Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

In confronting Jewish laws that forbid airing allegations against fellow Jews or turning them in to the police, families of ultra-Orthodox victims who have been molested face intimidation by their communities.
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"All abusers were once victims when they were children."
Absolutely. Baby circumcision is a good example.

3 2018-05-29 11:00:29 - Rudolf

This is one of the reasons that extremism in any religion is dangerous. Here it puts the innocent child in danger. The book "Unorthodox" by Deborah Feldman also gives a good example of how Hasidim can distort the lives of innocent children. By the way, I am Jewish and came from an orthodox family, so I am in no way anti-semitic, only anti child abuse.

36 2017-10-27 20:16:42 - Gideon W

Further proof that anyone who lives their life strictly by ancient scripture is going to be sick in some ways and put the welfare of their belief above the welfare of human beings.

If the lady who said 'my child was molested and I didn't do anything why would you' is almost as guilty as the guy who did the molesting. If she had done something, like the decent person we Jews are supposed to be, then the poor disabled kid would not have been molested.

46 2017-10-11 05:32:33 - Fladabosco

“You can destroy a person’s life with a false report,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, a powerful ultra-Orthodox organization, which last year said that observant Jews should not report allegations to the police unless permitted to do so by a rabbi."

But the Rabbi would seem to have us believe that sexual abuse by protected elders in their community would have no negative effects on the sexually abused children themselves. A "shandah" on the Rabbi!

184 2017-10-10 22:05:08 - JerryV

Recovery is different for each person, and perhaps part of your moving on is that justice was served. Too many victims will never have any justice, at all.

39 2017-10-07 04:07:03 - Kate

One can admire the faith but be repelled by the faithful. For me, the horror of child abuse is exceeded by the unforgivable crime of not merely a coverup but victimizing the victim and their families, while protecting the abuser. It makes one wonder about the plight of women in this and other ultra orthodox sects.

32 2017-07-11 03:26:42 - Elliott Jacobson

What kind of community would allow such a great crime go unpunished?

9 2017-06-26 16:34:20 - 77ads77

john q public, I completely disagree with you. Many children and adults who are sexually abused end up have lifelong depression and debilitating psychological issues and at the severe end of the scale, end up killing themselves and/or start abusing other people. I firmly believe that people who sexually abuse others should be locked up permanently.

18 2017-06-16 21:01:04 - happykt

Shameful!! Another example of religion not being consistent with or comprised of morality and ethics.

5 2017-05-26 19:30:25 - msmaya

I am a religious jew and I am tired of these Rabbis protecting the abuser.
They are a shame and a disgrace. The Agudah and Ohel have been covering up cases like this for years.
Common sense dictates that you protect children and report these monsters to the police, Let there be an investigation. Thank you for reporting this.

20 2017-05-17 09:44:26 - Alex

I urge you to read about "The Stockholm Syndrome." And understand that your brave actions are keeping that sadistic pervert from ever harming another child in any way possible. Stop blaming yourself for respecting the law of the land and removing from society one who proved he does not belong there.

50 2017-05-16 14:17:06 - tsk, tsk

Shmarya has saved countless childrens' lives and he himself has been threatened by this sect many times. I am wondering if the writers of this article will face any repercussions such as threats to withdraw ads or subsciptions. Satmar succeeds through intimidation. It took a lot of courage for the NYT to delve into this hidden topic. Oprah and Dr. Phil tried, but were not very successful...maybe now they will rethink their shows and give more credence to the victims instead of the community.

6 2017-05-15 22:22:26 - A Failed Messiah reader

The behavior and actions depicted in this article are absolutely horrific, and as a member of the Orthodox Jewish community I am simultaneously outraged and embarrassed, even if the content of the article is only partially true. However, to imply, as the article does, that this is how the entire Orthodox Jewish community and its rabbinic leaders behave is simply slanderous.

I attended Orthodox schools from K through college. My senior year in high school (21 years ago, before it was stylish in popular culture to talk about these things) there was a new Rabbi teaching who, as it turned out, liked girls too much. The school got wind of his propensity before he had the chance to do anything actionable by legal authorities and fired him. Not only did they fire him, but one of the other Rabbis tracked him, and when he applied for a job in another school the other Rabbi proactively reached out to the principal of the other school and told him why he had been fired. The guy was fired after teaching in the new school for about 1 month and couldn't get another teaching job.

2 2017-05-04 12:06:20 - JD

I'm not sure that Hassids think "freedom" a primary matter. Certainly not for women. It's understandable that after thousands of years of persecution, some Jews feel they must protect their own first. But it's NO excuse for protecting child molesters!!! I saw a show on PBS on Hassidim and Conservative Jews. One big difference is that the voice of a woman, as cantor or rabbi, is allowed in Conservative Judaism. St Paul was with the Hassidim, a No No. On the show, a woman in a deli said in amazement, "There are people in America who don't speak Hebrew." Steinberg's cartoon sprang to mind: Manhattan with a bit of boroughs, New Joisey, a skip to California, the Pacific. Women were put here to have babies. I talk to Hassidic men about mysticism among Hassidic women. They give me a blank look. Why would they pay attention to what a woman? More separately on the abuse.

3 2017-04-25 17:33:43 - April

Yes, there is. Here, an entire community is hiding these ugly truths, not just a few church leaders.

3 2017-04-11 00:55:05 - 77ads77

Isn't this a similar attitude practiced by the Catholic Church? Hide this type of horrific abuse of the truly innocent victims, children and disabled young adults, within its closed ( minded) religious society to shield their leaders from outside scrutiny and possible prosecution. Do they truly believe this is how their God would want them to behave, in His name?! Over-zealous religious beliefs can really bring out the worst in people. No debate on any grounds: Protect the innocent, not the perpetrators!!!

30 2017-04-09 19:20:01 - Allison

All abusers were once victims when they were children. This cycle has repeated itself for thousands of years. Punishing the abusers sidesteps the solution to the problem. They have already been punished by living with their unresolved grief, their hidden shame, and their inner sorrow. We must find a way to nuture, to comfort, and to help all abused children. Otherwise, they will turn into the abusers of the future.

7 2017-03-23 21:53:41 - LCombs

The very first longitudinal study of incest, published in the early 80's, as I recall, listed the incidence of incest as being remarkably lower in the Jewish community, at 3%. At the time I thought of the humanism at the center of Reformed Judaism, not of the shaming and secrecy at the heart of the ultra Orthodox.

Although this article focused almost exclusively on sexual predators with preferences for young men and boys, I now suspect that the lower rates of incest and molestation of young women reported in that now long-ago study had more to do with the predilection of these societies for secrecy, shaming and silence. It would not surprise one to find out that the rates of incest and sexual predation of young women would also reflect the rates of these social diseases in the population at large.

One would hope that the rebbes, elders, and religious leaders will encourage the community to similarly protect their young women, and, however painful, to root out sexual predators of all shapes and stripes.

10 2017-03-17 16:09:07 - Susan Sisson

And stop demanding a tax exemption, which I then must make up for, to continue your version of superstition.

11 2017-03-05 10:37:51 - DaveD

My, indeed. There is a world of difference between noting that "religious people are not perfect" and this religious community's outright condemnation of those who expose and prosecute sexual abuse of children. Of children! Though some commenters are certainly taking the opportunity to rail against all religion, there was nothing gleeful about this article. It is a well-researched, well-written report about a community's criminal behavior towards members of its own religion who dare to protect their children from abuse. That you would mock such a serious report is reprehensible.

54 2017-02-27 17:25:14 - naniofseven

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