Friday, September 14, 2012

Pearl Engelman: Who is Nechemia Weberman?

The following originally appeared on Yerachmiel Lopin's blog. Because of the importance of publicizing Weberman's trial on October 30th - he asked that I republish it here with the permission of Pearl Engleman and Yerachmiel Lopin. The full text is found here  Frum Follies

How an Entire Community Of Sheep Were Deceived By Weberman

Guest Post by Pearl Engelman

As I write, I hold a list of 8 other victims. Can it really be that our community is so gullible as to believe the PR campaign for Weberman? Can it really be that our community is so willfully ignorant? That we WANT to believe that which makes us more comfortable despite the damage to innocent victims?

Many of my friends and acquaintances assumed my presence and media outspokenness at the protest against the fundraiser for accused sexual abuser Nechemia Weberman was due to my bitter experience with my son Yoiely’s molestation case. Not exactly wrong but not the whole story either.

This past Monday, May 14th, I received a call from an unknown woman asking if she could speak with me confidentially. When I assented she said “my daughter was sexually abused by Nechemia Weberman!” I listened in shock as she told me “when my daughter was 15 years old she began to dress differently than our family’s dress code and my husband and I were very worried about what this signified. We were advised to take her to Nechemia Weberman, the chassidishe (Hasidic) therapist for “troublesome” girls. We trusted Weberman fully, as he was also my husband’s good friend. During the 2 something years my daughter was in “therapy” with him she did not tell us what went on during almost every session.” I glanced at the caller ID and realized she was calling from upstate NY. My caller continued – “After my daughter’s wedding, one day she told me,

Mommy if you would know what Necehmia Weberman did to me you would kill yourself! He showed me sex videos, he made me do ——- to him, he did —— to me, and he told me that I should never, ever tell anyone because no one would ever believe me as I was known as a “troublemaker” and he was known as a very chosheve (prominent) person; I would have no credibility and would only damage my reputation further! He tried to convince me that no one understood me, cared for me or loved me as he did. For sure my parents did not understand me or love me!

To say the caller took my breath away is an understatement. Listening to the sorrowful tone of her voice was awful. Then she said “in hindsight I now remember that whenever I called him for a progress report or an update on my daughter a strange thing happened. He would actually instigate me against my daughter! I used to wonder why doesn’t he say something like – Don’t worry – we are working with her – there is hope for improvement – instead he would say what an ‘azas ponim (brazen girl) she was, how she would burn in gehenim (hell)  for her behavior!’ I would be so very angry at her and she at me; we were going at each other all the time.”

And then my caller told me her name! This family is not “nobody”, this is a well known, beautifully functional family! Very frum (observant) family! She explained to me that because her husband’s livelihood was dependant on the Heimishe (ultra orthodox) public they could not openly expose Weberman. Being from the community they knew the backlash would be directed against their daughter and themselves. And because their daughter was happily married they did not want to rock that boat either.

Her story continued: “When the campaign in support of Weberman was started this winter and I saw the signatures of the Rabbonim (rabbis) I couldn’t bear it anymore. I myself went to Rabbi Teitelbaum (son of the Satmar Rebbe, Zalmen Leib) and to Rabbi Pollack and told them my story. They were shocked,  Oiy, oiy vey, we didn’t know, we were told he was the victim of a bilbul (libel). However, you should know – we are still yiddishe kinder (Jewish children) and for this Weberman doesn’t have to sit in jail. We will take care of him and he will never do this again, and do not hinder us from protecting him!”

How do we say it? REVICTIMIZING THE VICTIM! In essence they are telling this poor mother – go home, choke your feelings and do not stop us from supporting and helping the man who violated your child! Has there ever been anything as cruel, as pitiless, as UNJEWISH? Is this really us? Don’t we stand for the emes (truth), for yoisher (rectitude)? A thought just occurred to me: Al pi torah (according to the torah) what was their responsibility after hearing from the mother?

I gently asked her what could I do to help? Her sorrowful answer was: “I don’t know”. Why did she call me now? Because she feels so terribly sick when she sees the fundraising campaign for Weberman. [...]

