With the Weberman trial all over the news, Yossi Gestetner, a Satmar PR flack tweeted incessantly about terrible YU. Don’t get me wrong, YU deserves to be criticized for its atrocious handling of abuse by its HS principal, George Finkelstein and teacher Macy Gordon. But this same Gestetner was moving mountains and hurling boulders to evade the proof that Weberman was guilty.
I am most sympathetic to advocates who invest most of their energy into their home communities where they have the most influence. I admire R. Nuchem Rosenberg who tirelessly fights against child abuse in the hasidic world while he continues to live in Williamsburg. Another example would be Meyer Seewald who lives in Crown Heights and focuses on abuse inside Chabad. Others I admire, include David Morris who fights abuse in his home town, Ramat Beit Shemesh and the rabbonim in Golders Green (UK) who called for Chaim Halpern to close his shul in their neighborhood.
R. Yakov Horowitz has done a good job of attacking Satmar about its conduct in the Weberman case. They deserve all the criticisms he has delivered. But many of the same problems also show up in Yeshivish world.
Consider Lakewood. A parent of Yosef Kolko’s alleged victim in Lakewood lost his parnassah because of decisions by the leadership of Bais Medrash Gavohah (BMG). The alleged victim was also kept out of every yeshiva in town. Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodass, the school which granted Rabbi Horowitz smichah, attacked the victim of Yosef Kolko for taking the case to the civil authorities. Many rabbonim in town supported Shaul Luban who was arrested for witness intimidation.
I contend that Rabbi Horowitz might accomplish more by going after these problems in the Yeshivish world where he has standing as one of their own rather than in Williamsburg where a rabbi aligned with Agudah is as inconsequential as Agudah itself which they regularly attack. Perhaps, that is not doable. If so, he owes it to those who seek his help to say he can only afford to go after Satmar.
Sigmund Freud once had his Austrian tax returns challenged by an official who (iirc) said, ‘Surely, a man whose fame extends beyond the borders of Austria earned more.” Freud’s witty retort was, “My fame does not extend beyond the borders of Austria; it only starts beyond the borders of Austria.”
I have long encouraged Rabbi Horowitz, who I assisted heavily in his work on the Weberman case, to focus on the Yeshivish world.
People in the Yeshivish world who turn to Rabbi Horowitz for help are entitled to know whether his efforts extend beyond the borders of the Yeshivish world or only starts beyond those borders, whether his most outspoken advocacy only starts in Satmar or also ends at the outskirts of Williamsburg and KJ.