The fact that communal leaders in these two cases are protecting and enabling abusers, or condemning legitimate accusers, underscores that our community still has a long way to go. And given the high stakes of life and death and mental health of our children, we can’t afford to wait. Things will only change if our community loudly and articulately demands it.
Rabbi Haim Druckman, left; Rabbi Yosroel Belsky, right
Rabbi Heshie Billet, a former president of the Rabbinical Council of America, has a good piece on child sexual abuse in the Jewish Week.
Billet points out that one of the effects of child sexual abuse is suicide by victims and that allegations of child sexual abuse must be treated as a life and death issue akin to murder becauase of that. He castigates Bnei Akiva for allowing Rabbi Haim Druckman – a known enabler and defender of pedophiles – to rehire convicted child sexual abuser Rabbi Mordechai Elon only days after Elon was convicted of using force to sexually abuse a minor student, and does the same to the OU for allowing Rabbi Yisrael Belsky – another well-known enabler of pedophiles and abuser of theiri victims – to remain on staff:
Unfortunately, the very simple, just and halakhic actions Billet calls for will almost certainly not be taken by
…[Yeshivot Bnei Akiva] must insist that Rabbi Druckman retract the Rav Elon appointment. If he refuses, the organization must override his decision.
In the U.S., parents of a boy in Lakewood, NJ pressed charges of sexual molestation against Rabbi Yosef Kolko. Rabbi Yisrael Belsky, the Orthodox Union’s halachic authority for kashrut, publicly accused those parents of “mesirah,” the crime of turning a Jew over to secular authorities. As a result, the complainants were driven out of Lakewood. A few months ago Rabbi Kolko confessed to his crimes. Nevertheless, Rabbi Belsky continues to condemn the complainants as “mosrim.” His position is contrary to the OU's position and that of its rabbinic arm, the Rabbinical Council of America, that child abuse must be reported to the secular authorities.
The OU has refused to publicly rebuke or take any action against Rabbi Belsky. It is time that the OU publicly condemn his defiance of the rules of the RCA and the OU. Principles must trump kashrut revenues in a major Orthodox organization’s order of priorities.…
But the fact that communal leaders in these two cases are protecting and enabling abusers, or condemning legitimate accusers, underscores that our community still has a long way to go. And given the high stakes of life and death and mental health of our children, we can’t afford to wait. Things will only change if our community loudly and articulately demands it.
Unfortunately, the simple, clear and halalkic actions Billet calls for will almost certainly not be done by Yeshivot Bnei Akiva or the OU.
Both organizations have long ago decided that the children in their care are in no way a priorty. Money is. Power is. Protecting other rabbis is. But not children.
As for the Modern Orthodox/Centrist Orthodox/ Zionist Orthodox community, they will almost certainly remain silent until the scandal is so overwelming, they are forced to react. Courage is not a Modern Orthodox trait.