Jewish Voices: Speak Up! - The Jewish Voice
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Friday, December 9, 2022

Jewish Voices: Speak Up!

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How can the interests of an individual be balanced with those of her community? How can a person’s reputation be protected without compromising his community’s integrity and welfare?

There are some of the questions posed to ethnic and religious community leaders around the world. And these questions are taxing; they require leaders to deliberate, dissect, and discuss with themselves, colleagues, friends, and family.

But the leaders and rabbis living within Brooklyn’s Chasidic/Chareidi enclaves evidently think themselves different.

Because Jewish leaders who truly care most about the reputation of their communities in the eyes of society at large—leaders that treats desecration of G-d’s name and His people a one of the gravest possible sins—do not conceal the identities of child molesters to the public, even for the sake of preserving the reputation of victims and their families. Ideally, abused children should never have to lead lives in which they will, in all likelihood in an extremely tight-knit community, be perennially labeled as the “kid who was molested at an early age.” But, unfortunately, the greater good requires that a possible one-time offender does not retain the ability prowl the streets freely in search of more victims.

A prudent Jewish communal leadership would also be aware that, in some circumstances, the confession of one’s guilt can garner more public respect and admiration than remains through the hiding of one’s faults. A community with child molesters is a normal one, thus giving one that keeps mum on such issues an abnormal, highly suspicious, and fanatical quality in the eyes of outsiders. That is hardly a path to Kiddush Hashem, a perceptive leader might conclude.

And lastly, if the rabbis and leading figures of Brooklyn’s Chareidi populations were objectively assessing the situation posed before them, they would probably realize that the publication of two major exposés in the Times implicating an entire community can inflict greater damage, and more Chilul Hashem, than dozens minor stories exposing the sins, however egregious, of a few sick, twisted individuals.

As a result, we feel that Jewish leaders in communities such as (though not limited) to Williamsburg and Boro Park need to rethink their policies.

They need to realize that by revealing the names of child abusers and cooperating with law enforcement, offenders will receive appropriate punishment and victims the necessary closure; that the frum communities of Brooklyn—internally and externally—will take a significant step towards attaining the goodwill of other Jews, our non-Jewish neighbors, and most importantly, Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

We call for the “Jewish Voice” to always be sanctified, upheld, and, most importantly, heard, everywhere.

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