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May 18, 2012 7:58 pm
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Child Molesters and Those Who Protect Them, Cannot Be Called Religious Jews

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. Photo: wiki commons.

One could pray 100 times per day, don a yarmulke, tefillin and tzitzit; yet those acts exclusively wouldn’t quality someone to be called a religious Jew. In recent days, there  has been much media attention paid to so-called “orthodox” child molesters and those within their communities who have defended them. There are a slew of different labels that may be appropriate for these individuals, but religious, and orthodox, are not befitting terms.

Various news articles have charged Brooklyn prosecutors with protecting child molesters in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. “Rabbinical authorities banned relatives of the abused from reporting the crimes to non-Jewish authorities; those few who spoke out were shunned — expelled from Synagogues, their children expelled from schools — or pressured into dropping their cases,” reads a recent New York Times editorial.

This behavior is simply sickening.

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Much damage is being done to the children and their families, and Jews around the world have been shamed by these individuals. Last summer a religious Chabad court (bet din) ruled that the traditional prohibition against mesirah — turning in a Jew to non-Jewish authorities — did not apply in cases of sexually abused children. “One is forbidden to remain silent in such situations,” it declared.

Words do not exist to describe those who molest children. The fact that it happens is sickening, tearful and just horrendous and as a Jew it is infuriating to hear molesters, or those who protect them, described as “religious.” What makes a Jew or any person religious? One cannot be a religious Jew and a molester of children – I don’t care how many times a day one prays.

For me, as a 37 year old father, Jew, and as a human being, being religious first and foremost means not hurting anyone, being a good, honest, decent, person, and caring for my family and my community. Those who witness the horrors of young children being molested in schools and remain silent are not religious, nor are those who pray three times a day and then steal. They simply cannot be religious people and shouldn’t be referred to by the media as such.

I pray for the day that being a religious Jew means being an ethical person, and not simply wearing a certain garb or attending Synagogue on a regular basis.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm and an active Jewish philanthropist.

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  • salvage

    Sorry Sparky but they have kosher meals in prisons for a reason. Ones choice of theism impacts one’s character and values in no way.

    It’s cute the way theists seem to think their set of superstitions somehow makes them automatically better and thus bad people simply couldn’t share them!

    It’s a one of the many facets in the jewel of denial and delusion that is religion.

  • Teddy H.

    In response to Noah David Simon: “secular gentile courts”? This is America – and there are plenty of religious Jews in power in areas where Jews are being molested. I am more afraid of corrupt religious courts than corrupt secular courts. When it comes to child molestors, all boundaries should be down. Perhaps in the days of righteous men child molestors would be stoned and hung in the streets. Ronn Torossian is absolutely right with everything he writes here.

    • frania

      In response to Teddy..”in the days of righteous men…” What a wonderful phrase… There are some who are righteous, decent and a blessing to this world . They fight back the evil around them,many times alone, many times getting injured. They have spirit while we are afraid. For them, no matter the cost, they know what is right and what is wrong. These are the true heroes. They should go from strength to strength.

      I believe Mr. Torossian is one of them

  • Don’t confuse a few bad individuals with a bad way of life. If I were the orthodox I wouldn’t trust the secular Gentile courts for any crime. Child molesters are a horrible thing, but I would not trust outsiders to understand the extent of who and for what to prosecute. An inappropriate behavior might be wrong as well, but it is a far cry from blanket child molesters. Handing your authority over to outsiders is a bad idea.

  • Richard Levy

    Mr. Ronn Torossian: Appreciate these words and this commentary and its right on.

  • Alona Salita

    Ron, what a wonderful response to the articles that have been circulating recently. Thank you for expressing so eloquently what many Jews feel about the terrible crimes happening in Jewish communities.

  • Jonathan

    Well said. As a Shomer Shabbat Jew, I applaud you for this article.

  • Chay89

    Well expressed article but picture was unnecessary. These tragic situations can be found in any type of Jewish community. Please take it down so stereotyping can be prevented.

  • So & So

    It is sad enough that there are molesters in the Church. Are we, as Jews, no better than them to hide the fact that there are indeed cases that go by unnoticed?

    How many children’s lives have to be ruined before someone speaks out? Suicide? Outraged? Do you think for a second those that have been abused by their peers don’t think for a second that the world around them will always be out the get them?

    How is it rabbonim of large communities can allow such a thing to exist in their community? For them to be a part of their shuls, schools and community events- and be praised for it, and even promoted with in the ranks of the community! Even to be a principle of a school!

    It can be sickening to the stomach to know that people in the community who have connections to someone who has molested many, even have somewhat of a high ranking in the community.

  • frania

    Mr. Torrosian. No one could have said that better. Ethical, decent,good people. Those are the religious I knew when I came to this country.My teachers at Bais Yaakov. They left me with such a good taste for orthodoxy for the rest of my life. I am sure if they were here now, they would be applauding you for this article.

  • Lea Davidson

    Thank you for so clearly stating the real fac- clothing and rituals do not make a person religious, ethics and halachic commitment do.

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