Writing new chapter in kid safety: Spotlight on molesters in new book geared for Orthodox Jews
BY Simone Weichselbaum • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Top rabbis have endorsed a new children's book teaching Orthodox Jewish kids about kidnapping and molestation - a historical first for the sheltered community.
"Let's Stay Safe" is backed by Torah Umesorah, a rabbinical authority, and ArtScroll, the maker of religious prayer books.
The glossy pages show a stranger sporting a yarmulke and a boy asking for help finding his mom - eerie reminders of the murder of Leiby Kletzky, 8, killed in July after being kidnapped in Borough Park.
"It is important for parents to understand that the Kletzky tragedy was an exception to the rule, and that the vast majority of predators are people the children know," said Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, who oversaw the book's creation.
Torah Umesorah started distributing the books last month to Jewish bookstores and its 700 affiliated schools across the country.
"As a result of the Kletzky case, there is a greater need for parents to be aware of safety issues," said Rabbi Shmuel Klein, director of publications for Torah Umesorah.
An earlier book, Rabbi Yehoshua Danese's "Yoni Ploni never talks to STRANGERS!" was self-published, but didn't have enough rabbinical support to be a hit.
Last month, Danese added two pages titled "What Should I Do If I Get Lost?"
Brooklyn Jewish bookstores now sell the new edition.
"I got a chill up my spine when I heard about the Kletzky case," Danese said. "The challenge is how do you meet the balance of alerting the community without terrifying them?"
The Kletzky family knows of the books, a relative said.
"It's a sad time we live in," said a teary-eyed Malky Bodenstein, a Kletzky cousin, thumbing through the books at Eichlers Bookstore in Borough Park. "I want to cry. It's sad you have to tell your kids about these things."
When these haredi rabbis who profess to care so much for children allow and endorse the publication of a book like this that has a haredi rabbi teacher as a molester, an attempted molestation happening in a mikva, and a predator dressed as and represented as a full member of the haredi community, we'll know real progress has been made.
As it is, it took a horrific murder and dismemberment of an 8-year-old hasidic child that was front page news for weeks to get these paragons of child safety to finally endorse a book on child safety for kids that has the criminal dressed as an Orthodox Jew.
These haredi rabbis, simply because of their years of refusal to allow the education of haredi children about child sex abuse and other anti-child crimes committed by fellow haredim (let alone these rabbis' decades long coverups of child molestation cases, their harassment of victims, and their demonization of child safety activists), are complicit in and bear partial responsibility for thousands of these crimes – including the murder and dismemberment of Leiby Kletzky earlier this summer.
They should not be congratulated for endorsing this book – they should be called out for their continued refusal to thoroughly educate haredi kids about the real dangers those kids face, especially the dangers from predators who work as and who look like haredi rabbis.
There are haredi criminals and haredi sexual predators. Some of these criminals are rabbis and teachers. Others are parents, siblings and cousins.
The continued denial of this fact by leading haredi rabbis and organizations, shown again today by the release of this book, must not be allowed to stand.