The coverup of the Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, Yeshiva Torah Temimah coverup has begun in ernest. Yeshiva head Rabbi Lipa Mrgulies, accused of knowingly harbored pedophile Rabbi Kolko for four decades, crushing all previous attempts to deal with the allegations, including attempts within the community itself, called a meeting to calm parents. And he brought in some heavy hitters from the Brooklyn haredi community – David Mandel from Ohel, a Jewish social services agency that deals extensively with children, and Aaron Twerski dean of Hofstra's law school.
Mandel, a 'mental health professional,' told the crowd:
However, when an audience member asked whether sex education could help to strengthen children’s knowledge of inappropriate behaviors and empower them to come forward if someone violated them, Mandel responded that sex education was “not something realistic” in a community that stresses modesty.
He told parents that the overwhelming majority of children who have experienced “unwanted touch” would go on to live happy, healthy lives, while only a “small percentage” of individuals would be permanently harmed by the abuse
Mandel also said that abusers could be treated for their perversions.
“An individual who abuses children and who participates in treatment can lead a successful life and be believed that they would no longer hurt children,” Mandel said.
When asked, in an interview the following day, whether such people could work with children again, Mandel evaded the question.
Do not give any money to Ohel until David Mandel is removed from any position of authority, paid or unpaid, with it.
For his part, Rabbi Aaron Twerski was no less dishonest:
Rabbi Twerski, a legal scholar who said he has been working on the issue of abuse for “a long time,” dismissed the allegations against Rabbi Margulies.
“I know Rabbi Margulies for many years and know him to be a man of great honor,” said Rabbi Twerski. He did not make any comments about Rabbi Kolko.
Rabbi Twerski then outlined a host of steps he said the yeshiva was taking to improve school safety, including agreeing to train employees to recognize signs of abuse. In addition, he said the school would be hiring a counselor and an ombudsman to handle claims of abuse.
One member of the audience was overheard saying under her breath, “It’s about time.”
In addition, Rabbi Twerski said the school had implemented a number of guidelines, including forbidding teachers to be alone with students and requiring that there be no enclosure without windows “so that a passerby cannot see what is going on.”
Rabbi Twerski also said that Torah Temimah was in the process of implementing additional, but undefined, steps recommended by Torah U’Mesorah, the Jewish education arm of Agudath Israel of America.
A call placed to Torah U’Mesorah in search of the guidelines was not returned.
Rabbi Yosef Blau and Rabbi Mark Dratch were asked for comment. They responded:
But some Orthodox observers said the event amounted to a whitewash of the allegations.
Rabbi Yosef Blau, spiritual adviser at Yeshiva University who has been working to focus communal attention on the problem of rabbinic abuse, said that the community was so “authority oriented” that it prevented members from demanding more accountability from its leadership.
“No one who protected him [Rabbi Kolko] all these years is paying any price,” Blau said, adding that Rabbi Margulies “should remove himself for awhile until things can be reviewed objectively.”
Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive director of JSafe, an organization that fights abuse in the Jewish community, said the Brooklyn Orthodox community had a somewhat spotty record of taking care of its own.
“Part of the problem with Brooklyn is that it’s a very insular community,” Rabbi Dratch said. “They look to solve the problems themselves even if it’s not in the best interest of the community.”
Yup. Just what God wants – covering up for abusers and their apologists. If this is Judaism, I am an "atheist." You should be, too.
[Hat tip: Mechaberet.]