Sunday, August 15, 2010

A rabbi convicted of sexually abusing a teenage boy has his kosher meals picked up from a Queens store by an on-duty jail captain

Baruch Lebovits, a Satmar rabbi from Brooklyn, gets the special food brought straight to his Rikers Island cell, even though the jail already provides kosher dishes for its Jewish prisoners. Apparently, they aren't blessed enough for Lebovits, 59, who has been moaning for months that he couldn't eat the food because it hadn't had proper rabbinical supervision. Lebovits' adherence to holy law apparently didn't preclude repeatedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old classmate of his son, a heinous crime for which he was sentenced in March 2010 to up to 32 years in prison. The Brooklyn rabbi is on Rikers awaiting trial in another sex abuse case. Recently, a Rikers jail captain was ordered to pick up $60 worth of glatt kosher canned meals for the perverted rabbi, including Salisbury steak, stuffed shells, cheese ravioli and barbecued chicken wings from Alle Processing in Maspeth, Queens. The company offered to mail the food, but because of a delay, the captain went in person to pick up the package. Lebovits' special daily diet also includes dry cereal, a box of matzo, four ounces of kosher grape juice and fresh fruit and veggies - provided to him uncut, lest they were touched by a knife that cut non-kosher food. Paulette Johnson, the Correction Department's head of food services, approved the arrangement. Lebovits' own influential Satmar rabbi, Moshe David Neiderman, played a key role in convincing jail officials. "This is not a privilege or an accommodation - it's a right," said Neiderman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. "Any Jewish prisoner has the religious right to eat food that is appropriate according his religious traditions." Correction officials say they're just following the law. "Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. The Department provides glatt kosher meals consistent with its requirements," said spokesman Stephen Morello. This latest scandal comes a year after correction chaplain Rabbi Leib Glanz was exposed as wielding such power over the city detention center in lower Manhattan that he allowed a convict to hold his son's bar mitzvah there. Glanz and a department chief resigned in wake of the reports.

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