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February 01, 2013

Chabad's Rabbi Manis Friedman Apologizes For His Hurtful Remarks On Child Sexual Abuse

Rabbi manis friedman"I want to apologize for my completely inappropriate use of language when discussing sexual abuse. I have always believed in the importance of empowering victims of all kinds to move forward in building their lives. In my zeal to reinforce that belief, I came across as being dismissive of one of the worst crimes imaginable.…"

Rabbi manis friedman
Rabbi Manis Friedman

What is Rabbi Manis Friedman – belatedly and after much pressure – apologizing for?

This string of offensive, ignorant and stupid remarks that includes denying child sexual abuse hurt victims and equating being abused to having an incidence of diarrhea.

Rabbi Friedman's apology:

I want to apologize for my completely inappropriate use of language when discussing sexual abuse. I have always believed in the importance of empowering victims of all kinds to move forward in building their lives. In my zeal to reinforce that belief, I came across as being dismissive of one of the worst crimes imaginable.

For that I am deeply sorry.

Molestation is a devastating crime, violating the intimacy and innocence of the pure and defenseless. The victim is left feeling that there is something wrong with the world in which they live. Perpetrators of molestation should be reported to the police and prosecuted appropriately. Any person, organization or entity that stands by silently is abetting in the crime.

From now on, I will make sure to make those points absolutely clear. This is about more than regret. The subject can't be neglected.

I hope over time to earn the forgiveness of those who were hurt by my words.

Manny Waks, head of the Australian-based Tzedek organization which advocates for victims of sexual abuse, responded to Friedman's apology:

On behalf of Tzedek I welcome the apology issued by Rabbi Manis Friedman as a positive first-step in addressing his ignorant and deeply offensive remarks. It is regrettable that Rabbi Friedman waited until now to issue this apology - but it is nonetheless a welcome development.
 
It is important to emphasise that no one is infallible, and that we should therefore accept an apology that is sincere. In this case, due to the immense damage caused, it may take some time for many to evaluate Rabbi Friedman’s sincerity. This is completely understandable and should be respected. This is especially the case for the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse themselves.
 
In light of Rabbi Friedman’s apology, Tzedek will in due course consider its position regarding its pursuit of legal action through the Beth Din.
 
I have been in contact with a number of Rabbi Friedman’s close associates and we hope to progress this matter further.
 
It is my sincere hope that this incident will be turned from a negative to a positive, and greater emphasis will now be placed on the issue of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community, especially within the ultra-Orthodox community. There is no doubt that child sexual abuse is an issue within the broader community, but as we have seen, there are specific issues and challenges in addressing this scourge within our own community, and even more so within the ultra-Orthodox community.
 
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who expressed their support so far, and especially to those who took a public position critical of Rabbi Friedman’s offensive comments. As we have seen, it is essential for as many people as possible to speak out in such circumstances. It is important to highlight the unequivocal statements issued by three leading Australian Orthodox rabbis, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant and Rabbi Yoram Ulman.
 
A further statement will be issued in due course.

Comments

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The victim is left feeling that there is something wrong with the world in which they live.

Yes, well there is something wrong with the world in which they live.

And of course, the frumchiks are now lining up at Jewish Journal to express gratitude that one of their sacred cows was spared the shochet's knife. If a frei yid had made similar remarks then recanted, they wouldn't buy it for a moment. The collective response would be: "Oy, nebach! He has no rachmones! See what kind of person comes from the Reform? This is what happens when you don't grow up with Toyreh!"

ok...we're supposed to believe that rabbi friedman....a brilliant mind...
said not one thing...
not two...
not three....
not four.....
not five......
not six......
ok
doesn't matter what my mind and heart think...they can forgive him...
but rabbi friedman....my soul.....you hurt my soul.....you stood for something.....and my soul is crying.....
being so brilliant....i don't believe you....
i think you're just trying, in a smart way to get out of it...
my mind and heart will, i think, forgive you.
my soul i don't think so.

