by Daniel Scheide
A decade ago, it seemed as if the Catholic Church had a monopoly on sexual abuse scandals. Now, it seems that every week there is a new story about abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. After defining a wide range of types of abuse, Dr. Michael Salamon digs to the roots of the problem, examining the challenges particular to working with ultra-Orthodox victims. Salamon explores halakhic, quasi-halakhic and cultural issues that may prevent victims from reporting their abuse. He also considers the difficulties inherent for therapists in working in these communities. Important both for community leaders as well as psychologists and social workers that deal with these communities.
This review first appeared in the AJL newsletter.
by Yoel Finkleman
First, the bad news: Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse occurs in Orthodox Jewish communities.
Next, the worse news: Though there is no evidence that such abuse occurs more frequently among the Orthodox than in other populations, two recent front-page New York Times stories are just the latest piece of evidence that Orthodox communities are often in denial and worse. As publicized on the muckraking website FailedMessiah.com, rabbis and communal leaders, instead of supporting victims and punishing abusers, often seek to save the community from embarrassment and, in doing so, protect the perpetrators. If children complain of being abused, their parents may silence them. Some community leaders deny that the problem is significant. Educators charged with children’s safety discourage victims from speaking up or pressing charges. If victims and families do complain, their neighbors, claiming a religious prohibition on giving Jews up to secular authorities, harass them to prevent their going to the police. Indeed, the official policy of the Haredi organization Agudath Israel of America is that school teachers or administrators who suspect abuse must ask a rabbi before going to secular authorities, despite New York State laws that prohibit them from doing so.
In the Modern Orthodox community, things are presumably better. But Continue reading “Abuse Among the Orthodox: Bad News, Good News”