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."…