Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community, Is There a Double Standard?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Perhaps the most troubling commentary on the breaking news related to the sexual abuse of children in the Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Jewish community, is the absence of coverage about this sickening phenomenon in the community’s leading sources of news. That there has not been a single story on Voz Iz Neias, (Yiddish for “What’s News”) which calls itself “The Voice of the Orthodox Community and really is very popular, is horrifying.
Silence kills, and however painful it is to confront this tragedy, failing to do so will only aggravate the problem. And when silence from within combines with less than aggressive pursuit of the criminals by the justice system, it destroys even more lives.
I don’t know if everything The Catholic League’s Bill Donahue says is correct, but he raises some very important questions about the possibility of an unfair double standard to which Catholics are held, when it come to child abuse.

Reporter Paul Vitello shows the shocking extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. He also details the cover-ups that have long been aided and abetted by law enforcement.
Where have all the church-and-state advocates been all these years when Orthodox rabbis were allowed by the D.A.’s office to settle these cases “internally”? Where have all the professional victims’ groups been in staging protests outside synagogues? Where have all the sue-happy lawyers been seeking to plunder the Orthodox? Where have all the comedians and late-night entertainers been in cracking jokes about rabbis raping kids?
It’s not just Orthodox Jews who have been given a pass: no group has gotten away easier than public school employees. Consider this. Because public school students have only 90 days to file suit, it is already too late to prosecute a teacher–in virtually every state–who molested a minor as recently as last spring. But if the offense took place in a Catholic school, the student has years to file suit. Not only that, molesting teachers are still shuffled from one school district to another; it’s called “passing the trash.”

To be sure, the issues are more complex than my friend Mr. Donahue describes, having to do with the size of the Church and the power it possesses in America compared to the Haredi community among other things, but he is right that no group should get a pass on these issues, no matter what, and all cases of sexual abuse are equally awful.
Without disparaging an entire group, or using these events to vent long-held anger at a particular community, people must raise their voices, stand up for kids, and demonstrate that there is no greater defense of our faith than to care for the most vulnerable among us. Raise your voice!



  • RJohnson

    Mr. Donahue’s point fails slightly. Yes, instances such as this deserve the hot light of publicity, and perhaps the press is not doing their job in speaking out about this issue in these Jewish communities.
    However, the Catholic Church in the past 20-30 years has inserted itself into the public debate on moral issues at a national level, unlike any comparable organization in the Jewish community. We hear of many statements from the US Catholic Bishops, or various Cardinals or Bishops regarding issues about abortion, homosexuality, and other items they identify as moral issues. We also have many clerics in the Catholic community speaking out about denying communion to those who do not agree with them on these issues.
    To that extent, the Catholic Church invites greater scrutiny of itself, and greater levels of public rebuke when illegal or immoral activities are discovered.
    Mr. Donahue may not like this, but if his goal of seeing the Catholic Church have a greater influence in the political direction in this nation is to be realized, he should not complain when the press takes greater note of abuse cases in the Catholic Church.
    If you are going to hold yourself out as the moral arbiter of national behavior, make sure your own house is in order first.

  • Tom

    Excellent point, RJ. I usually don’t agree with you but practically everything you said is true from my vantage point. Of course, systematic pedophilia cover-ups should be covered by the media (exposed to the light of day), litigated, and so on whether or not the organization fancies itself as the moral arbiter of truth or not. This helps to set a precedent that this kind of thing will not be allowed and rooted out at all costs. The Church needs to keep this in mind if they want to maintain their private privilege. If they fail miserably in these areas, the state will be inclined to step in and take measures where the Church (or Synagogue) didn’t, even though they do so miserably in staterun schools (ironically).

  • jerry marcus

    In his stone-cold silence on these issues, BELIEFNET “kingdom of priests” blog host David Kinghoffer- self-styled “representative of Orthodox Judaism” – has been a long-time apologist for the corrupt practices taking place in the American fervently Orthodox community- from tax scams to spousal abuse to pedophilia. But then, for him, Judaism is all about ritual, and absent the social justice component
    of the biblical Prophets.

  • Goodguyex

    Of course there is a double standard here. There will always be double standards and if we just admit this it would be better all around. People expect and demand the best from Catholic priests, and this includes myself. And much as been done to clean out the stables from the 60′s and 70′s, no doubt about it!
    However the Orthodox Jewish (and I suspect Conservatives also) have some work to be done. And I think this can be done.
    Believing in double standards I do not care as much what Liberal Jewish rabbis or Protestant youth ministers or school teachers or heath providers (etc) do with under age youth. I am not being sarcastic her, only stating what is obvious.

