Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jewish Board Of Advocates Statement

Thanks Steve.


In response to the Agudah’s unfortunate position:

We can clearly see without a shadow of a doubt the fear running through the veins of the executive membership of the AGUDATH ISRAEL OF AMERICA AND TORAH UMESORAH - THE NATIONAL SOCIETY FOR HEBREW DAY SCHOOLS. WE had an amazing lobby day in Albany, and we can state without a shadow of a doubt that we had a very positive reception and response.

It was truly history in the making, a day that one could only hope for and yet with the help of the Almighty has finally come to fruition. We were a diverse group of ALL religions, ALL backgrounds, All organizations, ALL groups, ALL stories, ALL there for the same reason and the same cause standing in unison behind Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and Senator Thomas Duane for one full hour at a press conference, and then breaking up into individual groups for the rest of the day walking through the Assembly and the Capital speaking to OUR state representatives face to face; human beings one to another speaking truth and honesty crossing ALL barriers of race, religion, bias, bigotry, class, finance, etc. Chasidim and misnagdim stood side by side with gentiles male and female, children, parents and grandparents; clergy and laymen. The playing field was leveled. We were all there for the same cause, either as victims, family of victims or advocates for victims and children.

We relayed certain information that they were previously unaware of and quite shocked to learn such as the non-public school system has no laws governing them as far as child safety is concerned. No mandatory finger-printing and background checks of staff, no teacher licensing, no mandatory reporting system on abuse or molestation. As the well known joke (unfortunate not funny) goes “if you’re a pedophile YOUR safe in our system”. Mrs. Engelman made a point of informing our legislatures that every male teacher that is charged with teaching Torah or religious subjects is referred to as Rabbi and it does not mean that they have studied in rabbinical seminary nor has received rabbinical ordination. So just because they bear the title it does not mean they deserve the title nor the respect and honor that goes with it.

It was truly a Kidush Hashem standing on the same platform with Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg and Rabbi Gershon Tanenbaum, the Director of the Igud Harabonim of America, author of the “My Machberes” column for the Jewish Press, along with the other Rabbonim he brought with him. Rabbi Tanenbaum’s words were inspirational to the crowd especially the victims. Joel Engelman was the first speaker after Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and Senator Thomas Duane who clearly presented their reasons behind this bill. Joel spoke about how he was victimized at the tender age of 8 years old by Rabbi Avrhohom Reichman of the United Talmudical Academy, who as he spoke is still in front of a classroom of young children, basically a field of young and vulnerable prey and still no one has taken any type of precaution to protect the children by removing him or separating him from his evil and illegal inclinations. There were at least 5 other chassidishe men standing behind the speakers who had similar stories, and another 5 who were frum and not chassidishe. There were others in the audience who were no longer Frum but used to be. This of course in addition to victims from non-Jewish backgrounds. Obviously not everyone was brave enough to stand behind the speakers to be photographed for all to see. Kudos to all for stepping forward whether in front of the cameras or behind.

Note to the Agudah that is called bravery and Kidush Hashem, they are willing to come forward to “SAVE” the lives of other Yiddish neshomas. And WE all stood there for a full hour while everyone had a turn Jew and catholic, priest, nun, alter boy, and gemarah kup who was stripped of their faith by those who should have been encouraging and promoting their unique and individual connection and relationship with their maker.

And of course our own Frum Assemblyman Dov Hikind stood side by side with us and with the authors of the bills for all to see that he stands firm in his conviction of co-sponsoring this bill and supporting the passage of same. Why else would he stand there with all of us for the press conference and the photo opportunity? What message is he sending to you the Agudath Israel of America when he stands with the victims that he took testimony from, that he cried with, that he understood their betrayal because YOU did nothing to help them and aid them; you did nothing to protect them, to believe them, to stop their abusers from continuing their reign of terror and destroying other young children.

Marci Hamilton took the floor. Marci Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair of Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a widely-regarded scholar in constitutional law. She is an expert on and advocate for the U.S. Constitution's required separation of church and state. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University in 1979 then earned a Masters degree at Pennsylvania State University and a juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Law Review. She served as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor of the Supreme Court of the United States and Chief Judge Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Marci was very eloquent and very carefully vacated any misconceptions that the YOU the Agudah and others seem to use as a smoke screen for your positions. To paraphrase: the Markey bill is following the guidelines set forth in the open window legislation of the California and Delaware bills where no civil litigations were allowed to move forward without a “certificate of merit” from a qualified mental professional. This would absolutely disqualify your contention of “capricious litigation”. Furthermore, the “open window” bill produces extremely low numbers of false claims we repeat “proven false” claims but revealed a record breaking additional 360 previously unknown pedophiles that those states have now registered and citizens are now aware of and can protect themselves from.

