Jewish-American sex offender Baruch Lanner will not receive aliyah approval, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.
“Baruch Lanner received a visa that was temporary, following the decision of the previous minister of the interior, who also did not find it necessary to approve his aliyah status in light of the background of the offenses,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement in response to a query from The Jerusalem Post. “The interior minister clarified this morning that in light of his serious actions, she does not intend to approve his application for citizenship at the end of the temporary visa in his possession.”
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 regional director for the Orthodox Union’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY).
As reported by the Post, the Rabbinical Council of America – one of the most prominent and central organizations for rabbis in North America – sent a letter to Shaked on Monday regarding the citizenship application of 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 said they wanted 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.”
“Lanner served nearly three years in prison for sexually assaulting students at a Jewish high school,” the letter said. “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,” it said. “We urge you to deny his application for citizenship.”
"Baruch Lanner received a visa that was temporary, following the decision of the previous Minister of the Interior, who also did not find it necessary to approve his aliyah status in light of the background of the offenses."Ayelet Shaked
Baruch Lanner's history
Lanner, 72, served nearly three years in prison for sexually assaulting students at a Jewish high school in New Jersey, JTA reported last week. He has been granted a temporary residency visa that will allow him to stay in Israel while the Interior Ministry reviews his request for citizenship, the report said.
In 2000, following reporting by The New York Jewish Week, Lanner’s former employer, the Orthodox Union, launched a probe that indicated 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 US and tends to reject those with criminal records. Lanner had been living in New Jersey and Florida.
JTA contributed to this report.