Nechemya Weberman’s Sentencing: Why Orthodox Jews Shouldn’t Stay Silent

When I began my journey back to Jewish observance in my mid-teens, Orthodoxy was not my original destination. In my mind, Orthodox Jews were not the kind of people you’d want to emulate. So I tried to become an observant Conservative Jew at first, hanging out with the most religious Conservative Jews I knew. There was one family I really liked spending Shabbos with, but they saw that I was considering making the transition to Orthodoxy, and they did everything they could to dissuade me.

“Don’t do it,” they warned me at the Shabbos table one week. “Don’t became one of them. They’re rock-throwers.” I’ll never forget their admonishment or how the worst of the community represented “all Orthodox Jews” to them. I was fortunate enough to meet many non-rock-throwing Orthodox Jews who were living lives completely committed to Jewish observance, which is why I eventually decided to go the Orthodox route. But I learned an important lesson that day.

To most of the non-Orthodox world, when one Orthodox Jew throws a rock, we are ALL rock-throwers. When one Orthodox Jew cheats the government, molests a child, or protects a child molester, we are all guilty of these crimes too. I believe the guilt by association phenomenon is so prevalent because most people never get the chance to personally meet an Orthodox Jew, and therefore their only knowledge of us is based on the negative headlines in the papers and the ridiculous caricatures they see of us in movies, TV, and books.

The laws of guarding one’s tongue are complex, so I clarified the issue with my rabbi: once information is public knowledge, it is permissible to repeat it, especially if something positive will be accomplished by doing so. As a person who has made Orthodox Jewish PR my mission, I believe that it is only when we speak out against the publicly known problems that the larger world will understand that the majority of us do not support the actions of the worst of our community.

There is a knee jerk reaction from many Orthodox Jews against airing our dirty laundry. But when crimes are committed – theft, rape, molestation, etc. – the accused must be dealt with in a court of law (as long as the court will give the person a fair trial, which is the case in the U.S and many other democratic countries these days). The Orthodox community doesn’t have the power or capability to prosecute and punish criminals on its own, and therefore the crimes must be reported and the government must get involved. But even when a person isn’t in any way involved in reporting a crime, there is a place for public discussion of the bad acts of Orthodox Jews.

That’s because once an Orthodox Jew has been arrested, you can be sure the news outlets will pick up the story. The media has been ALL over the Nechemya Weberman allegations, trial, and conviction and all their gory details. It seems to be a favorite pastime of many reporters to show how “hypocritical” religious Jews are. It is at that point that we must speak up to let the world know that these people do NOT represent us. That we are not willing to live with such individuals in our community. Of course, not EVERY bad act needs to be discussed publicly. If a certain neighborhood has a problem with gossiping or talking too much during prayers, those are the kinds of things we can deal with ourselves and don’t need to “go public” about. But if we do not speak out against the actions of those like Weberman, the world is liable to assume that we are complicit. As the Talmud states: “shtika k’hoda’ah” – silence is like agreement.

People often afraid that if we talk about problems in the Orthodox community we cause a chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name). In truth, the chilul Hashem is caused when the media has widely reported a problem yet we stay silent

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  • Avatar photo Moishe3rd says on January 25, 2013

    Your blog is generally useful and informative but – I did have to look up Nechemya Weberman due to your title – Why Orthodox Jews Shouldn’t Stay Silent, which seemed to me to indicate that an injustice took place, and your post, which seemed to indicate that Orthodox Jews should speak out against… this injustice?
    Now that I have informed myself as to who what where when and how, I would humbly suggest that you might have wanted to give a bit more information as to the subject you were discussing. Because, I had never heard about any of it…
    I agree with your sentiments of condemnation but, the gist of your post is that we should somehow make sure our condemnation is widely publicized in order to offset the notion that “all Orthodox Jews are… (fill in the blank).
    Based on the tenor of the times and the corruption of the news media in general, I do not believe that “taking up arms against this sea of troubles” is ever going to change anyone’s opinion.
    For instance – in your example – I have found that Conservative Jews and even the more Liberal “Modern Orthodox,” are going to continue to dislike the perceived “ultra” Orthodox Jews and tar us all with the same brush, no matter how much we might protest.
    The only solution that I know of is to personally involve those less involved in Judaism into one’s life (kiruv) and physically and spiritually demonstrate that we are far from “rock throwers” or, chas v’shalom, child molesters. Likewise, to demonstrate by our actions to the non Jewish world.
    Just a thought.

