Rabbi Chaim David Zwiebel, asked to comment on the murder and dismemberment of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky by another Orthodox Jew, says the danger is from the outside. not from within.Here is Rabbi Zwiebel's quote with emphasis added:
"The question we need to ask ourselves is not just what we should do to better protect our innocent young kinder'lach from the dangerous outside world, but also what we should do to better ensure that the next troubled young person in our midst will receive the attention he needs — medical attention as well as human attention — to prevent him from becoming a menace to himself and the community."
Agudath Israel of America has opposed almost every attempt to pass laws that would better protect ultra-Orthodox kids, from the Child Victims Act to a bill requiring religious and private schools to do background checks on all current employees and all potential hires.
But more than that, its attitude is that whatever is wrong or dangerous for haredi children comes from outside of the haredi community. There are no homegrown terrorists, so to speak, in Agudah's worldview.
Agudah and its Supreme Council of Torah Sages has arguably done more to harm ultra-Orthodox kids and the ultra-Orthodox community than all the outside problems, dangers and influences combined.
Remember a quote attributed to the Novominsker Rebbe, Rabbi Yakov Perlow, who now heads Agudah's Supreme Council of Torah Sages, said when victims and community activists were trying to stop Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the haredi community who had at that point allegedly molested hundreds of haredi kids over a quarter century.
"I'm in Borough Park and Rabbi Kolko is in Flatbush," the Novominsker Rebbe allegedly said, "it's a Flatbush problem."
This is not a man who cares about protecting children. Neither is Rabbi David Zwiebel, who does his bidding even though he seems to knows it is wrong, and Rabbi Avi Shafran, who spins Agudah's fairy tales with no apparent concern for the children destroyed in their path.
There are several key lessons we should learn from the Leiby Kletzky murder. Here are the top three:
1. Report all suspected pedophiles to police immediately. If neighbors who now say Levi Aron tried to lure their child into his car had reported Aron, both the car and Aron would have been known to police, and Leiby Kletzky might be alive today.
2. People with clear psychological disturbances need to be in treatment, monitored by professionals trained to do so – not by rabbis or Shomrim.
3. As a community, much more must be done to aid and comfort those among it who suffer from mental illness.
The danger haredim need to face is not from the outside, it is from the inside, and it comes far more often from its overemphasis on not reporting (i.e., not committing mesira) suspected criminals to police, and from its constant all-pervasive knee-jerk reaction that crime and sexual abuse must be hushed up, than it does from mental illness.
Sunlight truly is the best disinfectant, and the haredi world needs a thorough cleaning.
Let the sun shine in already.