38 comments:

  1. How is that that a community like Satmar has guidlines about evrey facet of life even down to the thickness of stockings,but they can't seem to have guidlines about Yichud? I'm not saying Weberman is guilty of rape, but what about yichud?

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    1. we can not be sure that UTA actually knew that there was Yichud involved. It is common for Men to work with girls, and usually one assumes that if the therapist is frum he will make sure that no Yichud is involved.

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    2. Aron Feldman is raising an important point. Chazal weren't naive about these things. אין אפוטרופוס לעריות means precisely that we are never supposed to rely on someone's good reputation when it comes to matters of sexuality. It is precisely to prevent such incidents that halachos like yichud exist!

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    3. They do have guidelines for yichud, stricter than most orthodox communities. But the interesting question is why did they decide to ignore them for Weberman. In fact, now that this fact is coming out, it is making people wonder what else Weberman did.

      The question i would ask is how could the Satmar girls school not wonder about that? Was there a financial benefit to the school for each kid they referred? Was the vaad hatznius feared rather than respected. After all they had the power to ruin anyone's reputation.

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    4. UTA being ignorant is no excuse!

      Yerachmiel,
      Do you know conclusively that Weberman is a Vaad Hatznius (perverts) member?

      The way Satmar is reacting one might think that this is another Mondrowitz yms'vz and Aron or Zali want to cover up.

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    5. Yes, I know for sure he was one of the most visible members of the vaad hatznius in Williamsburg. His position with the Vaad is how he got most of his work. I suspect he was splitting his income with them.

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    6. The laws of Yichud mean that no Jewish woman or girl can see a male therapist privately.

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    7. Ok, fair enough, Vaad Hatznius should be called vaad haperverts

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    8. http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2012/09/da-can-keep-sex-tape-od-underage-hasidc-girl-locked-up-for-now-567.html

      This passes for a Vaad Hatznius member or a malach?

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    9. http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=1630&ThisGroup_ID=238&Type=Article&SID=2

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  2. Is Weberman a vaad hatznius member? my rule of thumb is that most people on such a vaad are most probably perverts

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    1. No, he is not a member. But the members are from the highest outstanding citizens.

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    2. Satmar is angry because they have been exposed and might be subject to Governmental scrutiny.

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    3. Are there any statistics available that show how many less religious people became more careful about modesty due to the obnoxious behavior of these ubiquitous patrols?

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  3. Satmar dropped the ball with Weberman, instead of doing some serious investigations as to how to run their institutions al pi halacha and with compliance with the law to protect themselves from liability they took the easy way out. They hired that idiot Gestetner and tried to discredit the accusers, what a bunch of charlatans

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    1. What was Gesterner's role in this?

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    2. He was hired to speak to the media

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  4. I ask again, can we be sure that Satmar was aware that Weberman was seeing girls behind a locked door, thus violating Yichud? If you are sending a girl to a frum male therapist, especially someone who is part of the community, one usually assumes Yichud is being observed, thus one doesn't neccesarily feel the need to check things out.
    And the question I'm asking is "did Satmar know about this Yichud being violated before Weberman was accused?"

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    1. He wasn't seeing them behind a locked door.

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    2. unknown september: In kashrus matters, your argument would not be valid. A rav certifying kashrut must make sure by himself that all arrangements to ensure kashrut are met. He cannot say "Oh, I didn't know they used trefe meat from the supermarket, they did not tell me". He is there precisely to uncover any scheme to bring in trefe meat from the supermarket.

      similarly here, if a rav or institution gives a haskama or referral to a therapist, they have to make sure by themselves that requirements of tzniut are met. "They did not know" does not fly for me. If they sign a haskama or refer students, they have to do their work and check it out. People were relying on them. Not only that, there were COMPULSARY referrals to this precise therapist....

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  5. You think stricter observance of Yichud would make a difference in this case? You can build a fence around halacha, but the problem is these predators can easily jump the fence.

    You want to really but a fence around halacha? If guilty, throw the book at him! Make him an example and those trying to protect him.

    Halacha as a deterrent ONLY works on people who are honest in following Halacha. If these allegations are true, Weberman is NOT a follower of Halacha.

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  6. I wrote up a response to this post explaining my take on why the frum community is so grievously bad at addressing this issue. Thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog.