There is a statistical study which revealed that every repeat offender known as a serial pedophile will in his/her lifetime commit 400 acts of abuse also appropriately referred to as violence in their lifespan. YOU, the Agudah are smart enough to run those numbers for yourselves but we can help you with that, an additional 360 x 400, that is 144,000 acts of violence against children that may be averted in the states of California and Delaware. Don’t you want to claim that you can do that for our children as well? And yet with the great Jewish population in the state of California we did not hear of even one Jewish institution that was forced to close or forced into bankruptcy due to this one year open window of opportunity. Would you care to explain that? Is it because no one sued them or because they had less Frum Jewish pedophiles than we do here? Either way it doesn’t show much cause for your position.

It is quite clear that when you speak of the “fundamental interest of our community” you speak of the “financial” interest of our community because basically that is ALL you are concerned with. No not actually you are also concerned with losing face for your organization and the Rabbinical members who themselves are “nogeah b’davar” because they are personally involved or because they are involved in the cover-up, either way a conflict of interest; absolutely not capable of making a proper or unbiased decision in this case. As you say “Our rabbinic and lay leaderships are acutely aware of the emotional trauma and damage caused by the perpetrators of such abuse.” They are aware, because they have always been aware and have chosen to do nothing, again, they are nogeah b’dovor and therefore not qualified to make an unbiased decision in this case. They should be respectfully exempt from this decision for obvious reasons and only those who have never been touched by this issue should be allowed to have a say in it.

Why is it that when Reb Elyashiv offers a psak everyone listens as if it came from Har Sinai itself, but in this case when his psak clearly states that perpetrators should be handed over to the authorities his words are ignored like poison? Had he followed his psak with “and their wives’ sheitels should be burnt”, maybe, maybe at least there would have been a bon fire. A valid question would be, did the executive members of the Agudah discuss this issue with the Gedolim of Eretz Yisroel and get some guidance from them before coming to this conclusion? Was Reb Elyashiv consulted?

Now lets look at your financial concern.

I am surprised that you do not have faith in the myriads of religious CPA’s and Attorneys who we are quite sure are already hard at work (just in case) closing old corporations and opening new ones to hide any assets that Yeshivas and other institutions have. In the event that, which is highly unlikely, anyone would actually go so far as to sue and receive an award from same, there would never be any money, any building, any asset left in the name of the institution that would have been in business at the time of the event. Come on, we are all Yiddish Kep here, we know how the game is played. It is an insult to the intelligence of the K’lal that you think we are fooled by this smoke screen. And WE also know that YOU know that 95% of all victims are not interested in monetary compensation. All they are interested in is putting their abusers out of business and making sure they never ever have access to innocent children again.

So what really is your motivation behind this?

We know, you are still protecting the pedophiles and their protectors. YOU still don’t want to come clean. You still wish to honor them and not disgrace them by allowing their names to become public. You are still more concerned with their reputation than with allowing the victims of their crimes to have the opportunity to start healing and finding some closure to their misery.


If you recall back in the 1960’s Emile Zola coined the phrase J’ACCUSE against the French government in reference to the Dreyfus case. I am going to say those words to you here and now.


For putting the honor of the Jewish religious pedophiles first and foremost before the welfare of their victims. “the burden of litigation expense or legal liability for ancient claims would fall squarely on an entirely innocent group - the current parent body”. That is a complete and utter fallacy and you are trying to misguide the public because they have total faith and trust in you as we once did. The current financial body should hire representation to absolutely REFUSE to defend the institution and the pedophiles they harbor. THEY should demand the immediate dismissal of said pedophile and any administrator who was connected to the case and absolutely forbid any tuition funds or any other funds to be used in defense of either. As stated before, the corporation at the time of abuse would no longer be current if the CPA’s and attorneys are doing their jobs for cases that happened way in the past. Cases that happened in the past 10-12 years would be covered under their insurance policies which have sexual abuse riders. So again, YOU the Agudah are trying to SCARE and frighten the Olam to fall into line behind you.


“Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah have taken a number of concrete steps to help ensure that Jewish schools, extra-curricular youth programs and summer camps implement policies and procedures designed to protect children against such abuse. Our organizations have also supported legislative efforts to furnish such protection, including the recently enacted legislation in New York authorizing nonpublic schools to screen all prospective employees through the state's fingerprint checking system. ”

What exactly have you done and how has it helped? Yes you have supported the legislation with lip service, but what have you done to implement it, basically nothing.


YOU who have implemented TAKANOS not suggestions, on how many guests one can invite to their own Simcha, limiting the parnasah a caterer makes, how many musicians a person can hire for their own simcha, limiting the parnasah a musician makes, but did nothing to implement the fingerprinting and background checks in all Yeshivos! YOU did not make that mandatory! You just supported the bill and allowed for those who wanted to comply. Where were the TAKANOS to prevent child abuse and molestation of our precious children?


YOU could have saved thousands, upon thousands of young innocent neshomas but you didn’t.


For the good things that the Agudath Israel has done for K’lal Yisroel you have neglected on a tremendously large scale the biggest responsibility any Jewish organization of such magnitude has and that is to protect our innocent neshomas!

You have a great big chelek in the pain and suffering of thousands of yiddishe kinderlach and their families for tearing their lives apart and for pushing and shoving them off the derech.

And now instead of showing them and all the children, the future of K’lal Yisroel that YOU stand for honesty and integrity, exactly what we teach and expect from our children YOU want to absolve ALL the guilty parties of their responsibility and accountability? Is this the hypocrisy that you choose to continue to role model for our children?

YOU had and still have an opportunity of teshuva and of helping to allow the healing to begin but you refuse to step up to the plate.

WE can’t force you to do the right thing; we can only ask you to. But whether you do or don’t, the bill will go forth and it will pass because every day it gains support, and with each day’s gain, those who approve and support the bill continue to garner more and more support, and it is growing like a wildfire because it is the right thing to do. Hashem will help us uncover the truth and reveal the identities of all the dangerous individuals who hide amongst us, who are not ashamed to defile our youth within the walls of mekomos kedoshim like yeshivas, mikvaot and shuls. The health and welfare of our children far outweighs the financial concerns of institutions real or imagined.

These institutions know how to protect themselves but children don’t and that is why WE have to find ways to help them, as Margaret Markey, Thomas Duane, and the fine states of California and Delaware have. So with you or without you WE know right from wrong, WE understand good from evil, WE know the good guys from the bad guys, WE know who to honor and respect and who to turn away from. Hashem has given us strict guidelines in the Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach. Those who cross those lines, do not deserve the honor and respect you insist on bestowing upon them. Anyone with an ounce of seichel Hashem has given them will see through your smoke screen and contact their Legislative representatives to throw their support behind this bill.


Mrs. Sherree Belsky Director Kids Count Foundation (For Reference: Sherree Belsky – Maiden name Gottesman -second Generation Holocaust survivor – Auschwitz death camps; Belsky (Bielski – Bielski Brothers- Jewish partisans saved 1,200 Jews in the Russian and polish forests in the Holocaust)

Rabbi Dr. Asher Lipner Ph.D Vice President Jewish Board of Advocates for Children

Elie Hiller Jewish Educator West Orange, NJ

Mrs. Pearl Engelman Mother of Joel Engelman Brooklyn, N.Y.


The RCA Statement On The Markey Bill

March 20, 2009

Dear Ms. Markey:

The Rabbinical Council of America represents more than 1,000 modern and centrist orthodox rabbis. We are the rabbinic arm of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

We support Bill No. A.02596, sponsored by you, which would extend the civil and criminal statutes of limitations for sex abuse victims.

Child sex abuse is a horrendous crime. Victims often bear the scars for entire lifetimes. They are at higher risk for clinical depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

Many victims are overcome by feelings of confusion, shame, and embarrassment. As children and teens, they are psychologically and emotionally unable to deal with the court system. Only later, as adults, and often with therapy, do they feel comfortable in working with the judicial system. Unfortunately, arbitrary statutes of limitations stand in their way.

Jewish law and tradition recognize the need for our justice system to protect the most vulnerable among us. Lowering the statute of limitations bar for child sex abuse victims would serve that purpose. Sexual predators are often recidivists and need to be incarcerated, and classified as convicted sex offenders, in order to assure public safety. Sex abuse victims deserve to be fairly compensated for their grievous injuries. Your bill will assure these laudatory goals.