The wise with a wink

The fool with a kick

The evil with a whip

Are taught to understand

Jeff,
I don't think that it's fair for you to judge people who decide to forgive someone who hurt them and to use this opportunity to bash the frum community. There are so many opportunities that they provide for frum bashing as it is.
Personally, I do not forgive Friedman - I think that he is a smug, ignorant man who really couldn't care less who he hurts as long as he hears himself speak his oh so brilliant insights. We all know that he meant every word that he said and that he is not sorry at all for any of it but rather is disgusted that he had to "apologize" for speaking "the hard truth" while the rest of simply want to wallow in our "victimhood".
He makes me sick.

DIS....
AMEN

I agree with Tzedek's remarks. We should welcome R. Friedman's apology, but it doesn't mean the comments will be soon forgotten (especially by victims of abuse), and it doesn't mean people don't have reason to be cautious until they see that he engages in positive action going forward - such as advocating for abuse victims and against those who "stand by silently and abet in the crime."

This is a good first step, but it is only the first step.

The problem with Manis' earlier remarks is that they seemed to dismiss the crime and diminish its importance, and instead turned the onus to the victim. Did his apology both address that issue and retract it? You be the judge. I lean toward yes.

Jeff -This a typical case of a rabbi who has everything going for him in life and utters nonsense to him its nothing he thinks what do can i loose if i am berated i can always say i made a mistake sorry,but just as he uttered those idiotic words about being molested now he utters the words sorry i dont thing his really sorry or what i really think is that he is sees the world as a place for him to play with others feelings its all in the game of life he is not a true rabbi in other words he is detached from the real world.

If Manny is man enough to forgive, that's good enough for me

He even seemed to address the halachic problem that I mentioned before, that the Jewish court can indeed punish a criminal, even if the crime is not, strictly speaking, against halacha. In this apology he says that one should go to the authorities, which I understand as implying that halacha mandates that the perpetrator be punished, whereas, in the earlier statement, he implied that the technical law as written in traditional sources, both exempted the criminal and is better to follow than secular law, which would mandate punishment.

He sort of gets a passing apology grade on this one. He should make clear that:
1) Traditional halacha is the best guide of a religious Jew to follow, generally.
2) There are new circumstances which demand that halacha be reviewed for currency.
3) Halacha allows us to review it and amend it as deemed necessary by the court.
4) The case of molestation is open to such amendment.

in other words he is detached from the real world.

Posted by: jancsibacsi | February 01, 2013 at 08:35 AM

I think they're all detached from the real world.

The apology seems sincere - and I do not recall any other rabbis in similar discussions manning up - and giving what I read to be an apology without any "buts".

That said - the sincerity of the apology - and therefore its acceptance (or rejection) will come in the coming days, weeks and months when we are able to hear his works, and judge his actions as he moves forward on this topic.

For now - I give him "it's a good start".

Jeff

You really need to find a different place to work out your multiple outstanding emotional issues.

Start with a good therapist.

No need to act out in a blogoshere.

I can assure you that many people have stopped reading the comments here because of people like you and WSC. Foul crude and pointless.

Sharias blogging is important, your participation is wortless

You are not part of the community that needs this blog. You are a disturbed voyeur.

The fact that the apology came four days, not four hours later speaks volumes.

So does his wording: I want to apologize for my completely inappropriate use of language

He is not apologizing for what he said, just how he said it. I still feel his attitudes toward abuse are dangerous. Some of the apology directly contradicts what he said in the recordings, leaving me to wonder what he truly believes.

But yes, it is a start.

Whatever his motivations, he was man enough to issue an apology without any attempt at self-justification. That's good enough for me.

I hope the apologists who defended this Chabad rabbi's position the other day will loudly reject this apology. After all, the Chabad rabbi ought not apologize for a "brilliant" Hasidus based belief, just because it proves unpopular.

Seriously? Read again what Manis said. NOTHING. It's still all about him. Aside from the fact that he never addressed his tone, which exhibited a 100% honest feeling of patronizing condescension towards victims.

