Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Time Chaim Walder Gave My Daughter a Present


13 years ago, my then first-grader Maayan came home from school one day bubbling with excitement. Her school had hosted a celebrity guest that day, one of her favorite writers: Chaim Walder! And that hadn't been all.

My oldest daughter, then a 5th grader, told me that during his presentation, Chaim Walder had asked all the girls what they wanted to be when they grow up: "A nurse!" "A teacher!"  "A lawyer!" girls called out. And then one little girl called out, "I want to be a mother with a lot of children!"
Chaim Walder, my oldest daughter told me, got a big smile on his face: "Who said that?" he asked, "That is so wonderful! Incredible!"
And her classmates pointed out my little Maayan, whom Chaim Walder proceeded to call to the front of the auditorium, took out a copy of his book Kids Speak 3, wrote her a personal dedication, and handed it to her as a gift.

How tragic that today this story that once seemed so sweet and innocent makes me absolutely shudder from a string of impossible what-ifs. What if Walder had taken my daughter to a separate room and touched her inappropriately,  even sexually assaulted her, G-d forbid, as he did so many others over the years?
Today, my youngest child, Yoni, came home from 1st grade and told me matter of factly, "Chaim Walder committed suicide yesterday. He took a gun and shot himself by his son's grave. Because he did bad things." 
Thanks to Chaim Walder so many children, like my own, who've grow up on his books have gotten introduced to all sorts of new words over recent weeks: adultery, sexual assault, rape, and now suicide.
Which reminds me that Chaim Walder's victims weren't only the girls, women, boys and men  he took advantage of and sexually assaulted over the years. He had many other victims as well. First and foremost, his own wife whom he betrayed so many times over the years. The ex-husbands and devastated children of the married women he conducted affairs with, leaving in his wake broken homes and lives.
And I think also, on a certain level, among his victims were you and me and our children, his loyal and trusting readers. We entrusted Chaim Walder with our children's hearts and minds and souls,  And he proved himself unworthy of that trust, thus betraying us and our children. Over and over again.
And now Chaim Walder is dead. Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Blessed be the true Judge.


Anonymous said...

He wrote a story encouraging kids who experience sexual abuse to report it and hee fought to have it published.

Lebidik Yankel said...

Chaim Waldler, like us all, had darkness and light. His visit to your daughter was his true self - when he was in the light. Lets not be so binary, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

To Leibidik Yankel
You are really the "toiter eisav"

Anonymous said...

Rashi taught five year olds, even subjects which with our victorian values we feel insecure in teaching children.Teach them the holiness of marriage and respect for others so they do not grow up to be like that man.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has darkness and light. Someone who can't recognize ANY of his own darkness, doesn't deserve to have his light recognized. Not only that, he used his light to HARM others.

Either you stand for abuse or against it. Lebidik Yankel, where do you stand?