Thursday, May 18, 2006

Follow-up to the Kolko-Margolis previous post

I had not realized how much venom there is toward Margolis out there. Naturally I always hated the guy. I am not even sure why. Back when I was in first grade, I remember thinking that he was pretty scummy. I once wrote a short story whose principle bad-guy was "R Margo" the head of an evil empire of child slave laborers. It was a sci-fi story, which as I think about it now, was probably pretty good for a first-grader. I have since lost the story, but once tried to recreate it.

In first grade, I had Rabbi Andrusia(sp?) OB"M, the other first-grade rebbi, so I did not interact much with Kolko. He was really nice. As I recall he used to give out paper-clips when you did something good, and then if you accumulated enough of them, you were somehow rewarded. But I digress.

Here is the text of the lawsuit. The comments make clear that Margolis has LOTS of people who really hate him in the orthodox community.

My family's own interaction with Margolis was when I left Torah Temimah. I started there in pre-one-A. My brother and I were both in the school, I was in middle of 9th grade, and he was a few grades younger (about 4th grade). I was not having a good schooling experience (I detested (I think the late) Rabbi Berkowitz who then was the principle of the high school, and the whole place was way to "frummy" for me.). (I have no idea why I didn't bail after elementary school with a lot of my friends and classmates.) Perhaps it was because of the anecdote that follows. But, there was some "agreement" between me and Berkowitz that I would be better off somewhere else, though I do not recollect the details to well. My brother on the other hand was really doing fine in the school, and was fitting in nicely, and had great relationships with his rabbeim.

To make a long story short, when I was going to switch to the Mir, Margolis sat down with my father and explained that if the school wasn't frum enough for me, it was not appropriate for my brother either, and he would have to be pulled from the school. This of course created a problem, because my brother really did not want to switch, and I needed to. So my brother was asked to leave because I wasn't fitting in. Or, I could have stayed and suffered there so that my brother could fit in. (Again, this "blackmail" of my parents might have taken place after eighth grade when so many of my friends were leaving the school, and Margolis needed to keep some of us and prevent a mass exodus. I am hazy on the details.)

At the end we both left, and I am sure we are both better off for it. I don't think my brother regrets it much, and I am sure as hell glad I left. Though I do have to admit, educationally speaking, it really was the best school of its type out there. If all you cared about was learning well, it was a good place to be.

(I do recall having Kolko substitute once or twice for some science class I had in a low grade and I remember thinking at the time that this guy has no understanding of how the weather works. I didn't either, but I am sure he didn't. (Neither did my 5th grade rebbi, but that's another story.))

I however wasn't the "fitting-in" type, especially to a place I really didn't like much. I was actually in Camp Agudah for a summer, and Ma-Na-Vu for one summer. Kolko was no longer involved in Agudah when I was there. But he did own (together with Rabbi Klein, and I think someone else) camp Ma-Na-Vu. I think that my first real interaction with Kolko was when he called me in to his office to give me a Ma-Na-Vu jacket with my name sewn on. It creeps me out now to think that he might have been checking me out. I did like the jacket though. Rumor also has it that the rumors that were spreading about Kolko years ago had something to do with why Kolko and Klein split over Ma-Na-Vu. Kolko then went to head Torah Temimah's Camp Silver Lake. I'll also admit I have few distinct memories of either camp (or the YTT day camp I went to earlier on). I did not particularly enjoy the whole experience.

I again digress, though as I write this I am thankful that my story is not like his or his. Apparently though the 3rd plaintiff in the lawsuit has joined the US Army, so we have something in common. And I thought I was the only Torah Temimah graduate to ever have done that.

Having the press convict Kolko before all the facts are out is one thing, but there is still no excuse for Margolis' behavior. If Kolko was a sexual predator he should have gotten help and been kept far away from children. And this should have happened via the courts long ago. But it is abundantly clear that Margolis spent a lot of time shielding Kolko from the repercussions of the rumors, and spent a lot of time denying them and covering them up. And that is the truly malicious thing here. Knowing the rumors, it is his job to find the truth, protect the students, and the covering up is clear. One does not close ranks when the well being of the children in your care is at stake.


Shosh said...

Sad what happened to you and your brother with the politics. But, of course, you are probably both better off. Is your brother religious?

Erica said...

Yich! This whole story is grossing me out but I'm glad it's out there and no longer an undercurrent of bilious speculation.
Of course it pales in comparison, but when I was in Yeshiva, we had the most wretchedly abusive rabbi, and I'm so glad I don't remember his name or the name of the yeshiva.

Mikey said...

I once had a rabbi who slapped me in the face - he was a real abusive jerk. I heared a few months ago that his married daughter ran off with a Puerto Rican guy - she must have suffered the same abuse her father dished out to his students.

Karl said...

Mikey, in my experience it is the rabbis' kids who are always the most messed up. I've seen it over and over. Many turn out OK, but those on the real screwed-up end of the bell-curve are rabbis' kids.

Lucy said...

This stuff makes me want to puke. I rented Kolko's basement a few years ago. The wife is a real doll (she must be a saint). Kolko's office was in the basement adjacent to my room. My roomate and I used to listen to him scream and yell about law suits and about how "these lawsuits are putting us in the poor house" at the time I only heard one side of the conversation. Now I hear the other side - UGH! (we also had to pay the rent in cash absolutely no checks nor were receipts - no paper trail- its probably in an offshore bank account)
The sad thing here is that probably the defense will claim the statute of limitations has run and therefore suit can not be brought. (Unless the plaintiffs can prove that they were insane bec of the abuse and could not bring suit -hard to prove- the SOL is tolled OR the abuse has been continuous over the past thirty years and new victims have the courage to come foward and testify - then civil and criminal action can be brought against all those listed in the complaint.) But of course its Flatbush and there are no child molesters in Flatbush so there are no victims -sigh!