Posts Tagged ‘chareidim’

Rabbi Frankfurter and Child Molestation

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Here is an email back and forth I had with Rabbi Frankfurter, editor in chief and publisher of the popular “Ami Magazine”, under the pseudonym “Rabbi Braunstein”. Don’t get me wrong here. I wasn’t expecting some decency to appear in this man’s soul out of the blue, but I was hoping to have a dialogue, which unfortunately, as evidenced by this exchange, this person is incapable of having:


Subject: Let us speak up!

ImageFrom: Rabbi Braunstein <>
Date: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 10:46 PM

Dear Rabbi Franfurter עמו”ש

As a regular reader of the Ami, a member of klas yisroel, and a father of 4 boys and 2 girls ke”h, I follow the recent developments of molestation accusations against heimisher Yiden with great interest and concern. Throughout the past year, at multiple occasions, you publicly defended our communities in this regard, and accused the activist community and media of being biased, racist, anti-chareidi, and more than all, just simply lying, fabricating stories about us, and creating venomous myths about the Chareidi community.

Using the typical Straw Man Argument, you presumed that the activists believe or argue that the prevalence of molestation and abuse is bigger than the population at large, and that only in our community is it difficult for a victim of molestation to come forward. As an avid follower of this subject for the past few years, this is not the case. I have not seen this argument taken in any serious activist forum. However, the real problem that I’ve seen mentioned and discussed by the activist community and media reports they have spurred, you have totally ignored and disregarded.

The real problem is obvious to any human being who has not yet destroyed his Neshama ch”v and the problems are multiple:

1.      There is no Beis Din within our community with the slightest training or experience of how to determine whether or not the victim is saying the truth or not that. Let us take the Kolko episode as an example. A Chushiver Beis Din acquitted Rabbi Yehuda Kolko years ago. We now have a group of people, some of them already grandfathers with white beards, coming forward with accusations.

2.      Since people committing such crimes usually don’t do it in public the evidence is usually such that’s inadmissible in a Beis Din (sometimes for the reason of being a minor, lady, single, or involved).  Although there’s room within Halacha to accept an אומדנא דמוכח, we have yet to see a Beis Din do so.

3.      Even if one were to be found guilty in a Beis Din there is no mechanism or therapy program within our community that actually deals with the problem of molestation. I personally had a conversation with Rabbi Mandel from Ohel who told me that he hasn’t had a single case referred to him by a Ruv or Beis Din where the perpetrator successfully completed the program.

Although we have many Gedolim that paskened both, orally and in their Tshuvos, that one is allowed or perhaps even obligated to report to civil authorities, those psakim are in theory only, not in practice.

In fact, I challenge you to name a single Rov that resides in the greater NYC area that wears a shtreimel on Shabbos and was Matir to report in even “one” specific case!

Name one Rov that came out against the overwhelming shaming, indignation and harassment of alleged victims!

Name one Rov that came out against Satmar (R”A) Rebbe’s statement this past Motzei Shabbos!

Name one Rov that came out against the Fundraiser for Weberman and his ilk! If there’s even a 50% chance for the victim to have actually been victimized what right on earth do they have to label that young lady a menace to the community!

In fact, our community is unique in systematically discouraging and in some cases even proactively hindering victims from coming forward! I am not aware of a single other community, with the exception of the Catholic Church in the past, where victims are similarly banished, discouraged, and otherwise worn down! And no, once again, our community probably does not have a higher prevalence of abuse and molestation incidents, but our community does have a much stronger apparatus striking at the heart and soul of victims that dare come forward!

Victims in the general population also have a hard time coming forward, but the opposite scenario plays out in those communities. Their leaders and mental health professionals encourage and assist them in coming forward and at least publicly claim to support their cause!

I therefore ask and demand a public apology for you defaming victims and their advocates, and failing to use your public persona to advocate for change in how our community deals with the molestation problem.  

From: EIC <>
Date: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 2:42 AM
To: Rabbi Braunstein <>

Thanks for your email. Ami actually cited more than once the psak of Rav Elayashiv that one is obligated to report a molester to the authorities and has had articles written by survivors of abuse urging the community not to take molestation lightly.


Unfortunately this important cause has been hijacked by people who have left our community and a life of Torah to try to besmirch all of Orthodoxy in an attempt to bring it down. The general media has been more than willing to assist them. Ami has pointed this out as well. 

From: Rabbi Braunstein <>
Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 9:00 PM
To: “EIC” <>

Thanks for your timely response, and it says much about your character that you have been able to print the tshuvos on this subject matter even though this may be considered controversial to some. I appreciate that you have allowed your magazine to be a platform for survivors and it indeed is heartwarming to hear this. I must have missed those articles, please be so kind and attach a copy of those articles.

It must be noted however, that the core of my complaint to you has been left unanswered. My complaint to you is that currently our community is unique in its drive to silence victims! And you, as publicly on the record denying this phenomenon of our communities lack of any mechanism dealing with and ignorance of this issue, and claiming us to be “just as all the rest or better”, with this you are doing a disservice to our community that you claim to advocate for. Actually, the way you take this to the next level by blaming “those who left our community and a life of Torah that try to besmirch all of Orthodoxy in an attempt to bring it down,” is the problem! Killing the messenger only disallows a solution! The problem is Mr. Frankfurter and his sort who are publicly distorting the facts by comparing us to the general population.