Yeah, he's sorry. Guess why? $. He speaks about everything but the Victim. Aw, they see something wrong with the world. How about how they feel about themselves, for most, for the rest of their lives. He is a shallow ignorant idiot. Too little too late.

Manny the Mini-man says "Perpetrators of molestation should be reported to the police and prosecuted appropriately." Appropriately? Not immediately. Not always. Appropriately. If your rabbi says it's okie dokie, that's appropriate. If instead they report it to the Menachem Mendel School of the Living Dead, that's also okie dokie. If you want your family shunned, destroyed and ex-communicated, then, yeah, it's appropriate to report it to law enforcement.

You ppl are forgiving him for injuring his own reputation.

And Manny, got balls?

R. Wisler, what about Manny's statement is without self-justification?

Shoshy, to them it's the end.

Jake, WSC and Jeff are two of the best minds that post here and hardly worthless. You, however, may be.

Rebitzman, he isn't going to move forward. Remember he has four thousand years of wisdom. He is not forward looking.

Jancs and Jeff, he is detached in the way that an optic nerve is detached. It can never be attached again.

Garbage, garbage, garbage. He's a piece of garbage.

Jeff-You heard of the saying..shote anoi margish, a fool does not see or feel reality as a normal person,thats what manis is the reason he is that way is that he never ever had a difficult day in his life always had his way, spoiled bratt thats what theese rabbis are.

The wise with a wink
The fool with a kick
The evil with a whip
Are taught to understand

I like that - where is it from?

In my experience 90% of haredi Rabbis apologize and then continue doing exactly the same things they have apologized for as if nothing happened.

Whether or not Rabbi Manis Freedman made a true teshuva or just a PR stunt will be seen over the next several years. First little step in the right direction.

"You think your mother and grandmother went through their teenage years in Russia anmolested by a sheigetz?" (healing words of Rabbi Manis Friedman addressed to a sexual abuse victim girl)

I can assure you that many people have stopped reading the comments here because of people like you and WSC. Foul crude and pointless.

WSC is neither foul nor crude. I assume you're confusing him with someone else.

dh - thanks, that's very kind.

jansci - you may very well be right.

Oh, and Jake - whatever you may think of me and of my opinions, you know what I said earlier is absolutely correct. If Manis were a frei yid caught doing precisely the same thing, the frummies (if they were made aware of it) would behave precisely as I described. You know I'm right, and that's why you're angry.

WSC and Jeff are two of the best minds that post here and hardly worthless. You, however, may be. Posted by: dh

agreed.


1. this is definitely an apology

2. he definitely doesnt mean a word of it.


as dismissive as he was, even to the point of inviting laughter, its clear what he really thinks.
then, having had time to reflect and digest the outrage he caused, he made no apology.
now, facing more widespread condemnation, pressure and a call to beis-din he finds some of the right words.
thats all they are...words. they have no connection to what he really thinks.

Sharias blogging is important, your participation is wortless

You are not part of the community that needs this blog. You are a disturbed voyeur.

Posted by: Jake


youre in favor of sharia? i knew it!
whats your real name? jabir? jalal? jamil?


jeff speaks the truth. that fits fine with this blog. you?

and anyway, what's wrong with being a disturbed voyeur? Next to revenge, it's the only thing that keeps me going.

Thanks to all for the kind words.

I take Andy Warhol's position regarding criticism and insults aimed at me- I ignore the words, and just measure the column inches.

Posted by: Jake | February 01, 2013 at 09:31 AM

I just wanted to add my voice of support for Jeff and WSC.

Jake, your post makes one wonder what "multiple outstanding emotional issues" of yours prompt you to write a post like that.

Speaking of "worthless participation," your post was quite the example.

I commend his apology; he showed some moral courage for acknowledging he erred. It would be terrific he would use his considerable influence to get the rest of the Chabad movement on the same page and unequivocally insist a zero tolerance program that pertains to all Chabad institutions throughout the world.

Oops, I accidentally pressed the wrong key!

I commend his apology; he showed some moral courage for acknowledging he erred. It would be terrific IF he would use his considerable influence to get the rest of the Chabad movement on the same page and unequivocally demand that they take a zero tolerance approach towards these reprobate rabbis and deviant members of their organizations.

