Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Danger That Remains To Be Addressed

This has been a very distressing week, with the announcement about Rabbi Meir Pogrow being a serial predator. Although I haven't seen much of him in the last few years, I first met Meir and his extended family over twenty years ago, when they gave me much hospitality and help, and his ex-wife and her family are truly wonderful people. I feel immense pain for them and for all the victims.

However, while the revelations about his actions were not as wholly unsurprising as was the case with Rabbi Leib Tropper (with whom, several weeks before the revelations came out about his predatory actions, I warned that he was a dangerous manipulator), I can't say that it came as a complete shock. I first heard reports about Meir's inappropriate behavior over a decade ago. That itself, however, obviously raises a question. While these cases are complicated, and there are all kinds of factors to consider, there remains to be more light shed on why it took so long for the condemnation to appear, and how last week he could be perfectly acceptable as a maggid shiur but this week he is a rasha with whom one must not associate. (I am not saying that there aren't any good answers to this question - there may well be. But I think that, if there are good answers, they should be made known, rather than leaving it up to people to speculate.)

One very important essay about this case was written by Shayna Goldberg, an experienced seminary teacher, at The Times of Israel. It is similar to the excellent material written by Paul Shaviv about the problem of "Pied Pipers" - overly charismatic teachers who manipulate their students in harmful way. The essay is definitely worth reading in its entirety, but here is the second part:
...This is the real issue that has plagued my mind for so long. The fact that this man was never, ever fit to be an educator. The fact that knowing all the Torah in the world does not on its own make you trustworthy enough to be given a classroom’s worth of young, impressionable souls. The fact that long before anyone suspected inappropriate sexual behavior, it was glaringly clear that this person employed all kinds of unhealthy teaching methods in order to cultivate relationships with students. And the fact that no one but a few innocent teenage girls seemed to notice.
And so I want to talk about it. I want to talk about teachers who use fear and guilt frequently and indiscriminately in order to motivate and inspire. Teachers who deliberately try to alienate their students from everything they come from — their parents, families, homes, previous schools, communities, shuls, and even shul rabbis. Teachers who break students down so that they can recreate them in their own images. Teachers who cultivate groupies and are dependent on their students for self-esteem. Teachers who lack real relationships with their own peers because they are “so devoted” to their students. Teachers who teach students not to trust themselves, not to rely on their instincts, and not to listen to their inner voices.
Unfortunately, teachers like this are not uncommon, and we don’t talk enough about the damage that they do. About the fact that the rapid growth and change that they foster usually doesn’t last or, if it does, comes at a heavy price. About the fact that their students, years later, often find themselves empty and lost. About the guilty feelings that can stay with a person forever. About the relationships that are ruined in the process. And about the dependence that has been formed.
We don’t talk about it because, in the moment, the picture is so rosy. The teacher is charismatic, “his” classes are well attended, “she” is so devoted to her students, and the growth seems so exciting and real.
There are healthy and positive ways to educate and to inspire growth, whether the trajectory in mind is chareidi, “modern,” or something else. These ways are usually rooted in respect, humility, responsibility and trust.
Deeply respecting our students means wanting to understand and appreciate where they come from and who they are. It means valuing their relationships with family and friends and encouraging positive interactions as much as possible. It means wanting growth to be organic and slow, to follow a continuum and to not demand a total break with the past.
Humility includes being able to admit our own failings and limitations. It is the ability to tell our students when we don’t know something. Humility also means realizing that our way is not the only way, and that sometimes someone else might know more, or know better, or simply have a different take on things. Humility means understanding that each person is an individual; that it is important for students to cultivate and develop that individuality and not suppress it; and that the goal is not to create miniature versions of ourselves.
Responsibility is required with regard to the teaching methods that are employed. Fear and guilt work effectively for inspiring quick change, but, in the long run, they often lead to self-doubt, resentment, and depression. Responsibility means being honest about the ups and downs of life. It means describing hard moments that might arise and preparing students to deal with them. It means letting our students know that we also have challenges, questions, struggles and doubts. Teaching with responsibility means having patience, because real growth is a process that takes a long time. It means understanding that in order for something to be truly internalized, a student needs to work hard to make it that way.
Finally, we should educate our students to develop trust in themselves. Trust in their ability to think, to weigh things, and to make good decisions. Trust to pay attention to their gut and to notice when something doesn’t feel right. We should trust that our students are good at heart and want to do the right thing. And we should not betray their trust when they come forward with a concern, but should listen very, very closely to what they are telling us.
Even if we want to disagree about what exactly constitutes a healthy education, let’s at least agree on what does not.
I hope that in the wake of this scandal, we don’t just talk about one outed, sick educator and then move on as if everything were okay. Let us not get so distracted by the outrageous details that we forget what was so grossly inexcusable about his conduct as a teacher, even had he never touched anyone.
People like this are facilitated by an educational culture that celebrates and rewards brilliant and charismatic figures, despite the fact that they are often highly problematic and leave silent trails of ruin in the shadows of their successes.
As a community, we can be aware of this and do a lot to change it. Our schools, administrators, and lay leaders can think, and think again, about our educational goals and about the healthy ways in which to help our students reach them. And, in the event that there are staff members whose behavior is wholly inconsistent with our conclusions, then it’s time that we put our children’s well-being first.
Let’s talk about that.
I truly hope that this message sinks in, because it is a very serious problem. Furthermore, while Mrs. Goldberg discusses cases where staff members are manipulative and dangerous to their students, that can potentially be addressed by other staff members and by the heads of the institution. What about  when the head of the institution himself is a deeply problematic person? I remember, after the brouhaha several years ago regarding charges about problems with Rav Bina's educational approach, a friend of mine, who knew Rav Bina very well, told me that while all the reports were true, they pale into insignificance compared to a certain other Rosh Yeshivah in Jerusalem. He explained to me that at least with Rav Bina, there are other staff members who temper his approach, but with this other Rosh Yeshivah, his exceedingly manipulative and emotionally abusive approach is not only vastly more harmful than that of Rav Bina, but it is untempered by any other faculty members, who are all devoted chasidim of this Rosh Yeshivah and who amplify his approach.

