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Ultra-Orthodox Jews Systematically Intimidate Victims of Child Molestation
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The disease runs deep. In a community where to report against a fellow community member is a traitorous act, is against the ancient prohibition of mesirah which holds it is a sin to turn over a Jew to non-Jewish authorities. It is held that a public allegation against fellow Jews is chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name. So, if you happen to be a member of the 250,000 strong community of Hasidim, crying or reporting that your teenage son is being sexually abused, makes you a sinner and an outcast.

Pearl Engelman, 64-year old great-grandmother told the NYTimes of her ordeal when her son Joel told rabbinical authorities of being repeatedly groped by a school official at the United Talmudical Academy in Williamsburg. The school denied the accusation, removed the official, and then brought him back to grope others, as soon as Joel turned 23 and barred from filing charges under the state’s statutes of limitations. Engelman said, “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”

“Try living for one day with all the pain I am living with,” says Mordechai Jungreis who was kicked out of his tenancy, threatened and cursed by neighbors for turning in a fellow Jew and pressurized by Rabbis to drop the cases he filed against a fellow Jew. The accused, a supposed favorite of the Rabbis, was found molesting Jungreis’s mentally disabled teenage son. When Jungreis protested the entire community turned against him. A mother who had her child in a wheelchair proudly confronted Jungreis’s mother-in-law and said her son too was molested by the same man, but she did not turn him in, because that was the right thing to do.

  
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Abuse victims and their families are systematically expelled from their schools and synagogues and shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews. They are targeted, harassed, and their businesses destroyed.

In a case that happened in August 2009, Justice Guston L. Reichbach of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn was dumbfounded to find that the entire community including school principals and rabbis had turned out in support of Yona Weinberg, accused of molesting two boys under the age of 14. The boys had been thrown out of their schools because they had complained.

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The judge mentioned that it was evident that there was a “communal attitude that seeks to blame, indeed punish victims.” Astoundingly, he noted, out of the 90 letters he received from community leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Jews, not one displayed “any concern or any sympathy or even any acknowledgement for these young victims, which, frankly, I find shameful.”





 

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