Rabbi Avi Shafran On Abuse And Blogs

The JTA reports:

"[The Awareness Center]´s site is very valuable," said Rabbi Yosef Blau, religious adviser at Yeshiva University and a vocal advocate for victims of rabbinic sexual abuse and other forms of sexual misconduct. "Since you can´t get people arrested and there are no court cases, you have to use a standard that´s reasonable and [disclosure] works in that context."

The Awareness Center´s outing of alleged and confirmed abusers has inspired an army of Jewish bloggers eager to discuss the topic. Their anonymous postings appear on Web sites such as the Unorthodox Jew, the Canonist, Jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com and Lukeford.net.

"In the Orthodox community it is much harder to be heard, so people go online instead of going to police and the rabbi," said a woman now living in Israel who reported being abused as a child by her father, an American rabbi who is principal of an Orthodox school on the Eastern seaboard. "The blogs are safe for survivors."

The Awareness Center and the bloggers not only have brought this sensitive subject to the attention of a wide audience, they have also stirred up considerable controversy over issues of fairness, attribution and transparency.

"The blogorai, as I call it, is the new way of making irresponsible accusations," charged Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the fervently Orthodox advocacy organization Agudath Israel. "Using a blog is a very easy and effective way of casting aspersions on people."

Blau said blogs are a mixed blessing.

"Since they are anonymous, they can say almost anything," he said. "On the other hand, until the community is more willing to deal with issues, I can understand why writers won´t reveal their identity."…

Yup. All those allegations against Rabbi Yehuda Kolko are, in the mind of Rabbi Avi Shafran, "irresponsible accusations." What a sleaze.

And then, in a related JTA piece published today, this:

…Mark Dratch, a modern Orthodox rabbi who chairs the Rabbinical Council of America´s Task Force on Rabbinic Improprieties, said that if the beit din "is used to make the community safer, that´s appropriate. If that relationship is used to bypass the justice system, I think that´s wrong, particularly in cases of suspected criminal activity.

"The problem in the ultra-Orthodox community is people go to the beit din and not to civil authorities. There is a very complicated relationship between rabbis and civil authorities," he said. "It doesn´t always work appropriately."

Dratch, who now directs JSafe, a nonprofit organization addressing abuse in the Jewish community, said he has "pleaded with members of Agudah to expose the dangers of clerical and familial abuse. I said if you don´t expose, victims have no place to turn."

Agudath Israel has not promulgated anti-abuse policies for its affiliated congregations, Shafran conceded, "nor have there been complaints" of sexual misconduct at Agudath Israel-affiliated congregations. But he added, "I wouldn´t rule out that one day there would be such guidelines. The Talmud teaches us that we should stay away from even the appearance of impropriety."…

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3 Comments

Filed under Blogs, Crime, Haredim, Mikva Abuse

3 responses to “Rabbi Avi Shafran On Abuse And Blogs

  1. David M. Frost

    In fairness to Rabbi Shafran, anyone can accuse anyone else of pretty much anything on a blog.

    Not everyone accused of abusing somebody is guilty, but, alas, the accusation can stick and do a great deal of damage.

    There’s no question that any such abuse should be reported to competent authorities (and I don’t mean rabbinic authorities) and (as far as I’m concerned) punished by castration followed by public hanging. Nevertheless, I’m not convinced that trying to pursue justice on the internet is the best way to go.

  2. Yisroel

    For years the agudah israel of america and their sleazy publication the jewish observer ripped into the jewish defense league, religious zionism and modern orthodoxy (YU) and the members and leaders of those organizations.

    No one responded to their vicious attacks.

    Of course, they never attacked satmar or neturei karta.

    During the past 35 years they built up their organization while destroying anyone who didn’t fully agree with them.

    Now they know what it feels like to be attacked and vilified.

  3. frummeyid

    A while back (probably around 1986), the Jewish Observor ran a front cover with a picture of a rocket blasting into space with the ehadline “Norman Lamm, where are you…?”, implication being that Rabbi DFr Lamm was out of touch with reality (in arguing for a proactive Modern Orthodoxy). Although at the time I was a mind-numbed yeshivishe robot, I’d like to see that cover with a new headline “Avi Shafran, where are you…”

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