Previously, in a post on the question of why do so many centrists send their kids to extreme charedi yeshivos, I noted that many parents do not do proper research, or are misled by the yeshivah. Perhaps it is up to high schools, who often host rebbeim that are recruiting for various yeshivos and seminaries, to find out whether these yeshivos and seminaries have severely inappropriate teachers on their faculty or running their institutions.

55 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I see that you deleted your comment, but I too was at the institution you were referencing and I don't feel that it was entirely unfounded.

      I was not personally the object of that unhealthy teaching method, but watching it be used against the younger students sickened me to the point that I had to leave after only a few months.

      I think it is a perfect example of the type of instruction that we need to speak out against. Even if there are no indications of sexual impropriety, it is still highly inappropriate and manipulative.

      Delete
    2. I felt uncomfortable attacking the blog owner in public. I should have raised the matter privately.
      But since you write.... may I ask what is being done to put this purported bully behind bars (or at least far away from students )?

      Delete
  2. On point, and agreed. Parents need to be informed before making a decision. However, on the issue of manipulation, our society as a whole is to a degree, brainwashed, and is afraid to be non conformist. For example, the "Shidduch Crisis". Here in Brooklyn the FJJ paper (a craziness unto itself) deems it necessary to run ads saying "date the person, not the resume". If our leaders had any real courage, they would ban the resume as they tried to ban the internet. My son who is going to 12th grade is being pushed to go to learn in Israel-not because it's an important thing to do, but because of he was already told that if he does not, it will be a glaring omission on his resume, limiting who he could date. That's manipulation.
    Next is the lying and refusal to give our kids tools to deal with problems. By lying I mean attacking the symptoms rather that the disease. For example, my daughter's school has announced stricter cell phone and internet banning policies for next year. The genie is out of the bottle. But our leaders prefer the cold medicine treatment-looking at the symptoms without addressing the problems. Nasty bullying girls who's parents will openly scoff at and break policy will just create more nasty bullying girls. The kids earn from their parents examples of how to behave. It goes back to IMHO the point of being manipulated, and allowing a flawed culture to continue. There is also the fear that speaking up will make you (and your kids) pariahs. Would you call that reverse manipulation?

