Untrained Modern Orthodox and Centrist rabbis claim to have "swept" mikvahs to check for hidden video recording devices, many of which they wouldn't know how to find, and tell women that everything is all better now. Meanwhile, haredi rabbis won't talk on the record and don't believe something like Rabbi Barry Freundel's alleged mikvah voyeurism could happen to haredim.
Above: Rabbi Barry Freundel
The Jewish Week has a brief report on the response of rabbis to women who are now afraid to use a mikvah because of the Rabbi Barry Freundel voyeurism scandal.
Modern and Centrist Orthodox rabbis – who are of course all male – all assure these women they have nothing to fear, and some claim to have done security checks of the local mikva to make sure no hidden video recording devices are there.
But only one mikva, in Teaneck, New Jersey, actually hired a professional security company to do a sweep of the local mikva. The rest appear to have relied on rabbis – who have no training – or on laymen – who also have no real training. And as anyone familiar with hidden camera video recording and other types of spying will tell you, people who don’t know what to look for and how to look for it likely won’t find it.
However, what is even more disturbing that this paternalistic response from Modern and Centrist Orthodox rabbis is the response from haredi rabbis:
…A source close to the haredi community, who asked for anonymity because members of the haredi world are often thought to be overly critical of the Centrist or Modern Orthodox world, called the incident “a sui generis happening.”
“I think that the case is so bizarre that most rabbis and administrators of mikvaot (and they are usually more than one person, unlike the case in the D.C. mikvah) would not see a need for any changes in their duties,” he said via email.…
No, that isn't really why Rabbi David Zwiebel or Rabbi Avi Shafran requested anonymity. Likely it was because the organization they work for and the entire haredi rabbinic estabilshment has long covered up child sex abuse – a lot of which takes place in haredi men's mikvahs. And haredi rabbinic leaders (like the one who the Jewish Week spoke to) long insisted child sex abuse couldn't happen in their community and, if it did, it was an outlier occuence, an extreme rarity, and that it happened far less in haredi communities than in the secular world. But all of that was false, child sex abuse was common in haredi communities and still is. Religion offers no particular protection for innocent victims.
The Jewish Week's editors know this and really have no excuse for allowing this article to published without reporting it – and without telling their haredi source, whover he was, that anonymity is not appropriate in this case.