Friday, July 15, 2011

Empty Words

On the Cross Currents blog, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein wrote a post reflecting on the recent tragedy of Leib Kletzky. He calls on the community to stop turning to rabbinic figures in place of proper law enforcement when problems in the community need to be dealt with:
"It is time to forever bury the myth that reports of pedophilia can be managed and dealt with by committees of rabbonim, even for a short time. It is time to bury the myth that there is a serious halachic barrier to going to authorities to deal with credible reports of such behavior.... Rabbonim cannot handle the issue. We have enough evidence of this."
I couldn't agree with him more. It's very admirable that a chareidi rabbinic figure such as himself is willing to speak out against this widespread communal attitude. That being said, there's a sad irony to seeing such words on the Cross Currents blog, which is one of the unofficial mouthpieces of the Agudah, that august body which claims to represent Torah True™ Orthodox Judaism.

Why is that ironic? Well, recently the Agudah clarified their position on the issue of reporting incidents of abuse. As reported by The Forward, at a conference hosted by Agudah, Rabbi David Zwiebel, Agudah’s executive vice president, told the conference that:
"...even mandated reporters — teachers, social workers and people in certain other professions who are required by law to promptly report any suspected cases of sexual abuse — should consult a rabbi before going to the police."
If Rabbi Adlerstein truly means what he says, that people need to stop looking to rabbinic figures to handle these issues, he should direct his words towards those most responsible for cultivating and fostering this attitude - the chareidi rabbinic leadership themselves - and most notably, the Agudah apologists that write alongside him on Cross Currents.