Bloggers, MeToo, the CVA and the Ultra-Orthodox Community’s Sex Abuse Crisis that is too Widespread to Ignore

The Ultra-Orthodox Community’s Sex Abuse Crisis Has Finally Reached a Tipping Point

By Hella Winston; illustrated by Hunter French

Thanks to a new law, one of the most secretive and isolated subcultures in the United States is facing possible exposure.

Fourteen years ago, an anonymous blogger calling himself Un-Orthodox Jew (UOJ) lit a fuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world when he began posting sexual abuse allegations concerning a Brooklyn yeshiva teacher named Yehuda Kolko. As the blog’s hit counter climbed into the hundreds of thousands and the comments piled up, it became clear to anyone reading that Kolko’s alleged behavior spanned several decades and was not exactly a secret in his community. It had even been the subject of an inquiry by a religious court in the 1980s, a proceeding that reportedly was derailed by threats made by the head of the yeshiva where Kolko taught to the dozen or so people who had come forward to give testimony. (Among ultra-orthodox Jews, going to the police to “inform” (mesira) on another Jew was and largely remains taboo and can result in ostracization or worse.)

But until that day in 2005, nobody had ever discussed the details of the saga in a public forum.

One of the early comments on the blog came from a reader named David, who wrote, “I too was molested by Rabbi Yidi Kolko, both while a student in 7th and 8th grades… and during those same summers whilst a camper in Camp Agudah.” His full name, he would later reveal, was David Framowitz, and for some time he had been obsessively searching the internet for any mention of Kolko. Before closing his initial comment, he wrote, “It is about time that the wall of silence be torn down.”

Thanks to a law that took effect last month, Framowitz’s hope may finally be realized.

Early this year, in the wake of the explosion of the MeToo movement and a cascade of abuse allegations leveled against institutions from Hollywood to the Catholic Church, New York passed the Child Victims Act (CVA). In addition to extending the statute of limitations for civil suits and criminal charges, the law allows a survivor of child sex abuse to file a lawsuit within a one-year period that began on August 14, no matter their current age. The so-called “look-back window” is key when it comes to cases involving the ultra-Orthodox world because those most likely to sue are people who are no longer in the community and subject to pressure or intimidation by its members, which often means they are much older than the prior limit on child sex abuse cases: between the ages of 21 and 23.

According to Frum Follies blogger Yerachmiel Lopin, who writes about sex abuse in the Orthodox Jewish world and says he has been in contact with more than 100 abuse survivors over the past 10 years, fear of retaliation and becoming a social pariah deters many “inside the [Ultra-Orthodox] community who want to publicly expose abusers and have them face legal consequences.”

“An Orthodox Jew needs to live within walking distance of a synagogue,” he said. “There is no getting away from the ties, and the risks of having their children expelled from schools, losing their jobs, and being shunned by their neighbors and relatives. Even moving to another country doesn’t get you away, because the networks are international.”

Legal obstacles proved insurmountable during the initial push to expose Kolko. None of the victims appeared to be within New York’s statute of limitations to press criminal charges (before the victim’s 23rd birthday) or file civil suits (before 21 to sue an institution and before age 23 to sue a perpetrator). The activists did recruit a lawyer willing to take a gamble on a legal theory arguing that a climate rife with “concealment, intimidation, and misrepresentations” had prevented the victims from filing timely lawsuits. The attorney initially filed a lawsuit on behalf of two victims against Kolko and the yeshiva where he had taught for more than 30 years (other suits were subsequently filed).

 

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A Financial Request for Help – Protection First Amendment, Free Speech, Privacy and the Right to Blog Anonymously

gf.me/u/mvgfpb

 

LostMessiah and Julie Globus Financial Assistance.

To our worldwide audience which has supported our endeavors for 2 and one-half years. We need your help. You have heard enough about a lawsuit. The following is the GoFundMe information.

https://www.gofundme.com/free-speech-lostmessiah-and-jg?pc=fb_co_shareflow_w&rcid=r01-153946255393-ca98a7bb0cca4f47

 

 

 

 

Withholding Proper Education – A Form of Hostage Taking

How Best to Control Free Thought Within a Community? Don’t Teach, Force Poverty and Create Reliance….

