, but also for what he projects. . . Without the conscious inclusion of the shadow in daily life there cannot be a positive relationship to other people, or to the creative sources in the soul; there cannot be an individual relationship to the Divine.”

Thus engaging in meticulous and astringent shadow work is a moral and spiritual imperative. Moreover, in situations of ghastly abuse as we witness in the sordid saga of Marc Gafni, a host of enablers always encircle the perpetrator. He would not have been able to continue his devastating sexual behavior without the likes of Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton fluffing pillows and making tea for him. The Gafni scandal reveals nothing if not the grotesque head and monstrous appendages of the human shadow writ large across the entire New Age movement, intoxicated with the Kool Aid of solar spirituality. Overwhelmingly, the New Age movement and the spiritual guru system is in abject denial of the shadow, and until it confronts its shadow, we can expect to see lives and communities ravaged by the darkness ignored while spiritual celebrities bask in the light of happy-faced, huggy, saccharine spirituality.

In his January 3, 2016 statement on behalf of Shift Network, Stephen Dinan wrote: “I strongly believe that the full truth of this situation needs to be surfaced, witnessed and addressed, not just for the sake of those involved but for the sake of our whole movement so that we may do collective shadow work and face the abuse of power that too often happens under the guise of spiritual teaching.”

Integral teacher, Terry Patten, who has firmly distanced himself from Gafni offered wise counsel in a recent blog:

The victim narrative is too easy, too convenient, and very incomplete. We are all autonomous adults. No matter how smart, talented, and tenacious Marc Gafni might be, the only power he has over anyone is the power we have given him. If he has compromised our community, it’s up to us to reclaim it. It’s our responsibility to draw a clear line if we want greater goodness and moral intelligence.His unexamined shadow compromises everything he associates with, so it’s undermining those remarkable philosophical ideas and this community of practice and inquiry, not serving them. They are the victims I’m most interested in defending.

But make no mistake: this is a teachable moment, a developmental opportunity. Our community needs a way to protect itself from talented sociopaths with histories of unprocessed shadow and violating others’ hearts, souls, and bodies.

With respect to Marc Gafni, the trail of accusations against him is so long and so despicable that it is difficult to discern if Gafni is just another so-called spiritual teacher who needs to do shadow work, or if he is a sociopath who truly lacks a conscience and for whom, therefore, shadow work would be meaningless. In any event, until individuals on a spiritual path have done deep shadow work, they are highly susceptible to being blinded to it by solar spirituality, making themselves vulnerable to taking advantage of others or being taken advantage by them. One of the risks and liabilities of solar spirituality is that it makes us prey to exploitation and abuse and also increases our own potential for becoming a perpetrator of abuse. Unfortunately, the more “light” associated with anyone in the public sphere, the more vulnerable that person is in terms if his or her own shadow. Likewise, the more “light” we project onto that individual because we have not done our own shadow work, the greater the danger of shadow eruption and the greater the disservice we do to them and to ourselves.

The poet William Stafford in “A Ritual To Be Read To Each Other,” notes that “the darkness around us is deep.” Without doing our own shadow work, we severely compromise our ability to engage with the gargantuan challenges of shadow and darkness in the world. Embracing a spiritual path compels us to commit to doing shadow work so that we may skillfully and compassionately navigate both the darkness and the light.

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is the author of Dark Gold: The Human Shadow And The Global Crisis. Her radio show, the Lifeboat Hour, airs on Progressive Radio Network every week. She may be contacted at Carolyn@carolynbaker.net.

 

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Rabbi David Ingber and 100 Jewish leaders launched a Change.org petition called “Stop Marc Gafni from Abusing Again” which elicited many powerful comments and first person accounts.  You can read the entire list of hundreds by clicking here but we’ve selected 75 that are noteworthy below.

I’d like to say THANK YOU for this, on behalf of those of us who have been exploited, manipulated, and traumatized by our toxic entanglements with this man. After decades of attacking and discrediting his victims, and hoodwinking reputable leaders and organizations into trusting him as a man of integrity—just as WE once fervently trusted and supported him—it is time for the truth to finally emerge so that no one else is hurt. The allegations in the NYT article represent barely the tip of the iceberg of the damage MG is responsible for, in realms far beyond the sexual. May his victims be healed, may MG be healed (if that’s possible), and may we all be fierce and compassionate defenders of the truth.
Donna Zerner, Portland, OR

He ruined a part of my life by hurting someone so incredibly close to me. Mordechai Winiarz, as we all knew him, came into my life when I was 15. The havoc he wreaked is still here today, decades later. We are still picking up the pieces. I pray he doesn’t get the chance to hurt anyone else. I’ve watched the hurricane that is his personality tear through people lives since then, each time warning his current wife what will be her future, and telling her to seek me out when she is ready, because I will understand what she’s been through. I hope I don’t have to do that again.
Miryam Kabakov, St. Paul, MN