Sincerely yours,
Rabbi Basil Herring
Executive Vice-President

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Hashem,

A victim of abuse writes....

Dear Hashem,

I’m at the end of my strength in Emunah.

As a victim of abuse, I was told by YOUR guardians of YOUR Torah that it’s Asur to inform the authorities. Instead of caring about my feelings, pain and soul, they played with me more. YOUR rabbis, called me a liar, threatened my safety, threatened my education, tried to ruin my father’s salary, and more all to protect YOUR honor. YOU watched and did nothing.

Now, YOUR Agudah anointed rabbis have decided to prevent YOUR other children from being protected, all because of fear for their real estate.

Hashem, YOU know what YOU had in mind when YOU wrote YOUR Torah. YOU have been silent too long, and allowed these Agudah anointed rabbis to twist it for their sick pleasure. Help from the authorities was blocked by YOUR people, increasing statute of limitations are being blocked by them too, YOUR bais dins are a corrupt kickback scheme going to the highest bidder. YOU know that my pain is still under YOUR statute of limitations. Please make it up to me already.

Only YOU know how to correct a broken system, only YOU know how to turn a victim into a winner, and a Rodef into one running for his life. It’s time to wake up YOUR Agudah anointed rabbis, and the mentally stunted richies who installed these corrupt evildoers as YOUR messengers to destroy our lives. It’s time for YOU to do justice. Let YOUR Torah be followed, not the malicious lies the Agudah rabbis spread about YOUR Torah.

I don’t want to be pushy, I’ll allow until Pesach Sheni for these imposters to step aside and close shop and pass the torch to those not afraid to follow YOUR Torah. But, then please, please, please turn things over. My only hope for Justice is YOU.

Please don’t let me down.


Anonymous writes:

You know, personal experience goes a long way, here, and quite frankly and with all due respect to the "great sages" of our generation, these head in the sand beards - and I am speaking from personal experience - take their egos way beyond their capabilities. Many yeshivos seek out so-called "daas toireh" and these alleged leaders - who know nothing about many of the chidren and cases they are speaking - pasken shailos on these children with the same regard as answering some hausfrau who dropped a chicken wing in the milchig sink how to kasher it.


You heard it here folks. Boruch Dayan Emes. DAAS TORAH IS DEAD.

That the Agudah could oppose this bill, Zwiebel should wake up and realize that the nice guy I met 20 years ago sold out. This guy is a disgrace to the race. The CA and DE legislation make it crystal clear that not only do these so called ancient cases never make it - but HUNDREDS of pervs get caught. I wouldn't be surprised if these guys know who they are protecting and refuse to out them. SICK.

The Agudah is meakeiv the geulah with this nazi-like stance. Protect the superior race of yeshivos. That's what they say. Protect our moisdois. HAH! Protect the Almighty Dollar is their truth. These guys shuckle fine and good, but when it comes to a dollar they'll sell all the victims of rape and torture that the Kolkos and Mondrowitzs destroyed.

The Agudah is a sham. Sherer is rolling in his grave.

All we ask is that the children be put first. And the Agudah says no.

Well, let them call me for money again. And when I tell the shik yingle who calls that the Agudah protects rapists from prosecution, maybe I'll get lucky and they'll take me off their call list.


Published With Permission

Dear UOJ,

FYI, I sent a letter to Shafran and the other goons. Below is their response. I feel like the last post of yours to Hashem could have been written by me. I am at my wits end. When these guys get up there, they will have a lot to answer for.


I was quite surprised to see your statement that you are against the
latest bill making its way to passage in NYS. I was surprised because
usually when something is a done deal, you're usually smart enough not to
come out against it. In addition, your claims that it will bankrupt
institutions are faulty.

When a window like this opened up in California,
no such thing happened. All this just points to is that
you are merely covering up, yet again. It is inconceivable
that we have an organization that is actually against protecting children.

And please don't tell me that Agudah is for it.

It took years for the Agudah to reverse itself visa vis the fingerprinting legislation. I am terribly upset about this.

Please tell me that it was a miscommunication, or that it was solely some sort of crazy PR move. If this actually is the policy of the Agudah and its Moetzes, then the frum Jewish community is in lots of trouble.


