Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do Not Stand Idly By

There is a tendency within human nature to protect those with whom we ideologically agree, even when those same people engage in questionable conduct. By the same token, when people with whom we strongly disagree are found to have done terrible things, we often jump at the opportunity to express our rage. Currently, there are cases coming to light of more rabbis physically and sexually abusing children. Just do a quick search on any major Jewish news site and you can discover for yourself. Whether you are a member of the perpetrator's denomination or not, this is beyond a case of questionable conduct - it is evil. And it has led to terribly tragic results, with at least one victim recently committing suicide.

There should be two primary areas of focus:

1) Apprehending and prosecuting the person who committed the act - so that the abuse stops

2) Providing comfort and therapy for the victims - so that the kids have a way to deal with the trauma

This isn't about proving that orthodox rabbis (or other people in positions of authority, for that matter) have a proclivity to engage in sexual abuse. It's about rooting out pedophiles, wherever they are and whoever they may be. And it means something for both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews: Orthodox Jews must have the courage to report any abusers in their community to the police; non-Orthodox Jews must do the same and not feel vindicated that this has occurred in more religious circles. Bad apples exist in all religious groups and they must be dealt with accordingly.

Of course, we have to make sure that the allegations are true to the best of our knowledge. But if there is mounting evidence, it must be looked at seriously. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: "The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict." Do not stand idly by if you sense that this may be transpiring in your own community. Do you think God cares more about preventing the arrest of an "orthodox rabbi" or protecting children against an evil perpetrator? It's a rhetorical question.

We have to use common sense. We have to protect children. We have to fight evil.

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