5 outrageous quotes by ex-Orthodox rabbi Marc Gafni that The NY Times didn’t use

Gabe Friedman

Marc Gafni (Screenshot from YouTube)

Marc Gafni in a video published in 2010. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Former Orthodox rabbi Marc Gafni, who was accused decades ago of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, rocketed back into the news last weekend aboard a feature story in The New York Times.

Times reporter Mark Oppenheimer explains that Gafni (who has disclaimed his acknowledgement in 2006 that he had a “sickness”) has moved on from his troubled past to found the Center for Integral Wisdom. The think tank’s projects include retreats, workshops and lectures on self-help and mindfulness topics — all “drawn from the worlds of medicine, yoga, meditation and the business-ethics movement known as ‘conscious capitalism,’” Oppenheimer writes.

Gafni, 55, born Mordechai Winiarz, was accused of repeatedly molesting a 13-year-old girl over a nine-month period beginning in 1980. He disputed the allegations to the Jewish Week in 2006, saying: “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”

In 1986, 16-year-old Judy Mitzner accused him of climbing into bed with her naked, while she was staying with him and his wife.

Gafni moved to Israel in 1988, where he changed his name and started Bayit Hadash, a “community that held classes and weekend retreats focused on mysticism,” according to Oppenheimer. The movement disbanded in 2006 after several women in the group learned he was sleeping with the others.

Having published several print and audio books, Gafni has garnered praise from the likes of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.

What The Times article does not offer is any detail about the content of Gafni’s ideology. Fortunately, Gafni’s website offers a broad selection of the New Age guru’s ideas in print and video form — including several passages on eroticism that would make a lesser alleged sex offender blush.

READ: Rabbi fights sexual allegations

Here are five of the most outrageous declarations, typos included.

 1. Gafni advocates committing “outrageous acts of love”

“What does an outrageous lover do? Well first, stay safe. An outrageous lover keeps all the boundaries that you should be kept and breaks all the boundaries that should be broken,” he says. “But what does, you ask me what does the outrageous lover do? An outrageous lover commits outrageous acts of love. But which outrageous acts of love? There are so many that need to be committed. An outrageous lover commits the outrageous acts of love that are unique to him, unique to her. They are an expression, a function of his or her unique self.”

2. He still offers “private study” sessions

Gafni agreed in 2004 to no longer work with children, offer private counseling or be alone with women. But his website still promotes “private study” sessions.

“In private study Marc offers a deep lineage transmission together with a deeply personal supportive loving relationship that addresses ALL of YOU,” the website says.

3. Two of his friends compare the sexual assault accusations against him to anti-Semitism

Gafni first started his website in part to challenge the claims against him, and an entire section is devoted to defending his reputation. It is introduced with the phrase: “If you have heard of troubling stories on the internet about Marc Gafni, this page is for you.”

“The evidence makes it abundantly clear that the horrendous claims made about Marc on what can only be described as Internet vendetta or hate sites hidden beneath the fig leaf of victim advocacy, are without a shred of truth,” write fellow spiritual leaders Sally Kempton and Ken Wilber. “To even need say this is in some sense offensive. It is somewhat like a Jewish person needing to deny anti – Semitic claims on a neo Nazi site.”

4. He has written an entire book on tears

“Tears are the story of your life, the story of my life,” Gafni says . “Your life is the evolution of your tears. What would it mean to keep a tears journal, the times that you cried and begin to be able to hear the voice of your tears? We wrote an entire book on integral religion and your own path to waking up, growing up, showing up, which is the path of your tears.”

5. He believes that if you aren’t erotic, you might as well be dead

“Eroticism is not merely sex…To live erotically is to be on the inside…To experience the fullness of union with the higher reality, to have time stop still and enter in to that timeless time, and placeless place,” he says. “To feel the fullness of your creativity, your longing, awake in you. To be erotic is to be alive…You have two choices in the world: wake up erotically or die.”

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.