Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ah-ha! So it IS True?!

By now, we're all aware of the horrific molestation that went on/is going on in our community; in our Yeshivas and camps. I don't even have to name names. But for those living under a rock, I'll spare you the Lashon Hora. (And I ask of my readers please not to mention names, as there ARE some who don't know against whom the allegations are pending)

As these rumors surfaced, more and more people took a passionate position on it. Some argued for the "victims," while others completely denied the possibility,
"No, how could that be possible?! Why would a Rebbe molest a child?"
"He's a Rebbe, a frumme frumme yid would do such a thing..." (It's called reality-look into it)
"Wouldn't all the other kids know about it? Why is this coming as a surprise to everyone if it's been going on for so long?"

Others were open to the possibility, since it IS 2006, and many priests have been accused and, you know, Michael Jackson and all that...(I know, Lehavdil!!!!!!!!)
"Why would the guy say he was molested if he wasn't?"
"No matter how much the guy could hate this Rebbe, why of all things would he choose THIS?"
"There was an article in a credible magazine about this, they wouldn't publish lies..."
"Anything is possible nowadays..."
"My friend's brother once told me..."

I can go on and on, and argue points on either side. When it comes down to it, nobody really knows if it's true. Except for those claiming to be molested. Actually, after I mentioned it to a friend once, she told me about her brother coming home with a friend's horrific story from a different Yeshiva.

What I don't understand is why haven't parents pulled out their children? And when my little brother asked his friend in this Yeshiva, he had no clue what he was talking about.
Whenever we drive past the building, my older brother jokes, "Next year---Condos!"

I don't think that place will close down anytime soon. There are too many people with their heads buried in the sand that will keep their kids there. I don't know why. I guess it's like the denial most NYers have about the whole hurricane thing, we're like, "NY can't have hurricanes..." despite numerous reports. Hopefully we won't have any, but have you seen bottled water, flashlights, and canned goods flying off the shelves? NO.

So maybe these parents think, "it won't happen to my kid," or, "Not in this Yeshiva," or, "He won't try it again after all this..."

That's how taboo this thing is.

Why is this taboo?
a) Anything relating to homosexuality or sex is taboo in this culture (besides to the Jewish Press) because there are no gay Jews, according to these people who'd rather live in denial than face important issues.
b) We are led to believe that Rabbeim are perfect angels. In fact, did you know that their children are a result of immaculate conception?


At 6/29/2006 4:01 PM, Blogger Isaac Kaplan said...

Michelle: agree with you on this one. I have a couple of points to add:

1) The taboo comes from the Taliban-eqsue frum media like Yated and Hamodia, who control much of the information for the chareidi world. Those guys would NEVER cover a story like this. And then there all the people who get over-paranoid when it comes to loshon hora and the like.

Think about it. If not for the emergence of blogs and if not for UOJ, this issue might've stayed under the rug for years.

2) I think the taboo ties into Orthodox Judaism's obsession with reputation. In many segments of the frum community, image is everything. So nobody wanted to step forward for a long time. And nobody wants to have their kid be part of a school with such lurid accusations surrounding it.

In fact, many people defending this rabbi have said, "how can you destroy the reputations of his wife and kids?" It's amazing. To hell with the victims, these people say. Let's worry about the molester's reputation! Unbelievable.

At 6/29/2006 8:54 PM, Blogger Mata Hari said...

soooo - you call this blog your humble opinion? hmmm
how about - your outspoken opinion? your no holds barred opinion? your take no prisoners opinion? anyway...enough of that.
i have no idea why people would allow this to go on for so long when children were in danger. the topic/knowledge of child abuse has been out there in the media for quite a long time now, so no one should plead ignorance.

At 6/29/2006 10:10 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I agree my blog today talked about this in a bit of a different light. It is getting to be less of a taboo who knows what will be in 10 yrs maybe the yated would even broach the subject could u imagine lol.

At 6/30/2006 6:42 AM, Blogger Jewboy said...

Yor post and some comments echo what I said in my most recent post. The Orthodox world must stop making these issues taboo, or it will lead to more unfortunate situatiins like the current mess.

At 6/30/2006 12:20 PM, Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

I hope they somehow find a way to resolve this issue.

At 7/02/2006 7:36 AM, Blogger Orthoprax said...

"I hope they somehow find a way to resolve this issue."

Yeah, it's called putting sexual abusers in prison.

