Jewish Press, Letters To The Editor

Intolerable Silence

May 18, 2010

Back in the Feb. 16, 2007 issue of The Jewish Press, there was a four-page article by Shlomo Greenwald titled "The End of Innocence: Confronting Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Community." The problem has continued to fester over the past three years, with new accounts of abuse appearing regularly in the media and in the courts.

While this is clearly an issue in all societies it is an embarrassment that the Orthodox rabbinate remains silent as the Catholic Church, including the pope, has begun to acknowledge the horror of clergy abuse and is making changes.

Just a few weeks ago (April 23), a Jewish Press column by Bracha Goetz, "Waking Up Is Hard To Do," described her ongoing commitment to Torah despite being hurt by the failure of rabbinical leadership to respond properly to abuse.

Different groups have come forward to confront this ongoing tragedy but those who we look up to the most - our rabbinic leaders - are absent.

May I suggest that ba'alei batim approach their synagogue rabbis, yeshiva students their roshei yeshiva, chassidim their rebbes and demand that they be leaders. The ongoing silence is intolerable. A minimal first step is to help survivors of abuse feel that their pain is acknowledged.

Rabbi Yosef Blau
New York, NY