    "...Many have asked why the Orthodox community is so awful in the way it handles child sexual abuse ... It doesn’t look good, to say the least, and it is truly painful and embarrassing to the many Orthodox Jews who wish their community would live up to its own standards ... here is my take on why this happens..."

    http://www.frumcounselor.com/2012/09/orthodox-cover-up-sexual-abuse.html

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    1. Kol Hakovod for your explanation as to why the frum communities have such a hard time dealing with molestation. Very well explained and I do agree with your view. However I also want to point out that it is not all or nothing, i.e. those of us whose Yiddishkeit is hinged upon this being a community thing where we got it right and everybody else got it wrong, and those of us who really adhere to Torah for Torah's sake. I think it needs to be stated that there is a whole continum of levels, with each of us stationed somewhere in between. Meaning, many of us do think about what we believe, and want to make Yiddishkeit real, yet we also get support from this "community thing, where we all know that only we have the truth and nodbody else does."
      It seems to me that the aboved mentioned methods were/ and are being used a lot as a means to get pp to really stay in the fold, yet since they are not fully based on the truth, they just have to back-fire at some point, and sadly that point seems to be when needing to face molestation, which by definition means meaning to admit that the bad guy is amongst us, and the good guy / the guy speaking truth, can even be the one who left the derech, as is often the case.

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    2. Certainly there is a continuum. But if the ONLY brand of Judaism you have is the keeping-up-with-the-Schwartzes brand, you're in trouble.

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  7. It has nothing to do with yichud, non-Orthodox and Gentiles do not need the laws of yichud to know not to molest children, those who do molest children do not have their community rallies for their support.

    One of the authorities on the laws of yichud is the pimp rabbi Leib Tropper, see how that worked out for him.

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    1. Those falsely accused of molestation, often do have their communities rally behind them. Including by the gentiles. There are countless such stories in the American media.

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    2. Leo, you are 100& correct!

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  8. Some clarifications regarding Weberman's violations of yichud.

    Pearl and I mention it to make the point that those who insist he is innocent because he is so frum conveniently ignore his violations of din yichud which could be known by others even if they could not personally confirm allegations of sexual abuse.

    Leo, Of course I agree that most non-orthodox jews and non-jews understand that child molesting is totally wrong whether or not they have any code similar to din yichud. Again, I and Pearl are merely making the point that the fact that he violated din yichud should lead folks in the Satmar community to be more suspicious of him and yet they deny the accusations of the victim.

    As for the facts: His office was a small appartment with a bedroom off to the side. The Bedroom was the site of "therapy" and it was furnished with a plain bed, several chairs, a video screen and player (which he sometimes used for porn. He conducted his sessions with the door locked and was never interrupted, according to my information from several individuals who were present during those sessions. Contrary to claims by some blog commenters there was no office equipment there such as fax machines, files or computers. His wife does not appear to have ever come through.

    He took a number of girls on all day drives upstate with no shomeres (chaperone). Again parents and others were aware of this and yet he was not forced to change his conduct. Again, Leo, I readily recognize that in the secular world such a trip might be perceived as innocent. But my point is that in the context of the chasidish world this was highly irregular. It should have set off alarms at the time and it certainly should make people less willing to believe his present protestations of innocence.

    Ironically, of course, the vaad hatznius exists and wield it power precisely to deter or punish such behavior.

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  9. "Her story continued: “When the campaign in support of Weberman was started this winter and I saw the signatures of the Rabbonim (rabbis) I couldn’t bear it anymore. I myself went to Rabbi Teitelbaum (son of the Satmar Rebbe, Zalmen Leib) and to Rabbi Pollack and told them my story. They were shocked, Oiy, oiy vey, we didn’t know, we were told he was the victim of a bilbul (libel). However, you should know – we are still yiddishe kinder (Jewish children) and for this Weberman doesn’t have to sit in jail. We will take care of him and he will never do this again, and do not hinder us from protecting him!”"