At 7/02/2006 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you're refering to the same rebbe & yeshiva that I know of, but if you are, my brother goes to that school. We don't know for sure whether those stories are true or not, but that rebbe is not in that school any more.

At 7/02/2006 10:51 AM, Anonymous My opinon never countes said...

Noone likes speaking about these topics for the same reason that when you are in college you didn't make a round table discussion, discussing all these "tabo" issues, and only waited to publish it on a blog.
Yes, all these topics must be discussed. Yes children and their parents must wake up... And smell the burning coffe.

That is where the internet comes in a bit handy, that with all the anoymous blogs people can publish their accusations about others.. The only question is, which ones are true..
But where there is smoke there is fire... Michelle, did anyone ever accuse you of mollesting a child?? I wonder why not?? Well I think its simple, if you didn't have a kid on you lap, and stayed away from such problems you would be ok.

About the hamodia and yated... So let's start a new paper... And ideas of a name to call it?? Howabout the JEWISH ENQUIRER??

At 7/02/2006 11:21 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Anon--yes, that IS the school I am referring to. But that is not the point. Yes, he was put on Admin. leave, but does that even help the situation?

It seems that this particular man hasn't done much molesting (or any?) within the last 20 years. So taking him out NOW, 20 years later, does it help? But then, should the kids worry?

At 7/02/2006 3:16 PM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

What I dont get is...
If there are allegations about a Rebbe....before you do remove him from his post...
Then you can start deliberating and examining if its true...But if theres a chance that its true...the kids have to be out of harms way..give him a job in the store room.

At 7/02/2006 5:41 PM, Blogger notahottie said...

yeah, this whole thing is crazy. i think people are not pulling their kids out for one or more of the following reasons (and i'm not saying i agree or disagree with any of the reasons, they're just what i've heard from numerous parents)
1. once he was publicly accused, there was no reason to worry, he'd have to be nuts to try anything
2. they don't have kids in his class.
3. they feel that once the school was exposed, they wouldn't dare try to get away with anything like that again.
4. there are people whose kids had him for a rebbe and they LOVE him and refuse to believe anything bad about him!
5. it seems that there isn't any school you can trust, any rebbe in any school can be doing the same thing, so what's the point of pulling a kid out and possible putting him in the same situation in another school.
that being said, i want to add that i know a guy who went to that school and he once told me that if it was the only jewish school in the world and he had to choose between that school and public school, he would send his kid to public school. there were a few other guys there when he said that and they all agreed-this was before any of this stuff happened! it seems to be a pretty corrupt place altogether. oyoyoy what can you do...we just have to daven that these sickos will stay away and our kids will be safe...

At 7/03/2006 8:04 AM, Blogger FRUM_RAID said...

Another great post! I really enjoy reading your stuff.

I will not make any accusations here because that is not what this blog is about. But,
When I heard about the allegations I decided to look into them for myself. It was not very hard to do. There are some people who have publicly made themselves available (first via blogs, then E-mail, then phone calls) to discuss the (verifiable) facts about this case. The facts horrified me! Everyone with a student in that school has an obligation to check into this issue.
It is a child safety issue and there is nothing more important than our children.
Nuff said.

At 7/06/2006 4:02 PM, Blogger JBL the first said...

I agree there are cases which should be dealt with seriously. But what we're forgetting is that all of these stories are exaggerated and out of proportion (there are definitely hundreds of lies too). There is no accountability in any blog as everything is anonymous. Why aren't there much more complaints filed by the police etc if it's really so bad and widespread? We are forgetting this problem is becoming a double sided sword and I'm afraid to think about the consequences for all of us.

Michelle I'm really ashamed of you for endorsing this UOJ blog. He is the worst of the worst. Maybe there is some truth in his cause. There is certainly no truth whatsoever and he can't mean a bit of leshem shmayim in smearing all the gedolim of this generation and the previous one. He is a real big big big apikorus and he will burn in gehinom forever (Mashectes Sanhedrin). Did you see what he dared to write (and publish) against the Chofetz Chaim R' Elchonon Wasserman, R' Shteinman, and the gerrer Rabbi etc etc . I'm still trembling after reading these posts and I don't know how badly this affected me. He is a real bum I don't know his agenda but he's out to burn him all his followers and all of us.

At 7/06/2006 4:43 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

JBL-I agree. I hope I didn't sound like I endorsed his blog. I purposely didn't mention the name, because I don't want to advertise his agenda. I don't agree with the horrific things he writes about our Gedolim, our leaders, the reason we are still around. However, the molestation thing, which I understand could be a gross exaggeration of "warmth", rubs me the wrong way. (NO PUN INTENDED!!) I believe it to be possible, and to whatever extent it is, must be stopped.

