Friday, December 07, 2012

Will Sex Scandals Destroy Charedi Judaism?

Guest Post by “Brought up in Golders Green”

Courtesy: If You Tickle Us Blog
Imagine a prominent Charedi Rav who is a Dayan on the Eida HaCharedis being accused by a number of women of various sexual crimes and misdemeanors.  Imagine again that rumors to that effect have been circulating for years while that Dayan continues to function on a Beis Din that is considered one of the highest and most prestigious Charedi courts in the land.

Imagine some prominent rabbis begin to take these accusations seriously and after investigating, they determine that they are true and ask the Dayan to resign his position as unfit to serve.

Sound preposterous? Read on.

This of course would never happen to a Dayan in the Eida HaCharedis in Israel. Certainly not in a Satmar Beis Din. Nor in a comparable Litvishe/Yeshivishe Beis Din in America.No one would ever believe that an elderly and saintly Rav with many years of service to Klal Yisroel is capable of such evil. Any accusations to that effect would be dismissed. 

But that is exactly what is happening in London.

I am not one to read messages from God into the events of the day. But I can’t help but wonder why two explosive events about sex abuse by prominent Charedi Rabbonim are happening simultaneously at almost opposite ends of the world. Is God indeed trying to tell us something? The verdict in the Weberman trial is not in. Although I believe that all witnesses have testified - the jurors have not yet been instructed by the judge to deliberate, as of this writing.

Meanwhile on the other side of the ocean, the “Halpern sex scandal” does not stay quiet. A letter (reproduced above - click to enlarge) has been released by some very important rabbis there that can only be described as explosive. Once again, a prominent individual who hails from that country has weighed in on this and submitted the following post. He continues to ask for anonymity which I continue to grant him. His words follow.

“Brought up in Golders Green” analyses the unprecedented letter from the North-West London rabbanim:
  1. This latest development is unprecedented in the UK Jewish community and possibly further afield.
  2. It has to be borne in mind that the object of this ‘Gilui da’at’ is one of the most prominent and ‘choshuv’ Rebbes in London, who until this summer had an unassailable position in the community.
  3. The signatories are three dayyanim of the London Bet Din, including the most highly-respected former Rosh BD, Dayan Ehrentreu; the present Rosh Bet Din, Dayan Gelley;  a third LBD Dayan; and two rabbis identified with the right-wing Haredi kahal
  4. This is an explosive challenge to the authority of the Haredi establishment in London. Note the language of the declaration:
·         It starts by rather sneeringly talking of an announcement by the “office” – not the Beis Din –of the UOH, stating that it is “at last” only “in the process” of setting up a Beis Din to investigate allegations
·         There is a stinging rebuke – “we are confident in our conclusion” – meaning: ‘why aren’t you prepared to trust us?’
·         It states flatly that the Rav “is not fit to act in any rabbinic capacity”; a conclusion reached after “painstaking and extensive investigations”
·         It implies suspicion of a whitewash –“whatever the motivation of the proposed Beth Din”
·         It calls for a community rebellion by Golders Green/Hendon against Stamford hill: “We would like to see nothing better than the total achdus and the merging of all the shuls in North-West London into one united body…...”

Are we going to see moves to set up a new ‘kehilla’ in NW London, with Dayan Ehrentreu as its Communual Rav?  (There is already speculation that some NW London shuls want to secede from the UOHC because of their inaction over this scandal.)  

It is also remarkable that all of this has been accomplished because of the power of the internet.  One blog,, has been at the forefront of the campaign. One of his (?) posts attracted over 800 comments.  News reports posted about this on ‘The Times of Israel’ online news site have consistently been ranked as among their most-read  posts.

The anger of the haredi public against its leadership was vitriolic.  They deeply resented what they saw as inexcusable equivocation by their rabbinic leadership over an individual accused of years of sexual exploitation , made worse by clear indications that – as elsewhere – the rabbis were more concerned with the welfare of the perpetrator (and his family) than with the victims.  The public’s attitude demonstrated clearly the increasingly modern sensitivities of the orthodox community.   The old way of doing things is dead and buried.

Just unbelievable.