Ten years ago, today, on October 6, 2009, I started Frum Follies because I thought I had just one piece of satire I wanted to post and none of the existing blogs (UOJ & Failed Messiah) were interested in posting it. I wanted to call my blog Frum Satire, but Heshy Fried already had a blog by that name. So I settled on Frum Follies.
My first post, Moetzes Gedolim Speak About Znus Affecting Children (Satire), nailed the mentality of Agudath Yisroel then and now. To spare you my too-long first effort here are some choice excerpts.
The problems of znus and pritzus in our hefker society threaten the very life of our holy community. Rabbossai, chatani, we have sinned. Yes, even to the point where we have allowed foxes into the sanctuary, and znus into some of our mosdos torah. It is hard to keep out all those who fool us b’chadrei chareidim, break the mitzvos and are mizalzel themselves with the Internet……
Our sonim lose no opportunity to say, chas v’chalileh, that certain rabeim are touching certain places… Many of these accusations have never been proven. We will do our best to keep it that way… Many of those making the accusations must be distrusted because they are really just fishing for heterim to commit the grave sin of mesirah (snitching).
So great is the chet of mesirah (informing) that it endangers a person himself, his children, and his children’s children. When it says in the torah that a punishment is passed down it means that you won’t find shidduchim (marriage partners)…
Our sonim (enemies) look for chances to make Yiddishkeit (Judaism) look bad. If a goy (gentile) does something they claim he is a Jew. If a Jew does something they claim he is an orthodox Jew. If an orthodox Jew does something they claim he is an ultra orthodox Jew. When a Jew with a beard and tzitzis (ritual fringes) does something they claim he is an ultra orthodox rabbi. Actually, most of those of those accused are goyim, Conservative and Reform Jews, bar mitzvah tutors, cheder teachers, hashgachah (kosher supervision) employees, mental health counselors, or camp and day care operators. They only call themselves Rabbi for the clergy discount. Ignoring reality, the anti Semites run headlines about the arrest of an “ultra orthodox rabbi.”
May of these problems are created by mosrim (snitches) who went off the derech. We have rachmonis on them because they are mentally ill. When someone is mentally ill we don’t accept them as eidim in a besdin; if American courts had seichel they would also reject such testimony. We do these unfortunates a great favor in declaring them mentally ill. We spare them shame by not calling them intentional liars. Unfortunately some of those who are moser or advocating mesirah have clearly demonstrated their apikorsus befarhesyah by the ways in which they are mevazer talmidei chachomim.
Sadly, the poison of such chutzpah has even spread to some who are part of our kehilot kedoshim. Hakol, kol Yaacov, v’hayadaim yedei Eisav (the voice, is the voice of Jacob and the hands are the hands of Esau). Among us they speak the toras Yaacov about tznius, tzedakah, mishpat, emes, and caring about klal yisroel. Their hands, their hands type with the sinah of Eisav. They strike at yidn in ways that cost them parnassah, the honor of their families and the prospects of their children and grandchildren. Moreover they are choteh umachti, they sin and make others sin. They encourage other yidn to repeat their lies. These cowards hide behind Internet firewalls. If they had any faith in the truth of what they say they would come out into daylight and let us tear them apart, piece by piece.
We owe a great yasher koach to those at the Agudah who go forth in milchemes hashem and expose themselves to the 49th madreigah of tummah. They fearlessly read treyfah blogs to fight this shmutz. On these blogs they uphold the honor of torah by refuting these false accusers by letting them know the real facts about these terrible accusers. They are like the great talmidei chochomim of the past who went into public disputes against our accusers…. We engage them in disputes now as we did then and we win. Alas our prosecutors have made up their mind to hurt us because they envy our pure families and loving community. Because they want to hurt us they believe every single betraying meshumad.
I thought that would be the beginning and end of it, and I would be able to write clever pieces and thus limit the work load. But I got drawn into various cases, starting with Shmuel/Sammy Borger and was provoked by various outrages. So here I am ten years later with over 6 million page views of the 1,345 posts I have put up. And the effort was stimulated by tons of comments (over 18,000 at last count). Engaging with them and moderating them was an education in both the pain out there and the incredibly obnoxious harassing tactics of the defenders of abusers. In recent years most of the commentary and interaction has migrated to FaceBook under my own account as Yerachmiel Lopin and when my posts have been reposted by others on FaceBook.
It is impossible to summarize all I have learned, all that has changed, and alas, all that stays the same. The good news is that I have helped educate folks about abuse and helped expose some dangerous people and supported many survivors both through the blog and in direct contact. The bad news is that most of the leadership of the Haredi world still covers up abuse way more often than they address it. They almost always deter reporting to the police and child protective services even though that is the single most effective way of preventing the same person from abusing again. They also discourage civil suits which would help survivors get some help coping with the damage. The Modern Orthodox world is definitely better officially in their positions. Additionally, it is rare for survivors who pursue criminal cases to be intimidated by expulsions from schools and shuls. Yet they too have a long way to go.
So, the war is not won but we have won some battles. At least there is a widespread official admission that child sex abuse is a problem in the frum world. Ten years ago, Avi Shafran was spouting nonsense about how child sex abuse almost never happens in the frum world. Now, there are many more programs to educate kids and parents about preventing abuse. Schools, shuls, camps, and youth groups are adopting some policies to prevent abuse. But the as a poet once said, “between conception and creation falls the shadow.” The shadow remains that when actual abuse happens, the responses are often partial or ineffectual. Additionally the reality is about half of all child sex abuse happens in the home, usually by relatives. This is especially true of the abuse of girls in the frum world since predators have less access to girls outside the home. That realm of abuse is even harder to confront, or even to expose.
So the war continues. More than ever, we now know that child sex abuse happens everywhere. It happens in all sorts of religious groups. It happens all over the secular world. It happens in every country. It is a world-wide plague that depends on shame and secrecy to perpetuate itself. So going forward, we have our work cut out.