Fri, March 25, 2011 8:52:27 AM
From: Yakov Horowitz To: Yerachmiel Lopin
I am attending the hearing of Meir Dascalowitz to support the child he allegedly molested, to support his family members who are helping protect the children of our community from future abuse by reporting the alleged pedophile to the authorities, and to stand in solidarity with all survivors of abuse and molestation. I have in my possession printed copies of more than 250 emails and blog posts from my readers worldwide who eloquently and passionately wrote messages of support, solidarity and love to this survivor and I will be handing the messages to the family members in court.
It is my hope and prayer that this painful episode will mark a turning point in our community’s reaction to abuse survivors and provide a modicum of comfort to adult survivors who were abused in their childhood — when they lacked the support structure that current and future survivors will hopefully have. Throughout much of our history, our people have been an oppressed minority in countries where they were made to feel unwelcome at best, and where being reported to the authorities meant imprisonment, torture or even death. This cultural phenomenon has greatly contributed to the underreporting of child abusers in our community.
It is my hope and prayer, though, that all members of our community will develop the comfort level in this wonderful malchus shel chesed (benevolent country), to view the authorities who police and prosecute pedophiles to be our allies in our sacred obligation to keep our children safe and secure. Time and experience have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that well-meaning, untrained people (like this writer) are powerless to protect children. Our sages (Avos 3:4) wisely stated that we must pray for the stability of our government for, “If not for the fear it holds over its citizens [who commit crimes], a person would swallow his neighbor.”
It is my hope and prayer that all members of our community will come to understand that according to Jewish law a child molester has the Halachic status of a rodef (one who poses a credible, life-threatening danger to others) and one is obligated to do everything in his or her power to prevent a predator from harming future victims. Rabbinic responsa, including a psak(rabbinic ruling) from the esteemed Rabbi Eliyashuv, perhaps the preeminent posek of our generation, have supported this notion. Reporting molesters to the authorities exposes the silent, overwhelming majority of law-abiding, camera-shy members of our community to public shame when people who are dressed in the garb of observant Jews are arrested, prosecuted and are prominently featured in media coverage on charges of abuse and molestation.
It is my hope and prayer, though, that we all come to understand that there is no “shanda” (shame) in admitting that we have the same problems that plague all members of the human race. Rather, that it is a terrible and tragic “shanda” to not do everything in our power to rid our communities of pedophiles.
Rabbi Yakov HorowitzDean,
Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey
Director, Project YES