Petition calls on Whole Foods to cut all ties with Marc Gafni

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — An online petition calls on Whole Foods to cut financial and institutional ties with Marc Gafni, a former Orthodox rabbi and spiritual teacher who has been dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct.

Nearly 900 people had signed the petition as of Thursday morning on the website. Launched Tuesday, the petition urges signers to “Stop Marc Gafni from Abusing Again.”

The petition says it aims to “prevent future harm to those who may be exposed to him, and as a protest against any individuals, organizations, or institutions that support or endorse him as a teacher or leader.”

“Complicity in giving Gafni a platform is a violation of our tradition’s highest ethical and moral standards: ‘Justice, Justice shall you pursue’ and ‘Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,’” it says.

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The New York Times published a feature article on Gafni on Dec. 25 under the headline “A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed by a Troubled Past.”

The petition singles out Whole Foods, whose co-founder, John Mackey, is chairman of the executive board of Gafni’s Center for Integral Wisdom, a New Age think tank.

Gafni, who has ordination from the Orthodox and Renewal movements, long has been trailed by accusations, and he has acknowledged some inappropriate behavior, including sexual impropriety.

For a time seen as a charismatic Orthodox teacher of Torah in Jerusalem, Gafni eventually stopped identifying as Orthodox. The Renewal movement disowned Gafni after a public airing of his sexual and ethical breaches.

Several years after leaving Israel and dropping off the Jewish map, Gafni reemerged in Utah as a practitioner of a Kabbalah-inspired philosophy called evolutionary spirituality. More recently, Gafni, who has authored several books on spiritualism, moved to California and founded the Center for Integral Wisdom.