by Philip Weiss (Mondoweiss)
May 10, 2012
The Catholic church's sex abuse scandal turns out to be epochal: it is having salutary effects across society in institutions that have covered up abuse-- at university athletic programs, for instance. Now the New York Times is exposing patterns of covering up sexual abuse inside the community of a quarter million ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York. This is great reporting by Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera:
Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses....
"There is no nice way of saying it," Mrs. [Pearl] Engelman [mother of sexual abuse victim] said. "Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful."
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg of Williamsburg, for example, has been shunned by communal authorities because he maintains a telephone number that features his impassioned lectures in Yiddish, Hebrew and English imploring victims to call 911 and accusing rabbis of silencing cases. He also shows up at court hearings and provides victims' families with advice. His call-in line gets nearly 3,000 listeners a day.
In 2008, fliers were posted around Williamsburg denouncing him. One depicted a coiled snake, with Mr. Rosenberg's face superimposed on its head. "Nuchem Snake Rosenberg: Leave Tainted One!" it said in Hebrew. The local Satmar Hasidic authorities banned him from their synagogues, and a wider group of 32 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis and religious judges signed an order, published in a community newspaper, formally ostracizing him. "The public must beware, and stay away from him, and push him out of our camp, not speak to him, and even more, not to honor him or support him, and not allow him to set foot in any synagogue until he returns from his evil ways," the order said in Hebrew.
"They had small children coming to my house and spitting on me and on my children and wife," Rabbi Rosenberg, 61, said in an interview....
"If a guy in our community gets diagnosed with cancer, the whole community will come running to help them," [Rabbi Tzvi Gluck] said. "But if someone comes out and says they were a victim of abuse, as a whole, the community looks at them and says, 'Go jump in a lake.' "