Thursday, January 6, 2022

Bad Ideas and Better Ones

In the wake of the Walder tragedy, a certain suggestion has come up several times. Rav Aaaron Lopiansky, Jonathan Rosenblum and others, who fully acknowledge the problem of sexual predators in charedi society, have called for the establishment of rabbinic committees and Batei Din to deal with these problems. They stress that these Batei Din must be professionally operated, have access to experts (i.e. non-rabbis), and must be accepted by the charedi community and have real authority. I discussed this suggestion with someone who actually works in the field of dealing with abuse, and they pointed out that such ideas, while well-intentioned, are not very good, for all kinds of reasons.

One reason is that they are trying to create the impossible. There is no such thing as setting up a body that will be accepted by everyone. The charedi world is immensely fragmented. Even the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah can't issue authoritative directives - a Beit Din for abuse certainly couldn't, and probably couldn't even come into existence.

Another problem is that the two crucial requirements of such a Beis Din - that it be professional and authoritative - are inherently incompatible. Professionalism requires a number of components that are fundamentally unacceptable to large swathes of the charedi community. No major rabbinic figure will issue rulings that are transparent and accountable to others. And if there's ever a clash between professional opinion and rabbinic prestige, or between public danger and charedi public image, the latter will likely take precedence. Does anyone think that a figure as powerful as Rabbi Leib Tropper would have been adequately dealt with by a charedi Beis Din? Or Walder himself, had he not killed himself - even if an "acceptable" Beis Din would have found him to be dangerous, would they have issued a public warning, causing a tremendous PR disaster for the charedi world? Of course not.

The normative societal procedures for dealing with these dangers - social services and the police and even the press - have all kinds of problems and limitations, but they are nevertheless the ones that should be used. The charedi community does not need a new rabbinic body in place of professionals and state agencies, it should be encouraging people to go to professionals and state agencies.

But, given the unique nature of the charedi community, there is certainly a need for a special organization. It needs to be comprised of people with inside knowledge of that community, who have professional training, who will investigate accusations, who will work to help victims, who will bridge the gap between charedim and the police, and who will engage in efforts to improve the general approach to abuse in the charedi world. 

And such an organization actually already exists. It is called Magen, and it does incredible work. I've been in touch with them over several issues and I've always been blown away by their professionalism, courage and accomplishments.

For example, after Rav Yehoshua Eichenstein spread Rav Edelstein's statement about Walder being killed by the terrible people who spread lashon hara about him, Magen took several abuse victims to visit Rav Eichenstein. While he didn't explicitly retract and apologize (being a Gadol means never having to say you're sorry), he did issue an highly significant letter about the importance of sympathy to victims and the need for them to get help, and added that there is no problem of lashon hara.

So, rather than wish for an impossible Beis Din that will never come into existence, I urge everyone to do something concrete about the situation and support Magen's efforts. You can learn more about their work at http://magen-israel.org, and you can donate to them at this link.


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28 comments:

  1. I think the best way of minimising abuse going forward is to design a curriculum charedi school kids that starts at age 6 and continues each year in a bit more depth right throughout high school on abuse etc. You need professional psychologists and teachers who are sensitive to the chareidi community to design it. The more education the kids get, will hopefully arm them how to protect themselves as well as deter all of those who have the inclination to abuse or to encourage them to seek help.

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  2. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Although it's good to hold abusers accountable (while making sure that they are not falsely accused), much more important is preventing the abuse in the first place. It needs not be said that in this regard, the secularists, with their "ethics" and "professionalism", have failed absolutely miserably, as discussed in yesterdays post. This is because they mostly have no boundaries at all. It's no surprise that even in their most sacred institutions, there are thousands of cases of sexual abuse annually. השחיתו התעיבו עלילה אין עשה טוב.

    But even among the chareidim, who actually have serious boundaries, and consequently a much less serious abuse problem, there is much work to do. There should not be male therapists or "mentors" for females. Or at least, any such situation must have other people present. And they must teach their daughters not to be alone with any male teachers. Unfortunately, even the chareidi community has been affected by the terrible diseases of the secular world. פשתה המשפחת. Therefore, they must be exceedingly careful of even boy's rebbeim. And unfortunately, they need to lower their level of trust of people who they previously would have trusted.

