by Simone Weichselbaum (NY Daily News)
April 2, 2009
Some ultra-orthodox Jewish leaders said Wednesday they don't have a lot of faith in Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes' new plans to fight sexual abuse in Hasidic neighborhoods.
Hynes launched Project Kol Tzedek - Hebrew for "Voice of Justice" - yesterday, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Jewish social agency heads who support young victims identifying their abusers.
But enthusiasm was thin across the Orthodox Jewish world.
"The secular authority deals with a different value system than ours," said Rabbi Meir Fund of Flatbush, one of the target neighborhoods set to receive heightened attention from the district attorney's office.
"I don't trust the DA to do the right thing. These people are corrupt. If he was sincere he would have done something 20 years ago," Fund said.
Hynes said he has built a strong relationship with Brooklyn's rabbinical courts since he took office in 1990 and created Kol Tzedek to push religious leaders to cooperate with police and prosecutors.
"No victim will be forced to come forward," Hynes said.
Without rabbinical support, victims said few will talk.
"You are taught that rabbis have a higher power," said one Borough Park, Brooklyn, mom who helped cops arrest a neighbor accused of molesting her 13-year-old daughter - although community heads urged her not to.
More liberal religious leaders said Hynes is doing the right thing.
"What are rabbis supposed to do, give 40 lashes?" said Rabbi Shea Hecht of Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
"Let's work with the district attorney. We don't want to ignore or fight him."
Tipsters are asked to call Kol Tzedek's new hotline at (718) 250-3000.