Williamsburg Hasidic Modesty Squad Exposed
The Jewish Week has piece today about Williamsburg's hasidic modesty squad, the Va'ad HaTznius. It reports the alleged extortion of community members by this shadowy organization and the series of unlicensed hasidic "counselors," like accused child sexual abuser Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, that the Va'ad forces parents to send their children to for 'therapy.'
But Satmar officially denies the existence of the Va'ad HaTznius and goes to great lengths to cover it up:
Many observers believe that the relationship between Weberman, the Vaad and the school is something the leaders of Satmar do not want explored in any depth; they speculate that this likely accounts for UTA’s apparent reluctance this summer to respond to subpoenas for records on Weberman. That reluctance may have prompted Justice Ruth Shillingford to consider slapping the school with contempt charges (no such charges were brought and presumably UTA ultimately responded to the subpoena).
It also may explain why Feuerwerger, when questioned on the stand on Tuesday, denied knowing about the existence of the Vaad HaTznuis, a statement that drew laughter from observers in the courtroom. It also drew incredulous comments from current and former community members.
Ari Mandel, the founder of Zaakah, a grassroots group that has been organizing demonstrations in support of the alleged victim and other abuse survivors, told The Jewish Week he was “stunned” that Feuerwerger would make such a claim under oath. “Any 4-year-old in that community, a Shabbos goy in that community, knows what the Vaad HaTznuis is. Every chasidic community has [one].” (The Jewish Week has a copy of a document written on the letterhead of the Williamsburg Vaad.)
Joel Engleman, and alleged survivor of child sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher in Satmar's United Talmudical Academy yeshiva, reportedly served for a time as a driver for one of these "therapists" and in that position was privy to speakerphone calls between Va'ad members and other contact with these hasidic enforcers.
And The Jewish Week reports this comment by the blogger known as Yerachmiel Lopin:
According to Yerachmiel Lopin, who blogs at FrumFollies and has been reporting on the case for two years, “UTA was in effect, extorting money for Weberman. I strongly suspect they kept some of it. Given widespread rumors about his sexual misconduct, Satmar was in effect pimping its girls to Weberman, adding insult to injury by making the victim pay to be victimized.”
I've known about the existence of Satmar's Va'ad Hatznius since the early 1980s, and as Ari Mandel correctly notes, "any 4-year-old in that community, a Shabbos goy in that community, knows what the Vaad HaTznuis is.…"
But more importantly, so does the NYPD and Brooklyn's D.A. Charles Hynes.
One would think that if law enforcement was serious about stopping the extortion and intimidation of victims and witnesses in Satmar child sexual abuse cases (and in other Williamsburg cases, as well), they would target the Vaad HaTznuis and its known members – some of whom are named by The Jewish Week.
How the NYPD and Charles Hynes handles this – and if they handle it at all – will be the best indication that Hynes has begun to reform and is now trying to crack down on the men who carry out the witness tampering, extortion and bribery that he claims is worse than what he sees in Mafia trials.