Rabbi Pinchas Landis is out of what he termed as “Facebook jail.”
With help from U.S. senators, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, Landis was able to have his account at Facebook fully restored – without restrictions.
On Jan. 29, the education director of Partners in Torah was notified that his post of “Today in Jewish History” was removed from public view because it did not follow Facebook’s community standards. He was later notified that his account was restricted.
Landis appealed twice and lost both appeals.
The post that triggered the restrictions included a photograph of Adolf Hitler shaking hands with Paul von Hindenburg and described Hitler as “the most ruthless dictator in recent history.”
Landis received a text from Lee C. Shapiro, regional director of AJC Cleveland, that the matter had reached the executives at Facebook.
On June 1, Shapiro contacted Landis to let him know that Facebook had reversed its decision.
“And she also said they’re supposed to reach out to me,” Landis said. “They have still yet to reach out to me. I didn’t get any, like, apology or explanation or even notice that it had been ended.”
Landis uses Facebook to advertise events held by Partners in Torah, which offers Jewish education to adults on multiple platforms, including both virtual and physical settings. It’s signature monthly event, the Schmorg, takes place at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s headquarters and includes a buffet and dessert, sandwiched around a choice of three lectures. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all of Partners in Torah’s programming has moved to online platforms.
“I understand that it was somewhat policy, somewhat algorithmic, whatever, but I just hope that as people continue to use these platforms to teach that people aren’t restricted for no apparent reason,” Landis said.