September 20, 2018

Local Rabbi Faces Sexual Charges

Los Angeles Rabbi Menachem Weiss is facing charges of aggravated sexual assault in New Jersey, where prosecutors allege he sexually assaulted a boy during a six-month period in 1999.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers arrested Weiss on March 22 at the Newark, N.J., airport. Weiss agreed to fly from L.A. to Newark after authorities informed him of an outstanding warrant for his arrest, said Elizabeth Rebein, a spokeswoman for the Bergen County (N.J.) Prosecutor’s Office.

A grand jury on March 20 indicted Weiss  on two counts of aggravated sexual assault, Rebein said.

After surrendering to police, Weiss was booked into the Bergen County Jail. He was formally charged on March 23 and released from jail and allowed to return home after a detention hearing on March 26.

Weiss was living in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., at the time of the alleged sexual assault.

The Woodcliff Lake Police Department learned in December 2016 that Weiss allegedly assaulted a boy between January 1999 and June 1999.  The department’s investigation, conducted in conjunction with the prosecutor’s office, led to the indictment, Rebein said.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers arrested Weiss on March 22 at the Newark, N.J., airport. Weiss agreed to fly from L.A. to Newark after authorities informed him of an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

Weiss, 47, who is married and the father of nine children, lives in Pico-Robertson. He moved from New York to Los Angeles with his family in 1999.

Up until his arrest, Weiss had been working as a faculty member and director of the Israel Center at Milken Community Schools and as an associate rabbi at Nessah Congregation. Upon news of his arrest, Milken Community School and Nessah Congregation immediately suspended him.

“We understand that this news is extremely disturbing. Please know that our top priority is always the safety of our students, faculty, staff and community members, and that we are taking every precaution. To that end, Rabbi Weiss has been suspended effectively immediately pending a full investigation,” Milken Head of School Gary Weisserman said in a March 24 email to the Milken community.

In an email to the Journal, Weisserman added: “We are working with authorities to ensure the safety of our community, which is always our first priority, while due process is followed.”

The Nessah Board of Directors on March 25 issued the following statement:

“We understand that this news is alarming. Please know that our top priority is always the best interest of our community members. To that end, Rabbi Weiss has been placed on leave from any further responsibility or activity at Nessah pending a full investigation.”

Weiss also previously served as the executive director of Sephardic Tradition and Recreation, a Sephardic youth organization in the San Fernando Valley.

Representatives of Nessah and Sephardic Tradition and Recreation could not be reached for comment.

Rebein said New Jersey’s statute of limitations on sexual assault varies depending on the nature of the crime.

In a 2016 interview with the Milken Roar, the Milken school’s newspaper, Weiss discussed his family life, his passion for Israel and what brought him to Milken.

He said his previous experience included helping to build a Hebrew school and a synagogue in New York, and earning his master’s degree in special education from Adelphi University.