Edited by: TJVNews.com
As was previously reported in the Jewish Voice, a shocking report emerged last Friday in the Israeli publication Ha’aretz concerning an investigation in to allegations that Orthodox Israeli author Chaim Walder had sexual contact with underage girls.
Walder, who is an internationally renowned author of over 50 children’s books and literature, is best known for his bestselling series of books “Kids Speak” which have been widely distributed in North America and Israel. The books have sold over two million copies in Israel and the diaspora and the first book in the series became one of the top five best-selling books in Israel of all time, as was reported by the JPost.
The scurrilous allegations against Walder were made two women who claim that when they were 12 and 15 years old, Walder allegedly engaged in sex with them. In addition to their testimony, a third testimony alleges that a 20 year old woman, who had sought therapy with Walder was raped on a regular basis, according to the report.
On Wednesday, reports surfaced that amongst Orthodox Jews in Israel, there are questions circulating about whether Walder’s books should remain on bookshelves in their homes.
According to a Vois Iz Nais report, Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu was asked what to do with Walder’s books at the present time. The report indicated that Rabbi Eliyahu is a member of the Takanah forum, an ad-hoc group of Religious Zionist leaders which has exposed a number of communal leaders who were involved in crimes of sexual harassment.
Rabbi Eliyahu answered that the matter has not yet reached Beis Din and therefore there is still a reasonable doubt whether he is guilty. However there is no doubt that there is a serious suspicion of sexual harassment crimes against many women over a long period, according to the VIN report.
Rabbi Eliyahu therefore said that he personally would not keep Walder’s books in his home “despite their many merits.” However he added that for those that find it difficult to remove them, they should “place them in a storeroom until the facts become clear.”
Adding that keeping the books of one suspected of sexual harassment in the house “conveys to children and the community that we can accomodate such iniquities and if a child reads a book of one suspected of such crimes, this is an educational catastrophe.” Rabbi Eliyahu said that he hopes the suspicions are incorrect but “tens of women claim that he harmed them and we cannot ignore their cries.”
The Jerusalem Post reported that the popular Judaica and bookseller Eichler’s which is located in the Midwood and Borough Park neighborhoods in Brooklyn will no longer carry Walder’s books, according to a post on Twitter by CEO Mordy Getz.
Haaretz reported that Walder’s books will also be removed from the Israeli supermarket chain Osher Ad that caters to an Orthodox Jewish clientele and his weekly column in the Yated Ne’eman newspaper and his talk show on Kol Chai radio are both being discontinued. Walder was a regular columnist at Yated Ne’eman for the last 30 years and VIN reported that the decision made by the newspaper was taken with the authorization of Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the head of the Degel HaTorah Council of Torah Sages. VIN also reported that sources close to the newspaper said that besides the complaints by various women ,there were also stories which raised “religious concerns” about Walder’s behavior.