Agudath Israel Head Opposes SOL Reform or Going Straight to Police about CSA While Complaining that Bloggers Lie about Haredi Rabbis

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the latest pronouncements about child sex abuse by Agudath Israel of America’s lead figure, the Novominsker Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, on Sunday, May 26th at the Annual Convention of Torah Umesorah, the national umbrella organization for ultra orthodox Jewish schools. Below is a full transcript of the videotaped talk with translations in parentheses and my annotations below each section.

One of the problems that we are facing, more today, that we weren’t aware of, and it has to be mentioned, for a number of reasons, is the abuse of young people, b’oifen gufni (physical abuse) and molestation, al d’avoinoseinu harabim (which because of our many sins), have gotten into our tzibur (community).

Rabbi Yaakov Perlow (RYP) is dishonest in claiming they were not aware if the problem for decades. In fact he participated in the cover-up of the sex abuse of Yehuda Kolko among many other cases where molesting teachers were allowed to keep their jobs.

It is convenient for him to claim the problems have “gotten into our community” as if the problem wasn’t festering inside.

And the litzonei hador (mockers of this generation) feel that we don’t care about it. The bloggers feel that the Haredi world dismisses the problem and a. they are not sufficiently sympathetic to the victims and b. they don’t do, they don’t care; they are interested in protecting the perpetrators.

There is an interesting verbal stumble when he starts by saying the “The bloggers feel that the Haredi world… don’t do, they don’t care.” He got it right the first time; we accuse them of not doing. Caring is not enough.

I think they care, but not enough to threaten insiders, not enough to allow scandals to go public, not enough to pay proper compensation that victims need for healing and recovery, not enough to sack the officials who enabled abuse all these years. I am not sure why he thinks emoting is a substitute for action.

I consider it good news that he actually uses that dread word, “bloggers.” In the past we were not given official recognition. I am guessing it means he knows enough of his audience reads us and at least contemplates the possibility that we are on to something. But he does confuse criticism with gratuitous mocking. He is taking himself and the Haredi establishment too seriously if he thinks any serious evaluation of its failings should leave it immune to ridicule.

Muz ich eich zugen dus iz sheker vikozev (I have to tell you this is a lie and a falsehood). The rabbonim (rabbis) sitting here, knowing perhaps better than I do, how many hours and hours and dozens of hours throughout these last years we’ve sat and deliberated and talked about every single aspect of this problem.

He is repeating a line from his 2010 speech where meetings are considered proof of seriousness. Tachlis (real outcomes), not talk, are the measure of seriousness.

And how we have to see to it that the predators are not there to disturb our children.

The tried and proven solution is reporting sex offenders to the police, something which Agudah almost never supports (except in theory, for some very select cases).

How parents have to be sensitive and conscious as to how to talk to their children, and how to sensitize them in an intelligent way against people who chulilah vechas (G-d forbid) are in sakanah (danger) of molesting them [when they go to camp and when they go elsewhere.

The bulk of the official Haredi response has been shifting the burden of preventing abuse to parents and kids through child safety education which avoids discussing police reporting and in some cases still emphasizes stranger danger when most abuse comes from within the community. I have never seen any materials that say, “even a rabbi or yeshiva teacher can be a molester.” Moreover, I see little indication of adopting best practices  (e.g., Paul Shaviv) for institutional policies developed and implemented by some modern orthodox schools.

To this day, there is an excess of sympathy for molesters struggling to control their impulses. This shows up when he inadvertently speaks of “people who… are in danger of molesting [children].” No! It is the kids who are in danger.

He is speaking to a convention of a day school organization and he manages not to mention schools as a place of danger, just camps and “elsewhere.”

And how when there is raglayim lidavor ven men meg yeh redden tzu (substance to the abuse allegation when you can talk to) the authorities un ven men meg nisht redden (and when you can’t talk). I won’t go into the details.

Darn right he won’t go into details. Using mostly Yiddish and Hebrew he just dog whistled the Agudah position: rabbis get to decide if you can report. In practice that means that most victims are advised not to report abusers to the police or protective services agencies.

