Sunday, January 31, 2016

The “Ultra” approach worked for a while but it won’t anymore, and the problem is there is no ready alternative available. The mild American version of Haredism is really just parasitic on the Israeli version, and has it’s own fatal weaknesses....

On the alleged collapse of Haredism

Channel 10 news has come under a lot of fire recently (mainly from Haredi media figures) for airing a series of video segments entitled “Haredim: Disintegration”, in which their Haredi affairs correspondent (yup, that’s a thing, and rightly so) Avishai Ben Chaim lays out his contention that Haredi society is in the midst of a great collapse. In the first episode of the series the controversial claim is made that 1 in every 10 people who are in the Haredi education system at age 15 are leaving the fold later in life. This figure has been challenged on statistical grounds and the usual kind of debate has followed.

There is some confusion over what is meant by becoming not Haredi (it seems that it includes people who remain observant, so that would kind of include me). After the second episode aired, the Channel 10 anchor even mentioned a previous series they had aired which covered how demographic trends in Israel very much favor the Haredim. Some Haredi media figures have complained bitterly that Ben-Haim completely misunderstands what Haredi life is actually like, while some have congratulated him for saying what everyone’s been thinking for years. 

I don’t really know what to make of the actual numbers and don’t find it particularly interesting, but I live in a Haredi neighborhood and have many Haredi friends, and my feeling from the ground is that the general trends that Ben Haim is talking about are very strong, and spreading. There is a great deal of jadedness among young people here. In addition to the people actually leaving observance, there are many others seriously questioning their Haredi beliefs and way of life.

There is also much talk about a shadowy group of people referred to as “החרדים האנוסים”, “the Haredi Marranos”, meaning people who continue to live a completely Haredi lifestyle outwardly, but have lost any belief in God and Judaism. This is all actually happening and is significant, whatever the exact numbers. I think that the collapse of the Haredi world is inevitable as it faces Historical forces much more powerful than even it’s own high and much-fortified walls.

 Haredism is essentially a reactionary over-correction.

When the ghetto walls started coming down in the 18th century, traditional Judaism rightly recognized an existential threat. So it developed an intensely anti-modern ideology. But I mean more than this. The aspect of modernity that so frightened and disgusted the rabbis of the time, the thing that got such a primal rise out of the religious establishment, is the modern tendency toward relativism. They saw the world moving towards a society where anything goes, to an ideology that claims that there is no objective reality to transcendent non-physical things, no absolute standards for goodness or beauty, no moral difference between cultures, and no actual ultimate meaning and purpose to anything.

To counter this an ultra-Orthodox culture developed, where everything is thrown into stark relief as either black or white. Where absolutely all aspects of life, from the most exalted religious duties to the most mundane trivialities of daily existence, is either done the right way or the wrong way. A world of hyper-absolutism, demanding (at least in theory) a total commitment of one’s time and efforts. This culture has been quite successful, with some stops and starts, and has reached it’s crowning glory in the past 30 years or so, as it has cemented it’s place as the gold standard for what observant Judaism should look like.

Humans (I firmly believe) need to have purpose. They need to feel that it is possible to get closer to truth and transcendence. Frankly, we need this more than anything. So the Haredi mindset holds great charm for people who are looking to find something worth dedicating themselves to. It certainly held great charm for me when I was in my 18-21 years old reckless-idealistic phase.

But there is a downside to all this. Beyond the fact that the lifestyle has become increasingly non-functional financially, the Haredi mindset is extremely vulnerable to outside influences. It presents a world where not only everything is absolute, but where all these absolutes are known with complete certainty to (at the very least) certain leaders. The prototypical Haredi has a picture of reality that is simply obviously false. He disdains science and thinks that it doesn’t have anything of interest to teach him. He thinks that the outside world is completely and totally evil and unpleasant. He thinks that all people who disagree with any of the numerous and highly specific tenets of his weltanschauung do so either out of malice, or usually (he is graciously willing to concede) out of sheer stupidity or ignorance. Now it is possible that the actual prototypical Haredi doesn’t actually exist, (he does, I’ve met him, but for the sake of argument…) and any actual individual varies from this to at least some degree but the stereotype is useful for showing the general trends. The properly Haredi mindset tends to collapse completely the moment any degree of honest doubt enters the equation.

The Internet has brought about a situation where a very significant proportion of the young people in the community simply know for a fact that the version of reality that they are given by their respected elders is at the very least shockingly simplistic, if not outright false.

 Most people of course just find a way to live with it without disrupting their lives too much (this is always true of humans), but some don’t, and even among the apathetic majority the discontent continues to fester. The world just isn’t so simple and stark as it was portrayed to me by my Haredi mentors (most of whom are wonderful, kind and intelligent people, just blindly committed to a set of unexamined premises). This whole philosophy developed as a reaction to something else, it has not developed on its own merits. It is therefore really just a historical fad. An “ism”. This kind of thing does not survive well in the free marketplace of ideas, which is why said marketplace was kept so un-free for all these years. That has now changed. Irrevocably. The Internet is in, and once it is in you cannot get it out no matter how valiantly you try. It’s over.

The thing is that the great danger which Haredism was reacting to has not gone away. Not by a long shot. It is currently playing itself out, fascinatingly, on the great stage of the west’s war of ideas. We see every basic concept being challenged as just a figment of our imaginations, just a social construct. Cultural relativism is now the norm among the West’s intellectual elites (with potentially grave consequences for Israel). So how does observant Jewry (at all levels of observance) counter this now? The “Ultra” approach worked for a while but it won’t anymore, and the problem is there is no ready alternative available. The mild American version of Haredism is really just parasitic on the Israeli version, and has it’s own fatal weaknesses. But I get ahead of myself. This is a topic for a different post.



The Haredi Rabbis want us to believe that secularism is creeping into our lives, therefore they must ban the Internet and all forms of communicating outside the ghettos we live in.... 



The Enemy Within - Part Two - The Evolution of Right Wing Fanatacism

From The UOJ Archives-Saturday, July 30, 2005 B.C. (Before Convention) Posted on the original site:unorthodoxjew.blogspot.com

The Enemy Within-Part Two-The Evolution of Right Wing Fanaticism

There are four separate catagories of movements that constitute right wing Judaism in the U.S.A.

1- Yeshivishism
3-Agudah/Lobbyism/Government Activism.
4-Boro Parkism/Flatbushism

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I was told privately that he was being prevented from working for any other Hillel and was being required — I’m not sure how or whether this was enforced — to go to counseling. I never heard from him or saw him again. I can still locate him on Google, and he seems only to have worked in non-rabbinic fields since that time....

The Right Way To Deal With A Sexual Advance

Twenty years ago, my Hillel rabbi, a bearded man in a black suit with a velvet kipa who presented himself as a committed Orthodox Jew, invited me to the Hillel building one evening to hang out with him and some other students. When I arrived, the building was dark, and he and I sat down to wait for the others. We chatted for a while, but when the other students didn’t arrive, I suggested that I call them to see when they were coming.

