Jun 29, 2009

Response to Rosenblum

The Jerusalem Post has printed another article in their series on RBS abuse cases. This article is a response to the Jonathan Rosenblum article.

I am a bit surprised that the Jerusalem Post published an anonymous article - I did not know newspapers did that. Unless of course the writers name is actually "Name Witheld"....

Some features of the response:

Rosenblum mentions the work of Lema'an Achai only in connection with the Gush Katif refugees and those from the North. This gives the impression it is a narrowly National Religious organization. That is not true.

Lema'an Achai is a tzedaka and hesed organization that serves the entire Ramat Beit Shemesh community (not only the refugees from Gush Katif and the North). Most of the families helped by Lema'an Achai are haredi (despite the fact that several leading haredi rabbis do not encourage supporting Lema'an Achai.) So its head, David Morris, certainly has no anti-haredi agenda. Most of the community - haredi and nonharedi - supports Morris's efforts.
Rosenblum refers to the case against the heder rebbe being closed (the police decided not to pursue further investigation), and that this was not the outcome Morris wanted. Rosenblum misses the point entirely.

The case was closed due to lack of sufficient evidence to indict and prosecute, which often happens in cases in which the primary claimants are minors - as Rosenblum, a lawyer, should know. The facts in that particular case are very disturbing (there is more than one complaint against that particular rebbe), and yet he is presently teaching young children in the same position he held previously - with the agreement of some (not all) of the haredi rabbis in the neighborhood. This is exactly the problem on which the original Jerusalem Post news story focused, and this is exactly the indifference that many haredi and non-haredi residents alike are concerned about.

Rosenblum highlights the fact that Morris is not professionally trained. Morris is not a professional, nor does he claim to be. However, his organization has many professionals on staff, and he consults them on all these issues. Rosenblum knows this, and it's very unclear why he chose to give a different impression.

ROSENBLUM IS CORRECT that the Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhood is generally well educated, etc. However, many residents feel that the rabbis are "behind" the community on this issue. That was exactly the point of the original article. Rosenblum himself points out that the haredi community in general has begun to approach this issue more aggressively.

That is particularly true in the US and to a lesser degree in Jerusalem. The Ramat Beit Shemesh haredi community lags behind in this area - though since the original article was published, public awareness has been raised.


ROSENBLUM PITS Morris against the rabbis. Yet Morris consults with rabbinic leadership consistently, and several rabbis in the neighborhood fully support his efforts to raise awareness on this issue. Rosenblum could have easily checked this out. Why didn't he ask Morris for comment? Had he spoken to him, he would have realized that there is no antiharedi agenda coming from Morris. The agenda is to raise awareness and spark more action, and that is exactly what is happening.

Rosenblum puts words in the mouth of Morris to paint him in a negative light. For example, Morris never used the word haredi or epidemic.

Morris is out to raise awareness, do hesed and help protect our children. He has done, and in this case is doing, a great job. Most Ramat Beit Shemesh people think it's crazy that Rosenblum turned him into the "antiharedi" bad guy.

Lema'an Achai is not the antiharedi bad guy either. As mentioned above, most of the families Lema'an Achai has been helping (some for years) have been haredi. Furthermore, some (maybe many, I don't know the exact number) of its leading administrators, social workers, therapists and counselors are haredi themselves.

Unfortunately, this and the other examples show that Rosenblum was writing a knee-jerk bashing of a nonharedi person and organization who had the strength to point out a weakness in the Beit Shemesh community. Rosenblum owes Morris and Lema'an Achai a major apology.

ROSENBLUM WRITES, "In addition, publicity can lead to hysteria in which parents become convinced that their children are at great risk in school. (In fact, more abuse takes place within families or involves older children as perpetrators.)" This line completely baffles me. Is Rosenblum saying that since most abuse takes place at home, we should be less careful and less concerned about abuse in school? Is that how he would (not) react if he heard about abuse in his own child's school?


Rosenblum's own column closes with a call for more education and public lectures in the areas of parent/child communication and abuse.

Awareness has been raised and people are asking good questions and encouraging more action. Even Rosenblum's way-off-the-mark piece is part of the solution. Thank you David Morris for being the catalyst.


  1. I don't think that Rosenblum's nasty hatchet job on David Morris did the rabbonim of RBS any favors.

  2. Tzedek Tzdedek TirdofJune 29, 2009 1:04 PM

    Kol HaKavod to this writer for setting the record straight.

