Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Novominsker Rebbe publicly discusses child molesting at Aguda Conference

The following is a link to a recording of this year's Aguda Convention. Between minutes 31-35 the Novominsker Rebbe publicly announces that it is time to take the issue out from under the rug. While he places the main responsibility on parents  and does not acknowledge any responsibility of the yeshivos or community - accept to praise the Aguda and Torah uMesora for producing behavioral standards for teachers in conjunction with their lawyers and  fighting against the Markey Bill -  it is clearly a small step forward that is long overdue.

2010_Thur_Night_Session_01 - 01 - Track 1.mp3 9.55 MB


  1. I might be impressed if he was new to the issue. But he has been at it for years. As far as I know he has only met with some survivors of molesting in the last months.

    Most importantly he does not use his pulpit for the most important points: go to the police and to protective services. This was not the speech of a man committed to taking action.

  2. It was an important step, as the original poster stated. The issue about reporting is in the process of major discussion at the highest levels. The majority believe in reporting, but there are holdouts. Since any statement on this would not only be controversial but subject to challenge on halachic grounds (even though most of the Moetzes side with the psak to report), it was omitted from the public address.

    The meeting with survivors was a process that began many months ago. There were several delays in the process. One was the campaign for Grossman - death penalty in Florida. There were other issues less notorious. Finally, the meetings with survivors were part of a process that involved considerable preparation, aside from the coordination of schedules.

    Knowing the matter from the inside, and being a strong advocate myself, I will come to the defense here. The Rebbe is doing more than he gets credit for. Personally, I would prefer to see action happening faster. However, sometimes allowing the process to move at a slower speed actually insures that the outcomes are lasting rather than transient. I say this from my own feelings, as well as from the perspective of the survivors.

    Also to note is that there was a special session at the Convention on Thursday night on the subject that was overcrowded. It was factual, direct, and avoided any bashing or political positioning. Most felt it was well focused, and represented a breakthrough for the Agudah.

  3. why is the Agudah always playing catch up? they are always so reactionary instead of being proactive. Agudah needs change from the top down.

  4. The Agudah is trying to take credit for a brochure sent to summer camps. But according to askonim involved this is what actually happened:

    The Association for Jewish Camps prepared a guide for summer camp directors in 2006 outlining saftey guidelines for protecting children from abuse. Torah Umesorah claims it was mailed to all mosdos in the spring of 2006. Most summer camp directors do not remember getting that memo. Aguda and TU meet many times a year with yeshiva directors yet this supposed memo was not discussed with the staff. "Sacred Lives" a non profit organization distributed that memo along with additional material and hosted a major asifa with camp directors in 2010 that was very informative. Chaim Dovid Zweibel came to the asifa like a hero and addresed the group ........... why did it take 4 years for a struggling non profit to organize that conference while TU and Agudah who do have the resources didn't call on their friends in all yeshivas to be more aggresive in screening and conduct background checks ,,, btw do you know who helped raise the money for the summer camp meeting by Sacred Lives?

    One of us bloggers ,,,, who the Novominsker called "presumptious bloggers and picketers who think they know better then the Moetzes in the area of sex abuse" in his 2009 speech at the Agudah dinner!

  5. There's more.

    And when in 2007, Torah U'Mesorah sent out guidlines to all yeshivas, they urged them to background checks on employees. Do you know who was responsible for that? Elliot Pasik and his colleagues, not mentioned by TU or Rabbi Perlow.


  6. Does anyone know what is the appropriate way for a molester to do tshuva? Prisha, apology. Does he also have to pay money for emotional hezek?

  7. This is a question that must be asked individually of a Rav or Rebbe who has the competence to provide this guidance. The prisha aspect is the responsibility of the individual to refrain completely from such behavior, including the staying away from places where the crime can chas veshalom be repeated. The apology piece is far more complicated. Asking forgiveness is not a ritual. It requires the readiness to sincerely beg for mechila from a victim who is strong enough to receive the request. Whether the forgiveness is given is not the responsibility of the criminal. Either way, teshuvah, while a required process, does not render the individual safe, nor does it change the perception that anyone else should have of him. Teshuvah is purely bein odom lamakom, and as humans, someone else's teshuvah is frankly none of our business.

    The emotional damages is an interesting question. I am not sure that such rulings are commonly done by today's batei din.


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