Opinion: In Which The Jewish Community Gives Cover To A Child Molester – Again


February 20, 2018

By Bethany Mandel

Almost exactly two years ago, I basically left my local Jewish community. I removed myself from every Facebook group and stopped attending local events, playgroups and more. The reason? A local rabbi, Aryeh Goodman, had been released from prison, after he served time for inappropriately touching a minor while working at a summer camp in 2001.

But it wasn’t Goodman who made me remove myself from my community. It was the community’s response.

When I posted about his release in Facebook groups in order to warn fellow parents, I was asked by several members of the community to remove the post. In groups where I was not an administrator, the post was deleted without my consent.

I was utterly horrified by how many members of the community downplayed the abuse he perpetrated (one message: “he didn’t actually molest him”) and tried to hide the abuse he committed, supposedly in order to protect his wife who runs a local preschool and his parents who run the Chabad at nearby Rutgers University from the shame of his actions.

I argued then that their shame should come from his actions, not the fact that they have been publicized, and that we have a moral and religious imperative to warn parents of a convicted predator in our midst. At the time that he was arrested, he was director of Chabad of East Brunswick (Chabad denies any affiliation with him), which focuses on educating children. He was charged with 12 counts of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old, which took place 12 years earlier when he was a camp counselor in Pennsylvania.

Goodman served his time and was released two years ago. But this week, my warnings about the likelihood of the rabbi offending again were confirmed. He was caught with a child in an illegal sex act — again.

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