The rabbi inched closer to me on the sofa and said, “They aren’t coming. I didn’t actually invite them.” Taken aback, I asked what he meant, and he said, “Would you like to go for a drive with me?”  I said no, and he began to tell me that he was attracted to me, that he wanted to be close to me, that he’d like to spend time alone with me. He reached out to touch me.

I was a new graduate student, just out of college, and he was in his 50s. I knew his wife from Shabbat dinners, and his older children were my age. I had seen him as a religious role model: an observant Jew interested in music, connected to the modern world, deeply spiritual but also an intellectual. And he was trying to cheat on his wife with me on the Hillel sofa.

In that shocking moment, I had the presence of mind to tell him how uncomfortable I was; I pulled away from him and left the building, shaking.

I spent the rest of the evening thinking about what to do, and I decided not to do anything. I assumed no one would believe me, and I didn’t know whom I would tell anyway. The decision plagued me for weeks, but I decided that pushing aside my anger and sense of betrayal was probably the best solution. I stopped attending Hillel.

A couple of weeks later, at a meal with local synagogue members, I heard some of them praising the Hillel rabbi for his exciting programming and dedicated leadership. To their surprise, I reacted strongly: “I hate the rabbi. He’s an awful person!” I exclaimed, without adding any specific details.

That might have been the end of this story. Nothing might have happened; I might never have said another word to anyone. They might have ignored me or judged me or gossiped about that strange outburst. They might have defended him and moved on.

Instead, one woman from that group, whom I only slightly knew, said, “Can you come talk to me privately?” We stepped into a different room, and I told her, in tears, about that terrible night.

She didn’t say, “You must have misunderstood him” or “But he’s a wonderful rabbi” or “Are you sure?” She didn’t ignore me. She didn’t make me feel crazy or stupid. Instead, she said, “We have to do something about this right away.”

Later that week, I sat with her in her living room, facing the regional director of Hillels for the area, also an Orthodox rabbi. I told him the story while she sat beside me. He looked at me skeptically and said, “I think you must have misunderstood him” and “But he’s a wonderful rabbi” and “Are you sure?” As I cried, the woman said, “Gillian didn’t misunderstand him. She knows what happened.

You need to do something.

After some discussion, the regional director agreed to pursue the issue and, as a first step, would speak to the rabbi himself. A few days later, the regional director contacted me and said, “I spoke with the rabbi. He corroborated everything you said. He admitted it all, and he’s sorry.”

I don’t know what happened after that, but within a week or so, the rabbi had been fired from Hillel and a statement was released suggesting that he had committed some financial indiscretion. I was told privately that he was being prevented from working for any other Hillel and was being required — I’m not sure how or whether this was enforced — to go to counseling. I never heard from him or saw him again. I can still locate him on Google, and he seems only to have worked in non-rabbinic fields since that time.

 Shortly thereafter, an Episcopal chaplain affiliated with the university very kindly reached out to me, presumably at the request of the Hillel board, so that we could meet to process what had happened, and I was offered additional counseling, which I declined. After a few months, I barely thought about the event again.

As I read the stories in recent years of terrible abuse perpetrated by rabbis and hidden or ignored by their colleagues and acquaintances, I think more and more about my very different story. Of course, unlike the many children who have been abused by rabbis, I was a legal adult at this time and not a young child; I was approached with the possibility of a sexual relationship and not forced into one; the rabbi in my story told the truth rather than trying to discredit me.

But another important difference stands out as well: someone believed me. How easy it would have been for that woman to ignore my outburst. How simple to have dismissed this student whom she barely knew as “having a bad day” or “being too emotional.” But she didn’t. She listened to me and, when I couldn’t speak for myself, she spoke for me. She pressed for change to be made, and it was made.

I don’t know what would have happened if this ordinary woman, invited to an ordinary meal, had not taken the time she did to pursue justice. I would certainly have permanently stopped attending Hillel, and, since I met my now-husband at a regional Hillel event a few years later, that decision could have changed my life significantly.

On a more fundamental level, I never had to reckon with feeling betrayed by the Jewish community. I never had to doubt my own worth or veracity. I never had to face the man who attempted to abuse his power over me or hear him lie about me. I never had to rebuild my faith or lose it altogether. I was able to maintain my (I believe, accurate) sense that he was one bad person among a huge pool of good people. This incident has hardly touched my life since it happened. I felt, as all our young people should feel, as important to the Jewish community as this “important” rabbi was.

Ordinary people, like all of us, can pursue justice the way that wonderful woman did for me. 

 We can save the Jewish community from itself if we listen, and if we make sure that every voice is heard. We can all learn not only from victims of abuse and their harrowing stories but also from situations in which sexual impropriety is handled correctly. That this man tried to abuse his power is a sad statement on humanity and, perhaps, on the Jewish community; that he was prevented from continuing to do so shows how much power we each have to change the world for the better.

Gillian Steinberg teaches English at SAR High School in Riverdale.

Read more: 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When smartphones came along, they forced the mobile phone vendors to sell “kosher” devices blocking unclean and heretical websites including, shamefully, those offering support to the victims of sexual abuse.....

Prepare for an Earthquake in the Jewish World

  Religious Jews, of every stripe and flavor, are now doing it for themselves, and the rabbis have never been less relevant. 

If you do anything this weekend, take time to read Tamar Rotem’s fascinating feature in this newspaper on entire young families leaving the ultra-Orthodox community. It’s 5,300 words long and well worth every one of them. Once you’ve done that, search online for Chaim Levinson’s analysis last month on the Jewish terror group whose members are accused of burning the Dawabsheh family in Duma and other “price-tag” attacks and how they defy any rabbinical discipline. Then go a bit further back and read Yair Ettinger’s series on the coming schism in the national religious or modern Orthodox community. I’m not flagging up these pieces just to recommend the fine work of my Haaretz colleagues, though they certainly deserve it — I’m doing it because there is a deeper tectonic shift happening beneath our feet, in Israel and in large Diaspora communities, that is about to cause an upheaval in Jewish life and fundamentally change the landscape.

It isn’t showing up yet in the data, there is no scientific or objective way of measuring these trends at this point. The change will be detected by the Central Bureau of Statistics years, probably decades from now and sociologists and then historians will begin researching and writing papers. But it’s happening. Haredi couples are breaking with their families, to ensure that at least their own children have the chance of an education that doesn’t include only ancient rabbinical texts. Bands of young fundamentalist settlers are defying rabbinical edicts in their quest for a mythical Jewish kingdom. Entire observant Jewish communities are breaking with the religious establishment to appoint women as cantors and rabbis.