Bernie Madoff's biggest fan and admirer responds


Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the joint Agudath Israel-Torah
Umesorah statement regarding proposed new laws amending the existing
statutes of limitation regarding child sexual abuse claims.

Regarding important issues like this, our stances are formulated
by our rabbinic leadership. You may feel that the members of the
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Umesorah
are misguided here, but I hope you will permit us to remain true to our principles, the principles of Klal Yisroel since Sinai, that the einei ha’eida exist to guide us, not the other way around.

There are a number of errors in your short note. We did not “reverse” any
position on the legislation permitting nonpublic schools to fingerprint
employees for the purpose of ensuring they have no criminal records; nor
are we “covering up”, or have we ever done so, for anyone.

Our position is not, chas visholom, “against protecting children.” As the
statement notes, we do not oppose even an expansion of the statute of
limitations to bring civil or criminal claims against perpetrators. But
our Gedolim feel we cannot support laws that would encourage ancient
claims against yeshivas that could destroy institutions that are the
lifeblood of Klal Yisroel.

It is clear indeed that you are “terribly upset” about our position on the
issue. I think what you are really terribly upset about is the issue
itself, the reprehensible crime of child abuse. That is something well
worth being upset about, as we are too, I assure you. But being upset
must not permit us to make decisions that, while they might be
well-intentioned, have not been well thought-out.

May we see the day soon when all children are safe from abuse of every sort.

Rabbi Avi Shafran
Director of Public Affairs
Agudath Israel of America


The decisions of the rabbis have been "well thought-out" --- and have been for the last 50 years!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Gedolim/Rabbis Of The Agudath Israel & Torah Umesorah Have Decided To Keep The Criminal Cover-Up Going Strong!

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2009

For Further Information
Contact: Rabbi Avi Shafran
212 797-9000 ext. #303

Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah – The National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, upon consultation with their respective rabbinic leaderships, respectfully submit this statement regarding legislative proposals to amend existing statutes of limitations for civil claims, including claims against schools and other communal institutions, based on allegations of child sexual abuse. We do so only after much serious thought, after weighing all relevant arguments and for the sole purpose of protecting the most fundamental interests of our community.

Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah fully acknowledge the horror of child sexual abuse and the devastating long-term scars it all too often creates. Our rabbinic and lay leaderships are acutely aware of the emotional trauma and damage caused by the perpetrators of such abuse. Our hearts go out to their victims, and we share in their pain. We realize that for too long many victims have suffered alone. We are committed as a community to do whatever we can to root out perpetrators of child abuse from our schools and other communal institutions, and to help victims on the road to healing and recovery.

Indeed, in recent years, as awareness has increased and sensitivity has been heightened regarding the incidence of sexual abuse and its severity, both in the broader society around us and in our community specifically, Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah have taken a number of concrete steps to help ensure that Jewish schools, extra-curricular youth programs and summer camps implement policies and procedures designed to protect children against such abuse. Our organizations have also supported legislative efforts to furnish such protection, including the recently enacted legislation in New York authorizing nonpublic schools to screen all prospective employees through the state’s fingerprint checking system.

With respect to the proposed amendments to existing statutes of limitations, Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah fully understand that the trauma of abuse is often so great that young adults may not be emotionally prepared to file claims against their abusers within the traditional limitations period. Strict adherence to the existing statutes of limitations could thus operate to preclude certain legitimate claims and protect perpetrators of abuse. Our organizations would therefore have no objection to legislation designed to give victims of abuse greater recourse against perpetrators. Nor would we object to extending statutes of limitations for criminal proceedings against perpetrators.

What Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah must object to, however, is legislation that could literally destroy schools, houses of worship that sponsor youth programs, summer camps and other institutions that are the very lifeblood of our community.

To take perhaps the most problematic example of such legislation, bills have been introduced in New York and other states that would create a one year window during which any civil claim based upon child sexual abuse could be brought, even against schools and other communal institutions, regardless of how long ago the incident is alleged to have taken place. One could envision a scenario in which a senior citizen might choose to bring a claim against a school for an incident that allegedly occurred over half-a-century ago when the claimant was a child. The fact that the alleged perpetrator may have passed on, or that the administration of the school may have changed several times since the alleged abuse, or that the school no longer has any records or insurance policies dating back to the time the abuse allegedly occurred, or even any records of the individual ever having attended the school, would be of no moment whatsoever under the proposed bill. The current school administration, entirely ignorant of what may or may not have occurred so many years ago, would be forced to defend the school in a court of law, incur the high expenses of legal fees and diversion of human resources, and face potentially crippling financial liability.

