Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Charedi Leadership Declares Moral Bankruptcy in the wake of the Walder Tragedy


First a note from DIN:
Walder did not commit murder because he was shamed by journalists or Rabbis Silman & Rabbi Eliyahu.
 It was on Sunday that the news broke that the police were investigating the allegations.
Why all of a sudden did he decide to murder himself- only after there was a threat of real consequences? 
Because he could live under the shadow of mere suspicion. There would still be support from fans who would have been hopeful that the accusations were false. His books wouldn't have been banned but at the worst remain in sequestered limbo. And while there would be no career, there would be no jail time. (Consider how a deal was made for another predator to avoid police involvement.)

All that changed on Sunday. It was the police investigation, not the rabbis or the press.

Now from The Rationalist Judaism Blog

As is well known, recently the immensely popular Israeli charedi author, Chaim Walder, was exposed by two extremely responsible journalists as having taken advantage of at least two women. Subsequently, it emerged that Walder - head of the Center for Child and Family in Bnei Brak - had taken advantage of his status to assault many women, girls and boys. A Beit Din in Safed led by Rav Shmuel Eliyahu heard testimony from twenty-two people - victims, rabbis and therapists - about a pattern of assault which had been going on for twenty-five years. And, if you know anything about such things, it's obvious that for every victim who testifies, there are countless more who prefer to remain silent. Walder himself heatedly denied all the allegations, but the overwhelming weight of testimony from such a wide range of people (along with recordings of Walder himself admitting to adultery) made it perfectly clear that he was guilty. He emerged as a horrific serial predator, ruining countless lives.

Now, every community has its monsters. Religious Zionism had its Motti Elon, Centrist/ Modern Orthodoxy had its Baruch Lanner, the US had its Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, the UK had its Jimmy Saville. There's nothing indicting of the charedi community for it, too, to have its share of such predators. And initially, the response was encouraging. Eichlers announced that they would no longer be selling his books. Yated Neeman, for which Walder had written a column for many years, immediately dropped him. Radio Kol Chai, on which Walder had a regular show, also dropped him.

And then Walder shot himself. And suddenly, everything changed. 

The charedi websites Kikar Shabbos and Bechadrei Charedim posted obituaries for Walder which praised him glowingly. Yated Ne'eman ran a prominent obituary which instead of stating Shem Resha'im Yirkav, stated Zecher Tzaddik Livracha!

But it gets even worse.

At Walder's funeral, a hesped was delivered by the head of the immensely respected organization Ezer MiTziyon.

Another hesped was delivered by no less a person than the mayor of Bnei Brak.

At the shiva house, the mourners were honored with a visit by none other than the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav David Lau. (Yes, the family are also victims - but he didn't honor the other victims with a visit!)

But it gets even worse.

Rav Gershon Edelstein - one of the most respected rabbinic leaders in the Litvishe charedi world - issued a statement that all the people involved in making statements and issuing condemnations of Walder are guilty of publicly shaming him, and said that this is a worse crime than forbidden relations.

But it gets even worse.  

Rav Edelstein further declared that all these people forced him to commit suicide, and are therefore also guilty of murder.

The message to all victims of sexual abuse in the charedi community, and to all those trying to help them, is clear. Shut Up. The predator may be hurting people, but it's much worse to shame him, and you could even end up being guilty of murdering an important, respected member of the community.

The message to predators is also clear. We've Got Your Back. It's already very difficult for any victim of abuse to speak up, and we will try to make it as difficult as possible.

The charedi leadership has declared itself to be utterly, terribly, morally bankrupt. If you are in any way associated with that community, then you either publicly protest it, or you are effectively complicit.



Lebidik Yankel said...

Rabbi Edelstein's words are misinterpreted. He said that Waldman is a monster, but kids will have a hard time processing that, so instead focus on what embarrassment can cause a person to do. Read his words again, and you will see what he is saying.

Filthydelphia said...

A YUnik rabbi named Elchanan Poupko says this nonsense was written by Sholom Kaminetzky. It sounds a lot like Gilligan Student's nonsense when Gilligan contradicted himself about the "necessary but assur" (sic) exposing of pedophile Yudi Kolko. Gilligan was publicly flogged over it at the time.

What does Sholom need to think over exactly? Maybe that criticizing Walder as a rasha lacking remorse is the same description to a tee of Sholom himself with his father ol' Samuel in their play for pay mamzerus scandal.