A wide range of personal, ideological and professional motives are at play and the manifestations of the ferment are evident in many areas and often contradicting directions, but they all have one thing in common: Religious Jews, of every stripe and flavor, are doing it now for themselves and the rabbis have never been less relevant. Some are losing their faith and embracing Jewish atheism and agnosticism, many more are redefining what it means to be a believer and a practicing Jew, without anyone else deciding for them.

An entire generation of rabbis has lost touch with a generation of men and women 50 years younger than them. Technology has done two things — it has produced modern medicine that allows us to live well into our 90s, even to 100-plus, thereby creating a thin layer of ancient rabbis, still revered by their followers but more acquainted with the mores and norms of pre-Holocaust Poland and Lithuania then 21st-century Israel. 

Whether or not these venerable sages are compos mentis is one thing, but their very longevity has prevented the emergence of new leaders who could perhaps get a better grasp on contemporary affairs. Meanwhile technology has created the Internet and all its mobile platforms, which, unlike the cumbersome boxes and antennae of television that the rabbis succeeded in the last century to ban, have made inroads into their communities.

A wide range of personal, ideological and professional motives are at play and the manifestations of the ferment are evident in many areas and often contradicting directions, but they all have one thing in common: Religious Jews, of every stripe and flavor, are doing it now for themselves and the rabbis have never been less relevant. Some are losing their faith and embracing Jewish atheism and agnosticism, many more are redefining what it means to be a believer and a practicing Jew, without anyone else deciding for them.

The rabbis tried to stop Haredim from owning computers, then they backed down and ruled instead that they could have computers but must remain offline. When smartphones came along, they forced the mobile phone vendors to sell “kosher” devices blocking unclean and heretical websites (including, shamefully, those offering support to the victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence), but they couldn’t stop young Haredim buying one kosher phone for appearance’s sake and a second, regular smartphone allowing them a window on the world.

The newfound independence is resulting in thousands of young Haredi men and women seeking academic and vocational education and striking out in new “secular” professions; the moment they leave the confines of their cloistered existence, they and their families’ lives are changed forever. As they seek new forms of Jewish life, some may embrace Israeli secularism, but for many of them the fresh alternatives being created by communities that are still in need of a good label — “modern” or “neo-Orthodox” or “egalitarian” are all woefully inadequate to encompass the full range — will be attractive destinations. But they could go anywhere or create their own communities.

Whatever the outcome, the upheaval is underway and promises to be fascinating. And explosive, as we are seeing in the religious settler community, where the breakdown of the rabbis’ discipline has resulted in the terrible murders of Duma and a belated, half-hearted reckoning by extreme figures like Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, who, in a series of interesting columns in his Besheva settlers’ weekly, is finally coming to terms with the fact that he and his colleagues have lost control of their murderous wild boys. Meanwhile, there are other young people who grew up on the settlements and are reaching different conclusions, which will be just as worrisome to their rabbis.

A hundred years ago millions of young Jews broke with their families, their rabbis and the old religious order and joined the communist revolutions, assimilated in Western societies or went off to rebuild the ancient homeland. We are about to behold another such earthquake within Judaism.

Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.698851

Monday, January 25, 2016

Our community needs to wake up to the reality of how predators operate, and not rationalize away their behavior. Otherwise, we are all responsible for contributing to the walls of silence around the sexual crimes of the powerful....

Sacrificing Victims On The Altars Of Silence And Power 

Stories about sexual violence and rabbis behaving badly continue to make headlines. These incidents are not restricted to the Jewish world; sexual violence and abuse of power know no boundaries of faith. Yet Jewish communities are left with questions begging to be answered: How do we react to these crimes? How should we react?

But we must first ask: Why do these behaviors persist? Because we let them happen. Our community reinforces a culture of silence, and even when victims overcome it, we often blame the victims. If we want this to stop, it is time to look in the mirror.

All too often, when powerful individuals commit sex crimes, silence is the default reaction. In all of the recent cases, the rumors and rumblings about inappropriate behavior that circulated for years before abuse came to light were met with silence. Ignoring rumors about misconduct or “creepy” behavior empowers individuals to carry on acting inappropriately and may even embolden them to venture further. Silence enables abuses of power to continue and allows inappropriate actions to develop into illegal ones.

Because of our silence, many cases of sex crimes never get reported. And when they are reported, we excuse the behavior of our leaders and instead question that of their victims.

Powerful individuals often rise above suspicion. In the ongoing case of Marc Gafni, his position of power has been cited to explain why people ignored the allegations against him as a spiritual teacher who has had numerous sexually and/or psychologically abusive relationships. When communities have to face the idea that their leaders may not live up to their virtuous public personas, they experience cognitive dissonance. They are reluctant to accept that a member of a religious group, especially a leader, would behave in ways that go against their avowed ethical norms. Aware of the pushback they will generate, victims or concerned community members may feel powerless to speak out against the powerful.

 Further, those who abuse their power can easily orchestrate cover-ups or ensure they are not held accountable for their actions. But once we recognize this cognitive dissonance, we can challenge and confront those who make excuses for a leader’s misconduct.

Blaming victims or creating a hostile environment for them are common tools we use to deal with the cognitive dissonance that surfaces in these cases. Our relationship with or knowledge of the perpetrators clouds our judgment when we learn that they have misbehaved. That is why we need an outside, objective oversight body whose job it is to investigate and intervene in these cases, especially those that are ambiguous or unclear. When we know that we will be held accountable for failing to act we will be less likely to turn away from victims and more likely to act on information about suspicious behavior.

We must train ourselves and our communities to acknowledge concerns, particularly those about people in positions of power in our communities. These concerns must not be whispered, but voiced loudly and clearly to those who need to hear them and to those who can and will take action. When rabbis simply state that they regret supporting a perpetrator but fail to offer further comment — it makes them culpable. Rabbis should provide clear statements as to why they regret their past support of a misbehaving leader and that they stand together with his or her victims.

Even when victims do find the strength to speak out, they are often met with responses that neutralize their concerns. In the 1950s, Gresham Sykes and David Matza named five strategies delinquents use to neutralize their crimes. Their framework sheds light on how the way we speak about sex crimes can neutralize and deflect blame from the perpetrators to the victims. The five techniques include denial of responsibility (it’s not the perpetrator’s fault), denial of injury (Gafni called his actions an “outrageous act of love”), denial of the victim (Rabbi Eric Siroka suggested he was having an affair with his victims), condemnation of the condemners (Gafni says his detractors are committing “sexual McCarthyism”), and appealing to higher loyalties (Gafni’s supporters explain his actions as part of his special energy used to counsel and teach). These excuses are all too familiar from media coverage of recent incidents.

Once I understood the techniques, they leaped out at me from the news stories reporting the sexual crimes and abuses of power of our leaders, and I understood how we were failing their victims. These strategies dilute accountability and make it less likely that perpetrators will engage in the introspection necessary to address the problem. They ensure that perpetrators remain free of guilt. They focus our attention on the actions of individual perpetrators rather than on dysfunctional structures in our communities that allow sexual violence and abuse to occur and remain concealed for many years. One is the practice of allowing rabbis to investigate one another; another is not publicizing the reasons for their expulsions from their organizations.

