Can haredism be salvaged? I don’t think it can be and I certainly do not think it should be. After almost 40 years of abuse by Rabbi Yehuda Kolko and nearly as many years of rabbinic coverups, fraud and foolishness surrounding it; years of sexual harassment and physical violence – along with cult recruitment and retention practices – by Rabbi Yoram Aberjil and the resultant rabbinic coverups; the cases of Rabbis Bryks, Mondrowitz, Weinberg and a whole slew of other rabbis at Ner Israel in Baltimore and Toronto and their coverups; the Edah Charedis Jerusalem mikva abuse and its coverup; and more; I think the answer is a definite no – the haredi world should not be saved.
Why? Because over and over and over again, haredi rabbinic leaders make the wrong decisions: 1. Stay in Europe, do not go to America or Israel; 2. Coverup rather than deal with abuse; 3. Steal money from the government rather than encourage work; 4. Welfare fraud, Pell Grant fraud, school lunch program fraud; 5. Enabling extremists, kanaim, and thugs; 6. Honor known criminals; 7. Demonize and victimize the Other rather than learn to respect the stranger; 8. Etc., etc. etc.
Those decisions are largely self serving, meant to increase personal or communal wealth and retention in the short run. But their effects are corrosive, and the end result on the ground disastrous. A system with leadership this bad over so long a period of time cannot and should not be allowed to stand. As the old Yiddish proverb notes, The fish stinks from its head.
Haredim will do what they do. We have little control over that. But we do have impact on what our Federations do, what our communal agencies do, what our city, state and federal governments do, and what we ourselves do. Stop funding all haredi organizations, no matter how good they appear to be, no matter how many dancing rabbis or hallah bake offs they have. And make sure your Federation and your elected officials know you oppose funding for haredi controlled organizations. Starve the beast.
Also make sure to donate to Footsteps, a great organization that helps haredim who try to leave haredism. (This does not necessarily mean leave Orthodoxy, by the way, although it often does.)
In the end, the kindest thing one can do for future generations of haredim may be to help them leave.