Thursday, June 14, 2012

Orthodox Jewish leader goes on trial

Following up on a previous abuse story, ABC News reports:
The abuse went on for nearly three years before the schoolgirl told anyone that her spiritual adviser was molesting her while he was supposed to be mentoring her about her religion, authorities said.

But in Brooklyn's ultra-orthodox Jewish community, 53-year-old Nechemya Weberman has been embraced and defended as wrongly accused. The girl has been called a slut and a troublemaker, her family threatened and spat at on the street.

The rallying around Weberman, who goes on trial this month, and ostracizing of his accuser and her family reflects long-held beliefs in this insular community that problems should be dealt with from within and that elders have far more authority than the young. ...

Weberman has pleaded not guilty, and articles in Hasidic newspapers have proclaimed his innocence and begged the community for support. More than 1,000 men showed up for a fundraiser aiming to raise $500,000 for his legal fees and, if he's convicted and jailed, money for his family. ...

The family has said they would've preferred to handle the allegations within the community. But when accusations are managed from the inside, victims are rarely believed and abusers aren't punished — in part because the word of an elder is respected over the word of a child, victims and advocates say.
As usual, I say that the man is innocent until proven guilty. I am impressed by the fact that he has 1000 supporters, but I do not know whether that is because they think he is innocent, or that they do not believe that Jews should be accountable to non-Jewish authorities.

If the man really raped the girl, then I would expect semen or other evidence that would prove the matter conclusively. If the prosecutor really wanted to bust up some sort of code of silence among the ultra-orthodox Jews, I would think that he would pick a case that he could convincingly prove. If the man is really innocent, then the community might become all the more convinced not to talk to non-Jews.


Anonymous said...

interesting, the problem is the abuse may not have included intercourse, but we don't have the details. otherwise, yes, semen samples would help tremendously.

There's something to this approach of an insular community policing it's own and staying out of the standard legal system as much as possible. We can all agree, I think, regardless of political stance, that the legal/justice system as well as political system in this country is broken, look at the ineptitude on both sides of the aisle.

The problem of course always lies with the possibility of abuse of power by leadership but at least in smaller communities they can be held more accountable. Bigger is not necessarily better and as we see, bigger corporations and bigger government do not begat better results.

Thanks for posting a more balanced and thoughtful article this time.

George said...

Yes, I agree. The ultra-orthodox are probably good at policing their own on other matters.

Anonymous said...

from what I understand, yes.

The question remains: how can we who aren't ultra-orthodox Jewish do something like they do? View it as ultra-orthodox Americanism where the local/regional organization of people was paramount and the customs and laws based largely on what was acceptable in those discrete communities. There was very little in the way of over-arching Federal laws back when this country first started.

George said...

Good question. I don't know. There are a couple of Christian communities near where I live, and my guess is that they are able to handle matters like petty domestic violence internally. The police and courts are horrible at it. Maybe we should all join communities like that.

Anonymous said...

or create our own based on tenents aside from orthodox religions, though those are a good start and model. They'd have to be based on culture or other principles people hold onto tightly in order to have any strength of cohesion.

You're seeing this to a certain degree on the internet so you know it can be done, it's a question of being in close geographical proximity to make it work as a physical community versus one in cyberspace.

Maybe this is a good way to hit the reset button on this country by getting back to its roots and bypassing the entrenched powers and values that don't seem to reflect the will and desires of the people. I don't see any of it working regardless of one's political viewpoints. I think Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams would all be appalled at how things have degenerated. The Noble Experiment has been hijacked by the usual crass aspects of human nature.

George said...

I like watching old Western movies and TV shows like Gunsmoke. No one got sent to anger management class. They usually either get let go, run out of town, or shot. That system had some advantages.