Hella Winston and Abuse in Ultra-Orthodoxy

Hella Winston has written an article for Lilith Magazine on child sexual abuse in the haredi world. JewishSurvivors has it on the web, or you can download a PDF of the piece from Lilth by clicking here.

I haven’t read it yet so I’ll pontificate a bit later.

Lilith also has a PDF card from the New York Federation for rabbis on how to spot and deal with abuse  and family violence in their communites. Download here.

UPDATE– Here’s the money quote from Hella’s piece (which mentions this blog, by the way):

…While the outside world responds to such reports with shock, there is no denying the role played by the larger society in enabling this state of affairs. In the name of deeply held American commitments to religious freedom, these communities have been allowed to flourish with little outside oversight.

A combination of ignorance and nostalgia often makes these very stringently observant and closed communities immune to serious scrutiny by fellow citizens—particularly liberal Jews who may idealize or romanticize this way of life, or politicians who appreciate the fact that ultra-Orthodox leaders can and do deliver votes in a bloc.

Unlike their public-school counterparts, administrators in ultra-Orthodox schools and other non-public schools are not required to run background checks on teachers, and because clergy are exempt from being mandated reporters, ultra-Orthodox teachers (most of whom are rabbis, at least in boys’ schools) are not legally required to report suspected cases of abuse. And where distortions of Jewish law and custom may be invoked to prevent people from taking legal action, and educational options are limited, there may be little motivation for self-policing, aside from the obvious: the health and welfare of young people. Instead, this past August, a few months after the original magazine article appeared, the teacher accused of sexual molestation was spotted escorting young campers to a water park in Connecticut, and a reliable source told me that he has since been soliciting parents to sign their children up for a similar outing next summer. At Rosh Hashanah, he was also reportedly asked to blow the shofar in his shul, an honor accorded only the most respected members of the community. One can only imagine how his victims must feel about that.

A great piece. Too bad haredi leadership won’t pay attention.



Filed under Crime, Haredim, Mikva Abuse

2 responses to “Hella Winston and Abuse in Ultra-Orthodoxy

  1. you are cited in the article 🙂

  2. liberal Jews who may idealize or romanticize this way of life – …What I call FOTR-nostalgia.

    A crappy poem by Sholom

    Fuck the mother, the father, the daughter, the son
    I’m going to Kiev and I’m taking my gun
    A rendition
    Of servile submission
    It’s a social condition
    With roots in superstition
    I don’t ask for permission
    To mount opposition

    politicians who appreciate the fact that ultra-Orthodox leaders can and do deliver votes in a bloc. – Gut gezokt, Hella.

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