Editorial: All Voices Must Be Heard

The Jewish Star
November 23, 2011

What began as an exercise in exclusion ended on a positive note, with Ami Magazine editor Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter making a promise on the Zev Brenner Show, to meet with abuse survivors and advocates, giving much-needed self-examination to a topic that should have been addressed much sooner.

But would Rabbi Frankfurter meet only those survivors who share his point of view, such as a Pinny Taub, or a much larger pool? Would he meet with Ben Hirsch of Survivors for Justice? Would he meet with members of Footsteps, an organization geared to formerly haredi individuals, which includes members who left the fold because of abuse cover-ups?

Rabbi Frankfurter's promise has a caveat. He would not meet with those individuals who, in his view, have an anti-haredi viewpoint, and seek to "besmirch" the community.

On the radio show, he argued that Dr. Michael Salomon is not haredi, and should be focusing on his own community. Aside from the fact that both of them are Orthodox, Dr. Salomon's extensive experience with secular, modern Orthodox and haredi clients indicates a stronger sense of perspective. For survivors of abuse like Taub, who remain religiously observant, much credit is given; but for those who leave the faith, understanding is needed.

We can empathize with holocaust survivors who lose faith in G-d and in people, so why are abuse victims who are no longer observant or trusting of "Daat Torah" labeled as "traitors" with "an agenda?"

If there is an anti-religious agenda present in reporting molestation to authorities and bloggers, it would be best confronted by demonstrating to the victims that our community leaders are worth their trust. Molestation cannot be treated internally. The tools are not there. It must be confronted in partnership with legal authorities, mental health professionals and advocacy groups.