American Orthodox rabbis urge Shaked to deny citizenship to sex offender

 Mug shot of Baruch Lanner. (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
Mug shot of Baruch Lanner.
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)

The Rabbinical Council of America, one of the most prominent and central rabbis organizations in North America, sent a letter to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked on Monday regarding the citizenship application of convicted sex offender Baruch Lanner.

The letter was signed by Rabbi Binyamin Blau, President of the RCA and Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President of the RCA. The rabbis wrote to Shaked in order to "express our concern that convicted serial sex offender Baruch Lanner was granted temporary residency status in Israel and that his request for citizenship is under consideration by your ministry." They added that "Lanner served nearly three years in prison for sexually assaulting students at a Jewish high school. There are reports that he committed an array of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse involving dozens of teenagers for whom he was responsible. These cases continue to impact his victims as well as the Jewish community in North America."

"We are very concerned that granting him citizenship would erase the relevance of this listing and enable him to disappear into general society, clearly a threat to public health and safety."

RCA letter to Shaked

Lanner is a former orthodox rabbi who was convicted of child sexual abuse. He was the principal of Hillel Yeshiva High School in Ocean Township, New Jersey. In addition, Lanner was the director of regions for the Orthodox Union's National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY).

In their letter, the rabbis quote Israel’s Law of Return, paragraph 1(b)(2), which states that "entry to Israel can be denied to anyone who is likely to endanger public health.” They explained that Lanner is on the US Sex Offender Registry.

 Baruch Lanner, who was convicted of abusing students at a New Jersey yeshiva where he worked, is seen here on Florida's sex offender registry. (credit: SCREENSHOT VIA JTA) Baruch Lanner, who was convicted of abusing students at a New Jersey yeshiva where he worked, is seen here on Florida's sex offender registry. (credit: SCREENSHOT VIA JTA)

"We are very concerned that granting him citizenship would erase the relevance of this listing and enable him to disappear into general society, clearly a threat to public health and safety," the wrote and stressed to Shaked that "We urge you to deny his application for citizenship."

Lanner's history 

According to a report last week by JTA, 72-year-old Lanner served nearly three years in prison for sexually assaulting students at a Jewish high school in New Jersey. According to the report, he has been granted a temporary residency visa that will allow him to stay in Israel while the country’s Interior Ministry reviews his request for citizenship.

In 2000, following reporting by the New York Jewish Week, Lanner’s former employer, the Orthodox Union, launched a probe indicating that Lanner was responsible for an array of sexual, physical and emotional abuse involving dozens of teenagers in his charge. He was convicted in 2002 of endangering the welfare of two girls during his time as principal of Hillel Yeshiva High School in Deal, New Jersey, in the 1990s.

According to Haaretz, Lanner and his second wife arrived in Israel as tourists and submitted their request for citizenship after landing, thereby circumventing the Jewish Agency, which handles citizenship requests in the United States and tends to reject those with criminal records. Lanner had been living variously in New Jersey and Florida.

 JTA contributed to this report.