The Schick spills forth again. Day school and yeshiva grade school, middle school and high school expert and consultant for the Avi Chai Foundation Marvin Schick explains why newspapers, blogs and sometimes even police and prosecutors expose bad Orthodox/haredi behavior – Jews rat out other Jews and feed the "anti-Orthodox" agendas of the papers, blogs, cops and DAs. And this is especially true, Schick seems to think, when the crime or misbehavior being outed has do with various types of abuse of students in Jewish schools.
The Jewish Week and the Modern Orthodox
By Marvin Schick• Cross-Currents
Those of us who read the Jewish Week of New York are certainly familiar with the controversy that has arisen over Gary Rosenblatt’s article three weeks ago strongly attacking Rabbi Aharon Bina, the Rosh Yeshiva of Netiv Aryeh, a Jerusalem yeshiva that caters primarily to students who have graduated Modern Orthodox high schools and have come to Israel to study for a year or two. Rosenblatt’s article has resulted in what apparently is an unprecedented response. In his words, there have been “literally hundreds of comments posted online on our website,” amounting to more than fifty-five printed pages – and that was about a week ago. Here is how I view this matter:
1. The Bina article is but one more example of Rosenblatt’s obsessive bigotry and hatred toward the Orthodox community. There is scarcely an issue of the Jewish Week that does not contain in one way or another at least one or two attacks against Orthodoxy. In the issue in which Rosenblatt describes the Bina controversy there are two other articles hostile to Orthodoxy plus an editorial.
2. When I began to write what became a paid for column in The Jewish Week, I said that my intent was to counteract the newspaper’s hostility toward the Orthodox. I did not succeed, not by a long shot. As is true of all physical and moral diseases, the situation has worsened and The Jewish Week is significantly more hostile these days than it was when I began to write.
3. We do not have to accept entirely Lord Acton’s dictum about power to recognize that there are situations where power corrupts because it is unchallenged. The Jewish Week may be identified in some broad sense as a communal newspaper. It is not. It is controlled totally by one person who brings to nearly each issue his biases and hang-ups. I do not think there is another Jewish publication anywhere which is so bereft of countervailing forces.
4. As I have pointed out more than once, the proclivity and ability of The Jewish Week to attack the Orthodox is predicated in large measure on the wormy network of sources that constantly feed material to Rosenblatt. This is a phenomenon that does not occur in other segments of Jewish life. It is a lamentable aspect of Orthodox Jewish life today. We have in our midst too many people who believe that in order to get even, the path to take is to go to the media or to government. We are awash in mesirah whether or not we are prepared to acknowledge this truth.
5. In the aggregate, Rosenblatt and his newspaper have targeted the charedi sectors of Orthodoxy. There have been very few attacks against the Modern Orthodox. My observation is that when charedim have been attacked by The Jewish Week, too many of an MO orientation have applauded the newspaper. Now that one of their own has been unfairly attacked, there is a huge uproar. Isn’t there a lesson here?
Lets be clear:
1. Schick's "paid for" column in The Jewish Week is an advertisement. It is in no way part of The Jewish Week's editorial content. (The JW has never disclosed who pays for Schick's ads, and neither has Schick.)
2. There are many accusers and witnesses to Rabbi Bina's abusive behavior. Gary Rosenblatt did not make these allegations up out of whole cloth and he did not distort them.
3. Years ago, Rosenblatt exposed Rabbi Baruch Lanner's physical, emotional and sexual abuse of the NCSY students in his care and NCSY's and its parent organization, the Orthodox Union's, decades long coverups of these crimes. Lanner was eventually convicted of sexually abusing students at the day school he taught at and the OU went though a reorganization (of sorts) that basically allowed a couple senior staff to retire without being fired, and put in place some controls to (hopefully) prevent another Lanner from abusing NCSY or OU kids. But lots of people were very upset with Rosenblatt and they condemned him and his paper using the same language Marvin Schick uses today. But Rosenblatt was right, and what he did saved dozens, perhaps hundreds, of kids from abuse.
4. Just like with Lanner, there is much opposition to Rosenblatt's exposé of Rabbi Bina. Most of the opposition comes from people who use the following logic: Rabbi Bina helps lots of kids. He works magic with them. True, sometimes he crosses the line and acts in a way that no rabbi or teacher should. But he does it out of love. And while a very small number of his students my be hurt, the vast majority benefit – they strengthen their commitment to Orthodox Judaism and go on to marry, participate in Orthodox communities, and raise Orthodox Jewish children. Why should we hurt the majority and the growth Orthodox community to protect a tiny minority, most of whom are screw ups anyway?
5. The same logic was used by OU leadership when they protected Lanner for decades. Lanner's kiruv (outreach) was phenomenal, he did great work with the vast majority of the kids he worked with. Why should we remove him? After all, only a very small number of kids ever complained about him and those kids were marginal anyway. Why should we hurt the majority of kids and the growth Orthodox community to protect a tiny minority of kids, most of whom are screwups anyway?
6. Marvin Schick has a long history of asserting that child sexual abuse and related crimes are rare in the Orthodox/haredi community, and of asserting that what little does exist has been brought in from the outside by ba'al teshuvas or converts. He also has a long history of labeling anyone who attempts to seriously cover crimes in Orthodox/haredi communities as antisemites or self-hating Jews. And even the 85 haredi pedophiles Brooklyn's DA claims to have tried to prosecute in the past three years alone haven't changed Schick's mind.
7. Schick also has a history of downplaying (or completely failing to mention) the crimes and misbehavior of his own family, one of who ran a ponzi-like scheme that defrauded investors out of millions of dollars and landed that Schick in prison. But while Schick opines about crime and its lack in his beloved Orthodox/haredi community, or rants against ratting out Jews to police, you'll be hard pressed to find him mentioning his nephew's crimes or other family misbehavior. I'm not referring to crimes committed several generations ago. I'm referring to crimes committed during the past decade.
8. And now we come to the Avi Chai Foundation, which pays Schick to study Jewish day schools and yeshivas and to recommend programs and fixes that would boot enrollment and/or stabalize these schools financially. How can Avi Chai employ a man who has a documented track record of attacking people who expose men who rape, molest or beat Jewish children? How can Avi Chai employ a man who publicly complains about Jews who turn in Jewish criminals to police or who give The Jewish Week or other media documentation of crimes? By keeping Schick on its payroll, Avi Chai is doing exactly what the critics of The Jewish week's exposé of Lanner did – it is saying that it is willing to sacrifice the minority of kids who are hurt in order to keep the majority of kids who are not. By keeping Schick on its payroll, Avi Chai is telling Jewish victims of child sexual abuse that they don't matter, that their pain does not matter, and that their very lives don't matter. To say this discredits Avi Chai and its mission is, I think, an understatement. But it does more than that. It also calls into question the ability of every Avi Chai board member and all its staff to work or serve in positions of authority in the Jewish community in the future – especially positions that involve children or vulnerable adults.