Jake Segal seemed like a harmless, emotionally honest, and charming man, yet the person that X thought she was going to marry never truly existed. It was a false persona utilized to date and have sex with multiple women – the alter ego of Rabbi Yosef Paryzer, a married father of two.
In January, X came across him on Bumble (a dating app enabling women to make the first move). She felt confident because she was the one approaching him; but with Segal, the sense of control was just as much an illusion as his identity.
Segal’s dating profile shows him to be a man in his mid-30s with a short-cropped beard, bright eyes, and a wide smile. X said that there was something gentle about the way he looked.
“He had a smile to kill,” she said.
Their fledgling relationship began with texting, which Segal preferred over phone calls. The two bonded over shared references from their childhoods and upbringing in the United States. Segal was from Brooklyn, X from a nearby town. They both went to Jewish summer camps and enjoyed local retreats. She liked that he could sing. The connection developed very quickly, but steadily.
“It had a nice sense of simplicity,” X said, then laughed in light of the tangled web of complications that the relationship truly was.
The more they spoke, the more Segal appeared to be good-hearted, an open man who wore his heart on his sleeve. He told X his father had died when he was young and that he was raised by his blind mother. This, he said, led to his work as a trainer for seeing-eye dogs.
It was Segal who seemed most eager for a serious relationship. He had asked X what she was looking for, sharing: “I would love to say that I would just like to make out on the couch, but what I really want is to start a family.”
After a month and a half, and many such serious talks, the relationship took what seemed like a turn for the best when Segal told X “I love you,” and asked to meet her family when they came to Israel for a visit. He met her family at an Independence Day barbeque. He chatted and connected with her parents, and played family games, and it was clear to everyone that this was her partner – and to her, that he was the one she would marry. The pictures and the memories from that day would become treasures. Segal kept a picture of X as his phone lock screen, something she later speculated he must have changed each time he went home.
Yet as committed as Segal seemed to their relationship, their lives remained unintegrated. He never slept over, never had Shabbat meals with X, and she had never met his friends, or family, or even seen his apartment.
He claimed he had time management issues, torn between his work with the disabled, caring for his mother, and now a relationship, but said it was something that he was working on, which made him seem selfless – although he was anything but.
When they planned to spend a Shabbat together, Segal suddenly came down with an illness and had to postpone. He would tell X about his mother, how he spoke on the phone to her, how she could hear in his voice how much he loved X – but X had never spoken to his parent herself.
Segal said X couldn’t visit his apartment because he had a weird roommate, and that he had bad memories associated with the place and relationships. He told her a story about how he still carried the trauma of catching his ex-girlfriend in his bed with her ex-boyfriend. His fears about being cheated on became another mirage that satisfied the thirst for explanations for his tardiness and truancy. X tried to help him through his supposed trauma by discussing unfaithfulness. She made him promise he would rather break her heart and leave her before he ever cheated.
“You never have to worry about that,” he swore.
AFTER A few months, the weight of all the excuses became too much to bear, and the inconsistencies in his story planted a seed of doubt in X’s heart. The seed sprouted and ensnared her heart with paranoia – X began to imagine that she might come across him holding hands with another woman.
When she went away on a trip, X half-joked to Segal, “What, are your wife and kids going to keep you company while I’m gone?”
“I’m not going to entertain that thought,” Segal said, offended. “I can’t handle one woman, let alone two.”
X couldn’t find shared connections with Segal. They were both from New York but had no mutual acquaintances. They supposedly both lived in the same Jerusalem neighborhood but never saw each other. He supposedly prayed at the same synagogue as her friends, but they didn’t know him. After asking around about his place of work, it seemed it didn’t exist.
Segal increasingly manifested panic attacks and neuroticism, which allegedly led to more absences and a lack of communication, which pushed X to call for a break, a decision that seemed hers – another illusion of control. Allegedly, Segal had sought time apart because he was expecting his second child.
WHEN THEY got back together, X returned with a condition: that they finally spend Shabbat together, and that he give a reference for his family – in accordance with her mother’s wishes. He promised both, and X was elated.
She was on a high, preparing the perfect Shabbat, but as the time approached, Segal’s bouts of panic attacks and poor communication intensified. The seeds of doubt X felt in her gut came to full bloom, and she felt as if she was being driven crazy. He was lying to her – about what, she didn’t know.
