Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Child Molesters and Those Who Protect Them, Cannot Be Called Religious Jews

May 18, 2012 7:58 pm 11 comments

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.

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.

11 Comments

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →