What Is the Matter with Hershel Schachter?

Rabbi Hershel Schachter provoked a storm of criticism for using the word shvartze. As far as I am concerned that is the least of it. The much bigger problem is that he propounded several insidious arguments for not dealing with sex abuse. He gave with one hand and took away with the other. He said there is no issue of mesirah (snitching) per se in reporting a known molester. Great. But then he said it is takah (actually) mesirah if the offender will be sent to state prisons where wardens could harm you by placing you in a cell with a member of Farakkan’s Nation of Islam. Yes I think that is racism. Why does he believe a Jew should fear a Black Muslim more than a member of the Aryan Nation? But never mind. The real issue is that almost all sex abuse prosecutions are in the state courts. So he has now precluded virtually all prosecutions.

He also insists on vetting by a mental health professional who is also a talmid chacham (rabbinical scholar). He obsesses about the terrible damage of a false allegation. I too find a false allegation a terrible thing. But the professionals most capable of such an evaluation are the ones inside the criminal justice system. Prior interrogations contaminate evidence and alert suspects who can then hoof it. More than that, most such prior screenings end up discouraging reporting. I recognize that false allegations do happen, usually in the context of divorce custody battles. Folks in the criminal justice system are quite adept at recognizing them and screening them out.

In the end, the decision to support reporting involves balancing the danger to children versus the danger to someone falsely accused. In a situation of uncertainty I would rather leave an adult with the problem of undoing damage to his reputation than subject children to damaging abuse. It is much harder for children to recover. Children need more protection than adults. But that is me. Rabbi Shachter thinks in terms of adult and institutional interests.

Unfortunately, Rabbi Schachter is learned but not wise.

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3 thoughts on “What Is the Matter with Hershel Schachter?

  1. Schacter afraid of false accusations? One might speculate that an adult female MIGHT have some axe to grind when reporting a rape I am not suggesting that this is a common phenomenon. IN NO WAY, BUT the idea of a frum boy teenager, 20’s making false accusations, which then do stigmatize him terribly, (unfortunately but true) is an absurdity.
    For a young frum boy to claim that he was a victim of a pedophile, that he was raped by a pederast, is just extraordinarily absurd, If it ever happened one would be talking about a seriously seriously, emotionally disturbed boy. That so far, has never been claimed.
    “miracles” (sic) <> do happen, but name just one case where a frum boy is willing to ruin his reputation and his chances for a shidduch for some falsehood claim. Just not credible, the idea is not credible, Shachter is delusional. A young frum boy, stigmatizing himself for life, over some vendetta. Sheer absurdity.
    And indeed it is a vicious phenomenon that causes that stigmatization, but, it exists, nevertheless. These kids who are brave enough to accuse their molesters are extraordinarily brave, given the consequences in the upside down world of orthodoxy, which blames the victim. Kol Hakavod lahem, for the prevent others from being victimized by the same sick pedophile. (because, it most cases, after one case is reported, there are at least another 20 others, victimized by the same “Tsadik”.

  2. I wonder how this amazing coincidence came to be that all rabbonim are concerned about false accusations? Are false accusations so rampant? Can every rav who’s so concerned about it name one case? And yet those same rabbonim know, and admit that they know of real cases if abuse – not false accusations.

  3. I knew Herschel very very well from age ten to twenty. Like Mordy Willig, he was brilliant, put on a pedestal from a young age for his intellectual ability, and thrust into a leadership role at YU despite being remarkably naive about people, and the world in general. He had (has) a cold intellectual arrogance, but is low key and and self effacing in person. This personal sweetness and intellectual affect masks a hard-core, reactionary view of the world.

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