But I feel I have to say it because I’ve heard and other rabbonim (rabbis) have heard that we are being accused of not being sufficiently sympathetic or sensitive to this issue. Und ich zug az iz sheker vikozov (I say that it is a lie and and a falsehood).

Yet again he channels Bill Clinton intoning “I feel your pain.” But he ups the ante to accuse bloggers of being liars. This stemwinder leads straight into the meat of the issue about which he is defensive, quite rightly, the matter of pending legislation to reform NYS Statutes of Limitation (SOL) for child sex abuse. He is on the defensive because any sentient New Yorker knows there is a major push and the only important opponents are the Catholic Church and Agudath Israel of America.

Yes, we want to protect our mosdos (organizations). We want to be able to prevent somebody who wakes up 40 years later and he sues a yeshiva for something that happened who knows how many years ago.

Rabbi I-feel-your-pain, Perlow, just pivoted into patronizing survivors who have financial claims as greedy inventors of fiction.

But at the same time we have no sympathy for perpetrators.

Irrelevant. No one accused you of liking molesting. We are just accusing you of nevertheless protecting them.

Und min darf zey mitapel zein, rachmonis oif em und helfen (We have to take care of them, have mercy on them and help), the victims.

Yes, the thrust of the Agudah policy is pity for survivors and providing  some direct help with therapy costs, but not empowering them to seek justice through either criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits.

I say this as a maimad hamuskar (parenthetical statement), in order to speak birabim (in public) about one little aspect, as to what our community faces from the litzonai hador (mockers of this generation). Halevai (If only) if they would only be litzonim (mockers).

Now the bloggers are deemed the great danger, not the molesters and their protectors. Notice the gap in rhetorical passion and anger between his treatment of molesters and bloggers. Molesters are a sad reality that has crept into the community. But bloggers are liars, mockers, and wreckers by motive and effect.

They are mazikim (wreckers) as well, those who are always ready to accuse us, to criticize us, out of a disrespect for Torah, for its values, for its principles, and as to how questions are decided- al pi daas Torah (according to the opinion of the leading ultra orthodox rabbis).

As always, it boils down to rabbinical authority, and the untrue claim that they embody true Torah values. In fact greater Torah sages (like Maran Yosef Sholom Elyashiv) have already declared that molesters should be reported to the police. Agudah resists it because it is more concerned with reputation and financial interests than with pure Torah and Halacha.

——-

I laughed at this diatribe because I sensed the defensive desperation. At last, R. Perlow admitted that the blogger message is reaching his audience. Otherwise he would not have deigned to acknowledge our existence let alone go into full attack mode. His need to defend the leadership as caring means he knows more and more of his audience doubts the good faith of leadership as well they should.

I feel like crying because virtually nothing has changed in the rhetoric or policies of Agudah since they followed the Catholic Church’s lead and made a great show of expressing their sorrow and regret in 2010.

The timing is also striking. The last major Agudah statement of abuse was delivered when the Markey Bill to reform SOLs was gaining traction. Then too he mentioned his opposition to the bill.

Rabbi Perlow is an outstanding Rabbinic scholar who must surely know the saying scattered repeatedly through the Talmud: Where G-d’s name is desecrated we don’t accord respect to the rabbi (BT Shavuot 30b).

כל מקום שיש בו חלול ה’ אין חולקין כבוד לרב – בבלי שבועות ל:ב

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29 thoughts on “Agudath Israel Head Opposes SOL Reform or Going Straight to Police about CSA While Complaining that Bloggers Lie about Haredi Rabbis

  1. “And how we have to see to it that the predators are not there to disturb our children.”
    Yes, by sending them to molest someone else’s children; Leifer is only the most recent example of this, aided & abetted by his Haredi compatriots in Australia.Is there any chance he would, in order to set a good example & show he’s serious, come out clearly & state that she should return to Australia to face the many serious charges…(I put 3 dots rather than a question mark…)

  2. He and his ilk are just as guilty as of inflicting needless suffering as the perpetrators. They should be considered accessories and accomplices to molestation since they actively obstruct justice. They should be locked in prison .