It is important to recognize that Jewish schools are independent entities supported wholly by parental tuition and fundraising. Therefore, the burden of litigation expense or legal liability for ancient claims would fall squarely on an entirely innocent group – the current parent body. Needless to say, in today’s perilous financial climate, as many parents are unable to meet even their basic tuition obligations and schools struggle to remain fiscally viable, this burden would be extremely difficult to bear, and could ultimately lead to school closures.

Stated simply, legislation that would do away with the statute of limitations completely, even if only for a one-year period, could subject schools and other vital institutions to ancient claims and capricious litigation, and place their very existence in severe jeopardy.

Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah most vigorously oppose any such legislation.

We must continue to seek out ways to protect our precious children and help eradicate molestation and other forms of abuse. We must also redouble our efforts to help those who have suffered the horrors of child abuse obtain the healing they so desperately need. However, we dare not bring down our most vital communal institutions in the process.

Friday, April 17, 2009

This coming Tuesday - April 21st, 2009 - we can make a difference!

NY State has the most lenient laws against sexual predators for kids. This coming Tuesday April 21st, 2009 - we can make a difference!

Right now, the laws actually protect the predators of our children. The predators walk free to do it again and again, and can't be prosecuted in many cases because the statute of limitations has run out.

This coming Tuesday April 21st, 2009, child advocacy groups from all over New York are coming together to lobby for Assemblywoman's "Markey Child Victims Act" in Albany. The political system will take us seriously if we come out and show our support of the bill. That's how it works. Our strength is in numbers. You can make a real difference in helping the Markey Bill to pass, every person counts.

Am Echad urges you to stand up for our children and come with us to Albany! If you don't care enough to fight for the well-being of your children, who will? The Agudath Israel's cavorting with the Catholic Church to block this bill must be prevented at all costs! If this bill does not pass, the vicious sexual predator(s) that may be in your child's school, will forever be swept under the Agudah's rug!

SurvivorsForJustice.org has graciously arranged for free bus transportation from Manhattan and Brooklyn and will provide you with a glatt kosher lunch, no charge. (What true Jew can say NO to free?) We will be leaving early Tuesday morning and coming back approx 4 pm. We look forward to spending the day with you, meeting assemblymen and high ranking politicians together, and providing an educational experience for you on many important issues.

Please email Mark Appel at MARKMAPPEL@AOL.COM or call him at 212-873-3938 for bus departure locations and information.

We can't sit by as our children are wronged. We must act.

This cause is endorsed by Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rabbi Alan Schwartz, RCA Rabbinical Council of America and other leading rabbis.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bungalow Putz Part Deux & The "Brooklyn 19" DA Orchestra Conducted By Charlie Hynes - Playing At A Yeshiva Basement Near You!



Mah Nishtana:

The Four Kashyas of Our Kinderlach, Some of Whom Are No Longer at the Seder

Why is the sexual abuse of children treated differently than all other communal issues?

1) In all other areas of halacha, we enforce the highest level of tznius and morality, but in this area of halacha - we ignore the rape of children.

2) In all other areas of kashrus, we demand the highest level of reliability, certification and supervision, but in the sanctity of children's own bodies - we demand none.

3) On all other matters, we follow the psak of Rav Eliyashiv, but when Rav Eliyashiv gives a psak urging victims of sexual abuse to report their abusers to the police - we ignore him.

4) In all other areas of a child's life, we fight and demand for their rights, (we lobby for bussing, for textbooks, for school lunch programs...) but when it comes to the sexual abuse of children - we lobby to protect our children’s abusers.

Tatty Answers:

You see my child...

The answer to all the four questions is:

Call 911

We can't sit and expect Agudah to solve all the problems.

You see my child....

Our gedolim are too busy for you. They are busy banning concerts, banning books, having photo-ops all over the country, ripping microphones out of singers hands, and defending Bernie Madoff.

You see my child...

Agudah made a convention a few years ago, and declared that all non Moetzes rabbis could not be classified as a "gadol". Therefore Rabbi Yosef Karo who wrote the Shulchan Aruch is irrelevant by these great "scholars". Rav Elyashiv is a moderner in their eyes.

