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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. 

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10 thoughts on “CASTING ASPERSIONS By Larry Gordon

  • December 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

    larry–good point on the media painting the entire community with one broad stroke. however, you simply cannot ignore the communal support weberman enjoyed which included a fundraiser. to say that these were the actions of a few men may be true but disingenuous when coupled with almost unanimous communal support (including many prominent rabbis/leaders) for the perpetrator, and near unanimous scorn for the victim.

  • December 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Larry,finally someone making sense.
    Satmar must hire a PR firm explaining themselves letting the secular world know the real truth.
    If you read the press and follow reports you get a picture of Satmar as an American version of the Taliban’s with so called modesty squads who force people to do what they say.They must explain what and why the fundraiser.Explaining how hypocritical people are when it comes to hasidic jews why the catholic schools can have dress codes and when a girl in Satmar school doesn’t wear the tights they request its weird.Explaining there are disgruntled people which Nuchem Rosenberg is in the lead who made it as a mission to defame jews supposedly wrapping themselves as they are protecting kids.They should hire a good PR asap and people whom Nuchem Rosenberg spreads false rumors about them should challenge him legally in court.

  • December 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm


    I commend you for your brave words. You are a voice of reason in these sorry times. Hatzlacha in all your undertakings,


  • December 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    mead–your suggestion of PR as the Rx for Satmar community would make sense if all was right in their community and their only issue was one of public relations. the real issue here is the insular climate that fosters coverups for perverts and demonizes the few victims who come forward. makes more sense to get rid of the stentch than try to mask it with some nice smelling perfume.

  • December 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    “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…”

    The press went too far, but the Gemara says about R. Elazar ben Azariah:

    “Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah permitted three things which the other sages prohibit: His cow was going out on a Sabbath with a strap attached to her horns…. We have learned in a Boraitha that the cow mentioned in our Mishna was not his, but his neighbor’s, and because he did not protest, it was considered as if it was his own.”

    Last week there was an editorial in the 5TJT:

    “Our schools have handed over these precious souls to monsters for abuse. And then, when they ultimately come forward, we vilify them and their families. We exclude them from our camps and our schools….And this was aided and abetted by the kehilah leadership, rachmana litzlan! The kehilah leadership! Not even a brush full of the blackest of paint could put such horrors on a canvas!”

    “The horrifying reality is that all this was brought about by the existence of a so-called “Vaad HaTzniyus!” Clearly, we need to do teshuvah. We need a teshuvah so profound and deep that it should shake the very mountains that surround us.”

  • December 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    i think its clear that the satmar community like all others is not immune to having pedophiles operating within them. when these predators act out on their impulses we understand they have a psychological disorder. but for the people who cover for them–what’s their excuse for their repugnant behavior?

  • December 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    j layfield-i cant make it clear enough that is the job of a good PR.As much i will say you wont get it im not that good at it.I don’t know what the term “coverup” means.Satmar is not covering up for any pervert regardless what you read in the papers or what Nuchem Rosenberg claims.ONE child abused is more than enough and it does happen at times i will not deny it but its not infested with perverts who run around grabbing kids.Nobody knows the truth its a he said she said DA Hynes said it the jury believed her over him.People are entitle to believe him and not becuase they know him as a saint but becuase they know him and know her and family.No,im not defaming her its a fact.
    The Vaad HaTzniyus that all orthodox jewish communities have is precisely for this purpose when a case of abuse occurs they handle it quietly.DA Hynes understands this and was fine with it until the Nuchem Rosenberg’s came on the scene.I wont even touch the concept of mesira becuase understandably most don’t get it.

  • December 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    mead: “not because they know him as a saint.” i dont think someone who admitted on the stand to major financial improprieties involving tzedaka money and one who belives the issur d’oraisa of yichud is inapplicable to him would qualify for sainthood. and your recommendation of the vaad hatznius handling all abuse cases in-house is a ridiculous idea and is the catalyst for all the coverups that you claim never happen. sexual abuse is not a minor communal breach that should be handled internally. would you want other felonious offenses like robbery or battery handled internally as well? sexual abuse is a crime and should be treated as such, with the police, DA’s office and a court of law, not by some self appointed vaad hatznius.

  • December 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    The problem is one of internal policing. We have unfortunately seen many instances where Bais Din has been ignored or even had its documents falsified by powerful individuals who control previously well respected organizations. A case in point is the National Council of Young Israel which bullied the former Young Israels of Fifth Avenue and Syracuse but which protects a rabbi in Las Vegas that Bais Din put into Cherem. They even took a seruv lifting from an earlier date and re-dated it to the 33rd of Elul! Such an obvious fraud should have had every Young Israel branch calling for Pesach Lerner’s head but anytime I asked a branch rabbi or leader they didn’t want to discuss it. If they don’t care what goes on within their own organization, why should we care if and when they finally get caught for their crimes?

  • December 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Because the entire community rallied behind the pedophile, threatened the victim and still supports the pedophile,

    The St Mary (Yes thats what SATMAR is short for) Chassidim should be ashamed of themseves.

    They should not be trusted for Kashrut or any other subjects that need credibility.

Comments are closed.