  3. Perlow is a liar. I am a witness to his lies. In the early 70s, I had to see a social worker in Boro park about getting a divorce. My “counselor” was his first wife, who had been my teacher in Beis Yakov, was a cousin of mine and sat next to my mom in shul. She had a stack of incest cases on her desk and told me about them.

    Twenty years later, I called her when Aol went live and told her that all kinds of bad stuff was happening to kids and it has to stop. We discussed the case of three boys in Bobov who had gang raped a 10 year old because he mother was a Jew by Choice and his father was a BT. The boy killed himself. She said her husband couldn’t do anything about it, because no one listened to him and they would run him out of town on a rail. She gave as an example the fact that he didn’t want people spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on fancy weddings and no one paid attention.

    So he has known about predators in the frum community for 40 years at least, and refused even then to say a word and now the man who fought Reb Moishe on every attempt he made to free agunot (especially in my case, which would have set a legal precedent and instead led to the creation of the NY Get Law…which he tried to dump) is lying about what he knew and when and is blaming the victims for making up lies.

    I can smell the smoke from his burning pants all the way to Mt. Pocono. Liar, liar, pants on fire. #nocureforstupid

  4. Reblogged this on LOSTMESSIAH and commented:

    About Bloggers: “They are mazikim (wreckers) as well, those who are always ready to accuse us, to criticize us, out of a disrespect for Torah, for its values, for its principles, and as to how questions are decided- al pi daas Torah (according to the opinion of the leading ultra orthodox rabbis)” We encourage bloggers to continue on their mission, our collective mission, to shed light on the indiscretions of an isolationist and highly insular community. We can say it no better than the author of Frum Follies. We encourage you to listen, read the transcript and the commentary and continue blogging.

  5. One point I didn’t see addressed above: He is labeling you (bloggers) as uncaring and whose only motivation is out of hatred of Torah. This way he is trying to encourage people to dismiss you based on where he says you are coming from rather than looking at the injustice itself and dealing with it. According to him, it can’t be that you are a good person doing what is right.

      • And of course they don’t- or wait they do but it’s so holy and elite that you just don’t understand how brilliant and erudite it is. If you only knew. If you only knew. Gd is literally in their ear telling them what to do- daassss Torah don’t you know. “Their” agenda is what counts. They can suspend all rules to protect it. I call it a version of communal psychopathy. They will endanger others and themselves in the most riskiest behaviors to get what they want and they will appear to believe it like the absolute truth using all sorts of sociological us vs them tricks. And here’s the kicker. The scientologists, ardent Catholics, fundamentalist Protestants and other fundamental (read: literalists) religious groups all do these things. The good news is their ranks are starting to leave and their attempts to indoctrinate outsiders in the fundamentalist versions of their cult faiths is getting weaker by the year because people who do not have diminished faculties of reasoning are steering clear of the fundies. And if you are one of those who don’t have the faculties of reason I pity you but you have been warned.

        • I must agree with Hank…starkly but well put, & for those who don’t yet know, it’s no exaggeration.

  6. May I suggest a frumspeak neologism, “agenda min ha-shamayim,” (or for those who prefer Aramaic, “agenda d’shamaya”? “Agenda” is derived from Latin, meaning a “to-do” list with priorities, not unlike the mitzvot. And is not “sur mei ra’ ” – “stop doing evil/harm” — at the top of Hashem’s “agenda”? Yes, YL, you have an “agenda” — the right one.

    • Kevin – Excellent!!

      (I vote for “Agenda D’Shmaya” – sounds very frum and has a nice rhyme to it.)

      • Unless is is mispronounced as “Agenda D’Shmarya.” That might provoke the ire of Failed Messiah haters from the 12-year period when Shmarya Rosenberg used it to muckrake. 🙂

        • You have a point there. Guess we will need to go with the other one “Agenda Min Hashomayim”.

          How about “Agenda D’Oraiysa”?

        • Well then, that’s precisely why we should call it that! “Agenda d’Shmarya” is a fabulous term to use. It will infuriate our opponents–always a good thing–and give an eternal hat tip to a blogger who, along with UOJ, fought this very good fight and succeeded in exposing molesters and the rabbis who protect them.