    I have always been shocked at the writings of the "activists" in this disgusting subject. And I have been critical, to say the least. For instance, I was asked long ago about the public fundraiser for Weberman's defense. My response - I have other personal reasons to believe he is guilty. But to those who do not believe it, there is no reason why to not support his defense. Don't give me the revictimizing the victim line, since their belief is that there is no victim. No problem. However, the quote above, in the names of R' Teitelbaum and R' Pollak, lead me to change my opinion. According to this quote, they recognize that Weberman is guilty, and they still wish to defend him!? I am shocked. I want this guy prosecuted to the max, and anyone intimidating witnesses be subjected to the severity of the law. I hoped for the courts to do their job, and I was horrified by the reports of intimidation. But to know the truth and still wish to obstruct justice!?

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    1. I could not agree more.Why is it that people cannot believe that there were those members of the community who believed Weberman was actually not guilty.She had two boyfriends in a community where you just have one husband or somebody you are engaged to.Even her own father said she was threatening him.And lets remember 17 is not 7!!!It started when she was a child but it ended with her as a grown woman having relations with men other than her husband.Even if Weberman did it (which I believe he did) you could see how the people of the community did not believe her.This entire victim "group speak" is cultish.It is always the same group.They marred the Siyyum HaShas.What does that have to do with "molestations".They diverted the media to taint the good name of learners who having nothing to do with this.

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  10. The reason why Satmar is circling the wagons and are in damage control mode is because they have been exposed! For many years due to the cozy relationship Satmar (and other insular Chasidic communities) had enjoyed with the DA, they assured the secular authorities that they can police themselves and they need not get involved. This Weberman scandal (and the seemingly weekly molestation stories) has shown that such a system has been wholly ineffective and these communities cannot police themselves, but reporting a sexual deviant like Weberman is against Satmar code so that is why there is such outrage. The Rebbes (both Aron and Zali) and the gabboim and all the schvitzers would be wise to learn a valuable lesson; the best way to make a scandal go away is to handle it properly and not try sloppy cover ups or intimidation, the hierarchy at Satmar is at fault here and don't blame the internet, I phones,ziononim or Lipa Schmeltzer. It is sad that Satmar cares more about their prestige than they do about having a safe and clean community, so much so that they are even willing to trample on Halacha

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  11. The Chasidic world misuses the term "pidyon shevuyim" as much as the MO world misuses "Tikun Olam"

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    1. MO world? I think you mean Reform world. Reformism made "tikun olam" a slogan, not MO.

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  12. the self-righteous oneDecember 11, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    This whole article is a bunch of BALONEY! All lies!! Come on this girl is looking for revenge she is a self hating jew!! I used to know her personally and it makes totally sense for her to do sucha thing!!

    A message for mr and mrs deutsch:
    Boorey! U and ur wife made the most biggest chilul hashem in history!! RETHINK ur actions!! RETHINK how u brought up hatred against jews!! RETHINK how u put even "IF" he is guilty a father of 10 in prison for life!! RETHINK ur actions!! If u consider urself a jew with a heart then do something about this and rectify ur actions!! Be ashamed to show ur face out there!!!!! If u are proud of this I am speechless!!!!!! Flick off ur stupid already shaven beard, burn ur kapel your a total goy!! There is no yiddishkeit left in u!!!! U'll BURN in gehenim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Things have to change in the way Satmar does things but the aforementioned article has some truth to it.The girl started to threaten Weberman after she told her father of her illicit relationship with the young man.She threatened her dad as well.If that isn't vindictive I don't know what is.There were other ways of handling it.If you need to go to the cops do it.But going to the press is a huge Chillul Hashem.

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  13. The only one that will burn is u. We have to protect all of our children not only the ones you see fit too!!! Just put weberman away and throw away the keys. Let their be justice in jail he can create a vaad ha tzneus in jail and monitor how thick everyone's tights are!! I don't care if he has 20 children he distroyed children entrusted to him by their parents. May Hasem judge him. Meantime he will be in hell right here on earth.

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    1. sorry, didnt see name as option.

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    2. Fine.I think he got what he deserved because he is a moser that got masered.But people in Satmar who are involved with Bikur Cholim,soup kitchens,chesed,etc. did not deserve this.The innocent nieces who got kicked out of school didn't deserve this.The implications are broader than this one girl.It is her family members,her community the honor of Torah Jewry.We need to find alternatives but ones that are effective and just.

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