Convicted ultra orthodox child molesters Nechemya Weberman and Emanuel Yegutkin are both in the NYS Shawangunk Correctional Facility, one of the few in the system with a sex offender program. It is conceivable that they share a cell.
This got me thinking about the possibilities for a playwright or script writer or even a novelist. Picture them sharing a cell.
- Do they both claim innocence to each other initially but by halting steps come to tell more and more of the truth?
- They are both manipulators. How does that play out between them? Does Weberman try to get Yegutkin to subordinate himself?
- Does each accuse the other of being worse?
- Do they fight about religious issues getting into all the usual arguments about the things that divide Hasidim from Yeshivish Jews or do they share a bond as religious Jews, or do they both decide to become less religious only keeping up a front for those outside who will stop supporting them if they are not religious.
- How do they relate to the fact that they are largely abandoned?
- How do they function in the sex offender therapy groups. Ridiculous claims of tshuvah (repentance) will not wash in that setting. Do they eventually discover they have more in common with non-Jewish sex offenders?
- How do they deal with their chaplain(s)? Does a Chabad chaplain rail about Weberman’s purported role in beating up a Chabad shliach (missionary) and cutting off his beard?
- Do they bond because of antisemitism by guards or inmates?
- Do they scheme together as a two-man jailhouse legal team?
- Most likely, do we hear elaborate rationalizations punctuated by mixtures of confirmation and skepticism by the other? Does each accuse the other of being the real molester?
- Do they reveal a great deal about their crimes in the process of denying or rationalizing them?
The possibilities are endless and the plot writers can take their time. They will have a canvass of several decades over which to spread the plot.
Meanwhile, I think we can safely predict that the Haredi media will ignore all the issues I raised and will instead give us occasional news stories about Rabbis visiting them to give them chizuk (boost their morale).
I would love to see a talented Haredi writer explore the possibilities of tshuvah (repentance) by such dreadful sinners. Sadly, that sort of Haredi fiction is unlikely, and it definitely won’t find a haredi publisher. After all the party line was that they were innocent. If or when they give up that party line they will just try to ignore the story altogether.