“Look to the Talmud again: “What are the three traits of this nation? They have compassion, they have a conscience and they enjoy acts of kindness.” Jews pride themselves in their intellectual powers, as well. Not an unreasonable pride, given the track record.”

LostMessiah, March 27, 2016
[note to Shmayra Rosenberg, we are all aware that the new FailedMessiah is not yours, does not reflect your thinking or what you had hoped to accomplish, but is anything but. You did good over your years of working to uncover the misdeeds within a community. Your voice is lost, but not forgotten.]

The reasons that there exist a whole sector of thought based upon Rabbinic law is knowledge, teaching, understanding. The whole reason why so much of the great learning comes out of the Jewish society was a work ethic that carried from pre-War Jews (religious and secular) to post-War Jews, outside of the new wave of ultra-Orthodox communities.

Poking fun at the crimes within a society, based in large part upon money stolen from children, had E-rate funds been used to teach there indeed, would have been no fraud. Being able to express a brazen contempt not only for law but for the education of a community is anything but Talmudic. It is not conscience and acts of kindness. It is disgusting and it would seem that FailedMessiah found that behavior expressed in a Purim holiday satire appropriate:

After being rocked by hundreds of FBI agents visiting a number of Yeshivas and homes in Monsey and Munroe in NY, searching for documents and evidence of questionable activities, a group of prominent Rebbe’s , Rabbis and Administrators affiliated with the Yeshivas, allegedly caught up in the (non-existent) computer scandal, met and made the following proposals, among many other pressing communal issues:

There is no prescription in Torah Law or Talmudic/Kaballistic notions, Rabbinical teachings of history and the Mishnah and Gemorrah that demands, or even suggests that children are to be educated ONLY in Torah. That they are to be taught Torah study and thereby forced reliance on others for subsistence. In fact, as has been stated many times on these pages, the 3 tenets of Jewish law are “Avodah”- work “tezedukkah” – charity and “acts of kindness”

Pre-war ultra-Orthodox Jews (and by association all Jews) were deemed to be the threats to society, not because they looked different but because they not only were devout in their beliefs (in G-d), making them almost moral to a fault; but also were WELL EDUCATED. Pre-war Jews in Galicia, Viznitz, Lodz, Bellarus, Besserable, Amsterdam, Berlin, etc. were financiers, experts in art, diamond dealers, Jewelry makers, mathemeticians, teachers and they were.. VERY WELL EDUCATED.

Some experts in pre-War history will tell you that ultra-Orthodox Jews of the time did not suffer from, nor were they accused of deplorable behavior of many in the Jewish community of today, (think today’s child molestation, abuse, E-Rate Fraud, Hanging dolls appearing like black men in effigy and the list goes on and on) that created pre-war hatred. They had a moral conscience that the ultra-Orthodox community (represented by the words of FailedMessiah’s current satire) is clearly lacking. There is an admitted moral bankruptcy.

The deplorable behavior of many in the ultra-Orthodox community, enshrouded in secrecy for years, is finally being exposed. But the behavior, not the admission of it outside of the community, is creating post-war hatred and on scales that may ultimately exceed that of Hitler’s Nazi regime, with consequence far worse than before.

And yet, somewhere in the collective psyches of those poorly behaved within the Jewish community, an admission of computers and internet as forbidden within the community is intended to provide humor. It only proves the commission of fraud and the brazenness of the sense of entitled to commit such acts.

While the schools were accepting e-Rate funding to purchase computers and internet, funding intended to provide low income schools with a source for education (something clearly contrary to the control of the community), FailedMessiah.com in its satire admits otherwise, and seems to try to elicit humor in that admission:

  1. Any of the many forbidden cell phones, I-pads etc., should be donated to Administrators and Rebbe’s Gaboim to help keep the ruse alive, and help warn of impending FBI raids.