You see my child...

There are so many children who don't have a Seder anymore because of them being sexually abused in yeshivas and elsewhere. So many teens are dead from drug overdoses and alcohol abuse, caused by drowning out the pain. Yet the Agudah could care less about them. Only their supporters and those who toe the line are important.

My dear child...

Follow the law.

Use the police to uphold the law.

Convince others to to the same.


Shfoch Chamoscha El Agudah Asher Lo Yeda'Ucha. People who distort the Torah like them.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Mindset Of A Very Ill Man - Avi Shafran - and the Organization He Works For - Spokesperson For The Agudath Israel Of America

This is NOT a parody - All public statements are pre-authorized by the rabbis at the Agudath Israel.

New York - Something tells me I won’t make any new friends (and might even lose some old ones) if I confess to harboring some admiration for Bernard Madoff.

And to make things worse, I can’t muster much for Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed a full commercial airliner in the Hudson River back in January.

Let me try to explain. Please.

Mr. Madoff committed a serious economic crime on an unprecedented scale for such wrongdoing, and in the process ruined the financial futures of numerous people and institutions, including charitable ones, worldwide. There can be no denying that.

Yet I can’t quite bring myself to join the large, loud chorus of those who have condemned him to – to take Ralph Blumenthal’s judgment in The New York Times Magazine – the Pit, the deepest circle of Dante’s Inferno. Others have devised and publicly proclaimed creative and exquisite tortures of their own for the disgraced businessman – Woody Allen fantasized Madoff being attacked by clients reincarnated as lobsters, and Elie Wiesel wished the investor confined to a solitary cell and forced to watch his victims on a screen bewail their changed fortunes. The fury of the bilked has yielded opprobrium and loathing that isn’t visited on mass murderers.

I think the revulsion may say more about the revolted – and our money-obsessed and vengeance-obsessed society – than it does about Madoff. His crime, after all, was really remarkable only for its longevity and its scope. The Torah teaches that stealing is a sin, but it doesn’t differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime. And as to the sheer number of people defrauded by the thief of the moment, well, anyone who cheats on his federal income tax is defrauding 300 million of his fellow citizens. Few though, in such cases, invoke Dante.

What is more, Madoff likely began his crime spree in the hope of rewarding, not swindling, investors, and by the time it became clear he wouldn’t be able to do that, he was already deeply entangled – and daily becoming more entangled – in the web he wove.

None of that, though, is to belittle the great pain Mr. Madoff caused, and is certainly no cause for affording the iniquitous investment broker respect. No, what I admire about him has to do with his owning up to his crime.

Think about it. The man knew for years that his scheme would eventually come apart and that prosecution loomed, yet he took no steps to flee, huge bribe in hand, to some country lacking extradition treaties. Idi Amin, we might recall, died of old age in luxury. Madoff’s millions, moreover, could have easily bought him a new face and identity papers; he could spent his senior years tanned and well-fed among the sunbirds of Miami Beach.

Instead, though, he chose to essentially turn himself in and admit guilt. He apologized to his victims, acknowledging that he had “deeply hurt many, many people,” and adding, “I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done.”

No one can know if those words reflect the feelings in his heart, but I don’t claim any right to doubt that they do. And facing one’s sins and regretting them is the essence of teshuvah – which we are all enjoined to do for our personal aveiros, however small or large.

No such sublimity of spirit, though, was in evidence in any of the public acts or words of Mr. Sullenberger. He saved 155 lives, no doubt about it, and is certainly owed the hakoras hatov of those he saved, and of their families and friends. And he executed tremendous skill.

But no moral choice was involved in his act. He was on the plane too, after all; his own life depended on undertaking his feat no less than the lives of others. He did what anyone in terrible circumstances would do: try to stay alive. He was fortunate (as were his passengers) that he possessed the talents requisite to the task, but that’s a tribute to his training, and to the One Who instilled such astounding abilities in His creations (and Whose help the captain was not quoted as acknowledging). Basketball players are highly skilled, too – and heroes, in fact, to some. But I have never managed to understand that latter fact.

Sully has reportedly inked a $3 million book deal with HarperCollins, and is also planning a second book of inspirational poems; Bernie, likely for the rest of his life, will languish in jail.

That may make societal sense, but personally, I’m still unmoved by the pilot, and, at least somewhat, inspired by the penitent.