|Amudim founder and CEO, Rabbi Zvi Gluck|
But the fact is that such people do exist. And they are a danger to our community. And by ‘our’ I mean ever possible Orthodox Hashkafa one can imagine, from the most right wing Charedi to the mos let wing modern Orthodox Jew. There have unfortunately been far too many people like that who have been guilty of sex abuse. Shockingly so in some cases as they were sometimes considered pillars of their religious community with long time good reputations.
By now none of this should be new. We have evolved somewhat from a state of denial to one where we admit it can and even does happen. The problem is in actually believing it when it is someone we know. It’s easy to ‘say’ that such people can be guilty of it. But when the accused is actually someone we know, we tend to be in a state of disbelief. How could this man who is such an integral part of our community; someone who has been a part of it for perhaps decades; someone whose reputation has been impeccable up to this point… How can this fellow be guilty of what some teenager accused him of?
Denials of this sort are built into our DNA. Including the DNA of our rabbinic leaders. No matter how Ehrlich; no matter how honest; no matter how kind and giving that rabbinic leader is..., the tendency to not believe anything evil about a person they have known for decades to be everything his public images says he is… is going to taint his ability to evaluate any charge brought against him.
Which is why when sexual abuse happens it must be reported to people that are not part of that community. People that are experts with nothing to gain by covering it up. People that will be impartial and evaluate the accusations to see if they are credible without any preconceived ideas about the accused. Without knowing his reputation.
Only an impartial and objective individual with expertise in these matters should be trusted. They know how to be discrete. They know how to investigate without necessarily ruining someone’s reputation until they can ascertain the facts. Or at least enough credible evidence to arrest and bring him to trial.
One of the most powerful videos I have ever seen which in this case is directed at the Orthodox Jewish community was just released by Amudim. It needs to be watched, not only by the entire Orthodox Jewish public, but by its rabbinic leaders. It clearly demonstrates the state of denial many of our leaders tend to be in when confronted with accusations of abuse against one of the pillars of their community.
This video should disabuse them of that prejudice. And it should also make them realize just how powerful their state of denial can be – when accusations are against someone they know well and have respected for many years.
They need to admit their own bias and redirect the accusers to authorities that are impartial and equipped to accurately evaluate those accusations.
This has nothing to do with how Ehrlich these leaders are. In fact it is the very trait of Chesed that most of them have that may lead them astray. They tend to care about the repercussion to the accused and to his family. Accusations like this can ruin the accused’s life for good. As well as ruin the lives of his family. But that compassion is misdirected. They are right to worry about the possibility of false accusations. But that unfairly biases how they view the accusers. They need to acknowledge that and recuse themselves from anything to do with the accused and the accusers.
I have to once again express my admiration for Amudim founder and CEO, Rabbi Zvi Gluck. He has helped many Orthodox Jews that have bee abused. He has also managed to be a catalyst for change in attitudes about sexual abuse among us. He works within the system thereby making an impact he would otherwise never have been able to do as an outsider. This is quite an accomplishment!
If I had once criticism of survivor advocates. It is their tendency to find fault even in positive developments like this video. This has happened here in a Facebook post. I understand their reluctance to trust organizations working within the system. Many survivors have been hurt as much by the way the system has reacted to them as they have by the abuse itself.
So when something is produced by the religious community, it almost always comes with some criticism.
It’s not that I blame them. They have lost confidence in Orthodoxy because of the above mentioned history. But they are wrong. Instead of finding fault with this powerful video they should be doing what I am – making it available to every Orthodox Jew in the world. Including (and perhaps especially) the Orthodox leadership.
I believe that this video will help nudge Orthodox leaders towards realizing their own bias and edge them a bit more towards recusing themselves from making any decisions on the matter. And to hopefully refer all accusations to the authorities. I don’t know if this will push them over that line. But I also know that victims advocates that constantly criticize even positive developments (which they admit this is) will have the opposite effect.