New "Chadash" Controversy
This weekend, the Ramat Beit Shemesh Chareidi newspaper "Chadash" has printed a "Clarification" about a full page ad they published in English in last week's edition.
That ad was a tightly packed text addressed to parents on the subject of child protection and child abuse.
The fact that the topic of child abuse was mentioned in Chadash was itself remarkable, and I believe this is the first time in the publication's history.
The text described, for example, risks of taking children to the mikva, risks of child abuse in chedarim, within the family and with trusted friends.
Perhaps most controversial was that the ad said the readers should not listen to their "private rabbi" if he instructs parents not to report allegations of child abuse to the authorities; the ad suggested that the rabbi may have been bribed, or be interested to protect local mosdos or influential members of his community.
Instead, readers should obey the instruction only of gedolei hador who, the article said, had ruled that child abuse cases must be reported to the authorities.
Overall, the article was clearly not written by a professional, as it was inaccurate in many details and had the excessive hyperbole of a "pashkeville".
What it might have done is to shake up the Chadash readership, who have been totally cloistered by that newspaper and some other chareidi media, which solely present highly censored, selected and diluted "news and information" to their readership.
This is in order to perpetuates the myth that "everything's wonderful and under control in our perfect community bubble".
Which is of course false, misleading and potentially dangerous.
And, as every despot knows, a problem with systematic censorship is that it encourages renegade publications.
In the 21st Century digital era, Chadash editorial policy is becoming as archaic as pigeon-post. The era of censorship will inevitably need to give way to openly reporting and addressing issues honestly.
Issues such as the hitherto taboo subject of child protection and child abuse.
This particular pashkeville succeeded in infiltrating Chadash, the chareidi bastion and voice of the establishment, and was printed and delivered under their cover to everyone's letterbox.
Heads at Chadash must have rolled.
And so they should.
Although, judging by Chadash's "two steps back" Clarification published this week, probably these heads rolled for all the wrong reasons.