NY Times Drops a Brick in the Frum Pond

Charles Hynes and R.Zweibel - Unholy Alliance

It may be the Jewish community’s equivalent of the Boston Globe’s first expose of child abuse in the Catholic Church ten years ago.

A series of recent NY Times articles have caused a mighty splash in the frum community - and well beyond.

The articles reported the phenomenon of child abuse in the frum community in Brooklyn.

The first, Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse, describes and documents the use of systematic intimidation & harassment to shut-up members of the ultra-orthodox community from bringing reports of abuse cases to the authorities.
The second article, For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules details an unholy alliance between rabbinical leadership (Rabbi Zweibel), and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office (Charles J.Hynes), resulting in a double-standard in applying criminal law. In particular, this article shows the relationship between Agudath Yisrael’s official policy of rabbinical control of child abuse investigations (discussed in detail here), and Charles Hynes’ apparent acquiescence to this policy.

A third NYT article, Prosecutor Seeks to Force Rabbis to Report on Abuse reported Charles Hyne’s response to both the previous articles and the snowballing public pressure, and the article details Hynes’ fumbling attempts to fix the previous reported policies of double-standards and rabbinical interference in child abuse cases.  

Beyond these ground-breaking articles in the NY Times, many other publications in the US and around the world followed up the controversial story with comment and further reports.

There is now widespread and enormous public outrage & scandal both within and outside the Jewish community, at the exposed policies of child abuse cover-ups, and orthodox religious + US legal system corruption.

The Jewish community ought not to be so amazed.

This worldwide exposure of this festering problem in the frum community has been in the making for a decade.

Once the Catholic clergy were exposed, it was inevitable that the same spotlight would eventually settle on parallel problems in the frum Jewish community.

Initially bloggers, such as UOJ and Failed Messiah, broke new ground in exposing child abuse and child abuse-enablement in the frum world.

Some Jewish newspapers also helped raise awareness and warned the public of the nature and scope of the problem, such as the Jewish Times (Baltimore), the Forward, New York’s Jewish Week and the Jewish Press.

Here in Israel, this blog has also played a modest role in raising awareness of the problem, and pressing for the abandonment of long standing, dangerous and discredited policies of rabbinical control of child abuse investigations, and of the mismanagement of child abuse victims and perpetrators in the frum community.  

However, it would be a pity to solely see the dark side of the scandal and now enormous chilul Hashem generated by Agudah’s corrupt policy.

The good news is that I have observed here in Bet Shemesh that, in just two years, there has been remarkable progress away from decades of cover-ups and corrupt policies, towards a more constructive approach, including increased cooperation with the police, social services and the involvement of all parts of the community in responding and even preventing child abuse in the frum community.

I sincerely hope that the international critical spotlight of exposure, which has now been deservedly aimed at Agudah’s official policies, will result in the abandonment of an old, discredited and criminal (in Israel) system – which places rabbonim in the bizarre and illegal position of criminal investigators, and which has resulted, all too often, in protecting child abusers from justice, and thus enabled the further abuse of thousands of children in the frum community.


  1. The problem is that the only response the leadership of the Agudah knows when criticized is to dig its heels in and insist it's current methods are infallible.
    Change will occur in the frum community but it will occur despite the leadership and probably against its wishes.

  2. The hareidi policy on child abuse will have change - or the Agudah-linked rabbonim (including those in RBS) who continue to break the law will be imprisoned.

    At some point the penny will drop, and "daas torah" will woops change its mind.

    The question at that point will be, at what cost - and who will pay the price??

  3. David - I'm sure you mean well, and your many good works are a testimony to that.

    However, by openly criticizing the Agudah's policy on child abuse, and therefore attacking daas torah and the Gadolim who guide the organization, you cross the lines of apikorsus - heresy.

    1. By openly parroting the words of the Askanim, you cross the line into idiocy.

      Among the more valid reasons for choosing Orthodox but non-charedi schools is that there is little concern about whether abuse will be reported.

      Also, in terms of the US fiasco, there is a reason why the OU and the National Council of Young Israel, or the RCA don't seem to be implicated. No community is perfect, but a general policy of hiding flaws under the rug and denying reality is not usually a good strategy for avoiding chillul Hashem (or protecting children).

  4. Do you really see all that much progress? And if so, are you referring to the work of Magen in the DL community of BS of bringing awareness on this issue? Because I just can't imagine you are meaning 'remarkable progress' in Kornfeld and Malinowitz kehillot?? Does letting a pedophile take pictures at avos u'banim at one shul, reflect progress? Does the collapse of a suspected case of pedophilia against a school administrator in a certain chader, as a result of rabbinical interference, reflect progress?? Please explain.

    And David, you really shouldn't allow "anonymous" postings like the one above, espousing charedi propaganda, on your website. Please delete it.

    1. It is important to have those postings because they show how out of touch with reality certain individuals and communities are. Sometimes, you just need to let people make fools of themselves.

  5. JAM: "Do you really see all that much progress?"

    Since Magen (the Bet Shemesh child protection agency) started in 2010, some 95% of calls for help have come from families who describe themselves as chareidim.

    These courageous families are putting their children's safety first. Often at great risk to themselves.

    B"H this is a major step forward from the situation just two years ago.


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