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Whole Foods CEO John Mackey Leaves Marc Gafni’s Think Tank

Disgraced spiritual guru Marc Gafni has suffered another black eye as Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey has left the board of his vaunted think tank, The Forward has learned.

The Center for Integral Wisdom, writing about its annual conclave, noted that Mackey had left as chairman of the board. A spokesman for Gafni said that Mackey had also left the board, “as all previous board chair members do.” He added that, “There was no break between Mackey and Gafni.”

Mackey, for his part, has so far issued no statement on his reason for stepping down from the Center for Integral Wisdom, but his departure comes as Gafni continues to be dogged by allegations of sexual improprieties stretching back years.

The Forward in January published an essay by Sara Kabakov, who alleged that Gafni molested her repeatedly, beginning when she was 13.

Gafni, who is now in his mid-50s, was 19 when the alleged abuse started, Kabakov said. The once-promising Jewish leader said the relationship with her was consensual.

Gafni. Image by Facebook

Pressure mounted on Mackey and his Conscious Capitalism for the Whole Foods boss to abandon CIW as the firestorm erupted.

Rabbi David Ingber, an influential Renewal rabbi in New York who once studied with Gafni but has long since severed ties, organized a petition of denouncement, which included he names of around 100 other Jewish leaders.

Nancy Levine, a Gafni critic near his Bay Area base in California, called on Mackey to denounce Gafni and break his silence in a note to The Forward.

“Exposure and speaking up are the remedies for changing the culture,” she wrote.


For the sake of the truth. For the sake of those whose voices have been silenced for too long. For the sake of those who have been needlessly hurt. For the sake of those who may be… if we don’t act now.

We, the undersigned, have been made aware of the many, repeated and serious allegations, both public and private, former and recent, against Marc (Mordechai) Gafni that violate the ethical standards and sacred responsibility which governs the relationship between religious teacher and student. The Jewish tradition teaches us that the pursuit of justice obligates us to not stand idly by when a fellow human being is in danger, whether that danger be physical, spiritual or psychological. We do not constitute a panel of judges nor do we seek retribution.

As a group of religious and communal leaders, we are motivated by the obligation embedded in the belief that whoever saves a single life, it is as if they have saved a whole world. Marc Gafni has left a trail of pain, suffering, and trauma amongst the people and congregations who were unfortunate to have trusted him. He has abused his extraordinary intellectual gifts and charisma to harm many who came to him in search of spiritual guidance and teaching. He has used professional alliances to legitimize himself by association, and thereby be able to continue creating more harm. As a result Marc Gafni is neither trusted, respected, nor welcome to teach virtually anywhere in Judaism. In community after community, those who have trusted him have had their trust betrayed. Some of those who sign here were severely mislead and even once defenders of Gafni’s integrity only to see that we too had been deceived. For decades now, Gafni has behaved in ways that violate every ethical and legal standard known to us; his misdeeds go far beyond what was reported in the New York Times.

Recognizing we are part of one humanity who must protect one another, we share this statement in order to prevent future harm to those who may be exposed to him, and as a protest against any individuals, organizations, or institutions that support or endorse him as a teacher or leader. Complicity in giving Gafni a platform is a violation of our tradition’s highest ethical and moral standards: “Justice, Justice shall you pursue” and “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.”

We, along with all who sign this petition, stand together with those who were his victims and call upon those who support Marc (Mordechai) Gafni to cut all financial and institutional ties with him. Today, we stand together in saying ‘Enough! No More’ to the trail of pain and poison of one who teaches spirituality but acts with absolute disregard for those teachings.

Signed in solidarity,

Rabbi Aaron Alexander

Rabbi Rachel Barenblatt

Rabbi Mordechai Bar-On

Rabbi Samuel Barth

Adam Berman, Executive Director of Urban Adamah

Rabbi Phyllis Berman

Rabbi Saul J. Berman

Susan Berrin, editor-in-chief, Sh’ma

Rabbi Noah Benjamin Bickart

Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton

Esther Sadie Brandon

Rabbi Gil Brociner

Rabbi Sharon Brous

Rabbi Meredith Cahn

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

David Curiel

Rabbi Tova Dodi

Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein

Rabbi Ohad Ezrachi

Rabbi Josh Feigelson

Shir Yaakov Feit

Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer

Rabbi Tirzah Firestone

Rabbi Donna Friedman

Rabbi Pamela Frydman

Rabbi Ruth Gan-Kagan

Rabbi Jonah Geffen

Rabbi Jordie Gerson

Rabbi Dr. Laura Gold

Rabbi Shefa Gold

Rabbi Dan Goldblatt

Rabbi Yosef Goldman

Rabbi Owen Gottlieb

Rabbi Ben Goldstein

Rabbi Sam Gordon

Rabbi Victor Gross

Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman

Steven Hassan

Rabbi Joel Hecker

Rabbi Shai Held

Rabbi Jacob Herber

Rabbi Jason Herman

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann

Rabbi David Hoffman

Rabbi T’mimah Audrey Ickovits

Eve Ilsen

Rabbi David A. Ingber

Rabbi Shaya Isenberg

Stephanie Ives

Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Michael Kagan

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

Rabbi David Kalb

Reb Zusha Kalet

Rabbi Min Kantrowitz

Rabbi Sam Kaste

lRabbi Sharon Kleinbaum

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

Rabbi Deb Kolodny

Rabbi Claudia Kreiman

Lorelai Kude

Dr.Yehuda Kurtzer

Rabbi Daniel Landes

Rabbi Michael Adam Latz

Amichai Lau-Lavie

Rabbi Ebn Leader

Rabbi Mordechai Leibling

Naomi Less

Rabbi Martin Levson

Rabbi Rebecca Lillian

Rabbi Dov Linzer

Rabbi Dr. Shaul Magid

Kay Magilavy, Treasurer, Afikei Ruah (Formerly American Friends of Bayit Chadash)

Rabbi Paula Marcus

Rabbi Jeffrey Marker

Rabbi David Markus

Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer

Rabbi Dr. Jay Michaelson

Rabbi Diana Miller

Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Leana Moritt

Jacob Ner-David

Rabbi Jen Newmark

Rabbi Mark Novak

Rabbi Yael Ridberg

Rhonda Rosenheck

Rabbi Michael Ross

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

Nigel Savage, CEO of Hazon

Basya Schechter

Shoshana Schechter-Shaffin, Executive Director of ALEPH

Rabbi Dale Schreiber

Rabbi Dr Elyse Seidner-Joseph

Rabbi Rhonda Shapiro-Rieser

Rabbi Andy Shugerman

Rabbi Karen Silberman

Rabbi Brent Spodek

Meira Bracha Michele Stahl Sumka

Rabbi Adam Starr

Bahira Sugarman

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

Rabbi Moshe Waldoks

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Rabbi Seth Wax

Rabbi Debi Wechsler

Rabbi Melissa Starr Wenig

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi David Zaslow

Rabbi Ziona Zelazo

Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman

Rabbi Mishael Zion

Noam Zion

Rabbanit Devorah Zlochower


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