I was a victim of this horrible man’s sexual, emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse.
Judy Mitzner, Rowlett, TX

In a recent law on domestic abuse in England, the meaning of domestic violence includes “psychological and emotional torrent.” Commentary on the new law correctly states, “When a woman is being controlled, she can’t effectively resist or escape.” This describes very well my experience of being close to Mordechai. I haven’t spoken to him in ten years. Yet as I write this I’m filled with fear. I still feel the power of his most treasured value: not love, not truth, but loyalty to him. Showing disloyalty to Mordechai is the ultimate betrayal in his eyes, which is why my heart is pounding nearly out of my chest: naming my experience feels disloyal. Once I hit “sign” I imagine Mordechai running to his “evidence file” on me, and showing his supporters all of the emails I sent, signing off with pet nicknames and lots of love. Those emails are probably real. But what do they show? Who hasn’t heard of a battered woman who loves her husband, even as at other times she fears him? Like all of the women who sent the emails in that precious file, I sent them when I thought I loved him, and at the very same time, I felt afraid of him, intimidated, threatened, trapped, and scared of what he would do when he fell into rage, as he often did. I was entranced in the spiritual high of praying with him and dazzled by the seeming depth of his teaching. Yet at the same time I knew things about him that should have led me to run as fast as I could. I was too intoxicated, indoctrinated and caught up to move an inch. I still feel scared. But the time has come to start moving.
Erica Ariel Fox, Brookline, MA

I have been aware of some of these allegations for years, and didn’t want to judge a brilliant teacher who surrounded himself with many people who I deeply respect. But now, the weight of the wrongdoing and its continuation are such that I resigned from the Wisdom Council for the Center of Integral Wisdom today, January 2, 2016. I agree that we must stop further hurt and exploitation.
Joan Borysenko, Tesuque, NM

I wrote my book my book SEX AND THE SPIRITUAL TEACHER in large part to warn people about Marc Gafni and others like him. I’ve followed his activities for years, been in contact with some of his victims, and spoken many times with a psychotherapist who has treated two of those victims. The psychotherapist said, among other things, “Marc Gafni belongs in jail.” Believe Gafni’s victims, not his lies.

The sad fact is that many charismatic spiritual teachers have personality disorders. Some are sociopaths; some are narcissists; some are both.

Few people understand how sociopaths think and operate. I encourage you to read M. Scott Peck’s PEOPLE OF THE LIE and Martha Stout’s THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR.

It’s time to say “never again” to Marc Gafni.
Scott Edelstein, Minneapolis, MN

When a sociopath can no longer control what you think about him, he controls what others think about you. Marc repeatedly displayed this trait, as he moved from group to group, bad-mouthing the “uptight” group he just came from. And of course, his blaming the victim (the teenagers who “seduced” him and his other abuses and lies) is another example of this “control by social pressure.”

The folks who are wrapping him in a cloak of victimhood and touting his integrity might want to crack open their eyes just a teeny bit and wonder if this could all be so black and white. Can hundreds of people, from a wide swath of cultures, over a span of decades be so focussed on misunderstanding and harming this poor, brilliant man?
Andrea Cohen Kiener, West Hartford, CT

I survived this man’s sexual, psychological,emotional and spiritual abuse! It took 30 years for people to finally listen!
Judy Mitzner, Rowlett, TX

I was a student of Marc (Mordecai) Gafni from 2003-2005 and learned then that he could or would not keep his word.

In a subsequent dealing I had with him (after his so-called ‘recovery’ in Salt Lake City) he again failed to honor an agreement he made with me. In fact, I learned later that his ‘recovery’ in Salt Lake was really about creating ‘evidence’ to ‘prove’ his innocence by disparaging and blaming those who have been brave enough to testify publicly about his abusive behavior towards them. Simply stated, his modus operandi is to blame others (it seems he takes no responsibility for his own actions).

I do know some of the individuals who have been victims of his abuse. While I may not speak for them, my own experience of Mr. Gafni informs me that he cannot be trusted, is manipulative, lacks real empathy for others, is secretive, authoritarian, has an impulsive nature, lies, etc. (see a pattern?). While I have learned not to confuse the message with the messenger, it baffles me that he continues to escape any real accountability for his actions.

It’s time to stand up for Integrity…time to do the right thing.
Russ Cashin, Saint George, UT

I know several of his victims. I know the horrors of their experiences. And I know the lasting traumatic suffering Gafni leaves with his female victims.

But his victims are not only female. Men are manipulated, controlled, and shamed by Gafni.

