I regularly criticize Haredi leadership for its practices and policies for dealing with child sex abuse. But all is not well in the modern orthodox world. In theory they embrace all sorts of best practices for confronting child sex abuse. But walking the talk is a different matter. The Rabbinical Council of America is the rabbinical organization of most modern orthodox rabbis in North America. Eric Aiken, owner of the site Protect Jewish Kids, has written a devastating critique of the gap between their promises and their action. I post it here in its entirety with Mr. Aiken’s kind permission. — Yerachmiel Lopin, blogger of Frum Follies.
1. Also check out “The List” on the site of Protect Jewish Kids. It is the single most extensive listing of known orthodox Jewish sex offenders who were either arrested or convicted. Documentation is furnished for each entry.
2. Check out my post of 6/12/13, RCA Continues to Excuse Belsky’s Witness Intimidation, and my parody of their statement, Vito Gambino Agrees with the RCA.
by Eric Aiken (6/15/16)
Dear Rabbi Dratch,
Six weeks ago, I emailed you and published on my website, www.protectjewishkids.com, a detailed letter expressing my deep concern that the RCA was doing little to protect Orthodox children from sexual assault:
- I wrote a 2,000 word letter pointing out how the RCA hasn’t implemented or enforced 4 separate sets of child safety resolutions that it has adopted over the last 23 years. I also asked you to require that all RCA rabbis publicly prohibit from their synagogues, schools and yeshivas anyone convicted of a child sex crime. In a phone call that I had with you 7 months ago, you told me that you wouldn’t commit to enforcing the RCA child protection resolutions or requiring rabbis to ban child rapists and molesters from Orthodox institutions.
- I wrote how you told me in that phone call that publicizing the identities of convicted Orthodox child molesters was a “no-brainer”, yet the RCA doesn’t do it.
- I cited an essay that you wrote 10 years ago that advocates for abusive rabbis to be excommunicated and defrocked, yet the RCA, to my knowledge has never done so to an abusive rabbi.
- I wrote about the RCA resolution that pledges to condemn every person involved in child sexual abuse. Yet out of over 250 public record cases that I have posted, I can only find on the RCA website 3 of these cases mentioned.
- I also wrote how in an RCA resolution 23 years ago, the RCA called for abusers to be identified to future employers, yet the RCA still doesn’t appear to have any system in place to do that.
I will quote your response to my letter in its entirety:
“Thank you for your email. We continue to work assiduously on this issue.”
That was your complete response to my detailed letter. Thirteen meaningless words.
I believe that many people reading this will find your response to be totally inadequate. Yet you and the RCA don’t seem to want to discuss any of the above issues, let alone take long overdue action to protect our children from a lifetime of pain.
Don’t you feel that as executive vice president of the largest rabbinic organization in the world you have an obligation to protect the children in your synagogues, schools, yeshivas, mikvas and summer camps from sexual abuse and harm?
I believe that thousands of parents and community members feel that they have no voice in their Orthodox communities. They see that their rabbis are unresponsive to their concerns about the need for child protection, intolerant of criticism and unwilling to be held accountable for their lack of action. Many fear that if they speak out, they will be shamed, punished and ostracized from their communities, as many have been who have spoken out in the past.
The writing is on the wall. Covering-up molesters, silencing victims and ignoring their advocates is a losing strategy. Nothing good will come of it. The only question is how much more public shame, ridicule and humiliation our rabbis are willing to bring upon themselves and the entire Jewish community before they come to that realization.