    • Avatar photo Allison says on January 25, 2013

      Thanks for your comment, Moishe, but I can’t believe you have never heard of Weberman before today! This trial has been in EVERY news outlet for months.

      The purpose of the post is to say that Orthodox Jews shouldn’t stay silent when people in our community are found to be doing bad things. We must raise our voices and condemn their actions in the strongest terms.

      Will it changes everyone’s mind? Of course not. But it will get the word out to some people and we have to do our best to reach as many people as we can.

      The thing about social media (blogs, Facebook, twitter, etc.) is that instead of the mainstream media controlling what people hear, WE the people can now speak for ourselves.

      So JITC harnesses that power to give the world a message – about all the great things are Orthodox Jews do but also to condemn the ones among us who do not live up to Torah standards!

  • Avatar photo challah back girl says on January 25, 2013

    I recently came across a part of the Talmud which states the following: “Rabbi Yochanan ben (son of) Beroka said, ‘Whoever desecrates the Name of Heaven in secret will be paid back in public.'” Rashi’s commentary goes even further, saying that G-d will deliver public punishment in such a way that the sin done in private will be known. The timing of finding this passage could not have been more perfect for me. I am happy that you are on a mission to show the world what is Orthodoxy and what is not. But the Orthodox Jews who decry such attention and publicity are missing the point, as the above makes clear that any Jew who diminishes the Divine Presence in private, thinking that he is unseen, will be embarrassed in public for that very reason. Let this be a reminder that observance is not to impress other Jews, but to bring more holiness into the world.

  • Avatar photo Yehudah says on January 25, 2013

    I totally disagree with this argument. This individual is an animal who has stolen many a young persons childhood. He should be put under the jail and he still has G’d to deal with. Sexual abuse of children is unacceptable by Jewish standard or any standard for that matter. Your blog seems a bit fluff but that is ok. But when you start trying to stoke feeling that Jews should be outraged over a convicted child molester I think that is a bit much. I am not outraged I am glad. Another monster off the street.

    • Avatar photo Allison says on January 25, 2013

      Um – Yehudah – I think you misunderstood what I was saying! I agree that Weberman should be locked away! The “not staying silent” is about letting the world publicly know that Weberman does not represent us and that he’s an embarrassment to us!

  • Avatar photo Rikki says on January 26, 2013

    Thank you for your post. My husband has been very involved in the support of the victim. And I was weary what it all means but I’m glad to know he was doing something great for the frum world at large.

  • Avatar photo Shragi says on January 26, 2013

    “To most of the non-Orthodox world, when one Orthodox Jew throws a rock, we are ALL rock-throwers. When one Orthodox Jew cheats the government, molests a child, or protects a child molester, we are all guilty of these crimes too. I believe the guilt by association phenomenon is so prevalent because most people never get the chance to personally meet an Orthodox Jew, and therefore their only knowledge of us is based on the negative headlines in the papers and the ridiculous caricatures they see of us in movies, TV, and books.”

    Isn’t that the truth? And isn’t that also the truth for the “knowledge” frum Jews have of the outside world?

    • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

      Thanks for your comment, Shragi, but I don’t think I understand. Isn’t what the truth? That we’re all rocker-throwers and child-molesters? Of course not! In terms of how frum Jews view the outside world, for people like me, we’re *in* the outside world, so no, we are not generalizing like that. Orthodox Jews who go to college and work with non-Orthodox people get to know them personally. For the more secluded groups, of course there is generalizing that goes on, but that’s not JITC’s mission! Would it be good for someone to help those people be more open-minded and understand the nuances of the rest of the world? Of course. But JITC is a social media campaign meant to show the rest of the world how beautiful Torah Judaism is meant to be and how the stereotypes and negative stories they hear about Orthodox Jews are either not representative of what we’re supposed to be doing or how the sincere ones are living – it’s not really related, nor would what we’re doing – get to the more secluded parts of the Orthodox world. But if you think that it’s a problem, then I encourage you to try to do something about it!