His overall pattern of behavior is malignant and sociopathic.
William Harryman, Tucson, AZ

I am signing this as a witness to scores of lives damaged. As a protest to the twisting of good wisdom to feed evil addictions. As protection against further abuse. Please G!d let this monster be stopped. Let his victims be healed. Let the lessons be learned.
Chaya Lester, Jerusalem, Israel

With deep respect for Marc’s brilliance, and a prayer for the awakening of his conscience, I cannot remain silent. I therefore resigned today, Jan. 2, 2016, from Marc’s Wisdom Council, in which I was never a participant but to which my name had been lent years ago.
Gordon Dveirin, Boulder, CO

I’m signing because Marc Gafni is masterful at spinning explanations for the fact that former colleagues and communities – every community he has ever worked in, across the globe – have found him to be deceitful, manipulative, and violating of the sacred trust of his position as a teacher and leader.

Gafni claims that these people are jealous of him, or that they have stolen his ideas. Yet these supposedly jealous Rabbis and leaders have given generously of their time and wisdom to other colleagues, and nurtured other young, talented and responsible colleagues to positions of responsibility and leadership. They are not jealous of Gafni. They are exercising their responsibility to protect others from him.

Gafni claims that he simply practices polyamory – “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogomy.” But the polyamory community and the spiritual community would be the first to say that Gafni’s actual behavior – targeting vulnerable women, secretly taking advantage of children and married women in his community, portraying the act of “telling anyone” about the relationship as deep disloyalty to him, threatening them to keep them quiet, while conducting multiple (secret) relationships with others, often while married himself…these are not ethical or responsible. They are not loving.

Gafni displays no empathy, remorse, or even interest in understanding why scores of people have been traumatized by him. Instead, he mounts a campaign to discredit and destroy his victims, and moves on to the next community and an ever-larger platform for victimizing others. If you were hiring a new executive at Whole Foods or inside the Robbins organization, would you not be given pause if a reference check turned up even a fraction this history?

The following description of psychopathy is the best portrait of Gafni’s behavior over the last couple of decades as I’ve seen:

“Key traits that sociopaths and psychopaths share include:
• A disregard for laws and social mores
• A disregard for the rights of others
• A failure to feel remorse or guilt
• A tendency to display violent behavior

Psychopaths are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people.

Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.

When committing crimes, psychopaths carefully plan out every detail in advance and often have contingency plans in place. Their crimes, whether violent or non-violent, will be highly organized and generally offer few clues for authorities to pursue. Intelligent psychopaths make excellent white-collar criminals and “con artists” due to their calm and charismatic natures.”

Consider this petition one giant anti-reference letter to you, from most of the people Gafni has worked with over his career.

Ask yourself: Could they all be wrong?
Sheila Heen, Cambridge, MA

Open letter to Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey:

Marc Gafni is quoted in The New York Times: “She was 14 going on 35.” By definition, he is an admitted child sexual abuser.

While you can try to bifurcate your personal choices — in this case, supporting a known child rapist — from the interests of the Whole Foods Market corporate entity, doing so is not possible.

Unfortunately, customers and shareholders of a $11 billion public company do not discern between the corporate brand and its CEO’s public activities and affiliations.

As you know, the CEO of a public company is charged with responsibility for the public’s perception of the company, upholding the reputation of the brand. In this regard, your public affiliation with a known sexual predator, as reported by The New York Times, is a failure of this responsibility.

I trust that you, the Whole Foods Market executive leadership team and board of directors will take this information into consideration when ensuring, on behalf of all shareholders of the company, that you make paramount the protection of the company’s reputation, arguably its most valuable asset.

Your choice to continue your affiliation with a sexual abuser seriously compromises and jeopardizes the integrity of the Whole Foods brand, for which you, as CEO, are proxy. That you would place your alliance with a known sexual predator ahead of your responsibility as CEO of the company is, I’m sure, deeply troubling to all shareholders of Whole Foods Market.
nancy levine, woodacre, CA

As an interfaith seminary student, I cannot in good conscience, stay silent on this matter. There has been no justice for his victims and it’s frightening to think that he is in a position to victimize a whole new generation. Under different circumstances this man would be in jail. Pedophilia, sexual abuse, misogyny, lack of integrity and moral compass are things that we have dealt with much too often under the guise of spirituality and religion. It besmirches the name and validity of true teachers and leaders in this community. This has to end once and for all.
Arda Itez, North Bergen, NJ

Open letter to the Board of Trustees of the Esalen Institute:

Marc Gafni is scheduled to lead a workshop at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, February 5-7, titled “Evolutionary Relationships.”

Mark Gafni was quoted in The New York Times (12/26):

“She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”

“I did not,” he said, “represent myself as someone who didn’t sleep with students.”