Have I clarified?

At 7/07/2006 3:05 AM, Blogger JBL the first said...

Michelle I saw this post long ago but didn't comment because there is truth and something has to be done fast we at least have to be aware of this. The reason I commented now was because I saw your comment on his blog only agreeing with him without criticizing him for the crazy things he writes.

At 7/07/2006 2:00 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Oh, understandable, JBL. You're right, but it's not worth starting up with the guy. But you're right.

At 7/08/2006 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the molestation issue is very upsetting, and one of the worst things about it that you forgot to mention was the tremendous chilul hashem that resulted from it. the media is eating this stuff up. what's the difference between a rabbi or a priest? were supposed to be better than that, and sometimes the yated or hamodia feel that we are, so they shove things under rugs. but the truth is the only way we can be better than that is to acknowledge theses problems and face them head on, hopefully attempting to solve them.

At 7/08/2006 8:15 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Anon--they haven't yet, but they will soon, as more and more Rabbeim and Rabbanim are accused of similar practices

At 7/17/2006 9:59 AM, Blogger Tuvya said...

I just discovered this blog, Michelle. Thank you very much, its one of the sane ones out there. Just wanted to let you know that I started a blog dedicated to discussing this UOJ issue.

All the best,


At 7/25/2006 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, michelle! love ur blog. It's emgee, btw. I totally agree w/ u on this, i hate the way the jewish community totally sweeps important issues under the rug like that! i miss u, have a good one. keep onblogging!

At 8/17/2006 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm not really aware of the case that is being dicussed here but I personally know of several cases of molestation that took place in the frum communtiy. Well, not really of molestation but of molesters who were dealt with. I know of a guy who was given a beating in shul for molesting a young girl in the hallway of his apt building. I know of 2 guys sitting in jail for molestation one of them being a teacher in a jewish school. And i know of a teacher who was given a different position in the school where he wouldn't have any more contact with the kids. I am referring to cases in different parts of the world over the past 15 years. Some made the news others didn't.
We have tens of thousands of children ka"h in our school systems and thousands od rebbes teaching them. Some of them are dangerous. Very few of them. They should be removed from their posts asap and dealt with in a way that is best for all parties involved.
But to start worrying about married rebbes the same christians have to worry about their single priests who were told to keep their hands of the nuns in their moastery is slightly overdoing it in my humble opinion

At 9/12/2006 9:21 PM, Blogger HilaHoney said...

It's a sad, sad, state of affairs. Not to criticize, but as someone who is an activist in this and other related areas, I have to clarify a something (and this could just be my misunderstanding)

You said in your post a) Anything relating to homosexuality or sex is taboo in this culture (besides to the Jewish Press) because there are no gay Jews, according to these people who'd rather live in denial than face important issues.

While I do not disagree with you about homosexuality being a taboo issue, I disagree with it's relevance here. You see, almost all (I'm talking like 95+ percent here) of child molesters/pedophiles/sex offenders (whatever you want to call them) identify themselves as heterosexual. So yes, homosexuality is taboo, but it is not relevant in this case, which is why it is possible that these stories/cases are true. Yes, priests in the Catholic church aren't married and there may be some that are gay, but the majority of them are straight and they are the ones doing the molesting. Just because a Rabbi is married and has children doesn't mean he can't be perverted and hurt children. Of course we do not want to think that all of them are that way, because certainly there are very few who are this way, but it does not mean that we can ignore the issue.

I think Isaac Kaplan also had a very good point about the Ortho world's obsession with reputation. While of course we would not want to damage the reputation of wives and children who are innocent and are probably in complete shock about the whole ordeal, we should not let that deter us from seeking out the truth. I think we must work hard to make sure that we portray each person as they truly are, for HaShem already knows what is in our hearts, so I don't think it is wrong to "tell it like it is" even if it might slightly tarnish someone's (or the community's) "reputation"

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At 6/26/2007 10:52 AM, Anonymous a senior said...

funny thing- you were sayin yay jewish press cuz it doesn't avoid certain 'taboo' topics and such, but as much as i'm for the dont censor our news stuff i still have to hide it from my younger brother every week! i mean after i read it its kinda shocking that my bro could get his hands on things he never knew before right from this jewish publication, eep


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