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  3. Rabbi Slifkin, you said "I first heard reports about Meir's inappropriate behavior over a decade ago." Did you do anything with that information or take it as a given that someone else would? I never heard any allegations of inappropriate behavior, I did know him to be a master manipulator of girls when they were at their at a very impressionable stage of their lives in seminary, specifically in Michlala. The most disturbing and telling part of this whole story is that nearly everyone I have spoke to about it have had the same reaction, we are not surprised. Why did it take actual physical abuse to finally end his reign of terror when he was mentally molesting members of the community for years through his manipulating educational ways.

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  4. I need to ask one question. Why has no one gone to the police? This guy need to be in only one place - jail!

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    1. The primary reason this cancer grows in your community is the recognition by prospective perpetrators that culturally no one will go to the police. No one. Worst case scenario is sanction by three rabbi panel that can always be excused away or discredited at the next stop.

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  5. I think the first stage in addressing the issue is recognising that the issue exists, and is far from uncommon.

    Contrary to the beliefs of many orthodox Jews abuse is equally common in all communities, whether black Christian, atheist, or charedi Bnei brak. What we can do about it is making sure that when abuse occurs we recognise it and act immediately to stop the situation.

    In short we must educate people about the frequency and dangers of abuse, and how to recognise and stop it.

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  6. I don't know the circumstances, but I'm disturbed by your comment that you heard musings of his inappropriate behavior 10 years ago. It seems this is always the case. No one is ever surprised after the fact and then the hand-wringing begins as to how all the warning signs were there and how come no one said anything.

    The end of your post is the same. You mention someone who is abusive in his teaching methods but then refuse to identify him. Will this be yet another case where everyone knew but no one said anything?

    Every time I read these types of stories whether it's sexual abuse or emotional abuse and I hear about all the rabbis and important people who knew or should have known and said nothing or looked the other way it just shakes my faith again.

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  7. I was first told about Baruch Lanner's "problem" by a classmate in YU a few years before the story broke in a big way. I had an unrelated problem with him and when I complained, I was told about the abuse. "Everyone knows," I was told. Since it has, I've wondered why no one, myself included, did anything. I have two ideas:

    1. When "everyone" knows something, the truth is that few people really know anything. Neither my friend or I had any actual evidence or stories. Some did, of course, and that was the problem.

    2. When you hear that "everyone" knows something, you assume that someone, somewhere, is doing something. This was after all the OU itself we were talking about. There's got to be someone responsible, right?

    Apparently not.

    Of course, one more point: There weren't blogs then.

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    1. It's called "bystander effect" or "Genovese syndrome": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect
      Everyone assumes that someone else will take care of the problem.

      Delete
    2. A part of it, sure. As a Queens resident, I feel compelled to point out that the Genovese story was very inaccurately reported. One person (who was drunk) apparently saw exactly what was going on and kept quiet.

      Delete
  8. R' Natan, yasher koach for copying that insightful essay by Shayna Goldberg on abusive mechanchim. That facebook posting has already gone viral on JBlogs. I first saw it on Harry's blog, then on Yerachmiel Lapin's, then on R' Daniel Eidensohn's, then on "Times of Israel". Your reaction and citation of the prior article on charismatic teachers by Dr. Paul Shaviv was mine as well. The lesson wasn't learnt before; perhaps Shayna's revelation and analysis will make a difference now. Vigilance on the part of parents, and responsible action by school heads and/or rabbinic figures would help. Allowing the abuse to continue as one educational institution handed the subject off to others is hardly a justifiable course of action. He should have been black-listed from teaching female students after the initial incident(s) - if not reported to the authorities. But the burden also falls on potential victims and their families. Let students be wary of charismatic teachers even if apparently scandal-free. The gap year(s) should be used to grow into independent adulthood - not to find a guru to continue a childlike existence.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. Blacklisting as you describe it may not be enough, if one's wife continues to bring students home.