By definition, Mr. Gafni is a child rapist. Consensuality is not a consideration when sexual engagement takes place with minors, under the age of 18.

Statutes of limitations prevent Mr. Gafni’s prosecution under the law. Unfortunately, there is no statute of limitations on suffering and trauma endured by his victims. Theirs is a life sentence.

More than 100 Rabbis and leaders of the Jewish community nationwide have authored a petition urging you to sever ties with Mr. Gafni. Signatures are accumulating.

I trust that the Esalen Board of Trustees will take this information into consideration when ensuring that it protects the extraordinary legacy, history, and integrity of Esalen, its mission and values, as well as its reputation. A choice to continue an affiliation with a known sexual abuser would seriously compromise the integrity of Esalen’s values and mission.

I know many people have worked very diligently for many years to build the Esalen brand, to attract participants from all around the globe, from all walks of life. Thanks to these efforts, Esalen and its representative values have entered the mainstream dialogue and zeitgeist. I’d be sad to see these efforts and accomplishments undone and damaged, perhaps irreparably so.
nancy levine, woodacre, CA

Someone who shouldn’t be teaching young women, as suggested by Sally Kempton, has nothing to teach anyone.
Dr. Susanne Freeborn, Bellingham, WA

“All evil needs to flourish is for good people to stand by and say nothing.” Anyone who does not speak out or who turns a blind eye because of “all the good” that someone contributes becomes complicit in the abuse of power and in all the harm that they perpetrate.
Dov Linzer, Bronx, NY

I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by people who call themselves “spiritual teachers,” some great and deserving of the titles they’ve earned and others have been simply unworthy, while a few have been truly despicable. This man is one of the worst. The actions of Marc Gafni and his unwillingness to admit wrong have violated and dehumanized too many women. Companies, organizations, and scholars who continue to support him, whether financially or vocally, will see no such support from me.
Amitai Gross, Erie, CO

The cycle of abuse cannot be ignored. I sign for the victims of past and hope I am not signing for victims in the future. I sign because I hear no public teshuva, only excuses – 13 going on 35 is not a defense. He is the adult. Shame shame shame.
naomi less, Brooklyn, Uganda

As an interspiritual seminary student learning about integral spirituality, I am disappointed that Ken Wilber continues to endorse this sex offender. Marc Gafni should be immediately removed from the Center for Integral Wisdom. Moreover, all leaders in the integral spirituality movement should publically disavow Marc Gafni.
Laura Klein, Rockaway, NJ

I know of Marc Gafni through the direct experiences of a dear friend, a brilliant and sensitive woman who was traumatized almost beyond recovery by this truly dangerous and malevolent psychopath. There is an insatiable vampire-like quality to the way he violates his victims, and he continues to feed off them energetically long after the sexual act. That he poses as a highly evolved “spiritual” teacher is even more disgusting. I cannot speak strongly enough. He must be stopped, now, in whatever way possible.
Jan Garrett, Snowmass, CO

I’m signing because people I care about in Boca Raton were hurt in profoundly disturbing ways by this man.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Berkeley, CA

To any of Marc’s remaining supporters who may be reading this, including Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton, who I love and respect: Marc been very adept at using his charisma and eloquence to sidestep responsibility for his behavior and to gain your support, which he desperately needs to prop up his claim that he is the victim. It’s time to admit that you have been manipulated like everyone else he’s come in contact with. Yes, it stings to feel like you’ve been had, that you’ve been conned. But it pales in comparison to the trauma experienced by his real victims. If you still see something redeemable in Marc, the best thing you can do is to deprive him of your support. Only when there is nowhere for him to hide will there be any possibility for his redemption. But more importantly, withdrawing your support from Marc will also allow his victims to feel whole and move ahead in their healing. And they need your support more than Marc does.
Bill McCart, Oakland, CA

Open Letter to Whole Foods Board of Directors:

Your statement “John Mackey’s involvement with Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom is his personal business” is not accurate.

Likewise, Mr. Mackey’s statement on his Whole Foods Market blog is not accurate:

“My involvement with Marc Gafni and the Center for Integral Wisdom is conducted strictly in my personal life”

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/video-discussion-shadow

John Mackey sits on the Executive Board of Directors of Marc Gafni’s nonprofit corporation: The Center for Integral Wisdom is registered with the California Secretary of State, Corporation Number C3388762, 2697 Bryant Street, San Francisco.

This IRS Form 990 shows The Center for World Spirituality, EIN 46-1051882, at the same San Francisco address:

http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/461/461051882/461051882_201312_990EZ.pdf

The Form 990 lists this website: www.ievolve.org.

