Friday, July 5, 2013

How Lakewood prevents abuse from being reported

Jewish Week 12/06/11. “Most victims of abuse and parents in Lakewood are afraid to speak up because [they fear being threatened by rabbis],” Debbie Rudin, a victim of childhood sexual abuse who now lives in Lakewood, told The Jewish Week.

“There are many Jewish communities that are controlled by the rabbonim [rabbis] of their towns that set certain standards, whether in regards to businesses, giving kosher supervision or allowing schools to open,” said Harold (Hershel) Hershkowitz, a Lakewood businessman who ran (and lost) for the Lakewood Township Committee on an anti-cronyism platform against the BMG-backed candidate. “But all of these are controlled in an open manner well understood by all that live there,” he said. “Lakewood, on the other hand, has a cabal that controls most Jewish publications, websites and of course the political arena, in order to exert full influence whenever it is necessary in order to keep their position of influence.”[...]

Indeed, the court testimony described above affords a rare public glimpse into what New Jersey Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson characterized as Lakewood’s “parallel justice system.”

The testimony itself comes from the only sexual abuse case in memory from the Lakewood haredi community to be prosecuted — something that came about because a family flouted, at great personal cost, communal norms and pressed charges against an alleged child molester, Yosef Kolko, in 2009.[...]

In addition to information directly relevant to the Kolko case, testimony from the hearings indicates that there have been other abuse allegations apparently deemed credible by rabbis, but that nonetheless went unreported to the police.

In testimony in New Jersey Superior Court given in May of this year, Lakewood rabbi and activist Micky Rottenberg alludes to such a case, which The Jewish Week has learned involved allegations against the husband of a woman who ran a local children’s playgroup. The beit din found the allegations to be credible and publicized them, effectively shutting down the playgroup. However, the authorities were never notified and the accused remains in the community today.

In his testimony, Rabbi Rottenberg also sheds light on the beit din’s inner workings.

According to him, “[The Secretary] of the beis din [would contact] the victims … [and the] alleged perpetrator, discuss with them … beg them to do certain things. And if they don’t do it, [the secretary would say] ‘I’m going to report [to the beit din] that you don’t listen to us, and then we are going to … Take away your job. Send away your kids from schools.’ Whatever measures they would feel they have power to be able for the person to submit and accept the verdict of the beis din.”

Rabbi Rottenberg also testified that he felt the beit din favored the accusers and was in fact involved in disbanding it at the behest of Rabbi Malkiel Kotler for this reason. Rabbi Kotler, through his brother, denied making any such request. [...]


  1. I'm so glad I live in a small community, too small for "heiliger" folks like this to ever want to move to.

  2. Publishing a report from the "weak" Jew is like publishing an article from Rolling Stone with less credibility. They'll do anything to smear the Orthodox public.

  3. afraid to revealJuly 7, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    Tzoorba. Apparently you love to shoot the messenger. Tzoorba, stop fooling yourself and ask yourself the following question. What will it take for me to believe that there is a problem of thuggery and intimidation in lakewood. If the jewish week isnt good enough then tell us what source would be good enough for you to believe that there is a problem. I can tell you first hand that i was intimidated and thugged around and my kids were forced out of schools because i wouldnt give in to the thuggery. Are you not going to believe me either because you need to hear from your club members?

  4. afraid to reveal,

    I've been involved with Lakewood for a long time and Lakewood is a very large and diverse community. For the most part, the people there are ehrliche honest and decent yorei shomaim trying their best to do the ratzon of Hashem. There are also individuals of other kinds that are evil and some who are stupid and push themselves where they don't belong.

    If you faced intimidation, where did it come from? Was it associated with the officials of the Lakewood yeshiva? What was the intimidation about? There are unfortunately a bunch of wild kanoim that don't represent the Yeshiva community at all although they can cause a lot of unnecessary trouble.

    It is dead wrong to smear the entire Lakewood community for the violations done by a few losers. If you feel that this is not the case, provide some information which does not reveal who you are but would provide an insight into this.

    The weak Jew is certainly no source to take any criticism of Lakewood seriously from.

  5. afraid rto revealJuly 7, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Tzoorba. You still didnt answer the question. What source would satisfy you? Name three sources if you can.

  6. Name 3 sources about today's news that you trust.

    My 2 children that live there and/or Rabbi Forcheimer are trustworthy.

  7. afraid to revealJuly 7, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Tzoorba. Do your kids have names? Thanx for answering and thanx for letting us know how deep your head is in the kool aid pitcher.

  8. Tzoorba. You are makinga mockery of yourself and your family. You claim to be very involved in the lakewood going ons ,yet you can only provide one ravs name who you will trust. Despite that lakewood has over 10 thousand families and hundreds of rabbeim, rosh yeshivas,mechachanchim and askanim. What does that tell us about you mr . tzoorba. And what does that say about the IHR HAKODESH. (Not) of lakewood.

    1. Actually, Rabbi S, formerly of Lakewood was another Rav everyone trusted. But he was chased all the way to Detroit because he followed halachah of lo saamod instead of the dictates of the cover-up mafia.

  9. You didn't answer my questions so how do I know your whole story is not bogus? Why do you need 3 sources? Name 1 that you would trust.

    You can also add Hamodia magazine even though their news is totally leftist.

  10. restaurant ownerJuly 8, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Hh. You could not have said it any better. Tzoorba is obviously not honest with himself.

  11. Tzorba, since you know so much about Lakewood, explain the arson of the house of Mrs. Finkelstein. If it was a few thugs the community's leaders would have denounced it publicly and collected to completely make that already victimized family able to fully restore themselves.

    However, the chronic shortage of school places is a strategy of the leadership. Anyone who disagrees with the hanhalah suddenly does not get the admission for their kids in May but is made to shvitz all summer and make amends before they get the admission the day before school in the fall.

  12. I respectfully request that you remove Reb Aharon's picture from these comments. I learned under Reb Aharon and in those days things were different. First of all, nobody came to Lakewood because it was stylish, because it was not stylish. There was no money, no government programs, small chance of doing a good shidduch, and difficulty in finally getting a job. In those days there were very few Kollel people. But today, after the War on Poverty and the Viet Nam War, going to Yeshiva became popular. And that produced its own problems. I don't know if anyone can control those problems today, because the world is so different. But if Reb Aharon would be here, I am sure we would be proud of Torah.


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