      Matis Weinberg was officially out of his school when the scandal broke, but still had plenty of contact with the students. Motti Elon was "exiled" to the Galil and kept on going like there was no change.

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    2. "Let students be wary of charismatic teachers even if apparently scandal-free."

      Non-charismatic teachers can also abuse children. Unfortunately children often say nothing out of shame and adults don't believe them when they do.

      Delete
  9. if you cannot prove what you say, you are opening yourself up to charges of libel

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    1. You can still be sued -even if there is a significant body of proof.

      Delete
  10. IMHO the root of the problem is that Haredim are trained that it is forbidden to think for oneself.

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    1. IMHO you don't have any idea what you are talking about. This case, the Weinberg case, the Allon case, and the Rabbi from up north were not in the chareidi community. Not to say that chareidim don't have this problem as well, but it is not in any way limited to them.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. [Fixed links below]

    Agree that the a teacher who alienates someone from their own family is a cult leader and not a teacher.

    But the more fundamental point is this: people need to stop disbelieving accusations of abuse and participating in backlash against accusers because their accusation is against a "great man". People great in other ways can commit child sexual abuse. They don't have to be cult leaders. They can be regular people and very good in other ways.

    Watch and have your eyes opened by the stories of these courageous people:

    Ruth Krevsky
    Rivka Joseph

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    1. BTW, I mislabeled the second one. That one is Sima Yarmush.

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  13. I read the linked article. It's not clear to me what Rabbi Pogrow's major crime was.

    And I love this new theory that states that charismatic teachers who use old-school teaching methods must be sexual criminals.

    Who isn't a sexual criminal according to these modern-day witch-hunters?

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    1. I read the linked article. It's not clear to me what Rabbi Pogrow's major crime was.

      Beit Shemesh resident and founder of the Master Torah study program Rabbi Meir Pogrow is accused of misusing his authority as a rabbi to have sex with married and single women who were 'under his influence.'
      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/americas/1.726527

      Who isn't a sexual criminal according to these modern-day witch-hunters?

      People who don't engage in sexual contact or behavior with their students.

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    2. The article and its headline you linked to above is a blatantly false misrepresentation of what the psak din actually says. (Not to mention crudely phrased.) Would anyone expect something otherwise from that media source?

      Delete
    3. DF: I agree that the promulgators of the P'sak should be faulted for not explicitly stating his crimes. But it is not at all a blatantly false misrepresentation. Why else do you think that there is a warning to all single and married women to have nothing to do with him? Do you think they did this because they don't approve of his teaching methods.

      If you don't like JTA, then the JPost article as this:

      "Schoor told the press she met Pogrow at the age of 15 when 'the process of grooming and manipulation began.'" Grooming means preparing someone for sexual abuse.

      And this: "But at every turn a door closed: victims afraid to be exposed, rabbis finding excuses not to address it, organizations lying to protect themselves and much more." You think that she's talking about teaching methods? Victims are afraid to be exposed for having a cult teacher?

      And this:

      "The Kol v’Oz organization for tackling sexual abuse in the Jewish community said Pogrow 'has effectively been found guilty by the Beit Din [rabbinical court] of misusing his authority for his sexual gratification.'"

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    4. Yehuda, I only advised being wary of charismatic teachers as did a leading Jewish educator, Paul Shaviv, in an article earlier this year. Such types can cause much harm to their young charges if there are serious character defects along with the charisma. If by "old-school teaching methods" you mean the fear and guilt engendering, and teaching their charges not to trust themselves and their instincts mentioned by Shayna Goldberg , then those people are a real and present danger who should not be allowed to continue teaching the young. They will definitely cause harm even if they don't sink to sexual exploitation.
      Y. Aharon

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    5. David Ohsie,

      The Jerusalem Post article said no such thing. If he, in fact, committed those acts, I am with you 100%.

      I still, however, decry trying to connect a man's crimes to old-school teaching styles. It's kind of like the Democrats hijacking the Orlando terrorist attack for their own ends, turning it into a gun control issue.

