Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Friday, 19 September 2008


As the last post noted, a noted talmid chacham who was asked by a Jewish congressman to head up a taskforce on child sexual abuse in the New York chareidi community was threatened and intimidated into abandoning this posting as well as all public life, for the safety of his family and himself.

Recently, some bloggers have taken upon themselves to write to The Jewish Press to express their outrage at this turn of events. This was precipitated by a strong anti-violence editorial in the paper. As noted on one prominent blog:

A group of Jewish bloggers with a wide array and readership have gotten together and composed a letter of support. I don’t know what our combined numbers are with respect to readership. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the majority of all Jews who read any blog at all, read at least one of our blogs regularly. The numbers must be huge!

This is just one area where blogs like this have the ability to accomplish something big – something that will benefit everyone. Something that will help protect the innocent and punish the guilty.

The following letter should be copied and pasted into an e-mail - and then mailed to the Jewish Press.Here is their e-mail address:letters@jewishpress.comThe goal is to flood them with this kind of e-mail. You can use your own wording but the essence of the letter should be that of the one below.We can really make a difference here. Maybe we can once and for all turn the intimidaters into the intimidated and rid the Torah world of people like this forever!

Here is the text of the letter:

To the Editorial Board of the Jewish Press:

We would like to express our horror at the intimidation and harassment of Dr. Benzion Twerski for his efforts to protect our children from molestation, and we salute you for your courage in publishing the Op-Ed column condemning the harassment of Dr. Twerski. We feel that exposing the actions of the kannoim is the first step in reversing their campaign of terror against members of our community.

We are fed up with the fact that the extremists in our community are allowed to threaten peaceful citizens with threats and we would like to see our police officers arrest and prosecute those who do so to the fullest extent of the law.

If there are any acts of intimidation or threats of violence to Dov Hikind's next appointee to the Child Safety committee; we will join and support a massive email drive to our elected officials – on the local, state and federal levels – to step in and protect those who are helping protect our children.

We respectfully ask you to run an editorial next week condemning this disgraceful act, acknowledging the number of these emails that were sent to you and calling on our leaders and rabbonim to publicly distance themselves from acts of intimidation and violence each and every time they occur with the same fervor reserved for other actions that contradict our holy Torah – and to declare the acts of violence as the sins they are.

Respectfully submitted,

Naturally, this letter has quickly started to make the rounds through the blogsphere. People like a good cause and this one is one of the best. But allow me to play the cynic. I don't think this is going to make a bit of difference. Here's what I posted at another blog:

This is a lost cause.Sorry, but it is.First of all, l'hatchilah, anyone who has a blog must use the internet so they're possul already.Secondly, if they disagree with these thugs who define right as anything they say it is, then they're wrong and don't have to be listened to.Thirdly, if any public pressure really does build, they'll just swipe some "gedolim" signature stamps and issue a kol koreh in support of themselves.Is anyone really going to risk being ostracized over this? When they knock on your door, are you really going to call the police and have them arrested? The only solution is to leave communities like this and go elsewhere to build normal, sane ones.

Maybe it's because I live in a small community but I am perplexed as to how this works so well. After all, if they were to threaten that my daughters couldn't get shidduchim in their community, I would think: who wants to marry creeps like you anyway? Why would I want to send my boy to a yeshiva that tolerates pedophiles? But people do. Is it because they don't know there are alternatives?I say again: those of you who are not yet absorbed into the weird culture need to get out and start again elsewhere. There's a huge Jewish world out there and options for people who are sick of the situation but want to continue to be observant.

Perhaps time has come for change. I know people are generally comfortable where they are. Intertia is a hard thing to overcome. Yes, there are downsides, but knowing where the kosher section is in the local supermarket and being integrated into the local social scene is a powerful magnetic force.

At some point, people need to open their eyes. The downsides outweigh the upsides when the only way to maintain one's status as a "good" Jew is to ignore the abominations in one's midst and knuckle under to the thugs who want to keep it that way.

I am sure God wants more from us than that.


Anonymous said...

Rav Chaim Soloveitchik speaks out against sexual abuse in RBS.
(A school here is still employing a teacher who is under investigation for child abuse.)

Bartley Kulp said...

You made a point that you doubt that the bloggers probably will not substantially dent policy in the religious community regarding molesters. You are probably right. However letters to government officials can be a very effective tool. Most of them listen to advisors regarding how to gaige the pulse of the frum community. Many politicians will listen to rabbis who will say that the community does not want to see so and so arrested. We like to keep things quiet etc., etc. Massive email drives are the only thing to refute those claims. These politicians have to know that there is a moral majority of voters out there in the frum community who think differently.