The following statement was posted on the letterhead of the London Beth Din/Court of the Chief Rabbi in anticipation of a BBC broadcast about sex abuse in the ultra orthodox world especially the case of Rabbi Chaim Halpern of Golders Green, London. I am told it was distributed to all rabbis connected to the Beth Din, presumably to prepare them if/when they are interviewed or ambushed by reporters. The Beth Din is modern-haredi in composition but nominally answers to the Chief Rabbi of the United Synogogues, Lord Jonathan Sacks and is not accepted or respected by the hasidic/haredi community of Stamford Hill whose recognized body is Kedassiah/ Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. Rabbis in modern haredi Golders Green have called for Halpern’s resignation from leadership of his synagogue and removal from all other rabbinical positions. The ultra orthodox Kedassiah under the leadership of Rabbi Padwa has vascillated and flip flopped.
בית דין צדק לונדון
London Beth Din
Court of the Chief Rabbi
Child Abuse in the Community
We have learned that a television program is to be broadcast next week which seeks to portray some elements in the Jewish community as not dealing appropriately with serious crimes against children.
For the sake of clarity, the London Beth Din is re-stating its position on how we address this matter.
We have an obligation to safeguard the children of our community and we have to accept that, even within our own communities, there are those who steal the innocence of our children through criminal activity.
We are acutely aware that sexual abuse can, (apart from being inherently abhorrent), destroy lives and cause a breakdown in relationships. At its worst it can be the cause of suicide, death from drug overdose and mental illness.
It is therefore essential that when abuse has occurred, the police must be informed without delay. Local communities should not attempt to deal with the situation internally. Delays in reporting abuse can cause vital evidence to be lost, allowing the abusers to continue violating our children. We must all ensure that the children of our communities will be protected by reporting abuse to the authorities wherever it takes place.
As you have previously been informed, the United Synagogue’s Child Protection Officer is David Frei. Should you encounter or be informed about any situations which raise concerns, please refer to him in the first instance for advice.
Rabbi Dr J Shindler
Office of the Chief Rabbi