by Simone Weichselbaum (NY Daily News)
November 17th 2008
A Brooklyn Rabbi who has been outspoken about child molestation in the city's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community said yesterday he's been targeted with death threats.
Nuchem (Nathan) Rosenberg, 58, complained outside the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg that cops have ignored his pleas for help since the summer.
The threats were so frightening, Rosenberg said, that he closed down a hotline he had set up in February 2007 for victims of abuse.
"And I am still afraid for my life, even though the hotline is closed, because they are still after me," Rosenberg said.
The NYPD confirmed that Rosenberg has gone to cops three times since July but said there is little they can do.
The threats came after a rabbinical decree, in the form of flyers written in Hebrew, popped up across Williamsburg in August calling him a liar, Rosenberg said.
"If you see him, scream [dirty Jew], [evil person], [immoral] & spit on him," read one text message sent to Rosenberg's phone.
Death threats came in calls to his cell phone, he said.
Sexual abuse in the Hasidic community is rarely discussed and not commonly prosecuted in secular courts.
In one unusual case, Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a teacher at Brooklyn's Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, was charged with sexual abuse in 2006. He ultimately pleaded guilty to child endangerment.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has recently begun collecting his own stories of pedophilia in the ultra-Orthodox world and claims he has "hundreds" of complaints against rabbis and other Orthodox leaders.
In September, a psychologist stepped down from a task force that Hikind formed to explore the problem, saying he had been threatened. "I was prosecuted in the street for daring to join such a venture," Dr. Benzion Twerski told Jewish Week.
"We all live here in prison," Rosenberg said. "We can't talk about what is bothering us."