Dr. Marc Gafni is an ordained Rabbi. The statements in regard to Dr. Marc Gafni’s Ordination that appear on Wikipedia, were placed there directly by editors who have operated in sync with the parties, who organized the false complaints in Israel and subsequent smear campaigns. Sadly this kind of online malice under the fig leaf of wiki’s public profile pages is quite common as Claire Molinard has already pointed out in her article on Marc Gafni’s Wiki page, called “How Wikipedia is used for internet abuse.”
The facts of Dr. Gafni education are clear:
- Gafni currently holds his ordination from Rabbi Gershon Winkler in 2008.
- Gafni was originally ordained by the chief rabbinate of the state of Israel.
He declines however to use that ordination as he is not aligned with the ethical principles driving the Rabbinate.
- Gafni was also originally ordained by Ohr Torah under the leadership of Shlomo Riskin.
He, on his own initiative, formally returned that ordination as he and Riskin had parted ways in serious areas of jewish law and thought.
- Gafni was a peer to Reb Zalman Schachter-Salomi of the Jewish Renewal movement but was never his student and Zalman was never the source of his ordination.
In these points below we elaborate on these facts:
- The first paragraph of Wiki suggests that Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the leader of the Jewish Renewal Movement, revoked Dr. Gafni’s ordination in 2006 and Gafni was banned from teaching at Jewish Renewal events.Here is the more accurate information: the false claims of sexual harassment made against Dr. Gafni in 2006, were organized and later supported by key figures within, and closely associated with, the Jewish Renewal Movement.Those figures include David Ingber, the only student that Dr. Gafni had expelled from his circle. David was originally ordained by Dr. Gafni. Dr. Gafni revoked that ordination, based on grossly unethical conduct on David’s part. Dr. Gafni was planning to start a synagogue context of some form in Manhattan, that would operate in close relationship with the Israel center he was running at the time. Before expelling Ingber for grossly unethical conduct, Gafni had shared something of this vision with Ingber. Ingber felt that his teacher Gafni was directly blocking his advancement and emergence on the Jewish renewal scene.Together with Gafni’s former wife, Chaya, Ingber directly organized the false complaints against Gafni in Israel in 2006. He also supported the dissemination, with Chaya, that the complaints were registered with the Israel police. Neither the content of the complaints were true nor were they even registered with the Israel police.Dr. Clint Fuhs [in his article “Anatomy of a Smear: the internet trial of Marc Gafni”] as well as many others, discusses this heinous violation of justice in depth. Ingber has, until this day, hidden his involvement in organizing the original false complaints and together with Chaya Lester and Donna Zerner and others, perpetrating the public attacks in subsequent years. The close working relationship in this regard between Ingber, Zerner, Kabakow, Baruch, Lester, and several others is documented in multiple recovered emails and other evidence.
- Dr. Gafni’s was never a student of Zalman’s, he never studied with him, rather he was a peer and for a short time a colleague. Given that Zalman’s theatrical statement that he was revoking Gafni’s ordination, was just that: political theatrics with no substance.
- Zalman’s personal funding was directly connected with sources directly involved, or close friends with those directly involved, in supporting the false claims in 2006.
- When the false claims were made in 2006, Zalman never contacted Gafni to ascertain the facts. Gafni attempted to contact Zalman multiple times. Zalman however was politically constrained and fearful and afraid to do the right thing by actually checking facts in a fair and appropriate way. Days before Zalman died he expressed remorse to a close confidante for how he had handled all of this.
- Similarly the Jewish Renewal Movement, a small group of Zalman’s students never contacted Gafni or ascertained facts in any way.
- It’s also well known and documented in any number of sources that Gafni was a highly beloved teacher in Zalman’s Jewish Renewal Movement, and second only to Zalman in the amount of students and the depth of their commitment. It’s important to note that Rabbi Gafni was never a card-carrying member of ALEPH, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal. This organization served as a mouth piece for Zalman Schachter-Salomi. Rabbi Gafni was invited as a guest teacher in the movement, but was clearly opposed to some of its key structures and was considered to be highly threatening to what one might call the power base of its Zalman-aligned leadership. This caused enormous tension between Zalman and Gafni, particularly as Gafni was not Zalman’s student and would have taken the Jewish Renewal Movement in different directions. This tension was discussed formally by Gafni with a number of key leaders of renewal at the time.
- As one Jewish renewal leader at the time pointed out in this interview:
“I think it’s important for people to understand who were not intimately aware of the goings on in the Jewish Renewal movement, I think it’s important for people to understand that the Jewish Renewal movement has its own ordination procedure, so anybody else who sets one up—and you are not the only one who was doing this, you and I know other people who were also doing it—it was like a monopoly.”By monopoly the speaker was referring to both a A financial and spiritual monopoly – which Gafni’s independent ordination of Rabbis was challenging. This issue and the larger context of Gafni in the Jewish renewal movement are explored by a former leader of Jewish Renewal in this article.
- In terms of the statements on Wikipedia suggesting that Rabbi Riskin revoked Gafni’s ordination 1994, the following information is relevant.
1. Gafni held three rabbinic ordinations of which the ordination from Rabbi Riskin was only one. Rabbi Gafni is presently fully ordained even though he does not actively function in a formal rabbinic capacity but instead leads the activist think tank, Center for Integral Wisdom which he co-founded with Ken Wilber, Sally Kempton, and Marianna Kaplan.
2. The claim made in Gary Rosenblatt’s article “The Re-Invented Rabbi” dated 2004 , in regard to Gafni’s returning of Riskin’s ordination is partially inaccurate. Here are the correct facts:
In 2004 Gafni wrote Riskin and suggested that their paths on a number of levels had split so significantly, that he felt it was inappropriate for him to retain Riskin’s ordination, which he respectfully returned. Gafni is unaware, nor has he ever been informed of any fair process in which his ordination from Riskin was revoked. Gafni has not had any contact with Riskin for decades and certainly no fact-checking conversations have ever happened, which would allow for the evidentiary refutation of the false claims made on the internet and other media forums, which themselves did no fact-checking whatsoever.