      Delete
    6. One of the Rabbi's on the beis din, Rav Chaim manilowits explicitly says that Rav Meir pogrow did the most disgusting acts but they only talked about a small portion of them and only in hints.

      כתבנו מעט מזעיר ממעשיו הגרועים.ואף זו ברמיזה בלי פירוט.

      לדעתי, ואני מדבר רק בעד עצמי, זו בזיון התורה ללמוד תורה מן נואף, ממי שעושה מעשה זמרי, ממי שעבר על איסורים חמורים במזיד מאות פעמים בחייו --וד''ל. לדעתי זו בושה וחרפה לכם להגיש שיעוריו לציבור. לא מדובר במי שנכשל בעבירה--מדובר במי שחי חיי פרא אדם , לוכד נשים במרמה והרבה הרבה פעמים הרס בזה חייהן.

      איזה בושה! איזה חילול ה'! איזה בזיון! וכי תורה היא צעצוע שלנו?

      אני מלמד זכות עליכם שאתם לא מבינים המדובר פה, כיון שלא פירטנו יותר ממה שכתבנו.

      אני מדגיש עוד פעם שאני מדבר אך ורק בעד עצמי.

      מסתמא יש לכם רבנים לשאול להם שאילות שיש לכם, לכו תשאלו אותם.

      חיים זאב הלוי מלינובי
      כתבנו מעט מזעיר ממעשיו הגרועים.ואף זו ברמיזה בלי פירוט.

      לדעתי, ואני מדבר רק בעד עצמי, זו בזיון התורה ללמוד תורה מן נואף, ממי שעושה מעשה זמרי, ממי שעבר על איסורים חמורים במזיד מאות פעמים בחייו --וד''ל. לדעתי זו בושה וחרפה לכם להגיש שיעוריו לציבור. לא מדובר במי שנכשל בעבירה--מדובר במי שחי חיי פרא אדם , לוכד נשים במרמה והרבה הרבה פעמים הרס בזה חייהן.

      איזה בושה! איזה חילול ה'! איזה בזיון! וכי תורה היא צעצוע שלנו?

      אני מלמד זכות עליכם שאתם לא מבינים המדובר פה, כיון שלא פירטנו יותר ממה שכתבנו.

      אני מדגיש עוד פעם שאני מדבר אך ורק בעד עצמי.

      מסתמא יש לכם רבנים לשאול להם שאילות שיש לכם, לכו תשאלו אותם.

      חיים זאב הלוי מלינוביץ
      ====

      Question: Should Kol HaLashon remove the shiurim of Meir Pogrow?

      Answer:

      We have written in the psak of the Beis Din only a small fraction of his disgusting deeds and even then it was only done with hints without going into detail.

      In my view, and I am only speaking for myself, it is an insult to the Torah to learn Torah from a predator of women - from one who does ma'aseh Zimri, from one who has transgressed extremely severe prohibitions deliberately at least hundreds of times in his life. That description should be sufficient for you to get the picture.

      In my view it is an embarrassment and disgrace for you to offer his shiurim to the public. We are not talking about someone who had a temporary lapse and succumbed to temptation. We are talking about someone who lived an unrestricted licentious life - trapping women through deception and many many times destroying their lives.

      What an embarrassment! What a chilul HaShem! What a disgrace! Do you think that Torah is a mere trivial plaything for us?

      I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you have not understood the seriousness of what we have talked about in our psak since we deliberately have left out the details. But the answer as to whether the shiurim should be removed is obvious.

      Let me emphasize and repeat that I am speaking only for myself and not the other dayanim

      You obviously have your rabbinical advisors to ask this question. Please go and ask them for their psak.

      http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2016/06/meir-pogrow-rav-chaim-malinowitz.html?m=1

      Delete
    7. @Yehudah, here is the JPost article: Prominent rabbi and educator accused of sexual abuse

      I don't know what "old-school" means.

      I don't want my kids to be hit (even though the Torah allows it.)

      I don't want my kids to be alienated from their family, relatives or friends for religious reasons.

      I don't want my kids to be sexually abused.