As we have learned from the Catholic Church, enabling pedophiles and helping them find work only leads to contempt. Rabbi Friedman should openly criticize the Chabad yeshiva in Melbourne, Australia for failing to work with the authorities.

Chabad needs to learn from the errors of the Catholic Church and make it a point to be supportive of the victims. Such an attitude ought to pertains to all Chabad institutions throughout the world.

Chabad cannot look the other way when children are violated. Taking a moral stand is important if Chabad wants to keep our respect.

The best he can hope for now is to elevate himself to hypocrite.

What I think about Rabbi Manis Friedman's apology:

1. It is a start.

2. BUT it is a rather weak apology considering the MANY AWFUL things he said on both the audio and video. He should have addressed EACH point he made on those audio and video recordings, and apologized for each and every one of them, explaining for each point how and in what way he was misguided and mistaken, and retracting each of the those points (including the jokes he made).

3. Together with a detailed apology as specified in #2 above, he should be offering to work to support activists and organizations in the field of battling sexual abuse in the frum world. He should specifically be focusing on frum camps and schools where he said in the audio recordings that that kind of sexual abuse it is just a part of life, and victims should just deal with it and stop whining.

4. After #3, above, he should be showing his face over the next 3 years (3 being a chazakah) in secular court in support of victims at sexual abuse hearings relating to the frum world, similar to how he went out of his way to show his face in support of Rubashkin at the SMR trials in Iowa. Tikun and Teshuvah do not only involve lip service but following up with one's actions.

Nothing short of the above #2-4 would convince me that his apology, 4 days after the story went viral, was not simply an attempt to contain the tide of criticism, and do some damage control.

Thanks for all the support, people.

Chaim Levin has a guest post by a woman who is a former student of Friedman:

http://gottagivemhope.blogspot.com/2013/01/brief-statement-by-former-student-of.html

Boy, Abra, are you ever easy peasy. Can I borrow some money?

He could do all that and I still wouldn't view him as apologetic. What he did is projectile vomit words. They are good with words. And charisma. Great with blending words with charisma. But what do they really say? To me, it's like beating your brain to death listening to Wolf Blitzer. No one can swallow air time and say less than Wolf. But the charisma, the perceived warmth, the black hats... it's as captivating as any strip show.

No way can he un-say what he said, but worse, no way can he un-be what he clearly displayed he is. And that is exactly how a generation of girls were taught to be women.

Yes, I agree completely with Abra, I think Manis Friedman should become an advocate for the victims, but he needs to also confront the incidents that are taking place in the Haredi and Habad communities--now that would represent as major turn-around in his attitude.

Well, what ever he does, it will translate into $ for him/Chabad. They cannot merely shut up.

DH - I agree that there is no way for Rabbi Manis Friedman to un-say what he said. Which is precisely why he needs to put action behind his apology. Otherwise, the apology is less than nothing, it is verbal diarrhea - a PR show. A few years of real, difficult, selfless action in conjunction with sexual abuse activists on the ground, together with saying time and time again the exact OPPOSITE of what he said in his vile lecture, and he will begin to redeem himself and prove that he has done teshuva, and changed his attitude. Anything less and his apology is simply the PR attempt of someone worried about his money flow drying up.

Yeah, Abra, but can I borrow money?

I can't see how someone can turn that lump of coal thing he has into a heart. He can learn to filter his words, but his tone, his manner? I say it can't be done by someone who spent his adult life following the spot light of admiration, acclaim and power over females all the way to the bank. He has only ever had to be accountable once, that I can see.

He will not be able to fake the sincere deep caverns of sympathy and empathy that are present in many human beings of good will. It ain't there.

He will not be able to fake the sincere deep caverns of sympathy and empathy that are present in many human beings of good will. It ain't there.

Exactly. Which is why I don't bet on him doing what I proposed. I highly doubt that he's capable of it.

And no, you cannot borrow money. I don't have any to lend! :P

Meanie.

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