Kulanu Repudiates Jorge Yoram Torres (aka Jorge Puello or Jorge Torres Orellana)
Kulanu very much regrets our association with the individual known as Jorge Yoram Torres, Jorge Torres Orellana, and Jorge Puello. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprehensible criminal activities that have been described in the press, and sincerely wish to apologize for any incorrect assessments of his motives and actions that Kulanu may have communicated.
In 2006, Kulanu was contacted by a man known as Jorge Yoram Torres. He advised us of a group in the Dominican Republic, the “Comunidad Judia Sefardita,” who wanted to reconnect with their Jewish roots. After correspondence that indicated great effort on his part to energize a newly emerging Latin American community, Kulanu gave $4,400 dollars to help unleash the potential of this community, including money for a Chanukah celebration in Santo Domingo featuring construction of a huge menorah in a public square.
In 2008, Kulanu received emails telling us of a similar proto-Jewish community in El Salvador. These came from a person alternately calling himself Nathaniel ben Yossef and Jorge Torres Orellana. Disarmed by the apparent sincerity of these messages, we encouraged a young rabbi, an associate of Kulanu, to visit the community and assess the situation. Much to our dismay, he told us that Nathaniel and Jorge were none other than Yoram Torres of the Dominican Republic. At that point we cut off all connection to Mr. Torres and completely disassociated ourselves from him.
When we learned in 2009 of the accusations against Jorge/Yoram/Nathaniel and his wife for heinous crimes, we removed any references to the communities in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador from our website and online copies of our newsletter. Perhaps we should have issued a direct condemnation, but we lacked any first-hand evidence of his crimes. We stayed silent partly out of an ethical concern for not defaming someone without full facts. We regret this in light of what we have learned in the past week. We disavow in the strongest terms any endorsement of Mr. Torres based on our past association with him.
Harriet Bograd, President