      I don't want that for other kids either. And I don't want it for adults.

      Delete
    8. Yavoy, thank for finding that. Unfortunately even R. Malinowitz can't bring himself to say that the man was child sex abuser. This in itself is a huge problem. And of course there is no excuse for the Beis Din to act in the way it did in obfuscating his crime and further casting doubt on the efforts of those trying to deal with child abuse by putting thoughts of "witch hunt" into their minds.

      Delete
  14. Isn't part of the problem the fear of transgressing the laws of "lashon hara?". Someone hears something, it sounds convincing, yet the listener really can't know for sure if it is true so I can understand the tendency not to want to believe it. Of course we know that there are cases where a person should act if it is known that a particular Jew is harmful, but if one doesn't really know the facts and is only exposed to rumors, the natural, "halachic" approach would be not to want to accept the allegations are true.

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    1. First watch this and then come back to this comment:

      Ruth Krevsky

      Lashon Hara beceomes an excuse. Here is what really happens:

      1) One or more accusations are made against a person who has some religious role or status.

      2) The accusations are discussed with some authorities within the organization of the accused.

      3) The authorities can't believe that such a great person could do such a horrible thing.

      4) The authorities doubt the accusers story and come up with various speculative scenarios that could explain the accusation. Friends of the accused spread rumors about the character of the accusers.

      5) General public hears story about how a wonderful person was falsely accused by disturbed accuser in an dysfunctional family.

      6) This Lashon Hara IS accepted.

      7) In case another accuser appears, they are put in the same category as the first accuser.

      Why doesn't the accuser's family do something? Because they see the blowback and also they need to protect the privacy of their abused family member.

      What about the police? It is very hard to get someone convicted on the testimony of a child without physical evidence and the abusers are quite careful here. The child protection authorities consider their job to protect the child from further harm; once that his done, their job is done.

      Finally, this assumes that an accuser comes forward. Most are ashamed of their own abuse, or don't realize that they are being abused and say nothing.

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    2. Excellent description. As we know. But how do we stop it?

      Daniel

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    3. We can at least stop believing the excuses and support the victims. Demand that the organizations that you participate in set policies to help prevent abuse and push them hard when there is a suspected abuser. Donate to anti-abuse orgs. No single action will stop this, but each change can make a small difference.

      Delete
  15. You seem to be implying that such things can be happening only in Haredi schools. You could not miss the scandal in YU, could you? Not to mention common wide spread scandals in gentile secular schools.

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  16. Where on earth do you see such an implication?! On the contrary, I personally know of more cases in non-Haredi institutions.

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  17. Here's another case where the issue is not Lashon Hara, but denial:

    1) Two video showing the abuse: https://archive.org/details/VID20160501WA0003

    2) The denial: Satmar Issues Slick PR Statement about the Video of Rabbi Klein and the Child

    3) The local police went along with it.

    4) The feds did not: Kiryas Joel raids: Yeshiva building targeted

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    1. david,
      generally you write intelligently even when you are misinformed, so this comment is unusual for you. i saw the video, and there is nothing on it that is either sexual or abusive. in it, the principle berates a child (who was apparently in trouble over some issue or other) then acts affectionate to soften the effect. in it's cultural context this is accepted and appropriate behavior. there is nothing on the video that shows the principle attempting to derive sexual gratification from the child. incidentally, since this is a named individual, this is true motsee shem ra'a. you can't even get a kaparra until this individual forgives you. it may feel good to be all "holier then thou" on a blog post, but what will you do come yom kippur, or even worse, the big yom hadin after 120.

      Delete
    2. 1. Denial and LH messirah culture. (It didn't help that another williamsburg case, the sentence was like 150 years. They claimed (somewhat justifiably) that even murderers don't get over 25 years, and he got 150 years. A chassid cannot get a fair trial (this was a sentencing issue, but the argument remains.)

      2. Its always a PR game. This might have been slick, but still poor.

      3. While the local police (actually the county prosecutor) closed the case quickly, of course it was a political decision. That's how the game is played. Face it.