      • Avatar photo Shragi says on January 27, 2013

        Yes we both agree that not all orthodox Jews are rock-throwers, but orthodox Jews are likely stereotyped because of ignorance.
        I’m not saying that JITC has to educate the insular parts of the orthodox world and I’m not saying I care to change their deliberate ignorance of the outside world, all I’m saying is that there’s ignorance all around – any time one group doesn’t know another group personally there’s going to be ignorance and xenophobia; the Modern Orthodox have it of Chasidim, Chasidim have it of Modern Orthodox, everyone has it of Lubavitch.

        • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

          I think the groups that are more in the world have it to a lesser degree. The point is that when non-Orthodox Jews have a skewed view it keeps them from getting a chance to explore Torah Judaism b/c it’s guarded by “fanatics.” That’s what’s going on. Most non-Orthodox Jews wouldn’t even explore a Torah lifestyle or Torah learning b/c they can’t stand the people who guard it. What we’re trying to do here is show people that many of us are good, normal, balanced people. The extremists get all the attention. No one pays attention to the normal people. And because of that, most Jews never get a fair chance to explore Judaism for themselves.

          • Avatar photo Shragi says on January 27, 2013

            No. 1 I don’t think it’s true that this case is being aired all over the media because Nechemya Weberman is Jewish, frum or chareidi. There are multiple cases of frum Jewish child molesters in the NYC court system right now and none of them are getting this kind of attention, the reason the Weberman case became such a soap opera is because Satmar turned it into one by publicly fundraising for him and doing everything they could to stop the victim from testifying.

            No. 2, I guess all you’re trying to say is that your community isn’t Satmar. Is that it? If that’s the case, then sure, Modern Orthodoxy is not Satmar, in many ways.

          • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

            I do notice that the media tends to not call moderate Orthodox Jews like “The Maccabeats” or Edon (from America’s Got Talent) “Orthodox” but they always seem to mention the Orthodox connection for the bad guys. Why does that happen? I don’t actually know but the result is that people’s association with Orthodoxy becomes completely negative.

            Secondly, not all Satmar are Weberman supporters. And there are other groups like Chabad and yeshivish and many more where the members are living more balanced, non-extremist lives. One of my secular Jewish neighbors a few years back, despite the fact that I was *sure* that I was giving on a “Modern vibe” asked me what kind of hats the women in my community wear (this was a CLEARLY modern Orthodox community). I told her “whatever’s cute” she responded back “so like pillbox hats?” Why – b/c she thought we were Hasidic! It seems laughable but it is true. The understanding of the different communities is non-existent and therefore hardly anyone knows about being religious yet open-minded and balanced and THAT is what we are here to do!

  • Avatar photo Danny says on January 26, 2013

    You seem overly concerned (one might say even obsessed) with the IMAGE of Orthodox Jews, as if every problem, every scandal, every news story about Orthodoxy is somehow an IMAGE problem, and that we need to galvanize all our resources for PR and damage control. But the underlying problems you seem to care very little about. Recently there were reports about the AWFUL state of general studies education in Chasidic schools. And all some people are busy with is the fact that it’s not ALL Orthodox. HELLO?! Why is THAT the issue? Why don’t you start writing about the actual problem, instead of being busy with “Not ALL of us are bad, blah, blah, blah.” Yes, we get it, there’s plenty of good in the Orthodox world, nobody denies that, but real problems are still real problems. Not everything boils down to a PR problem. Maybe instead of being so busy with all the negative portrayals in the media, why don’t you take a look at all those issues and help raise awareness about them so that there wouldn’t be all the hypocrisy for the media to focus on? Seems like that’s a job you’d rather leave for someone else. Well, in that case, you and the Orthodox world along with you all deserves blame for not coming out and stating loudly and clearly that they DO NOT support or condone any of the Chasidic shenanigans. Reach out to the individuals and organizations trying to work on these issues and offer to help them. And ultimately that might that might be more effective for battling your precious PR problem in the long run.

    • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

      Thanks for your comment, Danny, but “obsessed” really? You think because I’m setting out to accomplish JITC’s stated objective that makes me “obsessed?” Is a bone marrow registry whose mission is to make bone marrow matches “obsessed” when they talk constantly about people getting swabbed and added to a registry? JITC’s mission is to show the world that Orthodox Jews are by and large NOT the bad people they read about in the papers. Do I say that the bad stuff isn’t happening? Of course not – I own up to the issues in the Orthodox world. Did I clearly state in the article that criminals must be handed over to the authorities, prosecuted, and punished? Of course I did! My speaking up about the Weberman issue and the other bad things things is encouraging other Orthodox Jews to publicly state that they denounce these people and I’m sure it gives abuse victims strength to see that people taking a stand.

      In terms of “we get it, there’s plenty of good in the Orthodox world, nobody denies that,” actually, that’s the exact problem we’re trying to address here – people outside the Orthodox world do NOT get it. They do NOT know that there’s lots of good things going on in the Orthodox world. We were proud Conservative Jews growing up and my father, an educated doctor who treated Chasidim would tell our family: “they’re dirty, they’re smelly, they’re ignorant, they can’t speak English.” From the age of four and on THAT was my association with ALL Orthodox Jews. I know it’s hard to believe that the world doesn’t know about the hachnassis orchim and gemachs and all the other wonderful stuff in the Orthodox world, but people RARELY hear about it b/c the media prefers to report on the scandals.

      Would I love to see the problems in the Orthodox world fixed? Of COURSE I would! I have written to many formerly religiously Chasidim (privately) who left because of some sort of abuse or problem in the system and I have expressed my sorrow that they did not get a fair chance to experience Torah is it is meant to be. My heart breaks for these people and my dream is for ALL Jews to get a chance to experience “derechehai darchei noam” but all of us at JITC are volunteers, and as it is, we barely have time to accomplish the objective that we have laid out.

      Even if there WAS time, JITC is a social media campaign headed up by a woman! Is THAT going to really get to the most insular parts of the Orthodox world where these problems are happening? Definitely not! But if Orthodox Jews understand that when negative headlines come out it causes non-Orthodox Jews to feel negatively about Torah Judaism, perhaps this message will trickle into the community and people will realize how much damage is being caused when frum Jews behave badly.

  • Avatar photo Avi says on January 27, 2013

    Sorry, but I don’t think this case (and so many others just like it) is about one person doing something wrong, and the world stereotyping based on that one person.

    The response to sex abuse in the ultra-orthodox world has been atrocious – on a COMMUNAL level, from the highest rabbinic and institutional leadership, on down to the everyday Yankel in the street. The Weberman case brought this out more than any other, by showing how the Satmar community vilified the victim, had a massive fundraiser in support of her rapist, standing behind him throughout the trial (even having a prominent rabbi perjure himself on the stand for Weberman), even the Satmar rebbe publicly attacked her. This sort of reaction is not exclusive to the Satmar community, but unfortunately has been the norm in most chassidic and chareidi enclaves.

    Allison, I have no doubt that Weberman and his ilk don’t represent your brand of Judaism, but they do represent a whole lot of Jews who consider themselves the standard bearers of “Torah True” Judaism. When the media attacks Ultra Orthodox Jews for how they deal with these issues, it is indeed well deserved.

    • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

      I agree with you, Avi. I’ve written about the “Sikrikim” in Israel – the ones who spit on little girls and beat people up. The problem is more than just a few bad people but at the same time, I don’t believe the groups who are protecting child molesters as part of their “service of God” or the people who are beating up immodestly dressed people as part of their “service of God” are part of Torah Jewry. “Don’t stand idly by your neighbors blood” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” “The law of the land is the law” (and many other commandments!) are being ignored by the extremists groups. I would love for the rest of us to cut these people off and consider them splinter groups like groups of Jews have splintered off from Torah Judaism throughout the ages. They do not represent Torah values – why should they get to be considered the people who maintain Jewish law?

      • Avatar photo Shragi says on January 27, 2013

        I’m sorry Allison but don’t you think the Sikrikim and Satmarers have Torah and Halacha-based explanations for their bahavior? And don’t you think that they consider Modern Orthodoxy to be a splinter group that should be cut off for ignoring certain commandments and principles they take very seriously?

        • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

          It’s a fair question, Shragi. For my opinion on the Sikrikim, please see this post http://www.jewinthecity.com/2012/01/whats-in-a-name-a-call-to-re-brand-the-extremists-in-israel-from-ultra-orthodox-to-sikrikim/.

