THE LETTER TO LM THAT SPARKED THIS RESPONSE…
Lost Messiah, August 8, 2016
Yesterday we received a Letter to the Editor, for our eyes only. It was written by someone in a position of power within the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox community who entrusted us with his words to vouchsafe for our eyes only. By that we are humbled. Even with the accusations that we are nothing more than “bashers” he thought better of us, somehow confident that we will not betray the confidence. For that we owe our thanks. We hope he and his colleagues are reading this and will give thought to our careful consideration of that letter, its contents and what it must have taken him to write and send along.
We must express at least a modicum of respect for the things he has done to shed light on Abuse within the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox community. If what he says is true, he has made a difference. Despite our skepticism, we cannot discount the possibility.
In the interest of ‘fairness’ for lack of a better word, the letter challenged us to use our right to freedom of the press with a level of equal coverage of the good with the bad. In the views of the author, journalistic integrity demands of us to consider that perhaps there are rumblings of change going on behind the scenes. Perhaps those in power are trying to shed light on abuse, to somehow compensate the victims, help women escape abusive marriages, catch child predators and more.
While we remain forever critical of the public persona of the ultra-Orthodox and Chabad community and what the author deems to be the need for continued secrecy, the letter raised some salient points:
Can we judge Chabad-Lubavitch by the incessant rantings of Josef Feldman and are we asking Feldman the right questions?
Can we judge a family by the brothers or sisters who have committed crimes? In other words, would it be fair to judge all of ultra-Orthodox Judaism by those members of the Wall of Shame?
Are we aware that there are those in high positions within the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox hierarchy who are trying to make changes?
Are we willing to accept that while the attempts at change are largely secretive, the reason for that is protection of the victims and not the system that victimized?
Are we aware that there are those within the highest echelons of the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox Jewish circles who are truly sorry for the abuse, who recognize it and who understand the depths at which it is impossible to appropriately compensate the victims?
Our belief, which we conveyed in a response to the author, is that in order to change a system of abuse and cover-ups, secrets enshrouded in the scrolls of the Torah and families silenced by the notion of “Mesira,” one must be a revolutionary. We do not believe that change will happen quietly, behind closed doors, in secret meetings and undercover investigations. We believe that the highest echelons of the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox leadership must begin screaming to their congregants and communities loudly, united in a specific cause: ending abuse and cover-ups, compensating victims and apologising to families.
The Chabad and ultra-Orthodox leadership must be committed to telling members of their communities that not only is reporting not “Mesira” but it is demanded of by the very beliefs they hold dear.
While we can’t help but feel that the secrecy with which the letter was posted to us is emblematic of the problem at large, we also can do nothing but thank the author for his comments. He offered apologies to the victims, something we have not seen before. He conveyed a belief that there is no method of recompense for the transgressions of the community, which we must recognize represents at least some level of commitment.
Finally, the author commented that we are asking Yosef Feldman the wrong question.
TO YOSEF FELDMAN FROM THE AUTHOR:
Are you still involved in shluchim?
TO YOSEF FELDMAN FROM OUR READERS:
Are you still recognized to do smicha? How do you define sexual abuse?
We are reposting the JCW Wall of Shame in honor of Josef Feldman, who seems unwilling to come to grips with the reality of sexual abuse, it’s meaning, it’s ramifications, it’s shame and the dire need to shed light on the subject. He admittedly makes it difficult to avoid judging all of Chabad-Lubavitch by his ravings. That is highlighted by the fact that by taking his critics to court, Feldman is ultimately capitalizing on child sexual abuse.
We have posted our opinions and questions to which Feldman promised to respond and Feldman has instead thrown fuel on the fire. We have given him ample opportunity to shed light on alleged “defamation” and he has deflected. We have given him a voice and he has used it to throw accusations rather than cold, hard facts.
So, we have posted the facts in living color. The faces on JCW’s Wall of Shame represent only a tiny number of people who are guilty of horrifying sexual abuse. The names are familiar and many took years to be added to the list, all the while continuing to commit crimes that those around them knew they were committing.
It is but the silence that allows history to repeat itself.
THE JCW WALL OF SHAME
If you touch a child inappropriately your face will be listed on this page. Your actions will bring shame to you and your family and destroy the lives of innocent children.