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.

7 comments:

jewish philosopher said...

Just by the way, I haven't yet heard anything about the perpetrator in this case being a pedophile.

The Hedyot said...

The post is not about Levi Aron. It's about Adlerstein and his refusal to place blame for what he considers to be a problem where it squarely belongs.

Whether or not the guy was actually a pedophile is irrelevant to the larger issue of what R' Adlerstein is calling for.

Joely276 said...

JP!!! I most tell you. When I heard that Leiby Was abducted, killed and dismembered by a orthodox Jew. The first person that came to mind was you.... JUST SAYING!!!

Shulem Deen said...

I know I'm late to this, but good points.

The thing to wonder about, though, is how they can tell mandated reporters to consult with rabbis first. Wouldn't the law require them not to do so? While the ultra-Orthodox don't have great respect for civil law, Agudah generally does espouse a strong "dina-demalchusa-dina" ethic. Or am I wrong about that?

The Hedyot said...

Shulem, there's been a lot of coverage of this issue since I posted this. Basically, their response is that when they say "consult a rabbi first" it's only when you aren't absolutely certain of the problem and therefore asking a rabbi is no different than if you were to ask a doctor or mental health professional.

See here for their official BS.

YA said...

"Joely276 said...

JP!!! I most tell you. When I heard that Leiby Was abducted, killed and dismembered by a orthodox Jew. The first person that came to mind was you.... JUST SAYING!!!"

Not funny. A boy was killed. You want to make an anonymous hit against JP do it some other way.

YA said...

Da'as Hedyot Rabbi Adlerstein is not Chareidi and Cross Currents is not a part of Agudah. That is why he can talk against the Agudah's position on it.