The Problem Isn’t Molesters, It Is Haredi Rabbinic Leadership

A colleague wrote me,
That is one thing I never get, with any of these incidents. I get them not involving the police and courts and jail. I just don’t get why they insist the perp continues to be a teacher or counselor.
I wrote back:
I struggled with that question for a long time. My allies inside Satmar who are genuine devout Hasidim struggle with that even more. Mrs. Engelman keeps saying to me, “This is not yiddishkeit (conduct according to Jewish values) with  puzzlement and anguish. But facts are facts.
I think you have to disabuse yourself of the conviction that we are dealing with people and start understanding that institutions have no souls, just interests. Hasidism was always about malchus (royal power). But these days the money is bigger for the big movements and the internal infighting is nastier because there are no longer any accepted rules for yerushah (inheritance). Almost every rebbe’s son and son-in-law is sees himself as rebbe material and every askan (communal activist) plays court politics. These Hasidic trends are spreading throughout the ultra orthodox world.
In molesting, as in other corrupt religious politics, look to the Catholic Church for guidance. Whatever was already exposed in their world will eventually be exposed in the haredi world. It will just take longer because Jews don’t have an official hierarchy, don’t keep as many records, and are even better at fooling and intimidating victims.
While many of the Archbishops and members of the Vatican machinery are hypocritical, career minded SOBs, I am sure there are also  many decent, caring priests who spend their lives trying to do good. Yet, institutional interest trumps decency. They speak of “avoiding scandal,” we call it chillul hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) and protecting mosdos (institutions of) Torah. They worry about reputations, we call it “not hurting someone’s shiduchim (marriage prospects).” These are vocabulary differences but for all practical purposes we are dealing with the same mindset. When push comes to shove, decency always gives way to  higher interests.
It has been decades since Vaad hatznius (modesty committee) extortion stopped being a bug and became a feature. Somewhere in the intricacies of their politics Weberman and his vaad cronies established a power base. So the children were disposable and he was allowed to go on. If he had been a schmendrik (loser) with no power base he might have been stopped. Rabbi Avrohom Reichman was removed once but then his influential family pushed back and many years passed before he was finally removed from his position in the Satmar school system. (I am told this was necessary as part of a lawsuit settlement).
We have reached the point where we have to acknowledge that power politics trumps decency and halachah (religious law). How else would Rabbi Aaron Shechter Yeshiva Chaim Berlin be on the moetzes (Council of Torah Sages) of Agudath Israel of America when he was declared lo tzayis dinah (in violation of an order of a  Jewish court) by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ztz”l and retains that status to this very day.  The Moetzes, headed by a Chaim Berlin alumnus, Rabbi Perlow (Novominsker Rebbe) knew that, but Chaim Berlin was too powerful to be denied a seat at the table.
The situation will not change through lomdus (rabbinic scholarship). Never before has the frum world had so much. We need rabbis with spines. However, they are now very hard to find unless they are power fressers (gorgers). I have concluded that change will have to come through civil and criminal suits aimed at the powers that be, not at the molesters themselves.
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2 thoughts on “The Problem Isn’t Molesters, It Is Haredi Rabbinic Leadership

  1. You need institutions to get things done, to organize people, to help people. And as you said, they will defend their members, even if it is not defensible. Unions work the same way. They protect their members. That includes police unions. That is why we need a free press, people who will point out when things go wrong. Going against an institution is not easy though. It takes courage and fortitude.

    • And, a bit off the direct topic, but not off the topic mamash, you write “you need institutions to get things done, to organize people”. to get things done, and the opposite, is preventing that from happening.. Why do you think the DHS (Dept of Homeland Security) has purchased billions yes billions of rounds of ammunition, much of it “hollow point” which explode inside the victim causing maximum bodily damage, the most damaging.. Ya think that is to control the billions of terrorists walking the streets? Last year, the SSA (social security administration) purchased at least 174K hollow point bullets. Yes, the SSA. (is that for the illegals crossing the borders, oops, no, they are potential voters.
      Institutions, anyone? And, incidentaly that is approximately the equivalent of 5 bullets per person in the old US of A.
      So, to my limited brain, getting institutions to act on the behalf of their members, as opposed to self interest, is a very limited prospect. and we see that at all levels. Power corrupts.
      And there is no free press. None.. And those drones, vis a vis the hollow point shells are pretty darn expensive. We need leaders with integrity, which, are lacking sorely on all levels of government, and in every single religious institution. No backbone. Try getting a bunch to stand up together and shout in outrage. Did Chabad say one word about the Manis Friedman fiasco? and do you know how many shluchim they have in US and across the world?
      Thousands and thousands, (I mean, are they trained to do anything else?). But, they do great things and welcome every Jews (and incidentally provide kosher food all over the world for the rest of the observers). Problem is that they have no backbone.
      And Manis Friedman is listed as one of 18 notables on the 770 Eastern Pkwy wikipedia site. One of 18. of the most notable. add another 18 and they will have elevated him to status of Lamed Vovnik. Where are the Lubavitch with back bone to come out and strongly censure, condemn Manis?????? I think there was a precedent afilu a few years ago re comments about palestinian genocide, (i am not bakiah on that episode, so i would welcome correction), but I believe that National or International, not to get into upstairs and downstairs, that a solid group condemned him, disassociated themselves from his words. Strike two and you’re out Manny.
      Call it house cleaning for Chabad, which is, mostly, an organization that I have respect for, in various categories. Step down from public positions, from Bais Chanah, never counsel another victim, chas v’chalila and then, if local Chabad houses, still want to invite MF to lecture, the onesh and repercussions will be on them.

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