In response to mounting pressure, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) issued a clarification of a previous statement about the Kolko guilty plea. The RCA has finally gotten around to specifically talking about the Kolko case by name, something which I urged them to do over a week ago on June 2nd. They also finally got around to admitting that Rabbi Belsky continues to claim Rabbi Yosef Kolko is innocent in spite of three victims willing to testify in open court and four Lakewood rabbis willing to testify that he confessed to them. The RCA tries to make the best of Belsky’s views by claiming, that in theory, Rabbi Belsky agrees with them about reporting abuse to the police.
The latest revised RCA statement, “Decries any invocation of Jewish law or communal interests as tools in silencing victims or witnesses from reporting abuse.” Great! But how do they reconcile it with Rabbi Belsky’s infamous ruling about the Kolko case in which he wrote:
My ears should have been spared hearing the horrific news that one of your fellow residents in town [Lakewood] informed upon a fellow Jew to the hands of the secular authorities, may G-d spare us, for which the [Jewish] law is undisputed that one who commits such an act has no share in the world to come. (see: Choshen Mishpat 388:4)
After conducting a thorough investigation I am absolutely certain that R’ Y.K.[Yosef Kolko],may his light shine, is perfectly innocent of any wrongdoing of any nature whatsoever. And not only is he innocent but it is also as clear to me that all these allegations are fabrications made by [REDACTED].
Further, all the reports made to the secular authorities were only for the express purpose of casting blame for their[the victim’s family] own shameful and cursed existence on others. And the truth is that the allegations they make against others are crimes they themselves are in fact guilty of and they seek to cleanse their reputation by blaming an innocent man for their own deeds.
Accordingly, as it is a great mitzvah to rescue the pursued from the hands of the evil‐to rescue a pure and righteous soul. Therefore, anyone who has the ability to rescue the righteous and does not do so is considered as if he is himself the pursuer. (See: Rambam – Laws Regarding Informing 1: 14)
Thus, all who have the ability to influence the informers that they should retract their terrible deeds should do so.
The RCA conveniently ignored this vicious letter in which he attacked the father of Kolko’s victim by accusing him of being a molester, and calling on all who had it within their power to stop this moser (snitch) and rodef (dangerous pursuer). As a result, the family was hounded out of town.
The RCA painted itself into a corner when it said,
The RCA appreciates that this distinguished scholar [Rabbi Belsky] has gone on record with this position, a position that echoes the RCA’s longstanding policy. We are confident that this statement will be helpful to many victims in the future. Nevertheless, due to the facts of the Kolko case as we understand them, the RCA disagrees with Rabbi Belsky’s defense of this admitted perpetrator.
Really, “This will be helpful to victims in the future.” If I were a parent of a victim in Lakewood I would conclude that even the modern orthodox RCA will not be there for me if Belsky takes the side of the rapist. I would also notice that even this pallid RCA statement was not signed by the OU.
Sorry, RCA, this statement is not helpful to victims. It is not even helpful to your reputation because it’s loaded with obvious contradictions and it makes you sound like your thoughts, or politics, are seriously compromised.
You have to decide whether you will stick to your excellent RCA policy position on abuse and condemn Rabbi Belsky’s witness intimidation, or you will continue to try to paper over the differences. I know that officially the RCA is “the rabbinic arm of the Orthodox Union.” But this whole affair exposes that claim as empty rhetoric. It is time for the RCA to declare what is already obvious; the OU does not answer to the rabbinical authority of the RCA. It does not answer to its constituent modern orthodox congregations. That is the reason that they prefer to identify themselves as the Orthodox Union rather than use the full legal name, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. It answers to the business interests of the OU Kosher division and the Daas Torah of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky. For all practical purposes, the CEO of OU Kosher, Rabbi Menachem Genack, is the CEO of the OU, and Rabbi Belsky trumps the RCA, and not just for rulings on kosher.