          Let me make something clear – there is no perfect Orthodox Jewish community just as there are no perfect Orthodox Jews or human beings! But some of the behaviors of some of the extremists are so beyond the pale of the mentchlichtkite behavior being a Torah Jew is supposed to entail that it seems as though they’re missing whole point.

          I believe the issue with many Satmars is due to ignorance: ignorance as to how serious sexual abuse is to a person and ignorance as to how Jews in America are equal under the law. Rabbi Yakov Horowitz (a Hasid) recently wrote on his site that Hasidim who came to the U.S. after the Holocaust (unlike his grandparents who came before) are much less trusting of Americans.

          I believe they are applying Jewish law incorrectly. If reporting abuse was considered pekuach nefesh AND if they considered American a fair court system, then they would rule differently. Of course there are simply the bad ones in the group that are just trying to protect their friends. So I have no excuses for those people. But for many – I hope (believe) that if they understood the metzias differently, they would poskin differently. It is very troubling that they’re not “getting” it, but I do believe that things are improving.

          For the people who believe that it’s up to them to police other Jews and cause bodily harm to those who don’t tow the line – I believe people like this have missed the boat big time. I don’t know enough about these communities to know who is uninformed and who has lost sight of what Torah Judaism is about.

  • Avatar photo Charnie says on January 27, 2013

    You make many valid points in this article, and wouldn’t it be nice if it appeared in the secular media? The Jewish Week, the Forward, or perhaps an op-ed in the NY Times thenext time there’s another incident like this one. However, even if those of us on the inside know we hav3 different camps, to the outside world (particularly secular Jews), we’ll always be “Orthodox, Conservative and Reform”. So the actions of one group ultimately affect us all. So we have to be able to respond to that element who thinks one bad apple rots the whole bunch.

  • Avatar photo Avi says on January 27, 2013

    > “The law of the land is the law” (and many other commandments!) are being ignored by the extremists groups.

    I appreciate your position, but unless you consider the entire chassidic world, the rabbinic leadership of the Agudah, and the mainstream black hat yeshivish world to be an “extremist” group, you’re not being honest. It’s not just fringe, extremist groups who act like this. These behaviors are endemic to most of chareidi Judaism. For instance, the Sikrim might be the ones who got all the attention for their abhorrent behavior, but every chareidi knows their actions are a result of widely accepted misogynistic views that are considered normative in the chareidi world (e.g. separate buses, censorship of women in frum magazines and ads, etc).

    I think it’s really wonderful that you want to show the beautiful side of the Orthodox world, but these PR efforts also contribute to a distorted portrayal of these communities, one which allows them to hide their truly ugly and troubling underbelly behind a facade of chesed and tradition. And when that happens I believe your PR becomes complicit in the furthering of these many serious problems.

    • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

      As I mentioned earlier, no Orthodox community is perfect – we are all lacking. I wouldn’t say ignoring dina d’malchusa dina by itself makes a person no longer Orthodox, just like I wouldn’t say not dressing tznius no longer makes a person Orthodox.

      It’s more when Jews are policing each other and have turned into hoodlums – graffiti, harassment, rock throwing, throwing bleach in people’s faces – when these acts are not considered people slipping up, but rather part of one’s service of God – it’s at that point that I think we are in non-Torah Jew territory.

      These aforementioned things do not represent the entire black hat world. Do I find Agudah’s position on non-reporting troubling? Yes, I do. I am not part of the Agudah camp. HOWEVER, anecdotally, I have seen that people who technically are in the Agudah camp believe in reporting and are troubled by the position they’ve taken.

      How do I explain what’s going on with the leadership? I WANT to believe that it’s a lack of understanding of a) how serious sexual abuse is and b) how just America’s legal system is.

      I would hope that if these leaders understood the issues like you and I do, they’d come to a different conclusion.

      I don’t have an easy answer here. I want to be able to believe in rabbis who are not exactly in my camp and see that they are on the spectrum of Torah approaches, but some things coming out from some of these places are extremely troubling.

      • Avatar photo Avi says on January 27, 2013

        > …no Orthodox community is perfect – we are all lacking.