It is therefore incumbent upon you to be an advocate for true change, which cannot happen as long as we are in denial of the problem itself. I therefore insist that you publicly admit, that yes, we did indeed misunderstand and mishandle this issue from the very beginning. And let there be stop to the intentional and conscious ignorance!!

From: Editor in Chief <>
Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 9:04 PM
To: Rabbi Braunstein <>

Thanks for sharing your perspective with Ami Magazine. Ami always appreciates feedback from its readers.



Found On A Note Flying Out Of Citifield

My heartfelt plea to all our free brothers and sisters! Image

Yes, quote me on free! I am sitting inside this vast stadium and can’t believe my eyes! The power and control that has been wrought on us is more than what we can bear! Please! Do stand out there and utter a cry! Create a commotion! Perhaps a shriek! Whatever it is that you can do please do! Please, as you stand out there, do keep in mind all the people who have been caught in the iron grip behind the shtreimel curtain! With no way out due to the many constraints – the societal and financial shackles that are sometimes beyond the ability of mere mortals to overcome!

However, our hearts and minds are with you guys and gals out there who are screaming out loud about the human pain being inflicted on so many masses with impunity! From the molested child to the trapped infidel! From the handicapped adult to the shackled housewife!

Yes! Do stand out there and inflict some shame! Where are thy holy men? What have thy done for you poor and infirm? And more than any of this, how do thy treat the person who dares to rebuke you? Is there any business you have besides for ensuring the backwardness of your masses?

I will stand inside, trapped and shackled, blush and take the shame – for you may say the insults are directed at me. But I would rather have my face blush than allow my heart to bleed forever. Perhaps if their shame is large enough my children will have a better life! Perhaps their cruelty will subside, and in feeling some pain themselves they will relate to the pain of their fellow human as well!

Morality and Chareidim

Slifkin hit it off in this latest article which was cross posted in Jpost.

It is true that the vast majority of haredim would never dream of spitting on people and cursing them. These are the actions of a fringe element that are feared and detested by the rest of the haredi world. But the mainstream haredi community is supportive of the ultimate goals, and does not see such actions as being terrible enough to justify joining with “outsiders” in order to condemn it. A letter expressing support for Banot Orot and condemnation of the extremists was signed by over a dozen national-religious and moderate haredi community rabbis in Beit Shemesh, but not one mainstream haredi rabbi signed on to it or made any similar such public declaration.

As someone who is living in a Chassidic enclave, albeit in the US, I do agree with the general presumption made by Slifkin that many if not most Chareidim (whom I know personally) see the MO community as a lesser Jew. If you ever mention this to a Chareidi, they will always fall back on safe arguments and trudge out the Satmar Ruv and other Gedolim who they would want you to believe had an unequivocal love to every Jew, regardless of their affiliation or religiosity. This is of course not the subject of the current controversy at all. The question is only what the community thinks and how they act. Not what their Rabbonim say from the pulpit, but rather what the people understand implicitly, which one would assume is the more authentic, unfiltered, and uncontrolled message.

The interesting thing though that I feel Slifkin missed, is the reasoning behind the lack of aversion by many Chareidim to violence – when not directed internally. There is no moral value within the Chareidi community that does not stem from the way they perceive Halacha, and not all Halachot are created equal. Violence is not always a problem and in the mind of many a Chareidi, although he may not be comfortable enough to do it himself, it is the right way to go. In fact, I have heard many people explain how they feel that the only reason they themselves aren’t on the forefront of the religious battles is because their own morality and musardike development is lacking, and thus they are happy that other people are doing the job for them.

So yes, Yossi Sarid does indeed have a point! Despite all apologies, the violence is still happening in the name of religion! And the only real religious problem a regular Chareidi will have with this is a tactical/strategic one, not a moral problem in of itself! However, I must point out that I do agree with some of the critique against Sarid, but not because his arguments are not valid. It would rather be nice for Sarid to acknowledge that not all Religious Jews are Chareidi and not all people who appear Chareidi are indeed so.

“What a Chilul Hashem” – the Defining Comment!

What a “Chilul Hashem”! What a standard refrain! It’s perhaps the most common refrain to be uttered out of the sacred mouths of Chareidim upon hearing news of bad deeds committed by a fellow Jew. Despite all the talk of the haredization of American Orthodox Jewry, this may indeed be one of those undefinable dividing lines between Chareidi and your run-of the-mill Orthodox Jews. Just tell the man some bad press another Chareidi got, or maybe only that Matisyahu shaved his beard, count to three, and wait for that moan: what a Chilul Hashem! If that moan doesn’t come, you’ve discovered an impostor! The person who doesn’t instinctively grouch about Chilul Hashem is no Chareidi, has no connection to Chareidism, and will just never “get it.”
For evidence to this supposition one must only examine the difference between the statements made now, in the aftermath of the Beit Shemesh spitting debacle, by the OU, RCA, and Aguda. The OU and RCA perhaps consider themselves reall Torah Jews, but with their protest mostly directed at the violence, and the media anti-Chareidi indulgence only mentioned in passing, one is led to believe that they have other concerns as well – not only Chilul Hashem, but other acts, perhaps spitting on little Na’ama Margolis, are worthy of condemnation. Their statements are laudable, but unfortunately for them, this really puts them outside of the Chareidi camp. The Aguda on the other hand – they are better at their game! They know what matters! You read their so-called condemnation, and you’re left wondering whom they are condemning! This is no mistake – this is by design! Their main problem is Chilul Hashem. If you want to spit on little Na’ama, that’s completely ok – just make sure to have enough brains and do it out of sight of the media!