While rumors do not indicate outright criminality, they must be investigated. The cost of ignoring them is too high. But investigating allegations after they occur is too little too late. We must implement clear policies and action plans in our institutions to deal with problematic behaviors before they arise rather than rely on the current reactionary responses. We need to make definitions of prohibited behaviors explicit so that we can recognize when we need to blow the whistle or turn to the police. Victims need our assurance that it is safe for them to report crimes, that we will protect them and stand by their side.

Our community needs to wake up to the reality of how predators operate, and not rationalize away their behavior. Otherwise, we are all responsible for contributing to the walls of silence around the sexual crimes of the powerful.

Guila Benchimol, a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar, is a doctoral candidate in sociological criminology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

His reputation in the (Orthodox Jewish) community is of a gentle, kind man" ... Another "Great Guy and Great Dad"...

Reich denied bail in Scarsdale slaying

Reich stabbed his wife at least 21 times, prosecutors alleged in court Friday.

A wealthy Scarsdale executive was denied bail on a murder charge Friday after prosecutors told a judge that his wife was so scared of him that she changed the locks to their home and the couple's three children still fear him so much that they wanted an order of protection.

Julius "Jules" Reich, 61, will remain in the Westchester County jail, where he has been held since his wife, Dr. Robin Goldman, was found stabbed at least 21 times Wednesday in the couple's Lincoln Road home.

The couple — he a prominent businessman, she a respected pediatrician — were in the midst of a divorce.

Reich's lawyer, Kerry Lawrence, characterized the divorce proceeding brought by his client as amicable. But prosecutors said that Goldman confided in friends that she was afraid of her husband.
“She told people she feared him,” Assistant District Attorney John O’Rourke told the judge in Westchester County Court in White Plains. “She changed the locks to keep him out.

Reich appeared in court wearing a white jumpsuit, his dark hair disheveled and matted. He swayed back and forth as he stood before Judge Anne Minihan, with his hands cuffed and legs shackled. He occasionally whispered to his lawyer.

Other coverage:

Lawrence argued that Reich has no criminal history, has lived in Scarsdale for decades and has deep ties to the area.

"His reputation in the community is of a gentle, kind man," Lawrence told the judge, asking that Reich be released on $150,000 bail.

O'Rourke, however, described the brutality of Goldman's death. The 58-year-old physician was attacked from behind in the shower as she got ready for work Wednesday morning, he said. "Then he walked away, went to the kitchen and lit a cigarette before he called 911," O'Rourke alleged.

Reich's family, including his three children, want nothing to do with him, the prosecutor said. "His ties in the community have been severed."

Reich has worked for years as a New York City mergers and acquisitions specialist. Prosecutors hinted at fabulous wealth that they said Reich has stashed in accounts all over the world. They said he owns homes in Israel and China and has contacts and connections throughout Europe and South Africa. He also has access to private jets and yachts.

"He will take off," O'Rourke told the judge. "His incentive to flee is great.

Lawrence said he client would agree to surrender his passport. He said Reich's two sisters were in court to show their support.

Clockwise from top right, Julius "Jules" Reich, 61, allegedly stabbed Dr. Robin Goldman, 58, to death at their home at 50 Lincoln Road Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, a law enforcement source told The Journal News. (Photo: Scarsdale police department/Montefiore Medical Center/Seth Harrison/)
The judge was unconvinced. She declined to set bail and also granted the requested orders of protection for Reich's three children, all in their 20s, over Reich's objections.

"My client would like to be able to communicate with his children," Lawrence said.
But Minihan warned Reich not to try to contact his children in any way.

The three children recalled their mother in eulogies at her funeral Thursday as a Supermom who was devoted to her family, her profession and her religion.

Reich had filed for divorce from Goldman in August, and the couple had been set for their first court appearance Monday.

Scarsdale police have said they know of no previous history of domestic violence calls to the 6,400-square-foot home.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Dr. Newman - “a great guy and a great dad.”

Colleagues Express Disbelief Over Arrest of Doctor With "Picture-Perfect" Life 


Dr. David H. Newman, who was arrested on Tuesday and accused of groping two patients at Mount Sinai Hospital in separate episodes several months apart.

Dr. David H. Newman seemed to have it all: an impressive post in emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, a prominent and growing public presence as an expert in health care reform, a wife who is a doctor, two young sons, and a gracious home in the New Jersey suburbs.

So when he was arrested on Tuesday and charged with sexually abusing two patients under his care in the emergency room, the reaction from his wide circle of colleagues was disbelief.

“I’ve gotten a whole bunch of frantic emails from around the world saying: ‘What’s going on? How could this be?’” said Dr. Jerome Hoffman, a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has known Dr. Newman for more than a decade. “Everyone is saying: ‘David? This doesn’t make any sense.’”

Dr. Newman, 45, has been accused of drugging, groping and masturbating on a female patient and groping another in episodes several months apart, the authorities said.

The charges against Dr. Newman, a proponent of reforms in emergency care who has written widely about improving doctor-patient relationships, including for The New York Times, describe him as targeting young women for abuse when they sought treatment.

In one case, a 29-year-old woman called the authorities on Jan. 12 and said she had gone to the emergency room at Mount Sinai, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, for shoulder pain, and that between midnight and 2 a.m. she was assaulted by Dr. Newman, the police said.

She told the authorities that Dr. Newman had given her an extra shot of morphine, disabling her. Then he fondled her and ejaculated on her face, she said. After news reports emerged about those accusations, a second woman came forward on Saturday and told the police that Dr. Newman had abused her during an examination. That woman, 22, had gone to the emergency room with a cold on Sept. 21, when, she told investigators, Dr. Newman groped her breasts under her shirt, according to a criminal complaint.

Dr. Newman turned himself in to the police on Tuesday and appeared in court that night with his lawyer, John Wing. A judge ordered him held on $50,000 cash bail or $150,000 bond, which he supplied on Wednesday. He has been suspended from Mount Sinai pending the outcome of the case; administrators there declined to provide further details because of the continuing investigation.

Mr. Wing did not respond to a request for comment, but he told NBC News that Dr. Newman is “a good man and an excellent doctor.”

“We plan on dealing with this in a responsible manner,” he added.

Dr. Newman did not respond to a request for comment.

The arrest was a shocking turn of events for a man whom colleagues described as a thought leader in a medical movement to overturn decades of received wisdom and rethink treatments based on how effective they actually are, not on whether they are the traditional response to a complaint or the most profitable one for a provider.

Far from shying from the spotlight, Dr. Newman embraced it, writing columns in The Times and on The Huffington Post, creating a website that analyzes treatments and hosting a podcast with his wife, Dr. Ashley Shreves, 37. The two met when she was a resident in emergency medicine and he was her supervising doctor, according to an alumni magazine from Dr. Shreves’s grade school.