Mr. Mackey is listed on the Executive Board of Directors at the ievolve web address:

http://www.ievolve.org/leadership/executive-board-of-directors/

According to the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Missouri – Kansas City:

“The Legal Duties of the Nonprofit Board and Its Members”

“Boards and board members often are reminded that they have a ‘fiduciary responsibility’ to the organization”

http://bloch.umkc.edu/mwcnl/resources/documents/legal-duties.pdf

Therefore, Mr. Mackey’s relationship with Mr. Gafni is not a strictly personal one.

Rather, as a sitting member on an Executive Board of Directors, Mr. Mackey has a fiduciary responsibility to the nonprofit corporation, of which Mr. Gafni is the chief executive.

As you know, this exposé on Mr. Gafni was published in The New York Times, December 26, 2015:

“She was 14 going on 35.”

I believe that Mr. Mackey’s position on the Executive Board of Directors of Mr. Gafni’s nonprofit corporation is compromising the core values of Whole Foods Market, and jeopardizing its reputation and shareholder value.

As a shareholder of Whole Foods Market, I request that the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors and Ethics Committee consider whether Mr. Mackey is in violation of Whole Foods Market’s Rules of Corporate Governance and Code of Business Conduct. I request that Mr. Mackey immediately resign from his position on the Executive Board of Directors of Mr. Gafni’s nonprofit corporation(s).
nancy levine, woodacre, CA

Because so many people and communities i know, trust, and love have been hurt by this man. Because not only has Gafni not revealed any soul-searching, repenting, nor apology for his acts, but he has gone further to blame his victims, including 13 and 16 year old girls. Because the role of a spiritual leader holds more responsibility and self awareness than most, not less. Because every sign points to this man remaining dangerous. Because truth. Because wisdom, Because trust. Amen.
Ayla Adler , Midreshet Ben Gurion, Israel

I personally witnessed some of the damage Mordechai Winiarz aka Marc Gafni inflicted on wives, lovers, followers, students and colleagues at YU, Revel, JPSY and in Jewish Renewal circles over the years. When Mordechai/Marc moved out of the Jewish community and on to Utah I called his Utah employer and warned them. MG was already close with a powerful politician by then. My words fell on deaf ears. He is an admitted child rapist. I have known women who MW/MG has abused. This is why I am signing this.
Shoshana Jedwab, New York, NY

Gafni pollutes any institution with which he associates with his sexual impropriety and lies. He claims a position of spiritual authority while proving himself to be an immoral, ruinous person who reinvents himself over and over again as each community spits him out.
As a rabbi, I think it’s vital that I join the chorus of voices (representing every denomination!) censuring any group who endorses or sponsors Gafni. His “spirituality” is the shallow stuff of narcissists. His claim to represent an authentic Jewish tradition are belied by his immorality.
As a woman, I stand with the victim of his I know and all of those I do not. It took too long before community leaders took seriously the words of the girls and women he harmed in public and private.
Rachel Solomin, Mountain View, CA

For over 10 years The Awareness Center had tried to stop this confessed sexual predator from harming anyone else, unfortunately we were not successful. Hopefully this time around criminal charges can be brought up against him, and put an end to Gafni’s reign of terror
Vicki Polin, Albuqueruqe, NM

I have seen the horrible trauma Gafni has done to wonderful people.
Steven Hassan, Newton, MA

You hurt and destroyed a part of someone who is more beloved to me than I can explain. I only hope you will never have the ability, exposure or power to hurt anyone else.
Miryam Kabakov, St. Paul, MN

Marc Gafni betrayed the sacred trust we personally experienced between rabinnical student and rabbi. Then he lied and abused friends and colleagues. This flawed man, who masquerades as enlightened but in truth brings darkness wherever he goes, must be stopped.
Sunny Schnitzer, Reston, VA

No one can do it alone. Gafni wouldn’t have been able to get beyond his Jewish/Israel scandals and achieve influence in the secular spiritual world if not for continuous enabling from several key people, particularly Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber. They’ve both signed multiple documents attesting to Gafni’s “integrity” which are full of lies about his past, and they continue to facilitate his endless lust for power rather than honoring the need for vulnerable people to be protected from his predations.
Their endorsements and coverups helped feed the 2011 situation that led to intense trauma for least three women I know.
Wilber and Kempton are both hopelessly enmeshed in Gafni’s dark orbit; they need to be publicly called out for their unethical actions and pressured to stop.
jason tucker, Fairfax, CA

I read the comments with a mixture of sadness and joy. Some of them are coming from people I knew once as friends and about whom I have worried for years because of their connections with Garni. I am happy to see them speaking out and so incredibly sad that they have experienced his manipulations and abuse.
A man who says he has nothing to regret and who retracts his admissions is so fundamentally out of touch with himself that he has nothing of value to teach in the realm of human consciousness.
Daniel Siegel, Hornby Island, Canada

