She Knew She Was in Trouble When Weberman Closed the Bedroom Door

Nechemya Weberman in Kings County Supreme Court on 3-25-11 (photo credit Joseph Diangello)

Nechemya Weberman waiting outside courtroom while his relative shot photos of victim supporters who were Hasidim to circulate around Hasidic community to intimidate them.

From my archives of 9/20/12. First posted in the lead-up to Nechemya
Weberman’s trial which concluded with a 103-year sentence.

She was a bad girl. Was it because she talked to boys, or she was dressing too fashionably, or she asked too many questions? That didn’t matter. She was bad and the vaad hatznius (modesty committee) of Williamsburg was willing to fix her, for a hefty fee, of course. The alternative was being stuck with a reputation as a nebbish (loser), an oiysvorf (outcast), and a shiksa (gentile). Once you acquired that reputation no decent family would let you marry their son.

Her family’s last hope was a “Torah therapist” who could change her into a good girl. She didn’t know what to expect. But she assumed he would counsel her with words of Torah. He would be a rabbi with a reputation for being zealous about torah and tznius (modesty). That of course meant he would scrupulously observe all the halachos (rules) and minhagim (customs) governing relations between men and women. She was only twelve, just a bat mitzvah, and thus liable for violating any of the halachos applying to a grown woman.

She knew the rules. Din yichud, the rule of seclusion, prohibits an unrelated man and woman from being alone in a closed room. She grew up with those rules. She knew how to avoid violations of yichud. You had to leave a door open if it didn’t have a window. A full door would only be closed if you both knew that someone else could pass through the room unannounced. Then there was tznius, the covering of one’s body from neckline to elbow to below the knee. There was also negiah, the rule against contact with the other sex. On the streets she saw gentile men and women touching each other. But Hasidim didn’t do that. Hasidim even avoided casually talking with the opposite sex. Hasidim were tznuah, shomerei negiah and medakdek (particularly careful) about yichud.

She went to an apartment building on Classon Avenue. She went into a small apartment with just a living room/dining room and a small bedroom off to the side. The Torah therapy was going to happen in the bedroom. It had a bed, some chairs and a video player. Then he closed the door. It was just her and the “Torah therapist” in a closed room.

I am trying to imagine the shock. She probably wanted to be somewhere else. She was probably scared. She was probably anxious, very anxious. She knew this was her last chance to avoid being thrown out of school. She couldn’t complain and she couldn’t argue. She had no one to back her and only the Torah therapist in front of her.

I wonder if she asked herself, “Is this my punishment for being a bad girl? Did they send me to this closed room because bad girls aren’t protected by din yichud? Can vaad hatznius (modesty committee) rabbis do anything they want with bad girls?

They abandoned her the moment the door closed. Even if nothing else happened during that first visit she now knew she wasn’t going to be protected by din yichud. She was on her own against someone who made his own rules, someone who could fix her reputation or destroy it.

In a different world all these girls would have known the cardinal rule: “If he makes me uncomfortable, get away, call for help, and tell my parents.” Perhaps a few complained and no one listened to them. Maybe they didn’t listen because they feared the vaad or were being paid by the vaad. Perhaps, others were so prejudiced against these girls that they ignored their complaints. Perhaps, most frightening of all, these girls just surrendered. Weberman had them where he wanted them and he proceeded to shred the shulchan aruch (the Code of Jewish law) as he violated their innocence.

When Weberman got arrested his defenders started screaming pidyon shvuyim (redeem the captive), 20 rabbis signed a call on his behalf and organized a big fundraiser for him. But he is not the captive, it was those girls who were captured. They were the ones who should have been rescued.

When Shechem raped Dinah, her brothers, Shimon and Levy, took their revenge and massacred a whole city. When Yaakov Avinu (our patriarch, Jacob) reproached them, they replied (Bereshis/Genesis 34:31), “הַכְזוֹנָה, יַעֲשֶׂה אֶת-אֲחוֹתֵנוּ, Will our sister be turned into a whore?” This is the answer you expect from tznius kanoim (modesty zealots).

That wasn’t the answer in Williamsburg because Weberman had friends in high places. Weberman was the molester but the girls were pimped to him by Satmar and Pupa’s girls schools and the Williamsburg vaad hatznius. They sold these Jewish girls into znus (sexual misconduct). I believe they did it for their share of his exorbitant “Torah therapy” fee of $150 $250 a session. Otherwise, I cannot fathom how they could send girls to an apartment without asking more questions. But bribes blind the eyes of judges and money quiets a questioning heart and a troubled conscience.

Some will argue that I am unfair. Perhaps they did not know the details. Perhaps Weberman misled them into believing everything was proper. If so, when they discovered how he betrayed them, they should have shifted gears into vaad style violence against Weberman and his confederates. There should have posted pashkavilim naming him and declaring tzei tamei (go away you impure one!). They should have pressed Weberman to return all his ill-gotten gains. Someone should have asked haratzachtah v’gam yirashtah (will you murder and also inherit)? Will you have the chutzpah to get paid for sexually assaulting girls?

Instead I suspect that the Vaad, Bais Rochel, Niederman and others are sitting on their share of the extortion. In their determination to protect themselves they have become active participants in the absurd pidyon shvuyim campaign to pay for Weberman’s lawyers. After all, if he pleads guilty he might start bargaining for a shorter sentence by telling the truth about his confederates in crime.

Weberman is not a captive who needs redeeming; he is a cunning animal who should be caged. His defenders aren’t interested in redeeming a captive; they are desperate to protect their own reputations and rackets.