      4. The feds are investigating something else. They have very poor jurisdictional grounds in this case. And they're embarrassed they didn't see the video system on their previous 'visit' raid.

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    3. @MiMedinat HaYam

      1. Mesirah doesn't explain keeping him in his position. Case citation might help. You get to 150 years if you commit multiple crimes and the judge decides to sentence to consecutive terms. Murderers do get real life terms. Aaron Hernandez got life without parole.

      3. Of course I understand. That is exactly why people have to understand that "the police didn't do anything" is not a license to keep people in their existing positions.

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    4. Anonymous:
      Are you serious! He holds the boy in between his knees right next to his crotch for 15 minutes. He holds his face less than an inch from the child and is apparently kissing him. He touches/fondles every single part of his body. And he does all this for fifteen minutes straight. What more do you want to see? Him raping the child?

      "in it's cultural context this is accepted and appropriate behavior."
      Unfortunately sexual abuse does seem to be accepted and appropriate behaviour in this culture. That's exactly the problem.

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    5. yavoy,
      i watched the video carefully, and you are misrepresenting it. at no point does the principle make contact with any part of the child's body below the waist. likewise, at no point does any part of the principle's body other than his hands or face, make contact with the child. the fact that you interpret kissing and and other types of non genital contact as attempts to derive sexual gratification (which is the definition of sex abuse) displays your cultural bias. in the hypersexualised west, your interpretation might be reasonable, in many traditional societies it is not. imposing your cultural standards on another culture is the very definition of bias.
      that would be true even if your bias was a true error, but based on the last sentence that you wrote "sexual abuse does seem to be accepted etc."
      it doesn't seem to be an error, but is instead malicious. as i pointed out to DO, atid liyten et hadin. imagine what you will feel like in olam habah, after having arrogantly and publicly humiliated this person in this world, you will be forced to plead for his mercy and forgiveness in the next world. that image alone aught to be enough to encourage more responsible behavior, whatever your underlying biases regarding satmar may be.

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    6. @Yavoy: Disagree in part: "Unfortunately sexual abuse does seem to be accepted and appropriate behaviour in this culture."

      1) It happens and gets covered up in cultures where it is not acceptable, for the reasons that I mentioned above.

      2) There was obviously a brave soul (or souls) who surreptitiously installed those cameras and then got the video out, risking their entire way of life in the process. So it is probably not accepted by the culture. What is accepted is that those in power like to keep their power and use it to their own ends.

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    7. @Anonymous: "i saw the video, and there is nothing on it that is either sexual or abusive. in it, the principle berates a child (who was apparently in trouble over some issue or other) then acts affectionate to soften the effect."

      How do you know that? The boy is close enough to his genitals to be a sexual act. You also see what appears to be the boy reaching down to protect his own genitals. How do you know what is going on? You made up that theory in order to protect (in your own mind) "a great man". You are therefore an enabler.

      If there was any doubt as to what was going on, this should be the response:

      "We are very disturbed by the content the video. The principal has been suspended while we investigate. The behavior shown in the video is completely inappropriate for anyone in our school and we will immediately commence abuse prevention training for all staff."

      it may feel good to be all "holier then thou" on a blog post, but what will you do come yom kippur, or even worse, the big yom hadin after 120.

      I agree in part. Those who protect abusers assuage their guilt now, but will have to answer before God, and they won't have much of a defense.

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    8. but why should there be any doubt? why should the video have disturbed them? there was nothing on the video that was a "revelation" it simply showed the principle acting as he normally does. there was nothing scandalous about it.
      it is only your cultural bias that attaches a suspicion of sexual content to otherwise perfectly innocent behavior.

      re your last sentence, of course you are correct that anyone who facilitates any sin, including sexual abuse will have to answer for it, but how does that mitigate the severity of falsely slandering an innocent person?
      my larger point was not that we all will have to answer for our sins one day, as we all know that and it still doesn't seem to prevent us from sinning. in this case there is a unique irony though, as here you are getting all "holier then thou" and passionate about slandering a man just because he doesn't conform to your cultural biases (and perhaps because of a general dislike of satmar), yet one day (perhaps in this world, perhaps in the next) you will have to beg his forgiveness and rely on his (hopefully) good heart for mercy. recognizing the humiliation of that situation may help a fellow overcome his shortsighted passions in a way that having to answer to hashem seems not to. that was my point.