Wedding photos from 2010 posted on the site of their wedding planner show a storybook scene in Dr. Shreves’s native New Orleans, with candles lighting a white-carpeted aisle amid towering oak trees hung with Spanish moss. Last year, the couple moved from their Manhattan apartment to a gray home with a porch in Montclair, N.J., where a neighbor described Dr. Newman as “a great guy and a great dad.”

Dr. Newman is an associate professor and attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he has worked since 2010. He attended Albany Medical College and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2001.

In 2005, he worked in a combat support hospital in Baghdad as a major in the United States Army Reserve, and in 2008 he published a book, “Hippocrates’ Shadow: Secrets From the House of Medicine,” that calls for reform in how patients are treated.

As his public profile grew, journalists took notice. In 2014, he was the subject of a profile in Wired that focused on his efforts to reduce unnecessary medical treatments. In the photo with the article, he perches on the back step of an ambulance, looking inquisitive and fit.

The article depicts Dr. Newman on a typical day in the emergency room as he steers patients away from traditional treatments. He does not give insulin to a patient with high blood sugar; he does not send a man who has a pain in his abdomen for a scan. Both patients do fine.
He is bold and confident but also has a personal touch — a detail that catches one’s attention in retrospect.

According to the article, he always places a hand on his patients — on an unblanketed ankle or a clammy cheek — even when he is not directly checking for clinical information.

“The patients get something out of it,” Dr. Newman told Wired. “And the contact helps me understand them medically. If they’re warm, if they’re cold, if they’re nervous or jittery.”


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ari Noe, of Borough Park, Brooklyn, was found guilty in 2013 of sexual abuse and attempting forcible touching stemming from a 2012 encounter he had with a woman at a bar on the Upper West Side of Manhattan...

De Blasio Backer, Convicted of Sexual Abuse, Fails to Show Up for Jail Sentence


One of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leading supporters in New York’s Orthodox Jewish community failed to appear in court this week to begin a 15-day sentence on a previously undisclosed conviction for misdemeanor sexual abuse, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The supporter, Ari Noe, of Borough Park, Brooklyn, was found guilty in 2013 of sexual abuse and attempting forcible touching stemming from a 2012 encounter he had with a woman at a bar on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Mr. Noe’s sentence had been delayed while he appealed the verdict, which was upheld in March.

Last year, Mr. Noe, the chief executive of an outdoor advertising company, introduced Mr. de Blasio to an Israeli entrepreneur, Baruch Eliezer Gross, who agreed to sponsor the mayor’s two-day visit to Israel in October. Mr. Gross covered at least $25,000 in expenses for Mr. de Blasio and his aides on the trip, which Mr. Noe attended as well.

Mr. de Blasio’s aides said on Wednesday that the mayor learned only this week of Mr. Noe’s trial and conviction, which was reported by NY1. “We are deeply troubled by this news, and have zero tolerance for sexual assault,” a de Blasio spokesman, Dan Levitan, said.

The de Blasio campaign said it planned to return Mr. Noe’s $675 contribution to the mayor’s 2013 candidacy. Mr. Noe also donated $4,850 to Mr. de Blasio’s 2009 bid for public advocate and to his mayoral transition effort; Mr. Levitan said that money was not returnable because those accounts were closed.

Employees of Mr. Noe’s firm, OTR Media, gave an additional $12,225 to Mr. de Blasio’s campaigns since 2009, records show.

A lawyer for Mr. Noe, Abe George, on Wednesday disputed the validity of the warrant and said he planned to challenge it on Thursday in an appellate court.

Mr. George said that in September another State Supreme Court justice issued an order allowing Mr. Noe to remain free pending a second appeal. This time, Mr. Noe will ask the appellate court to throw out the verdict because he has found a new witness, Mr. George said.

Mr. Noe and the mayor have known each other since Mr. de Blasio’s days in the City Council, when Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, appeared at a news conference with Mr. Noe to criticize the Buildings Department for violations issued against outdoor advertising. More recently, Mr. Noe has written supportive articles in various Jewish publications about the mayor and his policies.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This is another case of the government and Big Pharma trying to control how we raise our children,said Yankel’s dad, Moshe Crackpot TaylorWitz, and Sam Kaminetzky MD (Master of Deception) who moonlights as a pediatrician...

Anti-vaccer loses fourth child to vaccine preventable disease, thanks God they all avoided autism

Lakewood, NJ – Local anti-vaccine mother of four, Yental TaylorWitz, has lost her fourth child in as many years to a vaccine preventable illness. This time it was whooping cough. Over the past three years, the TaylorWitzss have had to say goodbye to Matthew, 3, Penny, 6, and Henry, 9. Two of the children died from complications of Rotavirus, while the third passed away due to Tetanus.None of this has swayed Yental TaylorWitz from her anti-vaccine stance.

“It is always tragic when a child dies, of course, but my babies are up in heaven now having lived their whole life naturally and autism-free,” said Yental. “The fact that all four of my children went through life free from toxins, GMOs, gluten, and most importantly autism, is solace enough for me.”

Child Protective Services has been called into investigate the situation, creating outrage among the anti-vaccine community. Shmuel Kaminetzky and Jenny McCarthy, however, threw another unscheduled Agudah Convention!

“This is another case of the government and Big Pharma trying to control how we raise our children, our property” said Yankel's dad, Moshe Crackpot TaylorWitz, and Sam Kaminetzky MD (Master of Deception) who moonlights as a pediatrician. “Yes her children all died of diseases that there are vaccines for, but you know what? None of her children were vaccine injured which close to 90% of kids who get vaccines are.”

Amazingly, despite not having had any vaccinations, Mrs. TaylorWitz submitted all four deaths to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System) in hopes of getting some monetary compensation.

“Just because they didn’t have vaccines, doesn’t mean I can’t blame their deaths on vaccines,” explained TaylorWitz from Lakewood, New Joisy.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

These gurus are a symptom of a sick age, where people are so detached from truth and reality that they will latch onto anything or anyone. Moreover, their obsession with superstition show that they are as influenced by culture as those they ridicule....

Beware The “Guru” Rabbis.

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi

Rabbinic ordination is not a license to say what you want. Nor is it a free ride to spout nonsense and lies, or exhibit baseless hatred for other Jews. When a known rav distorts Torah concepts, it only magnifies the Chillul Hashem, which in turn necessitates an even stronger response. Unfortunately, since authentic chochma is rare today, as is the public’s ability to discern it, the masses rarely appreciate genuine talmidei chachomim. Instead of heeding the call of Pirkei Avot and designating for themselves a rav, many choose for themselves flawed men who bottom feed on the ignorant.