The captives were the girls led into his bedroom. Goyim didn’t capture those girls, Jews sent them there. Goyim didn’t violate those girls. It was a vaad hatznius kanoi that abused and violated them for months and years. Yet nobody in Satmar’s administration is worrying about ransoming those girls. Nobody is crying out for their right to justice. Nobody is begging them for mechilah (forgiveness). No one is offering them reparations to pay for real therapists to heal their wounds.

Instead they are threatening and slandering the witness and those close to her. These unrepentant extortionists, rapists, and pimps should tremble before yom hadin (the day of judgement, Yom Kippur). We should do our best to bring them to justice.

 

See also: How Molesters Groom Their Victims, Wikipedia: Child Grooming, Victor Vieth: Understanding Child Abuse Video and accompanying PowerPoint slides.

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8 thoughts on “She Knew She Was in Trouble When Weberman Closed the Bedroom Door

  1. Excellent piece. And clearly understandable how it relates to Meisels & Co. The rationalizations about the seminaries, the rabbanim are busy running around like chickens, clucking about matters pertaining only to money and protecting the assets and businesses of menuval Meisels, but where are the “Pillars of Torah”? These are our “Gedolim”? I’d rather follow a “Katan” who can’t memorize a fraction as much Gemara as “Gedolim” can, but who stands up and advocates for sexual abuse victims long before following these “Gedolim.” Because you don’t have to be a Gemara genius to know that the Torah is clear as day about the essential importance of protecting those who can’t protect themselves, and the Neviim warn time and time again about how Hashem wants justice before he wants korbanos in the Beis Hamikdash. If the “Gedolim” who may be academic geniuses in their ability to memorize Gemara, Rashi and Tosfos can’t remember to follow the basic principles which the Torah stands for, then they are NOT “Gedolim.” And the “Ketanim” who are fighting for what is right and just and what the Torah stands for are the true leaders of Klal Yisrael!

    The “Gedolim” are not only not acting as Torah leaders, but worse! They are leading Klal Yisrael to follow Krumkeit – a horrible distortion of Torah – making Chillulei Hashem left and right. Better to abandon the Torah completely, then to make a Chillul Hashem, acting as if they and we represent Torah and Hashem’s will, while representing nothing of the sort. We need new leaders. We need to take back the yeshiva businesses from families who are calling the shots, making power plays with our tuition, and at our expense. Yeshivas need to be run by the communities and parents who fund them, not by self-proclaimed leaders who inherit them, or even build them up from scratch as family businesses. We need to choose leaders who represent true Torah values, and we need to not allow ourselves to be controlled by leaders who impose their stupidities on us, while claiming they represent Hashem’s will.

    We are not stupid anymore, and we have had too many wake up calls. We need to take responsibility for our communities and for Frumkeit. Each person is afraid for the shidduchim of their own children. But there is power in numbers. We need to band together, be brave and take the power and control back into our own hands. Nowhere in Torah does it say we have to check our sechel in at the door and follow people who are corrupting Torah. There are no “secrets” of Torah that the “Gedolim” are using to make their unjust decisions. The “secrets” are that they are claiming to follow Torah, while they are not following Torah. And that has become clear as day for anyone with eyes in their head and a little bit of sechel.

    After the Holocaust we started anew here in America. We were young, growing up, following our “parents” – the Gedolim. They led us with Torah, they treated us well. But then when we had to leave their home after they died, we were tossed around and abused by those claiming to be Torah “Giants.” They took our innocence time and time again, and we are young and naïve no more. We now know how the cruel world of “Torah Giants” perverts Torah. But we are grown up now. We are no longer young, naïve Seminary girls who don’t know how to say “No” when our teacher and principal wants to take advantage of us. And we now have no excuse to stand by and ourselves to be taken advantage of.

    And we are not alone in this – there are so many of us and we need to band together and take it back. There is no reason why we can’t democratically select and choose Torah leaders who represent what is clearly Torah. The “Gedolim” have not said a word about protecting girls from Meisels or the next Meisels who comes around. What kind of leaders are they? And how stupid do we have to be to keep following them? We have a choice. We can take Frumkeit back from those who are leading nothing but Krumkeit. The first thing we have to do, is say “NO!” when they try to take advantage of us. The next, is band together and start and create yeshivos and communities run with democracy, with leaders we choose, who represent true and just Torah values. Continuing to call those who distort Torah values “Gedolim” is continuing to support their leadership. If we stop following them, they are no longer leaders. Ein melech b’lo am. Continuing to follow their lead makes us complicit in the krumkeit they are calling frumkeit, and complicit in every resulting Chillul Hashem. The Meisels & Co Seminaries Scandal is just one of many, many Chillulei Hashem. If Hashem didn’t want the Korbanos from the Beis Hamikdash while there was injustice being perpetrated, do we really believe Hashem wants our Shabbos or mehadrin min hamehadrin Kashrus, or nice big Yeshivos, or grand scale Torah learning?

    End rant.

  2. A 103 year sentence! Hate when perverts dress-up as Rabbi’s or G-d fearing men, and they found the perfect place to live, the Orthodox Community. May we see much more action in the courts!
    Diane Polonsky

  3. This piece of waste should have gone to Chaim Malinowitz ubais Dino and gotten a hechsher so the Eidonknownutin Bros would defend every last rape he committed as a mitzvah min hamuvchar and half the Moe Etzes would write letters to keep his therapy business flourishing if he would just transfer the lease on his den of inequity to his best friend.

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