Why Does the Rabbinical Council of America Refuse to Protect Children from Child Molesters?
Six weeks ago, I emailed Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and published a detailed letter expressing my concern that the RCA was not doing nearly enough to protect Orthodox children from sexual assault.
The 2,000-word letter pointed out how the RCA hasn’t implemented or enforced four separate sets of child-safety resolutions that it has adopted over the last 23 years. I asked him to require that all RCA rabbis publicly prohibit from their synagogues, schools and yeshivas anyone convicted of a child sex crime. I wrote this letter in part because, in a phone call that I had with Rabbi Dratch 7 months ago, he told me that he wouldn’t commit to enforcing the RCA child protection resolutions or require rabbis to ban child sex offenders from Orthodox institutions.
He also told me in that phone call that publicizing the identities of convicted Orthodox child molesters was a “no-brainer” — yet the RCA still doesn’t do it.
I cited an essay that Rabbi Dratch wrote 10 years ago that advocates for abusive rabbis to be excommunicated and defrocked, yet the RCA, to my knowledge has never done so to an abusive rabbi.
I wrote about the RCA resolution that pledges to condemn every person involved in child sexual abuse. Yet out of more than 250 public record cases that I have posted, I can only find three of these cases mentioned on the RCA website.
I will now quote Rabbi Dratch’s response to my letter in its entirety:
Thank you for your email. We continue to work assiduously on this issue.
That was the complete response to my detailed letter. Thirteen meaningless words.
I believe that many people reading this will find Rabbi Dratch’s response to be totally inadequate. Yet he and the RCA don’t seem willing to discuss any of the above issues, let alone take long overdue action to protect our children from a lifetime of pain.
Doesn’t the executive vice president of the largest rabbinic organization in the world have an obligation to protect the children in our synagogues, schools, yeshivas, mikvahs, and summer camps from sexual abuse and harm?
I believe that thousands of parents and community members feel that they have no voice in their Orthodox communities. They see that their rabbis are unresponsive to their concerns about the need for child protection, intolerant of criticism, and unwilling to be held accountable for their lack of action. Many fear that if they speak out, they will be shamed, punished, and ostracized from their communities, as many have been who have spoken out in the past.
The writing is on the wall. Covering-up molesters, silencing victims, and ignoring their advocates is a losing strategy. Nothing good will come of it. The only question is how much more public shame, ridicule, and humiliation our rabbis are willing to bring upon themselves and the entire Jewish community before they come to that realization.
Eric Aiken is an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse and the owner of www.protectjewishkids.com. “The List” is the largest database of Orthodox child molesters in the world.