Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recognizing a True Victim’s Advocate

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Just a quick word about Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. I don’t know how many people realize what a sacrifice it is for someone like him to go out on a limb and stand for victims of abuse. He stands alone among Charedim in this regard and will surely suffer the slings and arrows by some on the right. Beginning with the Satmar community and their sympathizers most of whom are still in denial about convicted sex abuser Nechemya Weberman.

I don’t know how far they will go to smear his name. They will of course not succeed. But hints of that were evident in last week’s issue of Ami Magazine that still declared neutrality on the Weberman issue and did a cover story on Weberman’s attorney, George Farkas. Farkas had a very disparaging attitude about Rabbi Horowitz. One which was not countered by Ami Editor Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter who interviewed him. Not in the article or anywhere in the magazine.

The fact is that Rabbi Horowitz has not only been attacked by people in those circles. In the not too distant past he was  attacked by some victim’s advocates because of his principled opposition to the Markey Bill (which granted a onetime extension to the statute of limitations for victims of sex abuse to sue their abusers and enablers). Even though after some agonizing thoughts about the repercussion of such an extension versus doing right by victims - I disagreed with him on that, I think it was absolutely disgusting that some in those groups so heavily criticized him for it. Some even wrote him off at the time as a serious advocate for victims.

I hope that all his former detractors now see the truly heroic character of this man. How many people would put their careers on the line – or spend as much time as he has in the court… or would have written the kind of essay he wrote yesterday as a prominent Charedi  educator..

The criticism (or worse) from Satmar and others will surely increase. I am sure he has not heard the last of it.

I have never for a moment doubted his commitment to sex abuse victims. I think that by now, everyone should recognize it – even those who accused him of ‘selling out’ on the Markey Bill.

Knowing Rabbi Horowitz, he would probably be embarrassed by such praise. But he certainly deserves it. And although he would never demand an apology by those who so severely criticized him - it would still be nice if he got one.