  • mary kujawa

    sexual abuse is just about everywhere. it has to be deviuos work of satan attacking our children and teens. let us step our paryer for protection of our littrle ones and teens. we need to unite in prayer against evil forces mary

  • Jessica

    I don’t know about the church, I gave up on it. I am 63 years young. I too was abused by my mothers boyfriends growing up it was a secret. I told my grand mother and there was hell to pay. My grand mother was my hero. All are dead now and I have this terible memory that trys to come back and I tell someone and Iam at piece for years. My daughters know and so do close friends. I have support and I have piece of mind. We watch our kids very closly no matter what, friends and family are questionable in there behaviors and secrets, you can tell.
    Love to all
    J

  • Your Name

    Sadly, religious affiliation (or lack thereof) is not a barrier to perversion. Although I am Jewish, over my life of 50+ years I have personally know dozens Catholic Priests – and become good friends with several. Neither I, any of my Catholic friends or any of their children was ever approached, much less abused by any Priest or any Catholic religious person. In the course of my personal, business and social life I interact with dozens of Catholics (practising and lapsed) everyday. I have never met a current or former Catholic Priest that was a pedophile.
    As you are aware, a pedophile does not usually abuse only one or a few children; they abuse many and do not stop until they are caught. The practical result is it takes only one or a very few pedophiles to devastate a community. I think this makes education of all families and family members of all ages critical to their safety and mental health.
    It is my view that the Catholic Church became a whipping post for the press and a cash cow for attorneys. This does not excuse in ANY way the coverup that some Bishops made of the immoral and illegal acts of a few Priests. Clearly the media loves controversy, and what better controversy than to combine religion, million of dollars, perverted sex, betrayal of vows, trust and G-d? Attorneys typically charge between 25-35% of a settlement, so the attorneys also ended up with millions of dollars for their work. Is it naive to think that because there is not millions of dollars to sue over that Orthodox children are not worth suing and reporting about?
    We, as a society, know much more about child sexual abuse than we did when I was growing up in the 60′s and 70′s. We now know the pedophile stops only when caught and an intervention/incarceration/treatment is imposed. We also know that children, with even only average treatment can and do lead normal, healthy lives and become normal, healthy adults, partners and parents.
    Although I REALLY do not like listening to this stuff on the news, it is my hope this abuse is in the news as part of the discussion that these kids can and will thrive and go on to be healthy, wonderful adults that will make solid contributions to their families and to the community.

  • RJohnson

    http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=4944
    ” Ms. Bond’s case offers a rare look at how the church goes to great lengths to silence these women, to avoid large settlements and to keep the priests in active ministry. She has 23 years of documents, depositions, correspondence, receipts and photographs relating to her case, which she has kept in meticulous files.
    Those files reveal that the church was tightfisted with her as she tried to care for her son, particularly as his cancer treatments grew more costly. But they also show that Father Willenborg suffered virtually no punishment, continuing to serve in a variety of church posts.
    The church entity Ms. Bond dealt with is the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans, whose members were known as mendicants because they survived on handouts from the communities they served.
    “I know better than Franciscans what it’s like to beg, because nothing has happened without my begging the Franciscans,” said Ms. Bond, who is 53.”
    The behaviour by an organization that claims, very loudly, to be a bulwark of the pro-life movement, is part of why there is a double standard…and justifiably so.

  • mathias K.

    Jerry is spot-on!
    I am not going to draw a conclusion about Klinghoffer and his “Kingdom of Priests” blog off of one comment, but when it is time after time after time and there’s a consistent pattern of disrespect and just a complete misunderstanding of an entire culture that I am a part of, I can’t respect him as a man.
    And to think that he was named an honorary “legionnaire of Christ.” !
    (Klinghoffer routinely deletes from his blog all criticism debunking his off-kilter interpretation of Judaism. )

  • Gerard Nadal

    The double standard only helps Catholic children by making Rome clean house. It harms Jewish and Protestant children through rationalizations for why Catholic Pedophilia needs so much attention, which unwittingly allows more time and room for maneuver for Protestant and Jewish pedophiles.

  • Judy

    Thank you for speaking out! Thank anyone who grieves about these children, and G-D is grieving. In my nightly prayers I come to the “bless the Innocent ones, all the children and child-like, and DESTROY THE DESTROYERS! I believe they are dropping like dead flys all over the world. Join me in this prayer. in the Love of G-D for Israel, I remain, sincerely, Judy

  • http://deismfloren.blogspot.com Dena Justice

    Super interesting read. Truely..

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