Too many Jews seek out the latest guru rabbis who periodically pop out of the rotten woodwork. Some years back, one Sephardic “rabbi” became popular with his patented shtick: playing on the emotional appeal of women who were having trouble conceiving. During his lectures, he promised secular women in the audience that if they agreed to start covering their hair, they would eventually conceive. The cultish, pagan spectacle of choosing this one obligation above all else, and using it as a fertility rite in a public forum, screams of distortions of Jewish thought, and presents a disturbingly immodest scene. This particular guru remains popular today. Such an individual is a symptom of an ignorant age, where Torah is plagued with superstition. In a learned society, such a man would be exposed, despite the trappings of his garb and “simanim” which add to the supposed authenticity.

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi is the latest “wonder rabbi” on the magical kiruv circuit, and his popular videos inundate the internet. Like all Jewish gurus, he specializes in glib, general statements pertaining to some of the most intricate concepts in Judaism. Mizrachi believes that he knows it all, and he presents complicated issues to simple-minded people as if they were aleph bet. He focuses on controversial, halachically problematic ideas, such as the popular distorted perception of Kabbalah as magic, the purported actions of alleged kabbalists, belief in reincarnation, etc. Gilgul is particularly critical in his magical world-view, since it forms the spine of his approach to s’char v’onesh. He is popular in chareidi Sephardi circles, but has broad based support among English speaking Ashkenazim in the frum world.

More importantly, his teachings are reprehensible. It is not just about the recent outcry over his obscene holocaust statements, where he reported that the Nazis murdered fewer than one million halachic Jews. A diligent study of his career shows a history of dangerous teachings, which should have made him a pariah long ago. He has earned our unrelenting ire.

In the first video of his that I ever subjected myself to, he was lecturing the audience about a supposed critical issue in Judaism, the concept of gilgul, better known as reincarnation, which appears nowhere in Tanach, Talmud, or Midrash, yet the superstitious treat it as a fundamental belief. His arrogance was apparent when he denigrated those who quote Saadya Gaon as a proof against the belief, since Rasag rejected the idea as stupidity in his classic treatise, “Beliefs and Opinions”. What was even more frightening was Mizrachi’s supposed proof for the existence of gilgul. He cited an example of an innocent baby dying, and saw this as proof of gilgul, since G-d’s justice would never allow such a thing. The sheer arrogance of someone who creates a ridiculous “proof” to explain the age-old question of tsaddik v’ra lo which the greatest gaonim, rishonim, and acharonim could not answer. Somehow, Mizrachi discovered an answer to this greatest of perplexities by resorting to gilgul, which very likely was taken from pagan culture! It seems unlikely that Saadya Gaon would have been unaware of the concept if it existed or was fundamental to Jewish belief. To suggest otherwise is an absurdity.

Most people are aware of the recent outcry, when video footage surfaced where Mizrachi questioned the fact that 6 million Jews died in the holocaust, and asserted that fewer than 1 million Jews were murdered. Not only did he disgrace the legacy of 6 ½ million kedoshim murdered by Amalek, in doing so, he empowered the holocaust deniers of the world with evidence of a “rabbi’s” holocaust denial. His foolish estimate was based on his distorted, non-scholarly unfounded estimates of assimilation in Europe which he surmised meant that most of the 6 million would not have ben halachically Jewish. No academic study, no documentation has ever claimed likewise. No normal Jew, religious or otherwise would ever utter such perversity. To engage with this non-scholar would be akin to arguing with the holocaust denying David Irving.

How to Recognize a Guru
There are signs to identify a “guru.”
  • The existence of a cult following comprised of the unlearned, and the psychologically troubled who know little if anything of Torah.
  • The complex network enabling the mass distribution and marketing of the guru’s lectures in the form of videos, audio. Websites featuring an impossible number of lectures expose the guru’s unrelenting speaking tours to disseminate his message.
  • The guru’s lectures invariably focus on questionable problematic notions that have become popular in Judaism, such as gilgul (reincarnation), magical segulos, demons, etc. The guru shares childish notions about complex Jewish subjects and makes outrageous generalizations that have no basic in Torah thought.
  • Beneath the veneer of the sacred, one notices an obsession with sexuality, and one hears crude statements that no genuine man of Torah would utter. Many of these self-appointed prophets of morality in “the Torah camp” are obsessed with “Jewish sanctity” are obsessed by sex. The irony is that in their pursuit of the sacred, their sexual obsession exposes a sex-preoccupied personality. The most private issues and human challenges are delivered with frankness and simplicity that are undignified. Things best discussed with one’s rabbi or religious mentor are thrown in our faces, in all their crudeness. It begs the question: Who are the perverts?
  • The guru often displays a callous nature, and makes sweeping generalizations, which purport to understand all nuances of Divine justice. The sins (real or imagined) of the secular are emphasized, whereas outrages that occur in frum society (of which there are no dearth of) are ignored.
Mizrachi meets many of these criteria. One hears the frequent claims of his mass kiruv efforts to justify his legitimacy; claims which fall deaf on my ears. Kiruv? If a thousand pogo-ing mantra-spouting nutcases claim that a certain individual turned them into baalei teshuvah, I consider them AS religious as any group of inmates in an asylum. A kipah is hardly indicative of frumkeit. The same pertains to their teacher. This is not Jewish outreach. This is simply another version of being “off the derech.”

These gurus are a symptom of a sick age, where people are so detached from torah that they will latch onto anything. Magic men wear the cloak of Torah, but they are detached from chochmah. Moreover, their obsession with superstition show that they are as influenced by goyish culture as those they ridicule.

Mizrachis videos are a treasure chest of filth, including such outrageous statements as the following. Fortunately, many people are downloading and saving these videos, before they are removed from the internet. One could spend years dissecting the filth, but some of the more repugnant ones include the following:
  • His now infamous claim that the Nazis (yemach shmo) murdered fewer than 1 million halachic Jews.
  • His comparing “non-virgin women” to an opened bottle of coke. What Rabbi speaks this way?
  • His disgraceful claim that Down syndrome children as well as those with autism are reincarnated spirits receiving punishment for a previous life.
  • His perverse claim that religious woman hid their nakedness moments before the Nazis sent them to the furnaces, whereas the irreligious were immodest in the moment before their extermination. (When I saw this video, I nearly lost my mind.) What sick mind could see these terrible photos and even contemplate, let alone articulate, such a lunatic theory? When I saw this footage, it crystalized for me the need to write an article.
Aseh l’chah rav. Chazal maintained that any reasonably intelligent, rational person with some knowledge of Torah had the ability to choose for himself a proper Rav. One who epitomizes Torah and chesed. The diligent Jew should ensure that they have a proper teacher of torah rather than a showman pop star who appeals to simpletons. Moreover, if one’s rabbi is obsessed with sex, sheidim, reincarnated spirits, or the supposed immodesty of Jewish korbanot ready to be gassed to death, find another rabbi. If the first thing your chosen rav finds imperative to articulate to the secular is not the knowledge of Hashem, ahavat yisroel, or chesed, but rather a hair covering (whose side benefit magically assists infertile women!) something is wrong with him. Any goyish shaman can do likewise with the same degree of success. The placebo effect works the same for all pagans.

