Area Orthodox and Modern Orthodox synagogues recently issued warnings to its members to be cautious of a man named Akiva Meir Hersh for allegedly engaging in inappropriate behavior with boys under the age of 13.
The announcement came after the Vaad HaRabbonim of Cleveland, the Orthodox rabbinical council, heard the man was trying to start a public venture that could give him access to children in the area, said Rabbi Binyamin Blau of Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood. Blau said the warning was read to his congregation as part of a request made from the rabbinical council.
Two separate reports were made to the Cleveland Heights Police Department regarding Hersh. One police report made in June described a day in May when neighborhood children were playing with Hersh’s children and Hersh took all the children to the park. There, Hersh allegedly spoke with one of the boys about a trip to Texas for just the two of them to visit the Alamo and other historic sites, according to a police report.
The other police report also made in June said Hersh allegedly gave a cell phone to a son of a family that knew him. However, no conversations were on the phone, according to the report.
Hersh, who lives in Cleveland Heights, previously advertised himself as the owner of Chai Life Coaching, a Torah-based coaching and counseling service. However, all websites and social media accounts connected to this business have been deactivated.
“It was a decision of the (rabbinic council) that everyone should discuss the topic,” Blau said. “There’s the concern for the safety of our congregants, in particular the children of the community, was paramount and it was dealt with very carefully.”