It is difficult to describe the sickening, gut-wrenching sensation I experience when I get phone calls from parents whose children were sexually abused or from adults who have carried the horrible scars of childhood abuse for decades, often shredding their relationships and ruining their lives. And, I am sad to report that those calls are getting more frequent as time goes on.
L'maan Hashem - what will it take for us to take this issue seriously? How many more indictments of frum pedophiles will it take for us to cut through the denial and deal with the fact that we have a real problem? Not a Jewish problem, but a human one. (As I've written in the past, abuse and molestation are issues that all communities face. It only becomes a Jewish problem when we choose to bury our heads in the sand and ignore it.)
How many more suicides or drug overdoses do we need to endure before we will start understanding that this is one of the pressing challenges that we need to squarely face? And, in my opinion, sexual abuse is by far the leading cause of high-end drug use and ruined lives of the teens in our community.
Is there any more sacred obligation than protecting the children entrusted to our care? Shame on us, for failing to treat it as such.
Shame on us, for allowing ourselves to repeatedly get distracted with meaningless and often silly non-issues raised by self-appointed "askanim" that purport to pose spiritual risk to our children while our paramount communal responsibility to keep evil people from destroying the physical and spiritual lives of our children keeps getting bumped to the back burner.
Shame on us, for allowing people like Avrohom Mondrowitz, and others like him, to live peacefully in our communities while their alleged victims live tortured lives. Please excuse my sarcasm, but lately, when people ask me what they ought to be doing to rally support in their communities to keep our children safe from predators, I occasionally tell them, tongue-in-cheek, that it might be a good idea to spread rumors that the pedophiles are distributing non-kosher candy to their children while molesting them. Who knows; maybe that might get people to take notice.
I think it is a terribly sad statement that an individual who sold non-kosher food in my hometown of Monsey ran for his life the moment the story broke and was not seen since, while a fiend who allegedly molested both Jewish and non-Jewish children in Boro Park is living comfortably in Jerusalem while evading extradition. I am most certainly not promoting or condoning vigilante violence. But it would be a positive step forward when child molesters in our community need to ask for police protection for fear of being harmed by righteously indignant people.
Incredibly, in that case, only the non-Jewish parents pressed charges. Here is text from a Nightline article on the subject: "The only victims that cooperated with the investigation were Italian. They were neighborhood boys who trusted the rabbi because he bought them gifts like bicycles. Not a single Orthodox Jewish boy or their parents would talk to the police. The statements of four Italian boys aged 11 through 16, were the basis for the indictment against Avrohom Mondrowitz. He was facing eight counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, endangering the welfare of a child, and five counts of sodomy in the first degree."
I ask, "Are Jewish children less sacred and worthy of protection than are non-Jewish children?"
I did not write the above words. They are excerpts taken from an article that appeared today in the Jewish Press by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. A true Jewish leader who knows what is important - and what is not. And what our highest priorities should be.
For the complete article click here.