If it is true that we teach what we most need to learn, then there is no better example than Marc Gafni. His obsessive teaching about shadows of psyche, eros, light trapped within darkness, and personal transformation is surely a furtive cry for help from a deeply troubled soul. Like the Israelites who “borrowed” the Egyptians’ gold, and formed it into the golden calf, so too, Gafni steals the gold from any vulnerable person who crosses his path. But unlike the Israelites, who completed their cycle of shadow transformation via control and discipline, followed by integrity and integration, this stolen light remains trapped in a gigantic black hole that grows larger and larger with each passing year. By speaking out, we can help others avoid the theft of their gold by this spiritual bandit.
Dr. Gilah Rosner, Beallsville, MD

My twin sister was one of his victims and I don’t want to see this man continue to hurt others as he hurt my sister.
Sandra Zerner, Scottsdale, AZ

I have known Mr. Gafni and some of his victims. When the Beit Chadash “blow up” happened and he sought my support, I told him to first do real tesuvah – return to Israel and face his accusers in a Court of Law. I never heard back from him and he, of course, didn’t.
William Dolman, Edmonton, Canada

I am personal friends with 3 of his victims, and witnessed him humiliating his 3rd wife on a public stage.
Eliezer Sobel, Fair Lawn, NJ

I am a therapist who has been helping trauma victims and survivors of a wide variety of destructive cults and controlling relationships. I have worked with two women who related so many examples of truly repulsive, unethical, abusive behavior, including rape: physical, spiritual, emotional and has terrorized them. Gafni’s continued denial of his wrongdoing and the continued support by followers is something I see regularly in behvior of cult members. Look at Scientology and how they demonize former members and program followers to not even make the effort to do independent research and reach their own conclusions. I truly hope the survivors will continue to get more and more support and more and more people will come forward with their own experiences of fear and trauma related to Gafni.
Steven Hassan, Newton, MA

I had private lessons with Marc by phone in the late 2000s. When I wrote to him saying I could no longer afford the teachings, he wrote, “Bad idea, bad karma.” That was enough for me to run for the hills. I’m so sorry he has caused so much suffering; I used to love him when I was part of the Integral Spiritual community, but came to see his psychopathic part.
Diana Powell, Toronto, ON, Canada

It is heartbreaking that many of MG’s victims have done the painful work of sharing their horror stories, yet have been ignored or castigated as “liars” for so many years. To support, partner, or promote MG as a spiritual teacher — especially as a “teacher of love” — pours salt in the wounds of his victims; it is also a form of complicity with abuse. This must stop.
Mary Williams, San Marcos, CA

I have personal experience as to how Marc Gafni is a user and abuser of people. He uses people with lies and deceit in order to gain influence, power, money and/or sex. He is not to be trusted.
Maggid Al Goldberg, Evanston, IL

I deeply regret featuring Marc Gafni as a speaker this past summer on a global telesummit that I hosted on sacred sexuality. I did so prior to the degree of these allegations of misconduct fully coming to my attention. My colleagues and I unfortunately moved forward without thoroughly vetting Gafni, a mistake we take responsibility for and very much regret. I have since completely disassociated myself from him professionally and am speaking out with other colleagues in the field about my concerns. I will continue to decline speaking and promotional requests for any events or programs associated with Gafni. I pray for healing for all of us in this community and others who may have been harmed or misled by him. And I am grateful for those who have had the courage to speak out and take action.
Lisa Schrader, Nevada City, CA

I’m signing because I have researched all available digital evidence and believe Marc Gafni needs to be made legally accountable for substantial credible accusations of his historic and current sexual abuse. As a whistle blower in an Australian spiritual school in which a teacher was sexually abusing primary aged students, I am very aware of the impact of sexual assault on victims and of the shadow side of spirituality that seeks to minimise this abuse, and worse still places it in the context of the victims’ spiritual destiny. In ‘my’ case the teacher in question was brought to justice, convicted and sentenced. An important step in supporting victims in their healing process. Thank you to the brave women who have spoken out and have maintained their integrity in the face of the huge challenges they’ve faced. At last some leaders in the so called New Age are beginning to take responsibility for its shadow.
Catherine Camden Pratt, Australia

I know more than has been revealed. We roomed together once and I worked for him for a while. I know 2 of his ex-wives. He is a liar, women abuser and so much more. And he’s very dangerous.
Rabbi Moshe Pesach Geller, Jerusalem, Israel

I am signing because he denigrates, distorts, and pollutes the sacred.

I am signing because he is a dangerous con artist. He combines hollow pop-spiritual rhetoric with fragments appropriated from mystical Judaism to create a sticky web where only he is master.

I am signing because consumes all he draws in, like Hannibal the Cannibal in Silence of the Lambs – beware.

