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Monday, May 15, 2006

A Red Alert for the Jewish Community

I want to thank Ez of the Ser and Ex blog for bringing this extremely vital issue to the attention of the blog world. The profound problems developing within the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish world are increasing and ever-more extremely troubling. From the Haredi community in Jerusalem protecting and defending a baby killer and just chalking up the charges as a mere government conspiracy against their community to riots in Brooklyn to the ever increasing instances of unreported domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, and chile mollestation. I strongly recommend to all of you that you read this article, which details the cover-up of child mollestation charges against prominent Rabbis in the Brooklyn Ultra-Orthodox community of Flatbush. This further move into the catholicization of Judaism is sickening and must be exposed. Now, there might be some that may be asking why I, a Jew, would choose to "air our loundry" in public, because I know that many non-Jews read my blog. My answer is the following letter I wrote. This is an editorial letter that was written to a newspaper, applauding their efforts to expose a cover-up of charges of mollestation, which occurred in an Israeli school, Derech Etz Chaim, by Rav Matis Weinberg. This case occurred back in 2003, but I feel that my comments are still extremely relevent, and will give all of you a clear understand of how I feel about this topic.
To the Editors:

I am writing in response to the letters that were printed as retort to your
Derech Etz Chaim article. I am not giving my opinion on the article itself. Whether the offender is guilty or not, I commend the fact that you had the courage to print the article in the face of such opposition. It's such a distressing fact when the Jewish community feels that they have to "cover up" scandals of such magnitude in order to "save face". Are we that scared of what other people think that we're willing to sacrifice the emotional and, perhaps, physical well being of our fellow man, woman, and child? We speak of the atrocities that the Catholic Church and its hierarchy did in order to cover up its atrocious scandals, which emotionally scarred hundreds of people and perhaps turned them away from religion. One of the main differences I've learned between Jews and other religions, such as Catholicism and Christianity, is that adherents of the others feel that their religious leaders are God-like. They're infallible, above reproach, and holier than other mere mortals to the point where they claim that they do not have the same weaknesses and desires. I was taught that Judaism holds the opposite view. Rabbis are not celibate. They can't join monasteries. They live in the real world with the rest of us. They're still human beings just like you or I. However, they are experts in the field of paskining Torah and its encompassing halachot. Just because someone has the title of rabbi or talmid chacham attached to his name doesn't mean that he's somehow transformed into one who can't succumb to human weaknesses. Yes, he has the responsibility to be a role model, guide, and teacher for the Jewish community in this time of galut. Yet, it is the Jewish community's duty as a nation to protect each other and force our leaders to be accountable for their actions and ensure that it doesn't happen again in the future. Kol yisrael arevim zeh lazeh. We are responsible for each other. What happens to one Jew happens to all Jews. When one Jew suffers, we all suffer. Is a Rabbi's name more important to us than a victim's soul? How many Jewish spirits are we willing to sacrifice to make sure dirty secrets and skeletons remain hidden and locked in a closet? I wonder how many people have turned away from Judaism because the rest of the Jewish world and its leaders were silent to their suffering. I hear time and time again, "it can't happen here", or "we're Jews, we don't do that". Just because we're Jews doesn't mean that we live in some protective bubble that makes us immune to such horrors as domestic violence, molestation, child abuse, etc. Those that believe this are going to have their bubble popped sooner or later. Right here, right now, we can stop the bleeding. We have to see this as a wake up call. I put it to the entire Jewish community to take a stand to ensure that our children and future generations will be protected from those that wish to hurt them. I ask again, how many Jewish lives have to be lost before we will do some thing? If we say nothing and turn the other way, we're just as guilty as those that committed the crime.

If this letter leads to any or all of you discover my identity, I don't care. This issue is more important than some person finding out my real name. This kind of abuse, and by abuse, I mean that of the leaders of the community over the people sickens me. How are are we supposed to be a light unto the nations if we can't even be a light unto ourselves?


At 12:14 AM, Blogger amechad said...

Incidently, unfortunately, you are leaving out the non-Orthodox community (and particularly the Renewal community) with recent charges being filed against Mordechai Gafni, who has been known to be an abuser for years and yet has been supported by prominent rabbis (both Orthodox and renewal) and other community leaders and also authors a d'var Torah for Yediot Aharonot. See Jewschool for more -- www.jewschool.com

At 1:32 AM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

No, I was purposely leaving out the non-Orthodox community because it is specifically the Orthodox and especially the Ultra-Orthodox who have blinders on and refuse to acknowledge that such a problem exists in their midst. They refuse to turn to the "outside" world to help, and see that their very processes of their uper-Mehadrin philosophy, whereby not having sex before marriage has turned into you can't even walk on the same side-walk as a member of the opposite sex has turned a once proud community into one extremely vulnerable to deviation and the worst ills society has to offer. That is why I chose to focus on the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox community.

At 5:05 AM, Blogger shlemazl said...

It's hard to fight this from the outside - ultras just get overprotective, but it's still a good post.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Just trying to get the word out, ya know?

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Important post!

Kol Hakavod.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Thank you.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger YMedad said...

As a call seems to have gone out for extradition (see my post below), and since niddui is a Jewish social punishment instrument, well, the Jewish community now has challenge how to deal with Gafni:


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