        Indeed. And it’s fair for people (and communities) to still be striving for their ideals. However, what’s important to keep in mind is that to these communities, these issues are not seen as imperfections to fix! Instead, they are considered by the mainstream to be the proper, torah way to be living. To dismiss the issue as “we’re not perfect, but we’re trying” is a gross distortion of the situation. On a communal level, they don’t seem to be striving to improve their flaws, but rather are working to reinforce these flaws as the holy word of god. (I acknowledge that there are individuals who indeed are trying to improve the situation, but they are exceptions and are facing incredible resistance from the mainstream establishment.)

        I understand what you’re trying to do with your PR campaign, and I do admire it on one level, but on another level it’s deeply disturbing to so many people, because whenever you respond to a highlighting of the community’s dysfunctions by proclaiming, “Hey, look at us! We’re Orthodox and we’re normal!” you seem to deliberately be papering over these truly grotesque problems, which is exactly what these communities have been doing for decades. You might indeed be a proud exemplar of Judaism that most people would be glad to associate with. But they aren’t. And pretending that you and they are in the same boat is akin to how the Scientology community likes to present the very pleasant persona of Tom Cruise as their public image to the world in order to hide the many abuses that are part and parcel of their religion.

        If you want to show the world that you truly aren’t like the crazies, then you need to stop papering over your differences. You need to clearly state that you are not in the same camp as them, in any way whatsoever. But as long as you keep pretending that you all are part of one big happy Orthodox family, you become complicit in enabling the fundamentalists to use your PR as a cover for their atrocious lifestyle.

        • Avatar photo Allison says on January 27, 2013

          Avi – please see this post I wrote on the extremists in Israel http://www.jewinthecity.com/2012/01/whats-in-a-name-a-call-to-re-brand-the-extremists-in-israel-from-ultra-orthodox-to-sikrikim/ I specifically did what you want me to do. I said that we should not be calling these people “Orthodox Jews” or “Torah Jews” any longer since they see harassing other people as part of their service of God.

          Your analogy of me to Orthodox Judaism as Tom Cruise is to Scientology is extremely weak! Scientology is a cult. And a recent invention. Torah Judaism is an ancient tradition. The Jewish people are a unique and special nation. The place that JITC is trying to expose Jews to is not a scam – it’s deep and beautiful and belongs to the Jewish people.

          I honestly don’t know how bad the problem of fundamentalists are. I don’t know what’s ignorance and what’s craziness. I don’t know how deep it runs. My experience in Orthodox Judaism (by and large) has been extremely positive. I’m a big believer in a strong center. Strong commitment to being careful about halacha but at the same time a strong commitment to being normal. I’m not trying to pretend that the issues don’t exist – I just don’t want the extremists to define what Torah Jews are. It’s not just a few bad apples. It’s not just some people not living up to the ideal. It’s some segments of the community not even getting what the ideal is any more. That’s scary. And there’s a lack of leadership too, which maybe is even scarier. But at the same time, if we don’t put out to the world the way things are “meant” to be – then how will Jews even know what beauty is possible for them?

  • Avatar photo Rikki says on January 27, 2013

    Why is there so much hate from our own people? The problem is not what the unorthodox feel about the orthodox the problem is what the orthodox or privies orthodox feel about their own people. What has the community done? Why is there so much hate so they’ll say abuse, now it’s the lack of English in the school system? I know personally someone who was not abused and has a master’s degree without a school back ground, who hates his own people. Instead of worrying about what the world thinks about us, how we take care of the people we love think about us. What has gone wrong?

  • Avatar photo Rikki says on January 27, 2013

    And one more thing to all you out there. Please please i’m dying to know what we have done wrong as a whole. Why do to cause so much hate. Isn’t there anything that we are good for? Isn’t there anyone among us that has given you anything to be proud of? I know your claims are intellectual and that’s why you don’t want to be like us. But isn’t there something you can say about us that makes you proud to be a Jew. I admit there are faults and problems but can’t you find anything good.

  • Avatar photo Avi says on January 27, 2013

    Rikki – Get a grip. No one’s claiming the community is all bad, with nothing good.

    And to answer your question, “i’m dying to know what we have done wrong as a whole…” – Well, for starters, how about the cover-up and silencing of sex abuse by the entire chareidi community (aside from a few exceptional individuals)? More specifically: The ongoing intimidation of victims, the pressure by rabbonim to stay silent (see this latest story: http://is.gd/cjZ5GL), the communal backing of perpetrators and the vilification of victims, the failure to publicly apologize for shuffling perpetrators around to other communities, and on and on, for decades past until this very day!

