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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!
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ImageFrom: Rabbi Braunstein <####@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 10:46 PM
To: eic@amimagazine.org
Cc: ####@hamodia.com####@hamodia.com####@mishpacha.com,####@mishpacha.com####@binahmagazine.com

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 @amimagazine.org <eic@amimagazine.org>
Date: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 2:42 AM
To: Rabbi Braunstein <####@gmail.com>
Cc: ####@hamodia.com####@hamodia.com####@mishpacha.com, ####@mishpacha.com####@binahmagazine.com

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 <####@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 9:00 PM
To: “EIC @amimagazine.org” <eic@amimagazine.org>
Cc: ####@hamodia.com####@hamodia.com####@mishpacha.com, ####@mishpacha.com####@binahmagazine.com

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 <eic@amimagazine.org>
Date: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 9:04 PM
To: Rabbi Braunstein <####@gmail.com>
Cc: ####@hamodia.com####@hamodia.com####@mishpacha.com, ####@mishpacha.com####@binahmagazine.com

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