Marc Gafni

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Marc Gafni
MarcGafni.jpg
Marc Gafni in Rome
Born Marc Winiarz
1960 (age 56–57)
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Other names Mordechai Gafni, Mark Gafni, Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Winyarz
Education Oxford University
Website http://www.marcgafni.com/

Marc Gafni (born Marc Winiarz) is an American author, spiritual teacher, and New Age guru.[1][2][3][4] A former Modern Orthodox rabbi,[1] Gafni now self-identifies as a practitioner of world spirituality based on integral principles.[5] Accused of sexual assault by multiple women, Gafni has acknowledged a nine-month relationship with a 14-year-old girl when he was 19;[1][6][7] he denies the relationship was abusive, describing it as consensual "teenage necking".[8][9][10]

Biography[edit]

Gafni was born in 1960[6] to Holocaust survivors in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.[3] Gafni was educated at Modern-Orthodox yeshivas in the New York City area. In the 1980s, while attending Yeshiva University,[3] Gafni worked with Jewish Public School Youth, an organization providing Jewish social clubs in public schools.[11] In 1988, Gafni also worked as a rabbi in Boca Raton, Florida.[1] After making aliyah, Gafni served as rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Tzofim.[12] When Gafni moved to Israel he hebraicized his name. "Winiarz," Polish for "vintner," is related to the Hebrew word gefen (גפן‎), which means "grape"—thus the name "Gafni." Gafni has three children from previous marriages[3] and one child with Mariana Caplan.[13][14]

Education[edit]

Gafni majored in philosophy as an undergraduate and earned his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University.[3][15] He claims to hold rabbinic certification from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel,[5] but Gafni has since returned his semikhah to "spare his former teacher any further embarrassment".[1]

Teachings and prominent works[edit]

Gafni’s teachings are often described as integral or world spirituality, incorporating traditional religious studies to contemporary themes, and are aimed at spirituality for people who do not identify with one specific religion.[3][16] Gafni describes himself and his students as “dual citizens” of both their native traditional religion and the broader themes of "world spirituality".[3][17] He advocates a new set of teachings around eros, sexuality and relationships in his book Mystery of Love and CD set Erotic and the Holy.[18][19] At the core of his world spirituality message is what Gafni refers to as the unique self, "a series of integral discernments between separateness and uniqueness, ego and Unique Self, and personal and impersonal man."[20] Gafni believes that "the sexual is the ultimate Spiritual Master" and has written "I was convinced from an early age that religion had lost what I believed must have been its original erotic vitality…I knew that the sexual, if liberated and ethically expressed, must somehow hold the mystery of return to the much larger-than-sexual Eros."[4]

In 2010, Gafni, together with Mariana Caplan—the mother of his son Zion,[13] Sally Kempton, and Lori Galperin, founded the Center for World Spirituality.[21] That year, Gafni and Ken Wilber founded a Wisdom Council to envision a world spirituality based on Integral Principles.[22] The Wisdom Council is part of the Center for World Spirituality and includes members such as Gafni, Wilber, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Warren Farrell, Lori Galperin, Sally Kempton and other leaders.[23] The co-chair of Center for World Spirituality is Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.[24]

Gafni was a Scholar in Residence at the Integral Institute, and the Director of the Integral Spiritual Experience, but left after the 2011 allegations of his sexual impropriety.[25]

Writing[edit]

Gafni is the author of eight books on spirituality and religion, including the 2001 Soul Prints.[2] Soul Prints included an introduction by Israeli poet Admiel Kosman and won the Napra Award for best Spirituality Book of 2001.[citation needed] Marc Gafni's second English-language book, The Mystery of Love, was later converted to an audio lecture series called The Erotic and the Holy, published by Sounds True. He also co-authored Who is Afraid of Lilith? Rereading the Kabbalah of the Feminine Shadow with Ohad Ezrachi.[26] He wrote Radical Kabbalah, a two-volume work published by Integral Publishers in 2012.[27] In 2012, he published Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment with a foreword written by Wilber.[28] It won the 2012 USA Book News Best Book of the Year award in the Spirituality: General category.[29]

Television and speaking[edit]

While in Israel, Gafni hosted Tahat Gafno (Hebrew: תחת גפנו‎, lit. 'under his vine'‎), a television program broadcast on Israel's Channel 2.[3] Gafni also did a series of weekly television spots with Israeli comedian Gil Kopatch on biblical wisdom for every day life.[30] Gafni appeared in a series of spiritual public service announcements on Israeli television in the wake of several terrorist attacks.[31]

In 2005, Gafni spoke with the Dalai Lama about the perception of love.[30] In 2010 Gafni did a series with Chopra entitled Love and Evolution.[32] In 2013, Gafni and Eben Pagan founded an event called "Actualize: The Source Code of Success".[33]

Sexual assault allegations[edit]