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    1. You basically got every point wrong. There are ethical and safety principles for therapists but the Charedi world bypasses licensing which means no rule for a man like Walder. Yes, there are gay Charedim just like there are gay people everywhere and the child sexual abuse is not lower in the Charedi world than elsewhere. Here is an example of a "secular" child safety program. Show me the Charedi equivalent: https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/

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    2. It must be really nice living in a world where your own people are perfect and you can just deflect by saying others are worse. So let me ask you something, Mr.-Has-It-All-Figured-Out: No men teaching girls is the problem, eh? What about women abusing girls? What about men abusing boys? And why is this a problem in a world whose supposed barriers between the sexes is already at a ridiculous extent? What more do you want?

      I also fail to see how this is considered "affected by the secular world." When the Torah warned against these things, were the Bnei Yisrael (in the Sinai desert, 3,300 years ago) "affected by the secular world"?

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    3. Yes, I know that secularists pay lip service to "ethical and safety principles" and "protocols". For secularists, lip service is everything. As long as they can pretend they have "protocols" and "procedures", no further action needs to be taken. But they have no serious boundaries. Not only that, but they would look at you in horror if you even suggested such a thing. Forget about yichud, they have absolutely no problem sending their daughters to drunk parties together with males. It doesn't take a genius to realize that in such a culture, sexual assault will flourish.

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    4. Nachum, of course they were always affected by the secular world. But the secular world has gotten much worse, has cast away all boundaries and has gotten much more perverted.

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    5. "There should not be male therapists or "mentors" for females. Or at least, any such situation must have other people present."

      You are utterly naive for suggesting such an impractical idea

      Therapy usually has to be alone for the subject to feel relaxed

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    6. Don't conflate, happy.

      The promiscuity and acceptance of "alternative" things in the non-Jewish world indeed are vastly different from how things are in the religious world. And being in a religious society might help protect one from such influences.

      BUT. THAT. IS. NOT. WHAT. IS. BEING. DISCUSSED.

      Therapy, openness, standards, awareness - all of these things are frowned upon to a greater or less extent in the religious world. The standards applied to a therapist's practice help protect against abuse, regardless of the fact that the daughter of said therapist might go to whatever party. Speaking privately with an apparently sagely religious man who has no certification other than semicha and a book contract who has no oversight and no licensing body to complain to has been shown to be dangerous, even if that apparently sagely religious man zealously protects his daughters from ever even seeing a member of the male species.

      One can recognize the need for and value of certain aspects of institutions without saying "secular!? Feh!" After all, these institutions already exist. It's not like we are saying to make a fifty year project to create a secular society which will internally create psychology and therapy and journalism and whistleblowing but the price will be promiscuity and sexual fluidity and whatnot, and we have to decide that the cost is too high. The institutions are ALREADY THERE so just learn from them! Applying professional standards to the religious world doesn't mean that we also have to put up rainbow flags every week that isn't Parshas Noach.

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    7. Yosef, I already agreed that there *may* be *some* advantages to the way secular society deals with these things. *Theoretically*, you might have superior "protocols", "procedures", "standards", whatever you call them. Or at least you claim to. But the problem is, inserting these into such a promiscuous and perverted society will only have a marginal effect, at best. It's like trying to stop a tsunami with a bath toy.

      And the proof is in the pudding. Thousands of annual cases of alleged sexual abuse in Israel's most sacred, most disciplined secularist institution. Including a very high percentage of actual physical sexual assault. And they doubtless have the best "protocols" and "procedures" you can imagine.

      A good example is David Ohsie bringing up that Boy Scouts website. He truly thinks this is "proof" that the seculars deal with it better. Because they wrote some corporate blather on their website. Which they may or may not implement. If their "training" is like any other corporate workplace training, we know the answer. Like corporate BLM logos, this is to pretend they're "doing the right thing" and to cover their ***** in case of legal action. "Show me the Charedi equivalent!" to this superficial, not-even-trying-to-be-effective lip service, he bellows.

      Getting back to your other point about the secular immorality which is what actually leads to these problems, why is THAT. **NEVER**. WHAT. IS. BEING. DISCUSSED??? NEVER is that brought up. Only theoretical "protocols" that may or may not be adhered to. You're a smart man, I think you know the answer.

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    8. Happy, I'm gonna take a wild guess that you have no personal relationships with any non-charedi people.

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    9. The last resort is always to make up the most unfounded, most irrelevant, silliest assumptions about your opponent. You have guessed wildly wrong.

      I don't even consider myself "chareidi", given that I'm mainstream American yeshivish. I would imagine that on some level, there's more similarity between myself and (some) of my MO neighbours, than a Yerushalmi learning in Meah Shearim. Or a Bnei Braker in Kollel Chazon Ish. Maybe. But yeah, I have personal relationships with many more modern people as well as non-Jews.

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    10. Well you've got some fine opinions of them.

