Marc Gafni, the controversial rabbi and teacher who was accused over the years of sexual misconduct here and in Israel, is facing new allegations of sexual improprieties by associates in the U.S. spiritual renewal world where he sought refuge five years ago.
Tami Simons of Boulder, Colo., whose company, Sounds True, promotes spiritual wisdom, wrote that she learned recently of “new and incontrovertible information” that made her aware Gafni, an associate, was “involved in a sexual relationship with a student and that the relationship was shrouded in secrecy.” Simons added that she learned this from another woman with whom, Simons said, he was having a secret, sexual relationship.
Simons said that she had been working with Gafni, 50, for the last several years and had been convinced by him that past accusations against him of sexual misconduct were false. But she wrote that her company no longer plans to publish Gafni’s latest book, “Your Unique Self,” and she will no longer “support him as a spiritual teacher in the world.
“I do not trust Marc Gafni,” she wrote. “I do not trust what he says, and I do not trust that he acts in the best interests of his students or his professional alliances.”
Her statement, and a report on the latest controversy, came from a blog by William Harryman, a self-described freelance writer, personal trainer and transformation coach.
On Tuesday, Robb Smith, CEO of Integral Life, which promotes spiritual wisdom and was in partnership with Gafni, wrote on his blog that his group had disassociated itself from the former Orthodox rabbi, removed Gafni’s contributor pages on the Integral Life website, and asked that a formal ethics policy be established for all contributors to the site.
In 2006, Gafni abruptly left his position at Bayit Chadash, a New Age Jewish spiritual movement in Israel, and came to the U.S. after three women in Israel accused him of sexual harassment. He later expressed regret, but has maintained that the allegations were false.
The Jewish Week brought earlier complaints to light seven years ago, when Gafni (who no longer identifies himself as a rabbi) was a popular, charismatic figure in the Jewish Renewal movement, both here and in Israel. At the time the charges from women over a 20-year period, and counter-charges from Gafni, focused on their saying he took advantage of them as a teacher and spiritual guide, while Gafni insisted he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by a small group of women and a few Orthodox rabbis jealous of his success.