Everyone involved in these sorrowful and sordid abuse laden situations that have recently burst into the media are—according to the law— innocent until proven otherwise. And some are even innocent beyond the demonstration of any kind of adjudicated process that demonstrates any conclusion to the contrary.
This is not about Nechemya Weberman or Rabbi’s George Finkelstein and Macy Gordon. Regardless of the accuracy of the reportage of the events widely reported only one thing is conclusively certain—that they are tragic and pitiful for the victims whose lives were wrecked as well as for the families of those who acted so perversely and with wanton disregard or in consideration of others.
The question in these situations for the purposes of this essay is to wonder why the actions of just a few individuals is used—and so effectively—to cast aspersions on entire communities, institutions and ways of life?
Last week the entire concept and image of certain Orthodox Jewish ways of life in rather different and divergent communities was quickly subjected to examination and analysis and brought into question. For many of us we realize that in these situations just because a few people in positions of authority may have overstepped their bounds and even acted with cruel disregard and in contravention to the law does not mean that the institutions they worked for or the communities they hail from are or were supportive of their awfully stupid and damaging indiscretions.
But there it was in a host of Anglo-Jewish newspapers, websites and on the news pages of publications like the New York Times, The Post and the Daily News. The thrust of the reporting was not that these were the possible actions of a few men who are also identified with certain communities, but rather that those communities and even their leaders may in some way may been have complicit in their dastardly acts.
The news could not resist, not on TV on the radio or in print. There were the religious looking men, some Rabbis of note being accused of indulging very unrabbinical types of activities. The press seemed determined to paint or at least suggest that there was something bad and devious about entire communities because to some extent and in some way they or we tolerated or didn’t respond with appropriate dispatch and effectiveness when we may have been aware of the existence of these repugnant activities.
Now, Torah is strong and tough but it is also sensitive and vulnerable as well as frequently the subject and target of all kinds of attacks. An overwhelming number of our co-religionists today question its veracity and relevance. A small minority of our people around the globe is committed to and recognizes its Divine holiness and despite its age, its timeliness and involvement in everything we do and even think today.