    That’s just one thing that community has done wrong as a whole.

  • Avatar photo Charnie says on January 27, 2013

    Rikki, the vast majority of Shomer Shabbos Jews of all ilks are outstanding people. Very involved in chesed of all types, warm and welcoming. As any ethnic group can attest, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil a bunch. That being said, the reason cases like this cause so much pain to all of us is because some want to protect criminals. Those who abuse and molest are criminals. We live in lands that forbid such horrible things. Aren’t we supposed to follow “the law of the land”? Until there’s an understanding of that fact, there will be bad blood between brothers.

  • Avatar photo Rikki says on January 27, 2013

    living in the frum community, and being hurt. we cant blame them for are frumkite or lack of. we have to do it because we love it not what other people expect from us .I got to see first hand how big rabbis can be wrong but they are not the community they are people. there are so many of us who are doing the right thing.
    ill admit that there is a problem and they need are help so help them. but why dose it have to be out of hate why cant it be out of love.
    a good example of that is Rabbi Horowitz he has a basket of love
    Magenu are people are here to help there is a lot to love.

  • Avatar photo Devora says on January 28, 2013

    I’d like to address some of your comments Alison.
    [I believe the issue with many Satmars is due to ignorance: ignorance as to how serious sexual abuse is to a person and ignorance as to how Jews in America are equal under the law. Rabbi Yakov Horowitz (a Hasid) recently wrote on his site that Hasidim who came to the U.S. after the Holocaust (unlike his grandparents who came before) are much less trusting of Americans.]

    (I am from a modern orthodox family & I now live completely in the secular world so I have seen both sides of the spectrum & am learned in Torah & Halacha to a large extent. I was also a criminal justice major educated in the US after coming here as an immigrant from the Ukraine. This is just a bit about my background so U can perhaps see where I am coming from in regards to my commentary below.)

    The halacha is clear about the laws of shommer nagiya, separation of men & women, NOT conversing with women that are NOT Ur wife & guarding Ur tongue in any & all conversations. I’m certain that every Rabbi I ever met & all who I have not would back me up on these points. These laws in the Jewish world R CLEAR to all & Orthodox Jews R raised within these parameters from day of birth. Modest dress & behavior R also taught to the Orthodox from birth. These R also taught to all Baal Teshuvas as well.

    [I believe the issue with many Satmars is due to ignorance: ignorance as to how serious sexual abuse is to a person and ignorance as to how Jews in America are equal under the law. ]
    This is a very disturbing response from Alison since its a defense of ignorance of “how serious sexual abuse is to a person”. Orthodox Jews R allowed to have sexual contact with their spouse only & if there is no spouse they R not allowed contact with opposite sex. a man weather married of single is NOT allowed to be in a locked room with a woman AT ALL, lest this be misinterpreted by the community. As the halacha is clear that there isn’t ANY sexual contact allowed, then there isn’t any ignorance about how serious sexual abuse is to a person. One of the biggest problems with all this PR that pisses people (Jewish ppl in particular) off is that its filled with justifications (please read excuses) about ignorance. Even if these orthodox Jews R ignorant of the law of the land in the USA, they R NOT ignorant of the halacha, they R NOT ignorant of what is forbidden as a Jew. Watching pornography when they don’t allow women to be photographed in religious periodicals(the editing of Hillary Clinton from the war room in washington w/ the president & 6 other men is perfect example), the prohibition of even hearing a woman sing, they R all clearly taught that even when they aren’t taught English in the Yeshivas. Watching pornography then re-enacting the scenes with a 12 yr old girl is not a grey area. There can be no excuse & no compromises here.

    Furthermore, I happen to live in Flatbush & the streets here were papered with signs asking for donations for this predator, defending him as an innocent victim & disparaging the poor girl who stood alone against a sea of black hats who tried to bribe & intimidate her into silence. What was heard in the streets here in BK wasn’t loshon hora it was pure slander against this girl. Ppl stood around calling her a nikeyva & sharmuta.
    This article is a nice fluff piece where U talk about the law if the land & gloss over the heinous crime by talking about ignorance of the orthodox. The Orthodox R NOT ignorant bout these laws, they CHOOSE to ignore them, they choose to play stupid. Its not an image problem. Its a rotten core that needs to be torn out by the roots. I lived in the Orthodox world for a long time.
    “what’s not pretty we don’t show. Ppl wont come to make shidduchim w/us if there is any whisper that we aren’t perfect or close to it”.

