Thursday, May 10, 2012

Religious Jews oppose reporting abuse

The NY Times reports in a long article:
There have been glimmers of change as a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, taking on longstanding religious and cultural norms, have begun to report child sexual abuse accusations against members of their own communities. But those who come forward often encounter intense intimidation from their neighbors and from rabbinical authorities, aimed at pressuring them to drop their cases. Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said. ... “There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. Engelman said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.” The New York City area is home to an estimated 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews — the largest such community outside of Israel, and one that is growing rapidly because of its high birthrate. The community is concentrated in Brooklyn, where many of the ultra-Orthodox are Hasidim, followers of a fervent spiritual movement that began in 18th-century Europe and applies Jewish law to every aspect of life. Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.
Weird. I don't know what to make of this. I am surprised to see the NY Times call them "ultra-Orthodox", bbut I guess that is to distringuish them from the non-religious Jews who are the main constituenccy of the paper. The article seems to be about real abuse, and not just meddling CPS agents. It is not even talking about punishing those who fail to report suspected abuse under mandated reporter laws. This community does not believe in reporting real abuse. Or so the article says.


Anonymous said...

The majority of jews are quite secular - non religious. Like christians who don't go to church, same difference. The ultra-orthodox (black hats, coats, long beards) are a small minortity. Surely you understand this. You don't have an anti-jewish bias, do you? I happen to be a jewish man, screwed over by the family court system like so many other guys...just another Angry Dad reading in the we are all men, and there is no need for any other biases to creep in. Cheers brother....

George said...

Yes. I was surprised to read that there are as many as 250k ultra-orthodox Jews in NY city. I would have guessed a lot less. Jews certainly get screwed by the family court. The victims in the above story are also Jews.

Anonymous said...

Yoyu're right about using the term "ulta Orthodox". It means different things to different people.

The term "ultra-Orthodox" is often used instead of the term Haredi. Some regard this term to be misleading: Ami Ayalon writes that "Haredi" is preferable because
"Haredi" has none of the misleading religious implications of "ultra-Orthodox": in the words of Shilhav (1989: 53), "they are not necessarily [objectively] more religious but religious in a different way."[14]
Its use can also be controversial,[15] and is considered pejorative by Ayalon,[16] Norman Lamm[17] and others.[18] Canada's Centre for Faith and Media, while stating that the term "sometimes... cannot be avoided", advises journalists to
Try to avoid the term ultra-Orthodox to describe very observant Jews, partly because ultra implies extremism. The term also lumps all fervently religious Jews together (there is much diversity among the observant). As well, there is no analogue on the other end of the religious spectrum (there are no ultra-Reform Jews.)[19]
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency stopped using the term in the 1990s, substituting "fervently Orthodox" or "Haredi" or both. Then-editor Lisa Hostein stated "'ultra-Orthodox' was seen as a derogatory term that suggested extremism". A New Jersey based newspaper, The Star-Ledger, reportedly dropped the term ultra-orthodox in 2009.[20][21]

Whatever you want to call these people, the fact is that they have their own laws and own courts to deal with issues within their seperated community.

As, a mainstream Jew, I personally feel that in some ways it's fine and works well for them, in this area of abuse and it's reporting and handling of it, it fails tragically.