  7. But if not for these blogs rabbis will still be abusing and covering up abuse of children,
    So thank g’d for these blogs

  8. Check out Matzav’s headline today “Rabbonim Issue Call for Action on Child Abuse and Molestation”. Oh. My. Goodness. Did anyone even listen to the speech? ? I bet even the Novominsker Rebbe doesn’t even know just how passionate he was about helping kids. It is incredible that he is being used as PR for something he spoke out against, and how they managed to find 2 ‘untainted’ sentences and make it sound like he is a victim defender. “We must ensure that predators are not able to disturb our children; we have no sympathy for the perpetrators.” and “We are deeply sympathetic to the victims,” To quote Yerachmiel – I don’t know whether to laugh or cry..

    • If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laugh, although even that’s in doubt, as it’s now like ridiculing what used to be called a handicapped person, not at all cool; but it is serious, so it’s definitely cry. Oy vay to the generation who has these characters for leaders & spokespeople, & even worse, continues to worship & support them…

  9. Yerachmiel I agree strongly with so much of this post. One point though. You say that you are not aware of any safety program that says that even a rebbi can be a molester. In the Safety Kid program developed by Debbie Fox the volunteers are trained to ask the children towards the end what to do if they are touched or spoken to in a way that doesn’t feel okay. The presenter then goes through a list of examples what if a friend … what if a cousin … what if a sibling … what if a rebbi … In addition two of the illustrations portray rabbinic looking figures as examples of someone that proper boundaries still apply to.

  10. I have so many thoughts running through my head – it’s just unreal. How is it that at a TUM convention anyone from the Agudah or TUM has the NERVE to say in one breath they care about the victims TODAY and not those of years ago. Do they know that victims carry scars forever? That victims might go through the motions of live but many are very troubled with mental iiness. Who are these ppl? Are they educated? The hypocrisy of it all!!! they care about the victims of today and not those other ones from yester-year? Speak about talking out of 2 sides of ones mouth. YL you know what I am talking about; TUM is an umbrella organization of covering up pretend that there aren’t any perps in the their schools, they think they’re protecting the schools by hushing the victim.
    I know of a case where TU leadership have a DOCUMENT (that founds it’s way on the Internet and distributed around town) stating that they know this rebbe personally and that the rebbe is a wonderful role model and should be in the classroom with kids. TUM did not even KNOW this rebbe nor the victims. They along with the community, maligned the name of one victim in particular and the family.
    Finally, when 2 big wigs from the umbrella organization were served with papers to appear in court along with other “great” rabbi’s who covered up this sicko, . These rabbi’s were sued BC they didnt care, and they LIED and maligned the victim(s). They were sued BC there’s ZERO RABBINICAL LEADERSIP. And yet one rabbi representing the Agudah protectected the perp, others were from other organizations did as well. They signed off on various documents not believing that there were FOUR children (I believe that would be considered רגלים לדבר) who the perp had inappropriate, devient and sexual behavior and contact with. When the 2 big wigs were up at bat, they had a choice – to either lie in a court of law or force the perp to drop the suit, which he did. Do victims suffer with PTSD, anxiety, mistrust, loss of yiddishkeit, loss of self, and challah suicide? YES!
    It’s too much Yerachmiel, too much….

  11. The problem? Haredi rabbis sit for hours on end and try to find a solution. And, sadly, they just can’t find one.

    Why? Because the only solution—going straight to the proper authorities who actually know how to handle these matters, the police and the DA—is anathema to them. And therefore, since that’s not an option, they must sit together for YEARS and ultimately throw up their hands in frustration, since they gave no clue how to solve this problem. But blame the investigative journalists; they’re at fault for exposing our utter impotence and sheer confusion in this matter. And so the decades go by, with not a single coherent thought or policy.

    These men couldn’t run a candy store. And they’re the leaders of Klal Yisroel? It’s well beyond laughable or even tragic. These are criminals who are indeed, as written above, accomplices to crimes. They urge the public not to report crimes, contra the New York State Mandated Reporter laws. This is the Torah? These are its students? Truly, woe to us. What would our prophets say if these “men”?
    http://harmtza.blogspot.com

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