X finally broke up with Segal. They ended with an exchange of “I love you” and a kiss.
“Don’t lock the door on me forever,” he reportedly urged. He had later promised X’s sister he would go to therapy to become the man she deserved.
X’s sister wasn’t satisfied and demanded to know what Segal had been hiding from X for the last five months. The truth, he said, was that he had been living with another woman in Jerusalem and was suffering from infertility, but had fallen in love with X. This was grounded in truth, but not the whole truth – he really was living with another woman, but this explanation concealed yet more lies.
“I can’t handle one woman, let alone two.”Jake Segal, the pseudonym of Rabbi Yosef Paryzer
When X found out, she went into therapy with her sense of reality shattered. She remembers sitting on a park bench, unable to stand up because she didn’t know if the ground below her would give way.
X’s heart continued to plummet as more layers of lies were peeled away.
The truth comes out: A married rabbi's spree of deception and infidelity is exposed
Through a series of coincidences, Segal was discovered by seven other women who were dating him simultaneously and had learned the truth about him.
Segal was actually Paryzer, a husband, a father, and a rabbi at a yeshiva. He had been seeing at least nine women at the same time over 10 months, some relationships extending back over at least seven years.
Like with X, there had been romantic and sexual relationships, and promises of love, marriage, and family, with a man who didn’t exist. For most, he presented as completely secular; to X and to another woman, he behaved as traditionally Jewish. Some of the women went public with their experiences and are still getting messages from others – sharing their stories about him. By Monday, 18 women had testified to the police about their experiences with Paryzer.
THE GAPS in time began to make sense as X and the other women compared notes in a WhatsApp group. When “Jake Segal” didn’t show up at one girlfriend’s Independence Day party, it was because he had visited X.
He drew on elements of his life, little kernels of truth he spun into lies. The upbringing he recounted to X was mostly true. He had lost his father at a young age, said X. He had taken names from other family members to create his alter ego. His work as a seeing-eye dog trainer stemmed from his mother’s true disability.
When confronted and asked how long he was going to let the farce go on, Paryzer said, “Until it blows up in my face.”
X speculated that Paryzer didn’t think he was committing a crime, but in Israel, it is a sex offense to have consensual intercourse “obtained by deceit in respect of the identity of the person,” according to the criminal code.
X and some of the other victims went to the police. She praised the police and investigators for being sensitive, communicative, and quick – Paryzer wasn’t an Israeli citizen, and as such was a flight risk, she said. The police had arrested him on Tuesday night of last week. By Monday his arrest was extended, but an indictment had yet to have been filed.
When X notified Paryzer’s employers about his activity, they were shocked but quick to respond. The yeshiva and his students were victims of his deceit as well. The greatest victims, X pointed out, were his wife and children, who were still bound to the serial liar by marriage and blood.
“I have nothing but praise for the rabbi I spoke to, and the yeshiva,” X said. “They took immediate action” and fired Paryzer.
A source close to the case told the Magazine that many of the women Paryzer duped didn’t want to go to the police, concerned it would cause even more damage to innocent people, hoping to instead move on with their lives and heal their broken hearts.
Paryzer chose his victims to suit his needs, seeking people that were patient and would give him space, X said.
What he was looking for, he probably didn’t know himself. Some relationships did appear to be about sex, but in others he seemed to seek emotional dependency, and from X, the nostalgia of home. X speculated that he may have been trapped in a world he didn’t want to belong to, and that Yosef Paryzer was as much a fiction as Jake Segal. Paryzer may have been lying to himself as much as to all the people he hurt, but it doesn’t excuse his actions, according to X.
Dubbed the “Yeshiva Deceiva” by X’s friends, Paryzer, she said, was “sick, but we all have choices, and the moment that he chose to hurt others he became evil.”
X cautioned women to trust their instincts. She urged them not to be afraid to ask the hard and important questions when easing into a relationship. Women are concerned about being seen as invasive or pestering if they ask the key questions early on, but if potential partners aren’t answering, there might be a reason why.
Paryzer is a stranger to X. Her anger is for Jake Segal, someone she never imagined she would want to hurt, someone who never existed. She wondered how she would be able to tell the story to future partners and reveal her internal scars. Yet she has resolved not to let Paryzer take anything more from her with his fictions and manipulations.
One day Jake Segal really will be nothing more than a strange story, not something that will define her.