I am signing to support friends who have been scarred by him.
Hali Weiss, New York, NY

Once a staff member at Bayit Hadash, I witnessed the trail of pain and hurt among many Israelis in the Bayit Hadash community who put their trust in Mordechai. He lied, betrayed many people. What hutzpah now to come off as a new age leader, “Intregal Abuser” is more like it.
Eliyahu McLean, Tsfat, Israel

He has harassed, threatened, manipulated, abused, and assaulted my friends. I firmly believe the man should not be in any teaching or leadership position. I question whether any spiritual insight he may describe in his written work can be benefitted from without evaluating it in the context of this history.
John Wagnon, Austin, TX

I was a victim of Marc Gafni’s manipulations many many years ago, I was involved in the criminal suit against him which he fled from like a common criminal, and I do not wish others to fall victim to his ways.
Ilana Nelson, White Plains, NY

I am a former student of Gafni’s who became aware of his abuse subsequent to my studies with him. He must not be allowed to teach in any capacity. I am signing in the hopes that more people will be aware of Gafni’s unethical behavior and will not provide him with further opportunities to propogate his teachings and possibilities for further abuse of students and others with whom he seeks relationships.
Ken Rosenstein, Brighton, MA

I would want Marc Gafni to do meaningful and transformative t’shuvah, for the sake of his victims, the community, and his soul and conscience.
Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, New York, NY

I have heard Marc talk on various occasions. At first, I was so enthralled with his good looks, charisma, and brilliant mind that I ignored the strong narcissistic and sexual undercurrents. Before long, I was no longer able to attend any of his talks or buy any of his books. I have followed the controversy of his sexual history. Not the accusations, but his responses, are what have me convinced of his guilt. He has not come out of denial, nor has he taken full responsibility for his actions. That is a strong red flag that the abuse is likely to continue. I don’t care how brilliant he is, he should not be teaching spiritual principles, and definitely should not be working with students. Sally Kempton says “young, vulnerable” females should not work with him, so obviously she knows he is guilty. But the fact is, ALL students are susceptible to a teacher. The power differential is enormous.
Rev. Andrea Fuller, Monterey, CA

I remember the intoxicating charisma and I am sickened by the truth and all the pain that MG has caused. How is this still happening?? Please may this ocean of voices be enough for all the others to see him for what he truly is and stop him. And may all those who have been hurt by him find some healing in knowing that all of us here have heard you and we support you.
Bena Medjuck-Bruckner, New York, NY

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey sits on the Executive Board of Directors of Marc Gafni’s nonprofit corporation. He can’t say this is a “personal” relationship. As CEO of Whole Foods an $11 billion public company there are rules of governance about which outside Boards members can sit on. I ask the Whole Foods Board of Directors whether Mr. Mackey is in compliance with company governance by sitting on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit corporation whose founder and CEO Marc Gafni told The New York Times that he sexually abused a minor: “She was 14 going on 35.”
nancy levine, woodacre, CA

This dangerous man abused and haunted 2 of my friends who were in the prime of their lives, with everything going for them. This man should be hunted down and prohibited to teach, and to be on any pedestal, whether public or private.
Fonda Weiss, Jerusalem, Israel

My childhood friend was 16 when he sexually abused her. She was shamed and hushed up by the higher ups in the Rabbinate. She was not the only victim. This man needs to be held accountable for past crimes and stopped from committing more.
Lisa Stein, Providence, RI

I’m signing because victims of Gafni’s abusive behavior are finally being believed and recognized as deserving a response, and this is important to me.
Rebecca Stern, Philadelphia, PA

I know the abuser and some of his victims personally. He is a dangerously manipulative individual who craves attention and audience rather than taking owneship of the truth of his actions and the harm he has done.
Ya’ara Saks, Toronto, Canada

I’m signing because his actions hurt a friend, a friend I love. I have known about this for years and I am glad it is finally out in the open.
Rebecca Young, Little Rock, AR

I have taken three on-line workshops with Gafni but because I was seventy- five at the time I had no such problem. Still during the third workshop I became very aware that his ego was running the show and dropped out of his teachings which had lost all value to me . His teachings had been like a precious jewel that had suddenly turned to slime. My heart goes out to his victims but I know from similar experience they can eventually triumph.
frances barnhart, Roanoke, VA

Marc Gafni clearly has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which can’t be cured, healed, or tempered, so full-out public censure (if not prison) is the only practical, permanent solution to protect others from him.
Marj Hahne, Longmont, CO

I met this guy around 16 years ago in Israel and had multiple encounters with him in his role as spiritual guru over the years, as well as knowing personally some of his victims. He is first class asshole to say the least, but, his mega watt charisma and conviction is compelling, that is how he is able to continue to draw followers. Beware!!
Gavriel Fiske, Jerusalem, Israel

