Saturday, February 05, 2011

Jews protecting Jews

It is interesting that so many of the rabbinic leaders who oppose the Internet can be reached so easily via e-mail. And it is in the form of an email that Dr. Asher Lipner has sent the following letter to a great many of them as well as many communal leaders. Asher Lipner is psychologist who treats victims of sex abuse and is one of those in the forefront of fighting it in the Orthodox Jewish world. With permission his letter follows.

Dear Rabbis and leaders,

Below* you will find a recent public campaign in Brooklyn written up on, an internet website designed for those in the Torah World who use the internet.

Desecrating Jewish graves is unquestionably a horrific crime perpetrated against our people. But what about desecrating living Jewish children? Why for the resting places of the dead we collect 10,000 dollars and beg people to come forward and report to the police, but when the bodies of living, breathing neshamas, tinokos shel beis rabban are violated, there is no money and no plea for people to come forward?

This is not the only time our community has stood up against vandalism of holy sites by anti-Semites. The Agudas Yisroel fights in Europe for compensation for the graveyards and holy buildings that were destroyed in the Holocaust, and Jews continue to fight strongly against ongoing attacks of property. In Eretz Yisroel, frum and non-frum Jews pursue Arabs who defile and harm holy places. This is, of course the way it should be. But why in the world can we not in addition to this begin to fight back against those who harm our innocent children, R"L?

Is it because the cemetery vandals are most likely gentiles, while the pedophiles are frumme yidden? Does that imply that goyim are not allowed to harm us, but we are allowed to harm our own? Does that really make sense? If we want safety and protection, should we not want our children (and cemeteries) to be safe from any harm done by anyone at all?

If the outcry for the graves is because their owners are not here to speak up for themselves, who is here to speak up for the children? Children do not have a voice in our community to expose their molesters all by themselves, or certainly not to incarcerate them. They need help from the adults in the community, especially the police. They need leaders who will offer cash rewards for people who come forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever dares touch a Jewish child inappropriately.

How many more children will end up in the cemetery before their time due to drug overdose, and suicide because we were silent as they were being molested? Will we then protect their graves?

This is no longer even the hospital that the Wise Men of Chelm raised money for instead of fixing the bridge that people were falling through. This is collecting money for the graves of the people who fell through the bridge and had no medical care and died.

Is it really too much to ask that we gain some real wisdom and priorities? Surely we can do better. Surely it is not too late for us to wake up and get back on track as a civilized community with basic derech eretz, compassion, and seychel.

Please, it is not too late. The Novominsker Rebbe said at the Agudah convention that we must sweep the problem of child molestation out from under the carpet. We will need a rather large broom. He also has called for a Tikkun Ha'avar (repairing the past). For those of the many Jews who are no longer with us, like Shuah Finkelstien, Daniel Levin, Motty Borger, and so many more who died because our community was not there for them, there is no reparation. What was allowed by us to be done to them is under the category of "Me'uvas She'ayno Yachol Liskon - An abomination that cannot be fixed."

The Gemorah says on the Harugey Beytar, those innocents slaughtered by the Romans in Betar, that "they fertilized their vineyards with Jewish blood". By us not condemning yeshivas like Torah Temima, Ner Yisroel, Satmar, Ger, Yeshiva of Spring Valley, and Lakewood, and institutions like Ohel who continue to build and grow with our support, by covering up the deadly sexual abuse of children, we too are fertilizing our vineyards with Jewish blood.

Kol Dmei Achicha Tzoakim Aylai Min Ha'adma! The victims call out to us from their graves. Why? And How much more? As Rabbi Yankie Horowitz writes, the molesters sleep comfortably in their beds, while the victims don't sleep very well at all, agonizing, fearing, mourning, and crying tears of the pain of betrayal.

Some rabbis have said that it is inaccurate to compare the pain of the victims of sexual abuse in our community to the horrors of Holocaust survivors. This is true. In many ways, what the molestation victims have gone through is much worse. Yidden being tortured by Nazis and Amalek is at least to some extent known to be part of a master plan. There is a way of explaining it and dealing with it. I know because my father went through it and lost many relatives. But Yiddishe kinder being tormented by Yiddishe molesters and knowing that their parents and adults in the community will not stand up and protect them because it will cost money to the Moysdos as the Agudas Yisroel has said? Much more inconceivable than the Holocaust.

Who can honestly say if this issue alone is not what is holding back the mashiach? If we will turn around now, admit our failings, beg forgiveness from the victims and their families and most importantly change our ways, we will certainly find out if this could be what Hashem wants for us to do in order to send us our final Yeshuah, bimheira beyameynu.

Please respond for the sake of all the children of Klal Yisroel, Respectfully,

Asher Lipner

* Rather than posting the Matzav article it is linked both here and above.