Friday, December 13, 2013

Paying the Price

Benny Polatseck
What a deep hole a sex abuser digs. He not only destroys his victims, he destroys his own family. This is something that should not be over-looked. But neither should it deter us from doing what’s necessary to change the current paradigm in how sex abuse is treated in any segment, whether it be Satmar or YU.

There are no words that can communicate the depth of pain a survivor of abuse must go through. No matter how well a survivor is able to adjust to life, the pain stays with them forever. And not every survivor does well. Some do not do well at all leading a life of depression which often leads to alcoholism and drug abuse… and in some cases suicide.

But none of this is new. What is often ignored or glossed over is what the abuser does to his own family. I can only imagine the pain Nechmeya Weberman’s family feels after  their husband/father has been convicted of sex abuse and sentenced to 54 years in prison. The public shame they must feel is indescribable. This was made clear by an open letter to Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz by Benny Polatseck, a close friend of the Weberman family.  While acknowledging that his Satmar community has these problems he takes Rabbi Horowitz to task for continuing to focus on this family.

Rabbi Horowitz responded. I think it is important to see what each of them had to say. I will only add that since Mr. Polatesek acknowledges his community has these problems - that he step up and help do something about them.  I completely understand what he is saying. But the priorities must by to change the disgusting paradigm that exists in Satmar with repect to sex abuse. His open unedited letter and Rabbi Horowitz response follows.

Benny Polatseck’s open letter:

Dear Rabbi Horowitz,

I have come across your tweets yesterday about the Weberman trial and you’re marking the one year anniversary of Mr. Webermans conviction. Now my letter is not about the trial, it’s not about whether justice was served or not, it’s not about Mr. Webermans guilt or innocents, It’s not even about your involvement in his conviction. I base this letter on the narrative that Mr. Weberman is totally guilty, every single allegation against him is true, and every single unnamed alleged victim was truly victimized. Now after all that said, I have a question for you, what now? What is your goal now? What are you trying to achieve?

Let me explain myself, during the trial you have stated on many occasions that while you truly feel terrible for the Weberman family, who by all accounts have done nothing wrong, you feel obligated to do what you’re doing for the sake of protecting other potential victims, you even stated Poaskim to prove that you are obligated to do it from a Talmudic standpoint.  Standing a year after the conviction with Mr. Weberman in a dark cell behind bars far far away from the Brooklyn streets buzzing with sounds of chatter of children happily roaming up and down lee ave on the way to school, no one can argue that Mr. Weberman is still a threat to anyone.

But while all the newspapers and tabloids have long turned to other news of the day, The tweeter hashtag #Weberman has not been in use for months now, the coffee room conversations in offices and in places of worship have long switched to other topics, there is still a family out there who has not and will never move on from that cold December Friday when their husband and father was escorted out of a Brooklyn court room with his hands cuffed.

There is a famous saying from Markus Zusak author of The Book Thief "Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day", on that note,  Let’s put ourselves in  Mrs. Weberman's shoes for a moment, a women who has done nothing wrong to anyone, a women who is a quiet down to earth lady who never speaks up, suddenly turned into a household name with her face painted on every newspaper cover, Imagine the stares she gets every time she walks into a grocery store by people trying to study her face in an attempted to read her emotions, Imagine the struggle of a mother having to struggle for words to explain to her 5 year old who is asking day in day out why tatty is in jail, when the alleged crime is not one that can even be explained to a kid of this age, Imagine the daily struggle to feed the hungry mouths of a household full of children when your left without a source of income, imagine the lonely long cold winter nights after a long day of a wife not having for whom to wait at the door because that door is never opening, imagine the little boys red face Simcahs Torah when all the daddy's are dancing with their boys beaming with joy on their shoulders and this little boy has no daddy to smiling to him. Imagine the struggle of this 10 year old who is bullied in school by other kids who overheard their parents talking about a Weberman who was jailed for unspeakable crimes and they find an easy target in him.

I'm not hiding under a false name pretending to be who I'm not, because there is nothing to hide from. I know the weberman children, I went to Yeshiva with one of the Weberman boys, one of the nicest and Kind Hearted  kids in my class, this has noting to do with Satmar, Casidim, Cover ups, Or even abuse. this is about a family that has been broken and shattered into a million pieces, and a man that only takes the broken glass and trows it again and again and again to make sure that not one tiny piece is left.   

Now you can say whatever you want, but just don't pretend that you feel bad for this family Because if you do, you’re lying! Now that Weberman is behind Bars there is no possible justification in your actions to keep talking about him, and in the same time making sure that the wounds that this family has incurred never has a chance to heal.     You are stabbing a 5 year old boy who doesn't even know what the word abuse means, your stabbing a women that has never hurt a fly on the wall.

Your actions in trying to keep this story on the headlines day in day out comes to show your true intentions, which is a truck load of ADD, you can call yourself with whatever titles you want to, but in heaven there is one that looks at those Weberman children's pain and does not look at the title before ones name.
There is no Talmud that justifies doing what you’re doing, there is no rabbi who can possibly justify shaming a entire family when the excuse "protecting victims has been gone for a year". 

Your actions makes one think that what you did all along was not about safe streets, protecting victims, or anything close to that, it was about making a name for yourself, it was about gaining some much desired fame, it was about a man hungry for a dose of much needed attention even when getting the dose means spilling blood of fellow Jewish brothers and sisters who have never done a thing to you or to anyone for that matter in their life.

It’s time for you to stop, forget about the name Weberman!Move on to other sources of attention believe me there is many, stop the cruelty already, it has been more than enough.

Benny Polatseck.

12/12/13 6:15 PM
PS. There is no way that one can say that this behavior is justified because its an attempted to scare off other perpetrates and save future abuse victims, because your not god almighty, and a man does not have any right to chose who should be victimized on the expense of saving other victims. The blood of (If there will ever be) any future victim that may be saved by your actions is not any redder then the blood of the Weberman's who are presently victimized by you day in day out.

Rabbi Yakov Horowtiz responds:

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Thanks for taking the time to write this in response to my tweeting about the anniversary of Weberman's verdict. What you wrote was clearly "devarim hayotzim min ha'lev," and they were received as such.

You are certainly correct that his family members are suffering even though they did nothing wrong, and I always say that there are no "winners" in cases like these, just varying degrees of innocent loss among all parties (except for the perpetrator).

Benny; what I noted in the tweets was the question of "what has changed in your kehila as a result of this incident?"

You wrote that you are operating under the assumption that he is guilty and that there are other victims.

OK; Benny, .... Here are a few questions:

1) what is being done to help his other victims and other abuse survivors in your kehila repair their broken lives? Why aren't there public appeals inviting victims to come forward in privacy to get free counseling? Why is the kehila who taught and continues to teach all of us about tzedakah v'chesed not supporting these tzebruchene neshamos?

2) what is being done to educate today's children to protect themselves from r'l other tragedies like this?

3) who can your victims turn to in your kehila for support -- or even to seek guidance? I got news for you, Benny, they are calling me and others like me who are outside the kehila in terror and fear to get help and hadracha. Isn't that a tragedy beyond words?

There is much more on my mind re this but I just don't have the time to write more now and I felt that as you took the time to write, I should try and respond.

Benny; I extend a sincere offer to you. If you want to help keep tragedies like this from happening in your kehila by educating todays kinderlach in child safety i will be glad to meet with you and work hand in hand with you to make that happen.


Here are the followup responses from Benny Polatseck and RabbiHorowitz