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    11. Nachum, instead of trying to defend yourself or saying I'm a bad person for pointing out the horrible problems with your community, why don't you do something to fix them? Making stuff up about me doesn't solve anything!

      You can start with your own family, your own shul. But especially yourself. If your daughters (if you have any) see you acting with more modesty, with more boundaries, they might just follow your example. Over time, you and your family can set a positive example for the whole community!

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  3. RNS
    I personally think the B"D is a good idea.
    Of course there will be problems with any B"D but the alternative is doing nothing.
    Although pretty much all (litvish) rabbis including RCK allow reporting to the police ,in practice this rarely happens as the victims are not reporting them to the authorities (there were a few cases which were succesfully prosecuted with the blessing of RCK - the Mashgiach in Yeshivat G. who got 20 years see https://www.kikar.co.il/199522.html and a few others) This is mainly due to the stigma involved.
    As you know Meir Pogrow and Berland were also succesfully convicted by a Beis Din

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    1. I don't know about Pogrow, but, first, no one is "convicted" by a beit din. No beit din in Israel, not even the State ones, have that power. (The only exception is sending spouses who don't want to give gittin to jail, and that's not really the same thing.) In the case of Berland, nothing happened until he was actually convicted in criminal court, and of course that hasn't dampened his followers' support of him one bit.

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    2. "Although pretty much all (litvish) rabbis including RCK allow reporting to the police". Not true at all. R Elyashiv prohibited reporting the accusations of a child against a teacher to the police and the American Agudah, based on this p'sak, requires reporting to Rabbis and not the secular authorities. I'm doubting that Israel is any different.

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    3. @David Oshie
      I don't know what he did or didn't say to Agudah
      Have a look at the below tshvuva written by R Elyasiv Himself where he clearly says it can be reported if there is no alternative to stop the abuse:
      בקובץ תשובות להגריש"א זצ"ל ח"ג סי' רל"ב , וז"ל אמנם יש היתר
      למסור למלכות אם הוא מסוכן לציבור ובאופן שהדבר ברור שהלה ימשיך בדרך הנלוזה ואין יד ישראל
      תקופה לעצור בעדו וזה עפ"י יסוד דברי הרשב"א בתשובותיו הובאו דבריו בב"י סי' שפ"ח אבל אם חסר

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    4. @ Nachum
      If you wish to see the Pogrow case se below:

      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/search?q=pogrow

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    5. @Talmid: He is saying there that if the rabbis are convinced that this guy has abused people and the've worn and put conditions on him and decided finally that they can't control him, then they can turn to the authorities. If a child complains, they can't, because children lie. See https://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49101&st=&pgnum=641

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    6. @Talmid I looked up your reference. He says the exact opposite. The person who is complaining that he wad damaged is NOT allowed to go the authorities. Only if he came to Rabbis and the did everything they could to stop him and it is clear he will go on injuring people, then the Rabbis can send him to the authorities.

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  4. PLEASE, please, I beg you.

    Go back to your habit of providing normal links.

    Internet filters won't allow people to view things on Twitter and Facebook. Here you quote Twitter, and in the article on Reb. Heller you bring FB.

    At least provide good screenshots.

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  5. Wasn't Walder in charge of a body to investigate abuse in Bnei Brak

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  6. Replies
    1. If you look closely on the picture it's stamped with @rebbaruchmimis.
      I think its someone's Instagram acct.
      I cant check it because I don't have an Instagram acct so it wont let me view it :)

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  7. Ahhh... The Leib Trooper affair. That was a good one. Would make a great story for a movie :-)

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  8. The beis din will be a sham. Any internal charedi body will not be ale to function. The concept of Daas Torah will mean that there is a person out there that can make a phone call or sign a letter and undo any decision made. Say this bais din was about to runa guy out of the community, and yanky kanievsky called them into RCK and RCK told them to stop and throw out all the evidence. How can they object? They'd be villainized.

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  9. Yosef Blau
    We should financially support Magen(disclaimer I am on the Magen Board of Directors) but that doesn’t prevent encouraging change in the response of the Haredi world. It is likely that Rabbi Lopiansky’s proposal will not happen. The response or lack of response by rabbis, organizations and media in that world be revealing. It may force those who fully acknowledge the extent of the abuse and the coverupto to fight for changes.

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  10. How's about those who believe all 'the gadolim' are going to sign off on one bais din to handle accusations of sexual abuse get such a universally recognized system up and running properly and then come back and teach hilchos lashon harah, mesirah, don lkaf zchus and every other halachic issue heretofore used to protect the accused by sweeping all claims of sexual abuse under the carpet.

    ReplyDelete

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