Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shomrim - A Closer Look

Guest Post by Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

The following was sent as a comment in last Thursday's Shomrim post. Dr. Lipner is an Orthodox Jew who was educated in mainstream Yeshivos. He is in the forefront of the fight to protect Jewish children from sex abusers and molesters. A major part of his clinical psychology practice is dedicated to treating children who were molested or abused. That he is on the front lines of this fight lends a perspective and credence to the issue that few of us have. I have taken the liberty of re-posting it as a guest post. His words follow.

As a therapist who treats many victims of abuse in Brooklyn, I know of several cases in which Shomrim caught a child molester and did not turn him into the police, sometimes referring the predator to Ohel for counseling, and sometimes choosing to "monitor" him themselves.
Shomrim’s mission is twofold, half of which is good the other half is bad:

1. To protect Jews from criminal goyim.

2. To protect criminal Jews from the goyish police.

Several police personnel have spoken without using their names to the Jewish Week about the problems with Shomrim. Gary Moskowitz, a veteran of the police department wrote a very informative essay on the problems at Shomrim that was published recently on a blog as well.

The reason that the official police department position is to play down the problems of Shomrim is the same as why Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes plays down the problems at Ohel of not fulfilling their legal mandate to report molesters, and the reason that he would not criticize Agudah for telling mandated reporters that they must ask a rabbi before fulfilling the requirement to report molesters.

Newsday in 2003 had an expose on the issue, in which they quoted retired police officers who complained that rabbis and other powerful Jews impede prosecution of child molesters by saying that there are “two systems of law in Brooklyn, one for the Jews and one for everyone else.” One of them explained the frustrating craziness and corruption by quoting a line from the classic film “Chinatown” in which Jack Nicholson’s character is told “It’s Brooklyn, Jake.”

I can think of no greater honor to the niftar, Leiby Kletzky than to take the tragic opportunity of his death to make much needed changes in our community. Whether past mistakes could have averted this tragedy is irrelevant. Not everything learned by the 9/11 commission was information that could have averted that tragedy, but it is being used to avert another one, G-d forbid.

This problems with our community’s lack of trust in the police, and arrogant sense that we know everything better than the goyim needs to be exposed and confronted by any means necessary. What Michael Lesher did was heroic for the following reason:

Whatever damage his editorial may do to the community’s image and ability to solicit government funding, the fact remains that by shining light on serious safety concerns it will help save the lives of innocent Jewish children.