The Jewish Week
Is there a divide in the Orthodox Rabbinate regarding preventing child sexual abuse?
In an unprecedented and crucially positive step forward, 300 Orthodox Rabbis from across the nation signed a proclamation regarding child safety in the Orthodox Jewish community. Synagogues and schools are called upon to adopt certain preventative measures outlined in the document to deter child abuse and child sexual abuse. The Rabbinic signatories consist of member Rabbis of the Orthodox Union (OU), Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and Yeshiva University (YU).
Some of the proclamation’s prominent signers include: Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beth Din, Beth Din of America, Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, RCA, Rabbi Shalom Baum, President, RCA, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO, OU Kosher, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive VP Emeritus, OU, Rabbi Marc Penner, Dean, RIETS, YU, Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, Dean Emeritus, RIETS, YU, Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer, Rabbi, Young Israel of West Hempstead, NY, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, and Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta, GA, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein.
The proclamation commences by honoring the memories of individuals in the Orthodox Jewish community who tragically committed suicide as a result of enduring child sexual abuse. The gravity of this issue is linked in the proclamation to a passage in the Torah, “Do not stand by while your fellow’s blood is being spilled” (Leviticus 19:16). Prominent signer Rabbi Hershel Billet, Rabbi, Young Israel of Woodmere, succinctly expresses the gravity of the effects of child sexual abuse, stating, “Every sexual abuser is a potential murderer. They destroy the souls of their victims and at times cause the death of their victims.”
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