So what kind of gathering was the Baltimore Vaad HaRabbonim's “How To Protect Our Children,” held a couple of weeks ago in response to a myriad of child sexual abuse allegations in the Baltimore Orthodox community?
The "Catholic Conference of Orthodox Rabbis
By Phil Jacobs
Baltimore Jewish Times Blog - February 29, 2008
It was as controlled an environment as a fish tank. The temperature was right, the filter was working perfectly, there was enough food sprinkled on top for feeding.
Over 500 people don’t just come to a meeting on a freezing February night to hear what the Vaad HaRabbonim wanted them to hear. They, for the most part, ate the “fish food.”
Questions were controlled and filtered.
The man we really all came to hear was ostensibly silenced by a time limitation.
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, a man who knows of so much community pain and victimization, is given the opportunity to speak…for an inordinately long period of time. He took from the time we could have used to get yet another question in for Dr. Pelcovitz.
So before we start thumping our chests about what a wonderful success story last Wednesday night was, this was opportunity missed.
Hug your kid, make him tougher, call your rabbi. That’s right, keep it in the fish tank, in the filtered water, in the community.
That’s pretty much all you have to know.
A letter from the Vaad went out on April 11 of 2007. Ten months later, we have a meeting. Did it ever occur to anyone why the numbers were so high at this meeting? Was it because we had nothing else to do on a Wednesday night? People are hurting. They need help. Some looked around the room nervously and took note of the friends and neighbors they saw there.
Where were the civil authorities to address us? Molestation is a felony, isn’t it? Who do we call if we suspect something is wrong, a rabbi? Should I call a rabbi if I see a house burning down?
Should I call a rabbi if a kid breaks his arm? Should I call a salesman if I want to learn about Shabbat?
Don’t accept last Wednesday evening. Demand that something better be presented.
Where were the 23 who so “bravely” signed that letter last April 11? I’d say less than half attended. A couple of the rabbis even left early
Maybe we should have a meeting without the rabbis. Maybe we’d feel less inhibited about asking real questions. Rabbis, did you look around the sanctuary last Wednesday? Did it dawn on you that some of these people were perhaps coming because they needed to be saved some how?
A small handful of rabbis showed admirable effort getting a full house last week. You brought the issue to the front, which I give you total credit for.
But we are all still wondering what to do now? Do we wait another 10 months?
The name of the program was “How To Protect Our Children.” An obviously frustrated man sitting near me had his own name for the evening. He simply renamed it a meeting of the “Catholic Conference of Orthodox Rabbis.”
[Hat Tip: Yankel.]