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Rabbinic scandal rocks the Western Cape

Mainstream media, including widely distributed newspapers City Press and Rapport and community radio station ChaiFM have given voice to the recent Milnerton and Sephardi Shul scandal that has rocked Cape Town Jewry. Read the emotional letter of “Apology & Teshuva” written by now-disgraced Rabbi Bryan Opert to the members of both Shuls after he was caught blackmailing Sephardi Rabbi and Beth Din member Rabbi Suiza.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Jun 11, 2014

The scandal involved former rabbi of the Milnerton congregation Rabbi Bryan Opert, who was also administrative head of conversions at Cape Town’s Union of Orthodox Synagogues and a member of the Western Cape Rabbinical Association. He was accused of attempting to blackmail Rabbi Ruben Suiza of the Western Cape’s Sephardi Shul.

According to journalist Jeremy Gordin, the terms of Rabbi Opert’s release (after the police had been alerted by Rabbi Suiza) after a 48 hour prison sentence included his resignation from his positions of leadership in the Jewish community and writing a letter of apology to his congregants and those of the Western Cape’s Sephardi Shul, in an attempt to explain his situation.

In the letter, Rabbi Opert explains that the death of his mother culminated in a long period of depression for him, which manifested in him sending hurtful comments and an extortion threat addressed to his former colleague Rabbi Suiza and his family, casting a slur on Rabbi Suiza’s moral behaviour.

READ RABBI OPERT’S LETTER OF “APOLOGY & TESHUVA”
READ SEPHARDI SHUL PRESIDENT’S LETTER

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein was contacted by Gordin and quoted as saying that “there is a moral duty to deal in an uncompromising and principled way with any corruption or wrongdoing by public officials”, and added that the accusations made against Rabbi Suiza were “complete fabrications without any foundation whatsoever”.

11 Comments

  1. 11 Rav Shalom 12 Jun
    Unfortunately that’s how these rabbi’s roll.

    [The balance of this comment has been removed  -ED]

    Sorry Rav. We have deleted three comments on this already today. Unsubstantiated allegations are illegal. Read our COMMENTS POLICY and our other LEGAL information. You, as well as the other deleted commentators, are welcome to contact me in the utmost confidentiality at [email protected].


  2. 10 Chaya 13 Jun
    Please read Haaretz on this article and also acknowledge the Chessed  shown by Rabbi and Rebbitzin Suiza towards this man and his family by not sending him to prison.  
  3. 9 Craig Gordon 13 Jun
    My prayers are with the Jewish community of Cape Town. The challenge we face is in many ways far greater than that of Rabbi Opert - a fallen man seeking right-standing with Hashem.  While Rabbi Opert pleads for Teshuva he can rest assured that his petitions are being heard by a Merciful, Forgiving and Loving Father who desires nothing more than the return of a lost sheep to His flock. And the grace that awaits him will be such that his sin, as wicked as it may be, will be not only forgiven but forgotten forever. Therefore it remains for us - sinners before a Holy G-d - to stop the gossip and the judgement. Let he who has no sin be the the one to cast the next stone. May we all be strengthened in our resolve to walk in the ways of Hashem with humility. As it is written: "And what does Hashem require of you: But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d". 
  4. 8 Jonathan Levin 19 Jun
    As fellow Jews, surely we should be supporting and helping those who have erred instead of humiliating and ostracising them?
    The approach taken by Rabbi and Rebbitzin Suiza should have been the approach the "powers that be" & the community should have followed, instead of which a blood thirsty "witch" (sic) have been waged.
    We are quick to judge, which is not our role!
  5. 7 joshua grigst 19 Jun
    I don't agree with jonathan becaus a few months ago someone posted a letter or comment saying that we should treat raabis like anyone else (in referense to R. Berland) and I agree with that. If a community elder/leeder of any sort or kind in SA blackmailed another elder and admitted to it - it would be big news. The community interest would be served by them heering about it

    Why sho8uld a rabbi to rabbi interaction be treated differently. maybe the public interest is better served in this case.
  6. 6 Jonathan Levin 19 Jun
    My sentiments exactly Joshua in regard to elevating Rabbi's onto pedestals. To be Frank the approach taken By Rabbi & Rebbitzin Suiza & his Sephardi congregation show an incredible empathy & spirit of forgiveness in the true Judaic manner, whilst on the other hand, the South African Jewish community hierarchy appears to have embarked on a campaign of humiliation against the perpetrator! Confusing to say the least
  7. 5 Batya 26 Jun
    The perpetrator deserves to be humiliated!! If his plan had worked who would have shown empathy to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Suiza. Definately not Bryan Opert!!! The one person who would know the truth. We have an obligation as Jews to warn of danger.....
  8. 4 Michael 27 Jun
    As a member of the Cape Town Jewish Community I can only say that one must not forget that Mr Opert consciously made a decision to do what he did. It was all premeditated and he gave no thought to the humiliation of the Suiza's nor his own family. A mistake can only be made once but when one chooses to send numerous emails of blackmail and extortion that is no longer a mistake that is evil. He broke all Torah laws and committed a criminal act. 
  9. 3 David 27 Jun
    It appears that opert Teshuva was very much interlinked to being caught. Had he succeeded he would be laughing all the way to the bank. Whilst Rabbi Swiza would have lost his job and position. Only Hashem would have known and Opert would be celebrating. If genuine then the future will tell.
  10. 2 Mark Firrer 19 Jul
    "Everyone" has a yetzer hora! The bigger the person, the bigger the yetzer hora. A terrible act was done. Now all parties should be left alone.
  11. 1 Unkown 21 Apr
    Rabbi Opert is an amazing man no matter what anyone says. Let's be realistic her, we have all messed up in our lives, so,e on different scales. One must reward Rabbi Opert for his confidence in writing his Teshuva letter to the community. Being a Baal Teshuva, I realized that I have also messed up, BIG TIME! 

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