    Lema'an Achai and David Morris are pillars of RBS and I for one (and I hope that there are many others) am tired of them being bashed, excluded and not supported by elements in our community.

    The same rabbonim who tell their flock not to give to Lema'an Acahi should tell the same flock not to take either.

  3. The article said:
    "despite the fact that several leading haredi rabbis do not encourage supporting Lema'an Achai".

    What does this mean? Do these so called "rabbis" actually tell their "sheeple" not to give to the efforts of Lema'an Achai?

    And who are these "rabbis"? i would like to know so that I can in turn boycott their projects.

  4. Rafi - the probable reason that the writer of this excellent setting-the-record-straight article requested and was granted anonymity by the JPost - is that he is a charedi RBS resident, who is therefore justifiably fearful of the consequences on him and his family for coming out in open support of David Morris & Lema'an Achai.

    Others involved in bringing to light these recent episodes of child abuse have been threatened, denigrated and ostracized.

    Not everyone is as courageous as David Morris to publicly put his name behind a criticism of the way abuse cases have been handled in RBS.

    It is sad testimony to the mafia environment which operates behind the scenes in RBS, that the writer *needed* to ask for anonymity.

  5. Recommended readingJune 29, 2009 1:49 PM

    Well done Rafi for posting this.

    I recommend bloggers also read the full article on the link Rafi provides (RBS abuse cases) - it is well worth reading.

  6. "who is therefore justifiably fearful of the consequences on him and his family for coming out in open support of David Morris & Lema'an Achai."

    I wonder if Anglo Charedi, Chardal and Leumi "niks" have to be fearful for reprecussions when supporting Kupa, Hakshiva and Ezrat Achim.

    What is our world coming to?

  7. The following practices are Hereby Declared Unacceptable (Zero Tolerance) in Ramat Bet Shemesh:

    1. Inappropriate touching and other abusive interactions between adults and children, and between children and children.
    2. Zilzul of complaints of child abuse, such as encouraging parents not to believe their children.
    3. Applying pressure to the plaintives not to report to the authorities.
    4. Harassment and threats against plaintives and their families.
    5. Directing plaintives to inadequately qualified therapists or to those who operate against the Child Protection Legislation of Israel.
    6. Directing plaintives to a Vaad Tznius or to other unauthorised investigative channels.
    7. Pressuring alleged perpetrators to leave the community.
    8. Encouraging alleged perpetrators to remain in positions where they have access to their alleged victims, or to other potential victims.
    9. Discouraging the general public or any professional from complying with Child Protection Legislation.

    If your school, rabbi, friend or neighbor promote any of these discredited practices, then keep your kids and yourself well away from them.

  8. can someone please confirm-

    Is L.A. banned from Beis Tefilla or not?

  9. no ban has been announced. why do you think there is a ban? because you hear d arumor?

  10. Dear Declaration,
    After Rav Malinowitz's "talk" to the women of Beis Tefilla, I suggest that you send this list directly to him.
    The good news is that enough people in the shul have finally realised who he is and what his agenda is and are starting to speak up.

  11. Kudos to the courageous person who chose to respond to Rosenblum and tell the truth, despite the obvious innability to reveal his or her ID. (See Tzedek's response)
    The Chareidim in RBS must stand up against any attempt to marginalize or organizations like L'maaan Achai. They are doing amazing work- literally saving tons of (Chareidi) lives. Does one have to lose their ability to think just because they have moved to Israel? We all are aware of the great job of ALL the chessed organizations. It is time to say enough to the attempts to demonize those people not exactly like ourselves, or those who may have a diiferent approach. When will ahavas yisroel be the defining catalyst? We cannot let ANY Rav in our beloved community lead us down the well our meaning path towards disharmony.
    Thank- you Rafi, for bringing the issues that are facing our community to light. Our Rabbonim have NOT been keeping us informed- someone needs to.
    Enough Already

  12. You'll never KnowJune 30, 2009 8:22 AM

    "no ban has been announced. why do you think there is a ban? because you hear d arumor?"

    Perhaps someone should hang a Lema'an Achai poster in BTYA and see what happens.

  13. Anonymous said: "After Rav Malinowitz's "talk" to the women of Beis Tefilla, I suggest that you send this list directly to him."

    You're welcome to do this - also perhaps to the BTYA shul list...


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