Jun 6, 2013 — The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America reaffirm that any individual with firsthand knowledge or reasonable basis to suspect child abuse or endangerment, or the sale of illegal drugs, has a religious obligation to promptly share that information with secular law enforcement. Further, those deemed “mandated reporters” under secular law must obey their state’s reporting requirements.
Lives can be ruined or ended by unreported child abuse or endangerment, or drug sales, as we are too often tragically reminded. The Torah’s statement in Leviticus 19:16, “Do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed,” obligates every member of the community to do all in one’s power to prevent harm to others.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, President of the RCA, and Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, received the following letter (also here) from Rabbi Israel Belsky, confirming his position reporting to civil authorities in matters of child abuse.
28 Sivan, 5753
June 6, 2013
Dear Rabbi Goldin and Dratch,
It was a pleasure to meet with you the other day.
As we discussed, we all share a concern in protecting children in our community from sexual or physical abuse. Though some have misunderstood my position, I completely agree that, given firsthand knowledge or credible evidence of child abuse or molestation, one should definitely go to the authorities. This not only a theoretical position that I hold, but alsoo one that I have personally implemented.
To cite one occasion, in Brooklyn several years ago a claim was made against a driver who transported children to a playgroup operated by his wife. There was reasonable cause for suspicion – the child would wake up crying in the middle of the night and described the abuse – and I advised the parents to report the matter to the police. As it turned out, when the police investigated they felt there was not enough actionable evidence to pursue a case. Nevertheless, I took the step of advising the parents to not enroll their children in the playgroup and it ultimately closed down.
Rabbi Yisroel Belsky
In essence Belsky says, oh yes, I support reporting when someone is guilty. So, in theory, I agree with the RCA when I, Harav, Hagaon , Yisroel Belsky Shlita, happen to know of a case where someone is guilty lefi daati (as I see things). But
- I am the final arbiter
- I do not hold from the silly RCA standard that these things are best left to the police to investigate
- I completely feel Kolko is innocent so we do not let the police investigate
- Since I disagree with the RCA you will turn yourselves into shmattas for me and not mention the Kolko case even by name
- Since I disagree with you about the Kolko case I am entitled to intimidate, call the accusers molesters, mosrim and rodfim (and thus incite to harassment and even violence)
- Since I disagree with you about Kolko we will not mention three victims willing to testify, the five rabbis willing to testify he confessed to them (in addition to the father), the social worker ready to testify that Kolko tested as a molester, and the fact that Kolko pleaded guilty.
- Since you need me for your hashgachah business, you will make believe that you are unaware of the fact that I reached my conclusion on the basis of four decades of protecting Kolko molesters, of being invested in Yosef Kolko because I ordained him (~2001and having reached a conclusion in this case without talking to any of key individuals who testified or were ready to testify for the prosecution at the trial
If I were Belsky I would be proud as a peacock. He turned the RCA into shmattas who turned tail under pressure from him. Now we know the truth, the RCA has no spine when threatened by the kosher business interests of the OU. They only have spine when it comes to attacking Satmar over Weberman. If I were a Satmar Weberman defender I would have a field day going after Belsky, the RCA and the OU.
This is pathetic beyond belief! It turns out that modern orthodoxy can talk modern but not act for children. It turns out that the key to getting a pass as a molester is to do it in Lakewood instead of Williamsburg and to have the backing of Belsky instead of Satmar. So much for din echad (one rule for all)!
If you are offended by this bizarre reply, write the leadership of the RCA and the OU to express your views, or learn some more about the issues by reading about Rabbi Belsky’s role in the Kolko case, and my first, and more extended call, for a letter writing campaign. If you are already convinced, just continue on to the lists of addresses below.
The people to whom you should direct your letters include:
- OU President: Mr Martin Nachimson email@example.com
- Chair of the Board of OU, Mr. Steven Savitsky firstname.lastname@example.org
- OU Executive VP, Rabbi Steven Weil email@example.com
- OU Executive VP Emeritus, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, firstname.lastname@example.org
- CEO of OU Kosher, Rabbi Menachem Genack <email@example.com>
- Executive VP of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), OU’s rabbinical arm, Rabbi Mark Dratch firstname.lastname@example.org
- President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), Rabbi Shmuel Goldin email@example.com
- Chair of the Board of OU Kosher and President Emeritus, Mr. Harvey Blitz (I have no address for him so I would direct it through their Chief Communications Officer, Mayer Fertig firstname.lastname@example.org. Indicate that you wish to have it forwarded to Mr. Blitz
If you favor snail mail or fax, contact:
Rabbinical Council of America, 305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor, New York, New York 10001 Phone: 212-807-9000 Fax: 212-727-8452
Orthodox Union, 11 Broadway, New York, New York 10004 Phone: 212-613-8101
When you send these emails, BCC to anyone else you know in the RCA or OU orbit that is, or ought to be, interested in protecting children from sexual abuse. Butplease be careful to respect email address privacy by putting these recipients into the BLIND CC (BCC) field.
To establish a record, please share copies of your letters and their replies on this site and as many other places as possible including websites, Twitter, email lists, local newspapers and bulletins and physical bulletin boards (Comments are moderated so it may be a few hours before you see your submitted comment appear- but that is still a hell of a lot quicker and transparent than the OU/RCA response).
Warning– you will probably not get a substantive email reply. Instead you will probably be given a number to call. Apparently folks are skittish about leaving a written record. If you are satisfied by all means thank them and publicize the reply. If you feel you were given evasive replies, please follow up by explaining your dissatisfaction and sharing it with all those to whom you originally wrote. Let’s make sure there is a feedback loop!
PS- If you have any energy left you might want to write to Rabbi Belsky’s other employer, Yeshiva Torah Vodaas where he is a Rosh Yeshiva. Address mail to Chaim Leshkowitz, President, Yeshiva Torah Vodaas – 425 E. 9th Street. Brooklyn, NY 11218-5209 (I suggest certified mail and send a copy to Rabbi Belsky at the same address.)