In the case of Mizrachi, thanks to YouTube, Facebook, and the general popularity of social media, his perverse teachings will outlast all of us. The essence of Chillul Hashem personified; since his lectures are now eternally archived in MP4 format. There is no way to undo his damage, save for an unrelenting campaign to expose him and others who share similar beliefs.
In closing, I post one final video, which I just watched today. Outrageous and unbelievable. I watched the video from a Facebook page called “Exposing “Rabbi” Yosef Mizrachi.” Several of the links above connect to the corresponding YouTube channel. In this particular video, Mizrachi states that “secular” Israeli soldiers who die in combat have no share in the world to come. Moreover, he cites halachically prohibited séances as a proof! Evidently, he is unaware of the Halacha that a Jew who is murdered for being a Jew dies Al Kiddush Hashem. Not to mention that one who dies protecting Jews (even for a flawed army run by men who are far from Torah) is engaged in one of the greatest mitzvoth. The Chazon Ish stated clearly that most of the unaffiliated Jews of our times clearly fall under the category of “captured babies” rather than willful sinners. Yet Mizrachi in his arrogant hatred sees fit to damn them all to his goyish notion of hell.

I have a message for Mizrachi’s apologists who insist that his words were taken out of context. There is no context to justify his pernicious views. His teachings are sick, and they expose a damaged soul. Those who defend such a man, whether overtly, or with the “devil’s advocate” method of apologetics and the undeserved “benefit of the doubt” say much about themselves. Let them do their research, and it will become evident that he really is THAT bad. In fact, he is worse. The fact that I need to write these things is perhaps the most tragic thing of all.

About the Author: Donny Fuchs made aliyah in 2006 from Long Island to the Negev, where he resides with his family. He has a keen passion for the flora and fauna of Israel and enjoys hiking the Negev desert. His religious perspective is deeply grounded in the Rambam's rational approach to Judaism.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Thieves & Frauds Never Ending Quest For Idiots and Fools (and finding them everywhere)!!!

The World’s Leading Kabbalist, Guru to Billionaires, Is Going to Jail

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto was once the powerful head of a multimillion-dollar empire and spiritual adviser to the likes of LeBron James. Now he’s going to prison for bribery.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto is a celebrity in Israel and among financial and real estate elites in New York. A sage whose followers include the leaders of Israel’s business elite, Pinto is the descendant of Moroccan Jewish saints, a Sephardic hero, and a master of Kabbalah, the ancient tradition of Jewish mysticism and magic. His net worth has been estimated at $19 million, not including the vast sums under the control of his various nonprofit organizations.

He is also a felon, convicted of bribing an Israeli police general. This week, after exhausting what is probably his last appeal—a last-ditch effort to avoid jail for health reasons—it appears he is finally headed for prison.

Adding insult to injury, a $30 million defamation suit the rabbi’s organization filed against a reporter was dismissed by a New York court this week for lack of jurisdiction.

How does a Kabbalist, who by all accounts is indeed a devout man who practices what he preaches, become a multimillionaire?

It’s the network. In New York, Pinto’s close followers include leading Jewish real estate magnates like Ofer Yardeni and Charlie Kushner, politicians like Anthony Weiner and Eric Cantor, Jewish leaders including celebrity rabbi Marc Schneier and Malcolm Hoenlein (the head of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations), and even LeBron James.

Followers believe that Pinto has supernormal powers. Many said he can read minds. Others say he has the ability to bless everything from business ventures to political careers—and to curse enemies as well. Like other Kabbalists, Pinto speaks only Hebrew, is soft spoken, and keeps his eyes partly closed, the better to detach from worldly concerns. He dispenses advice, blessings, and amulets. He is the descendant both of the famous Moroccan mystic Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, also known as the Baba Sali, and of Rabbi Haim Pinto, one of Morocco’s most powerful rabbis. And he welcomes everyone: religious, secular, Jewish, non-Jewish.

But for a holy man, Pinto is surrounded by shady criminal elements, including outright crooks. In Israel, these include Yossi Harari, the head of the Ramat Amidar underworld gang, and mobster Shalom Domrani.


Paul Mendlowitz
Paul Mendlowitz FRAUD ALERT
 The hilula (yahrtzeit) of the holy



The Baba Sali zt”l was very close to Yad L’Achim and encouraged us in our work every step of the way. Shortly before his passing, he penned a letter of great inspiration and encouraging Klal Yisrael to support Yad L’Achim. He included a bracha (blessing) to all who support Yad L’Achim – from the letter -

"הנה בא לפני גודל המעשים של ארגון יד לאחים. . וה’ הטוב יביא ברכת טוב על כל המחזיקים ידם"

… and Hashem, who is kind, will bring good blessings to all who support their (Yad L’Achim’s) hand”

Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity & fulfill the great mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim (redeeming of captives) rescuing Jewish women & children trapped in villages.


Friday, January 15, 2016

A film crew from a well-known, national news outlet is looking to interview 3-4 survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Filming will take place in the Los Angeles area.

Paul --

A film crew from a well-known, national news outlet is looking to interview 3-4 survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. They are looking for a variety of ages and experiences and want to focus on people who were abused by priests, as opposed to nuns, employees, etc. (Sorry about that)

This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to tell their story to an audience who may not be familiar with the crisis (or who may be too young to really remember the 2002 scandals).

Filming will take place in the Los Angeles area.

If you are interested, contact Joelle Casteix at jcasteix@gmail.com

Barbara Dorris
SNAP · PO Box 6416, Chicago, IL 60680-6416, United States

What Pope Benedict Knew About Abuse in the Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007, with his brother Georg Ratzinger, who, from 1964 to 1994, was the director of a Catholic boys’ choir that is the subject of a recent sex-abuse investigation.
The election of Pope Francis, in 2013, had the effect, among other things, of displacing the painful story of priestly sexual abuse that had dominated public awareness of the Church during much of the eight-year papacy of his predecessor. The sense that the Church, both during the last years of Benedict and under Francis, had begun to deal more forcefully with the issue created a desire in many, inside and outside the Church, to move on. But recent events suggest that we take another careful look at this chapter of Church history before turning the page.

During the past week, a German lawyer charged with investigating the abuse of minors in a famous Catholic boys’ choir in Bavaria revealed that two hundred and thirty-one children had been victimized over a period of decades. The attorney, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the Diocese of Regensburg to conduct the inquiry, said that there were fifty credible cases of sexual abuse, along with a larger number of cases of other forms of physical abuse, from beatings to food deprivation.

The news received widespread attention not only because of its disturbing content but because the director of the Regensburg boys’ choir from 1964 to 1994 was Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI. Joseph Ratzinger was the Archbishop of Munich from 1977 until 1981, when he went to head up the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which establishes theological orthodoxy and was also one of the branches of the Church that dealt with priestly sexual abuse.