Gafni has been accused of sexual assault multiple times dating back to the 1980s when he lived in the United States.[1][6][11][25] In 2006, after he moved to Israel, Gafni was accused by three women who attended the Bayit Hadash (Hebrew: בית חדש‎, lit. 'new home'‎) spiritual center in Jaffa, which Gafni opened in the late 1990s. Gafni acknowledged relationships with some of the women.[11] However, he characterized the relationships as consensual and supported his claim by posting polygraph results on his website, one of which related to questions about Bayit Hadash.[34][35] Because of the allegations, and because Gafni fled the country to avoid prosecution,[12][16] he was dismissed from Bayit Hadash,[36] which closed within days.[37] Back in the United States, Gafni sent a remorseful letter to his congregation saying he regretted his actions.[36][38] Gafni later claimed the letter was not an admission of guilt but an attempt to cool the controversy.[39]

Gafni was the subject of new allegations of sexual misconduct in 2011.[25] As a result, Integral Life, one of Gafni's promoters, deleted his contributions from its website and announced that it was distancing itself from him.[25] Tami Simon, CEO of Sounds True, canceled her planned publication of Gafni's book, Your Unique Self, and issued a statement denouncing him.[40] The board of directors of the Center for World Spirituality, an organization co-founded by Gafni and of which he is CEO, issued a statement of "unequivocal support" for Gafni.[41] Wilber first separated from Gafni,[42] but the two eventually reconciled and Wilber rejoined Gafni at the Center for World Spirituality.[43] Your Unique Self was ultimately published by Integral Publishers.[44]