  2. It is imperative that Travel agents are to give priority service to those individuals with questionable activities, who wish to skip the country…In keeping with long-standing tradition, the wise men could not come to an agreement on most things, but said that they were prepared to revisit the blanket Issur of owning IPhones, computers, and the use on non-Jewish photographers on Shabbos.

Before the war, the Jewish community was self-sufficient, as well. This was a huge threat to all of the countries in which the communities flourished because self-reliance created power.

That is not true of today. Today, ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, like the ones mentioned in FailedMessiah’s current article, are not only heavily reliant upon social services (including the commission of fraud of those services), in the US, in Israel and in many other countries; but with the exception of their leaders, like as an example Rabbi Twersky, the people are largely impoverished. That poverty has had two separate and equally significant consequences. First, reliance upon foreigners for subsistence has forced the masses to rely on the Rabbis, allowed a system of internal controls which keep a society at the mercy of its leaders and has allowed sites like the new version of LostMessiah to find humor in the misdeeds of its communities; and second has created a simply unsustainable economic hardship on every country in which the social services are exploited and there is a growing resentment by secular Jews and non-Jews who see this as unacceptable. The whole situation breeds hatred and mistrust.

Latvia has recognized this problem and is making attempts to create self-sufficiency amongst the Jewish community that is there post-war.

 From an article in The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, entitled “Latvian law would return Jewish properties”, from 2006:

Solomon Bukingolts, a Jewish economic adviser to the Latvian president, said the issue is being resolved “according to fair and mutually respectable principles.” Suharenko was optimistic about the outcome, calling the attitude of the Cabinet members involved in the drafting “well-intentioned and constructive.” Since the proposal still being drafted, neither the list of the claimed properties nor the estimated value of the restitution is being disclosed. At the moment, Latvia’s Jewish community heavily relies on financial aid from international Jewish organizations for survival — the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Chabad are two of its biggest sponsors. But that may change. If the process is successful, the community plans to establish a trust fund overseen by a board of Jewish organizations to manage to the assets of the restitution, which may be in the tens of millions of dollars. “The Jewish community in Latvia has been on its way to self-sufficiency. If the restitution process goes as planned, the community will be able to fully support itself and also help other Jewish communities,” said Andres Spokoiny, the Paris-based JDC country director for the Baltic states.”

The success of that endeavor remains in question but at least there was a recognition, by both the Jewish community and the Latvian government that self-sufficiency is both necessary and an ultimate goal.

In today’s ultra-Orthodox communities, children are not appropriately taught the subjects that would allow them freedom from subsistence and help both their communities and other.Women are forbidden to drive, because driving would allow them a world view that they are being denied. The humor of the new FailedMessiah, the idea that women drivers (except for baby carriages) is so off the charts it is funny, is in itself contrary to Torah teachings wherein women are supposed to be the key to family and success, the free thinkers. How can a woman raise her children, think freely, be the second set of eyes without a means of feeding them? 

To all women within that society, by keeping you chained to babies beyond the capacity of your collective uteruses, and by keeping you attached to baby strollers, your work place in society, is not only in itself a “chilul Hashem” (curse on G-d) (a favorite term in within the hostage keepers  of the Hassidic Community) but is keeping you hostage:

I quote from the words of Diversified Holdings, FailedMessiah’s new ownership:

Regarding the issue of women driving moving and mechanized four wheel vehicles
(With the exception of Baby carriages), a committee will be set up to review the issue of driverless vehicles, and if there is any way to charge uses for a Hechsher on such vehicles. A proposal was put forward to give a Heter for women to drive luxury vehicles on condition their vehicle carry an additional insurance sticker against Ayin Haro, which will be provided upon the payment of a Rebbe Gelt fee, still to determined.

By not teaching, by not exposing children to the outside world, the Rabbis in communities like Twersky’s New Square and the Satmar of KJ, and the Belz of Israel, the community is held hostage to what little it knows. In our view, while not expressed in terms of violence and mass suicide bombings, there is little difference between this way of holding your wives and children hostage than that of the Imam in the fundamentalist Islamic communities.

When, FailedMessiah, Diversified Holdings, EruvRav are you going to start insisting that women be adorned in burkas, with only their eyes to be seen? Will that be your next satire?