As a leader in the Jewish community, it is my responsibility to do my best to make certain that Marc Gafni’s toxic and charismatic personality does not continue to negatively impact people that are often seeking inner wisdom, spiritual grounding or personal inspiration. Gafni’s continuous unethical behavior needs to stop.
Chava Gal-Or, Houston, TX

As a former leader of the iNYCs (Integral New York) community we hosted Gafni, Diane Hamilton and Ingber to discuss these events in 2009. Gafni made promises at that time that he has not kept. I believe he is out of control and needs others to create boundaries around him to protect the vulnerable.
Devin Martin, Beacon, NY

I’m signing because I know Marc Gafni personally and know many people who know him as well. To be honest, I always liked him. He’s personable, interesting and brilliant. But he’s dangerous. When his manipulation of came to light to me personally after a friend confided in me. I thought it was an anomaly. But his lies built and built and more victims came to light. He must be stopped. Do not believe him. He is brilliant and a master manipulator. I hope he seeks help.
Rebekah Million-Steele, Longmont, CO

I have experienced first hand the charismatic draw of his teaching and then witnessed the devastating effects of his lies and betrayals to people that I care about. I have watched with amazement and deep disturbance how he has managed to reinvent himself time and time again and find new audiences to repeat this basic pattern. This petition gives voice to those who have been hurt by him and hopefully sends a clear warning to others who have the potential to be harmed.
David Aftergood, New York, NY

I am signing because I knew and respect his third wife, who came out with her painful story in the Times of Israel: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/from-one-gafni-victim/
Julie Danan, Pleasantville, NY

I’m signing because I personally know people from multiple communities who were harmed by this man.
Jill Hammer, New York, NY

In 2003 I made a choice to stay in a Maggid program though I emailed other participants with my research that showed Mordechai Gafni to be a rapist of a 13 year old. His teachings are brilliant; he is , in my opinion, a sociopath. I never trusted him nor idolized him and am grateful for people who supported me in following my own gut
jean ryersbach, Levittown, PA

I personally know him to be an unrepentant, highly destructive person.
shlomo dror, Jerusalem, Israel

I’m a Esalen member. Do not allow this unethical & untrustworthy person to be on your schedule. He will spoil your beautiful space.
Rachel Masters, San Francisco, CA

It’s horrific that Whole Foods is allowing a KNOWN ABUSER to use Whole Foods as a platform for his nonsense as a way to gain legitimacy.
Rebecca Oberman, Atlanta, GA

I will not tolerate Jewish sexual predators in leadership positions to abuse their power and station.
Rabbi Zac Kamenetz, Berkeley, CA

enough is enough. all life is precious, and those who disrespect and violate the sanctity of others should not be allowed to do so unless proper amends and complete repentance has been made.
Rabbi Ilan Glazer, Germantown, TN

Gafni’s flippant comments related to his sexual encounters with a 13 & 16 year old are repulsive & disgusting. He needs to acknowledge the pain his choices has caused
Karla Kamstra, Bloomington, IN

 

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Rabbi David Ingber was named by Newsweek as one of 2013’s top 50 most influential rabbis in the United States as well as by The Forward as one of the 50 most newsworthy and notable Jews in America. Rabbi Ingber has taught at such eminent institutions as the Academy for Jewish Religion, Columbia University, CUNY, Jewish Theological Seminary, Limmud LA, New York University, the 92nd Street Y, Pardes, The Skirball Center at Temple Emmanuel, and Yeshivat HADAR. He sits on the Board of Directors of Aleph and Synagogue 3000 Next Dor’s Working Group of Sacred Emergent Communities where he continues to teach.Raised Modern Orthodox in New York, Rabbi David studied at several distinguished yeshivot in Jerusalem and New York including Yeshiva University, Beit Midrash L’Torah, Yeshivat Chaim Berlin, and Yeshivat Chovovei Torah Rabbinical School. He also studied philosophy, psychology and religion at New York University. Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of Renewal Judaism, ordained Rabbi David in 2004. Prior to founding Romemu, Rabbi David was Rabbi-in-Residence at Elat Chayyim Retreat Center.

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Author Andrew Harvey reflects on why we must address this with rigor. Audio file posted on The Shift Network on December 31, 2016.

http://blog.theshiftnetwork.com/blog/reflections-marc-gafni-situation

Harvey had previously taught with Marc Gafni. At the time he had been very impressed with him and dismissed the allegations against Gafni, until he was encouraged to look deeper into the issue. Harvey ended up speaking extensively with several of Gafni’s victims and that changed everything. His recording is a powerful call to truth, discernment and fierce compassion.

 

 

 

 

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