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    9. The idea that what's going on in that video is innocent is ludicrous beyond belief. Absolutely disgusting.

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    10. Imagine if the rabbi was seen on video acting in that manner with a woman instead of a child, holding her between his legs and getting close enough to kiss (unclear in the video whether or not they actually did). Would anybody question whether it was inappropriate?

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    11. Anonymous: Of course falsely slandering an innocent person is a great sin, but how does that mitigate the sins of those who aid and abet child molestation?

      Of course we will all have to answer for sins, but there is irony in claiming a video is lashon hara, while you deny the existence of abuse because it doesn't conform to your preconceptions about the abusers. One day, you will have to beg the forgiveness those who were abused by those whom you tried to protect. Recognizing the humiliation of that situation may help you overcome your shortsighted defense of child sexual abuse and abusers.

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    12. nothing on the video that was a "revelation" it simply showed the principle acting as he normally does.

      That explains why someone inside the school risked their way of life to secretly videotape the principal. After all, people put up hidden cameras all the time to record what they consider to be normal behavior in their culture.

      it is only your cultural bias that attaches a suspicion of sexual content to otherwise perfectly innocent behavior.

      Genital contact is sexual in all cultures, and certainly no less so in societies where where women's calves and chaste photos in the newspaper are considered provocative.

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    13. Re: Anonymous June 26, 2016 at 1:54 AM

      Has this creature with the chutzba to lecture David Ohsie on sin considered his own response to some big, powerful dude grabbing and holding him, fluttering his paws all over his body and face, slobbering on his neck and rhythmically pressing him to his groin? Can he imagine himself as the little boy in the video? Even if, in some alternate universe, this were a strange, but non-sexual "cultural" act, would it not occur in the open, rather than secretively behind closed doors? What Jewish culture, past or present, can one imagine would normalize such behaviour? Under what pretext would it allow a six year old child to be treated so by anyone? How many in any Jewish community casually speak of such incidents as a normal part of their early childhood education? How many would recommend such "culturally unique" treatment as traditional and pedagogically salubrious?

      Temujin doesn't believe one bit that this "Anonymous" thing above is merely a well-meaning, but overly credulous idiot. That under the haze of loyalty and wide-eyed innocence he actually believes his own comical denials of something any normal human being can see is a swinish act, or that he is genuinely sincere in his holier-than-thou scolding of David. Ugh!

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    14. To david o:

      1. He was let go from the school. (Though they kept on his wife.) He subsequently got a job in LA, then dallas. Jobs he lost pretty quickly, i understand.)

      There are technical reason for justifying the sentence. But these technical reasons do not override accusations that (multiple) murderers rarely get such a sentence, and that chassidim cannot get a fai trial even in kings county (brooklyn). (Note: he had to be released when the prosecution admitted there was substantial double dealing in the case, regarding possible procuring of testimony. Which doesn't mean hecshould be rehired as (legally unlicensed) 'counselor.

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    15. Obviously, letting someone go and then he teaches somewhere else is not really handling the problem. If Mesirah is the issue, then you need to set up a system that will prevent him from being rehired. Besides which, there are lots of cases where the person is not even fired which has nothing to do with Mesirah. They simply demonize the victims instead. And it happens in groups who have accepted that going to the police is no Mesirah.

      Can you point to the case that you are talking about?

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  18. I haven't seen Meir in over 25 years.

    We were friends in high school.

    What we had in common was that neither of us was very popular, and both of us were occasionally picked on by the in-crowd: me, because I lacked self-confidence, and him, because of his supreme self-confidence.

    I feel sick and horrified.

    I've had friends who have passed away; but this is much worse.

    Andy

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  19. I'm bummed. I just discovered his Master Torah site and his idea and program seems to be a really great one to learn text for a Baal HaBayit. Any possibility you or some other non abuser could pick up and run such a program.

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