    • Avatar photo Allison says on January 28, 2013

      Thanks for your comment, Devora. Let me just clarify one point since you have accused me of many horrible things (but then again, what else is new? 🙂 – I am NOT defending Weberman or anyone who molests or protects molesters. I *clearly* stated that criminals must be handed over to the authorities to be prosecuted and punished. And then the community must let the world know that we condemn their actions. I’m not sure how you missed all that!

      The reason I mention the question about some Hasidim being “ignorant” about the seriousness of molestation is because I spoke to a Belzer Hasid a few months back and he told me that getting touched (he was referring to a boy to boy situation) isn’t such a big deal. When I told him that it WAS a big deal – that people’s lives are ruined forever – he told me that he and half the other boys in his class were touched by this one kid (including him!) and they’re “all fine.”

      I was extremely shocked at his lack of comprehending how serious molestation is to the victim. Many in the community have not educated themselves as to the long term pain sexual abuse victims suffer. I am willing to admit that there are bad people in this community. I am willing to admit that there are bad rabbis in this community. What I’m HOPING, though, is that there are *some* who are just misinformed and if they understood what we did, they’d have a change of heart. The idea of throwing out the ENTIRE community is extremely depressing!

      Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, who I mentioned in my previous comment is a HUGE advocate of the victims. The Weberman victim wanted him by her side for the whole trial. HOWEVER, he does NOT believe that all Satmars are evil. He is a Hasid himself and having spoken to him pretty extensively about the issue, I believe there is a position that one can take that there are the bad guys and the uninformed guys.

      Like I said – I have very little personal experience into this world. But Rabbi Horowitz is loved by molestation victims and at the same time he does not believe that ALL Satmar are evil. And I have based my opinions on what I’ve learned from him.

  • Avatar photo Cheskie says on February 11, 2013

    Just chanced upon your blog, your doing great thing here.

    Respectfully, I think you are a bit “naive” by thinking you are getting an honest “Hasidic” perspective by speaking to Horowitz.

    As a hasid living in Wiliamsburg, I invite you to come speak to the run-of-the-mill hasid living here, man and woman, you will be surprised how well informed we all are, and how we know all the “gory” details of the accusation against Weberman.

    But with all that, still 99% of us hasidim believe that, although most will tell that we are NOT whitewashing Weberman at ALL, most of us believe that he could very likely be guilty, if not for rape than for yichud, but we believe that Weberman did NOT receive a fair and honest trial, let alone sentence. And we believe that what you wrote “as long as the court will give the person a fair trial, which is the case in the U.S and many other democratic countries these days” is outright FALSE!!!!!

    First we saw the prosecutor Charles Hynes openly stating in the media that he was using this case to prove how hes not intimidated “by the Jews”, so there goes his impartiality.

    Secondly, we have just seen the true face of our corrupt justice system, in the cases of Rubashkin, Metzita B’peh, there was no logic there in these cases, just plain simple hatred against Ultra Orthodox Jews.

    That’s what we believe…. if you are truly honest to understand us without any biases.

  • Avatar photo Faigie says on June 25, 2013

    It seems like most of the people that commented here- except the most recent by ‘cheskie’, with whom i completely agree, are not from ultra orthodox chasidic backgrounds. To me it looks like most of you got the general image about this story from the secular media, or a media outlet completely biased towards the victim.
    Any of have given Weberman even ONE shot of innocence?? NONE of yous mentioned even ONE possibility that he might be innocent!!
    Did any of you read about the injustices done in court to him?? let me assure you, there have been many.
    And i think THAT comes from a bias towards the ultra orthodox community from anyone that isn’t!!
    We aren’t a perfect community- just like JITC stated- no one is.
    So why do people- secular and non ultra orthodox alike- pounce on to crimes with an even 1% chance of occurrence?
    In my humble opinion, its because people don’t like when there’s anyone better than them in an area they feel they’re ok in- so trying really hard to find the faults in anyone better, makes THEM feel better.


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