Sunday, March 25, 2018

A True Hero for The Jewish People

A true hero of the Jewish people, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz (Torah Cafe)
This is why I have issues with survivor advocates. Instead of Rabbi Yakov Horowitz being one of their heroes… when his name comes up it is usually in the context of criticism. Sometimes even disparagement!  Despite all he has done and still doing. And all the sacrifices he has made and still makes for the Jewish people. It is as if none of that matters. Why? Mostly because of his opposition to a bill in the New York state legislature that would extend the statue of limitations whereby survivors could sue their abusers and enablers.

Rabbi Horowitz’s believes that this bill would unfairly harm schools that are in no way responsible for what happened decades ago. Those schools had an entirely different student body, parent body, faculty, administration, and board of directors. 

Aside from being grossly unfair to the school as it exists today, the damage done to those involved with the schools now is far greater than what is  gained now for survivors that were victimized decades  ago by an entirely different group of people. If these kinds of situations could be exempted from that bill,  then I am pretty sure he would support it. For this, Rabbi Horowitz has been subjected to unfair criticism as not being being supportive enough of survivors.

Rabbi Horowitz has not let this get in the way of his resolve to fight sex abuse. To that end, he has not only talked the talk. He has walked the walk. Actions speak louder than words. Instead of criticizing him in any way, they ought to be cheering him as a champion of their cause – even if they disagree with him on this point.

What kind of champion is he? All one has to look at all he has done and what he is doing right now.

He has been in the forefront of educating all varieties of observant Jewish communities about how to protect their children. He has been speaking to them personally; he collaborated on and published (in both English and Hebrew) a book about prevention. He has made several videos recordings on these issues which are available for free viewing on-line. And when it comes to punishing the guilty he is first in line. As was the case with convicted child rapist, Nechemaya Weberman.

Rabbi Horowitz attended Weberman’s trial every day in support of the survivor that testified against him. Despite the nasty comments  by Weberman’s  Williamsburg supporters vilifying him. And vilifying the survivor who because of her abuse, went OTD.  Without getting into the tragic details of Weberman’s abuse, suffice it to say that his conviction resulted in a 150 year prison term.

And now once again he is there for Jewish children, protecting them from yet another sexual predator: a licensed social worker and Bar Mitzvah tutor, that spent about a year in prison, and registered as a sex offender after his conviction in 2009 for abusing two boys in Brooklyn.

In 2014 he and his family moved to Israel’s Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem. Har Nof is filled with children of primarily Charedi parents. Israel has no sex offender registry. Rabbi Horowitz – ever vigilant to warn people about this guy - a level 3 offender. Level 3 means that he is likely to reoffend.

Obviously that predator’s peace and that of his family was disrupted by that information becoming public. He has sued Rabbi Horowitz for slander (defamation of character). The case is now in progress.

At this moment Rabbi Horowitz is in Israel (to the best of my knowledge - at own expense) fighting this lawsuit. There is no telling how this case will turn out. Israeli defamation laws do not require the plaintiff to prove his reputation, livelihood or social standing has been harmed. Apparently all he has to prove is that negative things were said or written about him.

Rabbi Horowitz could easily lose. Which in my view would be a terrible injustice. In essence he would be punished for doing the right thing and warning parents about this predator.  A verdict for the plaintiff would also have a chilling effect on others that will now be reluctant to warn a community about a level 3 predator that immigrated from the US and moved into a their neighborhood.  

There should be no escape for sex offenders. They should not be able to move to a neighborhood in Israel and free to do as they please without warning  them about him.

Rabbi Horowitz has done a great service to the residents of Har Nof. One for which he has devoted time and money. One in which he might have to pay a price. It does not matter to him. Because for people like Rabbi Horowitz protecting young innocent children comes first. His own welfare comes second.

That is why he is there and deserves our accolades and unequivocal support. Considering a life spent teaching Torah to young children, working with young people that have gone OTD, being in the forefront of protecting our young from sex abuse, and making sure that the guilty are punished, he has in my view done more for the Jewish people than all the survivor advocates combined. This is not to minimize the good work they have done. It is only to put a proper perspective on it. I only wish there were more people like him.