The developments in Germany raised the question of what the two Ratzinger brothers knew about the abuse in the Regensburg choir. Most of the sexual abuse took place, apparently, at a boarding school for elementary-grade students connected to the choir. The chief culprit, according to Weber, was Johann Meier, the boarding school’s director from 1953 until 1992. The composer Franz Wittenbrink, a graduate of the school, told Der Spiegel magazine, in 2010, when the abuse scandal became public, that there was “a system of sadistic punishments connected to sexual pleasure.”

At that time, Georg Ratzinger, who was on the three-person supervisory board of the elementary school, acknowledged that some choirboys had complained about the punishments they received at the school. “But I did not have the feeling at the time that I should do something about it,” he told the Passauer Neue Presse, in 2010. “Had I known with what exaggerated fierceness he was acting, I would have said something.”

In fact, accusations of abuse surfaced and were investigated in 1987, but no one saw fit to remove Meier from his post until the year of his death. When asked at his press conference last week whether Georg Ratzinger had been aware of the abuse, Weber replied, “Based on my research, I must assume so.” He estimated that a third of the students in the choir had suffered some form of abuse. Georg Ratzinger has said that he routinely slapped choirboys when their performance was not up to snuff, standard treatment until Germany banned corporal punishment, in the early eighties. So far, the Regensburg diocese has offered compensation of twenty-five hundred euros for each victim.

In the early nineties, a monk who worked at the Vatican told me, “You wouldn’t believe the amounts of money the church is spending to settle these priestly sexual-abuse cases.” He was not exaggerating. By 1992, Catholic dioceses in the U.S. had paid out four hundred million dollars to settle hundreds of molestation cases. These financial settlements were reached largely to keep the victims quiet: in almost all cases, the documents were sealed and the victims signed a non-disclosure agreement. Given the enormous amounts of money involved, the men running the Vatican were well aware of the problem.

The basic outlines of the sex-abuse scandal were already evident that year when Jason Berry, an American journalist, published his first book, “Lead Us Not Into Temptation.” (While the “Spotlight” team at the Boston Globe is rightly getting its moment of glory, praise is also due to Berry, whose pioneering work on the subject, a decade earlier, was done with far less institutional support.) As Berry reported, Ray Mouton, a lawyer whom the Church hired in 1985 to defend a pedophile priest in Louisiana, warned that, if the Church did not adopt a policy for helping victims and removing pedophiles from the ministry, it could face a billion dollars in losses from financial settlements and damage awards in the next decade. It turned out that Mouton had actually underestimated the financial cost of the crisis. By 2006, the Church had spent $2.6 billion settling sexual-abuse cases, as Berry wrote in the 2010 edition of “Vows of Silence,” his second book on the pedophile crisis, which he co-authored with fellow-journalist Gerald Renner.

Most cases of abuse were handled (or not handled) by local bishops and archbishops, but some were adjudicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The most prominent of these cases was that of Father Marcial Maciel, a favorite of Pope John Paul II and the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful Mexican religious order that, at its pinnacle, included eight hundred priests, fifteen universities, and a hundred and fifty prep schools, as well as a lay movement with a reported seventy thousand followers.

In the seventies and eighties, former members of the Legionaries reported that, as young boys, they had been sexually abused by Maciel. As the Church later acknowledged, the complainants were highly credible and had no ulterior motives: they were not seeking monetary compensation or notoriety. They followed Church procedures by filing formal charges through ecclesiastical courts in Rome, but nothing was done. In fact, Pope John Paul II called on Maciel to accompany him on papal visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993.

When one of the former Legionaries expressed his frustration, in the lawsuit, about the Church’s inaction, Berry and Renner reported in their book, the Legionaries’ own canon lawyer, Martha Wegan, who made no secret that her first loyalty was to the Church, replied, “It is better for eight innocent men to suffer than for millions to lose their faith.”

Cardinal Ratzinger reopened the case against Father Maciel in 2004, and, when he became Pope, in 2006, he acknowledged the validity of the claims, forbidding Maciel to continue his ministry and limiting him to a “life of prayer and penitence.” The Vatican found Maciel guilty of “very serious and objectively immoral acts . . . confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies” that represent “true crimes and manifest a life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment.”

Though the sexual-abuse crisis reached its peak in the public sphere during Benedict XVI’s papacy, the single figure most responsible for ignoring this extraordinary accumulation of depravity is the sainted John Paul II. In the context of his predecessor’s deplorable neglect, Pope Benedict gets slightly higher marks than most. In 2001, he acted to give his office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, jurisdiction over all sexual-abuse cases, and soon he began to push the Maciel investigation, despite considerable Vatican opposition. After ascending the throne of St. Peter, he became the first Pope to kick predator priests out of the Church: in 2011 and 2012, the last two full years of his papacy, the Church defrocked three hundred and eighty-four offending priests.

That said, it was too little, too late. As the second-most-powerful man in John Paul II’s pontificate, Ratzinger had more ability to know and to act than almost anyone. The actions he finally did take were largely dictated by a series of embarrassing scandals: his move to take control of pedophilia cases in 2001 closely followed scandals in the U.S., Ireland, and Australia, and staggering financial settlements for American plaintiffs. The decision to reopen the case against Maciel would almost certainly not have happened without the courageous reporting of Berry and Renner. And the zero-tolerance policy that led to the systematic defrocking of abusive priests happened only after the annus horribilis of 2010, in which a new sexual-abuse scandal seemed to explode every week and loyal parishioners left the Church in droves.

Ratzinger understood better than most, if late, that priestly abuse was the negation of everything the Church was supposed to stand for. But, for much of his career, his focus and priorities were elsewhere. During most of his tenure, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was too busy disciplining anyone who dared step out of line with Church teachings on personal sexuality and family planning to bother with the thousands of priests molesting children. In 2009, a nun named Margaret McBride sat on the ethics committee of a San Diego hospital that had to decide the case of a pregnant woman whose doctors believed that she (and her fetus) would die if they did not terminate her pregnancy. The committee voted to allow an abortion, and the woman’s life was saved. Almost immediately, McBride’s bishop informed her of her excommunication. It took multiple decades and thousands of cases of predatory behavior to begin defrocking priests, but not much more than twenty-four hours to excommunicate a nun trying to save a human life. In 2011, also under Pope Benedict, the Vatican lifted its excommunication of McBride.

A reëxamination of the sexual-abuse scandal may help the Church reconsider the standoff between traditionalists and progressives during Francis’s papacy. The traditionalists, who oppose changes such as offering communion to remarried couples, bemoan the good old days when papal authority was unquestioned, civil authorities treated the Church with extreme deference, and parishioners obeyed without objection. They have forgotten that those good old days were also a time when children were slapped, beaten, and often sexually abused, and priests, bishops, parents, and police looked away.