In January 2016, an unnamed woman who wrote that she was married to Gafni from 1999 to 2004 published an opinion piece in The Times of Israel in response to a New York Times article about Gafni the preceding week.[6] She catalogued what she described as her "story of abuse" and wrote that she had gone public to "Protect some girl. Protect some woman. Some student. Some unsuspecting soul."[45] Within two weeks, Sara Kabakov revealed in The Forward that she was the formerly unnamed teenage girl who had been abused by Gafni in the early 1980s, beginning when she was thirteen years old.[46] Gafni commented, "she was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her."[7] In a subsequent article, The Forward published Gafni's response together with the analysis of sexual abuse experts.[8] Gafni included polygraph results to support his claim that his relationship with Kabakov was consensual.[35][47] Afterwards, Kabakov responded to Gafni's comments and reiterated her claim that the relationship was not consensual.[48] In February 2017, the National Coalition for Men published an article by Gafni in which he defended himself, calling the allegations "a long-standing smear campaign".[49] The following month, he published another rebuttal on Medium.com.[50]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Rosenblatt, Gary (September 24, 2004). "The Re-Invented Rabbi". Between the Lines. The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on September 30, 2004. Retrieved January 11, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Bell, Jeff; Greta Belanger deJong (July 2008). "Trial by Internet: An archetypal spiritual drama". Catalyst Magazine. Salt Lake City, Utah: Catalyst Magazine. 27 (7): 20–25. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 5, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Livneh, Neri (March 4, 2004), "Post-Orthodoxy Journey", Haaretz 
  4. ^ a b Kestenbaum, Sam (August 2, 2016). "Former Rabbi, Accused Molester Marc Gafni Teaching at Tantric Sex School". The Forward. New York. Retrieved April 20, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Dr. Marc Gafni’s Biography". Marc Gafni. 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d Oppenheimer, Marc (December 25, 2015). "A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed by a Troubled Past". The New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Friedman, Gabe (December 29, 2015). "4 quotes by ex-Orthodox rabbi Marc Gafni not in The NY Times article". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved January 3, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Gafni, Marc (November 3, 2016). "Marc Gafni Tells His Story — and Experts Respond". The Forward. New York. Retrieved December 15, 2016. 
  9. ^ McShane, Larry (January 2, 2016). "New Age guru Marc Gafni allegedly molested two NYC teen girls during the 1980s, denies sexual misconduct allegations". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  10. ^ Ledger, Online (November 9, 2016). "Marc Gafni: I never molested 13-year-old girl". Jewish Ledger. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b c Montefinise, Angela (May 21, 2006). "Fiend Rabbi On Run". New York Post. p. 25. Archived from the original on 2006-06-14. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Raved, Ahiya; Cohen, Avi (May 18, 2006). "Rabbi Gafni accused of sexual assault". News. Ynetnews. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "About the Founders". Center for Integral Wisdom. 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Marc Gafni, D.Phil.". Executive Officers. Center for World Spirituality. 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ Matousek, Mark (September 8, 2015). "Evolutionary Love: An Interview With Dr. Marc Gafni". Psychology Today. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b Ganihar, Tomer (June 7, 2011). "Death of the spirit". Haaretz. 
  17. ^ "A Passport for Dual Citizenship with Michael Murphy & Marc Gafni". Center for World Spirituality. August 8, 2011. 
  18. ^ Wall, Alexandra (May 9, 2003). "Let love, sex and holiness make your life full, says rabbi". J Weekly. 
  19. ^ Rosenblum, Jonathan (July 13, 2006). "Think Again: 'Sexualizing' the public square". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved December 28, 2016.  See also Gafni, The Erotic And The Holy: Kabbalistic Tantra for Everyday Living
  20. ^ Gafni, Marc (2011). "The Evolutionary Emergent of Unique Self (Abstract)". Unique Self. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Founders". Center for Integral Wisdom. 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  22. ^ Caplan, Mariana (2011). "Los Angeles Makes Movies. San Fransisco Makes Movements.". Common Ground Magazine. No. December 2010/January 2011. Mill Valley, California: Rob Sidon. pp. 64–65. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Wisdom Council". iEvolve. 
  24. ^ "What is a purpose-driven business?: John Mackey and Marc Gafni in Dialogue, Part 2". iEvolve. October 19, 2012. 
  25. ^ a b c d Rosenblatt, Gary (September 13, 2011). "New Sexual Complaints Against Marc Gafni". The Jewish Week. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  26. ^ "When the Rabbi Met Lilith.". The Free Library. PR Newswire. July 11, 2005. Retrieved December 21, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Integral Publishers". 
  28. ^ "Take a Look at the Table of Contents". Unique Self. Center for Integral Wisdom. 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  29. ^ "2012 Reseults" (PDF). USA Book News. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  30. ^ a b Kopatch, Gil (June 2, 2005). "Why Am I Not a Buddhist?". Haaretz. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  31. ^ "These four videos (in Hebrew with English subtitles) are part of a series of seven spots made for Israel’s leading television station in the middle of a wave of terrorist bombings." MarcGafni.com Retrieved March 2013
  32. ^ Gafni, Marc (May 13, 2010). "Join Deepak Chopra and Dr. Marc Gafni on the Future of Love". Marc Gafni. 
  33. ^ "Actualize: The Source Code of Success". iEvolve. 
  34. ^ Barland, Gordon H. (October 30, 2007). "Report of Polygraph Examination: Marc Gafni" (PDF). MarcGafni.com. Retrieved December 28, 2016. In my opinion Mr. Gafni answered the relevant questions truthfully. This opinion is tempered by the fact that I had no access to the original complaints. 
  35. ^ a b "Report of Polygraph Results October 2007". 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  36. ^ a b Singer-Heruti, Roni (May 19, 2006). "New-age Rabbi Mordechi Gafni accused of sex crimes". Haaretz. Retrieved March 20, 2013. 
  37. ^ Ner-David, Jacob (December 1, 2006). "Genug: Time for a Change". Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility. Boston: Sh'ma Institute. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  38. ^ Siegal, Jennifer (May 19, 2006). "Rabbi Fired Over Sex Claims, Defenders Offer Mea Culpa". The Forward. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  39. ^ Gafni, Marc (May 27, 2008). "Why I Signed the Letter". Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  40. ^ Rosenblatt, Gary (September 14, 2011). "Marc Gafni, Again". The Jewish Week. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  41. ^ "A CWS Board Statement of Unequivocal Support for Dr. Marc Gafni". ievolve.org. Center for Integral Wisdom. September 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  42. ^ Wilber, Ken (October 17, 2011). "Ken Wilber's Response to the Marc Gafni Debacle". Ken Wilber. 
  43. ^ Wilber, Ken (December 27, 2011). "Ken Wilber Statement on Marc Gafni and the Center for World Spirituality". Ken Wilber. 
  44. ^ "Your Unique Self". Integral Publishers. 
  45. ^ "A voice for Gafni’s victims, from one who was there". The Times of Israel. January 1, 2016. Retrieved January 3, 2016. 
  46. ^ Kabakov, Sara (January 12, 2016). "‘I Was 13 When Marc Gafni’s Abuse Began’". The Forward. New York City. Retrieved December 21, 2016. 
  47. ^ Barland, Gordon H. (December 14, 2007). "Report of Polygraph Examination: Marc Gafni" (PDF). MarcGafni.com. Retrieved December 28, 2016. …this was a poor issue for the polygraph. The polygraph is believed to be most accurate when a person denies committing a specific physical act.…It would be more appropriate to examine Sarah as to whether she had written a letter, than him as to whether he had read it. More importantly, testing on the contents of a letter received nearly 30 years ago is inappropriate because memory is easily modified over time – often significantly – based on additional knowledge and experience.…We agreed that if he wished to be tested on this issue, I would have to include a caveat to the effect that because of the complexity of the issue, one could not have as much confidence in the results.…Conclusion It is my professional opinion that Mr. Gafni answered the relevant questions truthfully. Because of the nearly three decades that have elapsed since Ms. Kabakow’s letter would have been received, confidence in this conclusion is necessarily somewhat less than would otherwise be the case. 
  48. ^ Kabakov, Sara (November 14, 2016). "Marc Gafni Told His Side of the Story. Now His Accuser Responds.". The Forward. New York City. Retrieved April 20, 2017. 
  49. ^ Gafni, Marc (February 10, 2017). "NCFM Member Marc Gafni, Fake Facts: Unchecked Falsehoods that Destroy Lives". National Coalition for Men. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  50. ^ Gafni, Marc (March 9, 2017). "The Missing Facts, Motives, and Hidden Malice in My Ex-Wife’s Articles about Me, Marc Gafni". Medium.com. Retrieved March 26, 2017.