Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis, Activists Take on Pedophilia in Public Rally


Wed Aug 9, 2017 6:11 am (PDT) . Posted by: 

"Dorron Katzin" dakatzin

*Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis, Activists Take on Pedophilia in Public Rally*

*Religious leaders take on the issue at rare public gathering in Haredi
town of Bnei Brak, dismiss rumors of ‘cult’ hunting children on street*

Aaron Rabinowitz (
795882) Aug 09, 2017 12:55 AM

• Jerusalem men held on suspicion of sexually abusing children -
• Breaking Israel's ultra-Orthodox taboo on discussing sexual abuse -

In a rare gathering that took place Saturday night in Bnei Brak,
ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) rabbis and activists spoke publicly for the first
time on the issue of pedophilia (
israel-news/.premium-1.710150) in the community, providing a glimpse into
how attackers and victims are dealt with.

The assembly was convened following a wave of rumors about a “missionary
cult” that was snatching children, sexually assaulting them, inciting them
against their parents and even threatening to murder them. These rumors
were making local parents hysterical, especially since dozens of children
had complained in recent months about strangers who approached them,
grabbed them and sexually assaulted them. An in-depth examination, however,
showed that the panic was apparently unjustified; although there had been
cases of children being assaulted, these attacks had been perpetrated by
pedophiles acting alone and not as part of any network or cult.

The story is also rooted in cases that took place earlier in Jerusalem. In
2011 a number of suspects were arrested in a series of attacks on children
in the Nahlaot neighborhood. Residents believed there was a wide network of
pedophiles in the area who had attacked dozens of children, but an
intensive police investigation uncovered no evidence of this, although
there had been a few individual instances.

A few years later there were rumors of a similar network operating in the
Jerusalem neighborhood of Sanhedria. In August 2016 police arrested a
number of people suspected of spreading the rumors about a “missionary
cult” and using them to extract hundreds of thousands of shekels from
people who contributed to help stop the imaginary cult.

After similar rumors started in Bnei Brak a few months ago, activists and
rabbis who intervened determined that these were groundless and that a
significant number of the children’s reports could not be proven
sufficiently or were outright lies.

As the Saturday assembly was called to calm frightened parents, the
phenomenon of pedophilia was discussed. At the start of the conference,
however, Rabbi Shlomo Levinstein, who is active in this area because of his
position in the Mishmeret Hakodesh Vehahinukh (“Guardians of Holiness and
Education”) organization, said, “For reasons of modesty, questions to the
rabbis will be allowed only after the gathering on a private basis.”
Teenagers were ordered out of the hall.

During his address, Levinstein said, “When we know who the attacker is,
there is sometimes an option to deal with it in the community. We know how
to do this, either through the Mishmeret Hakodesh or through Rabbi Chananya
Chollak [chairman of the Ezer Mizion aid organization]. We have ways of
sending people for treatment and we do so with a waiver on medical secrecy.
When we don’t know who did it, we call the Israel Police.”

He added, “Our community has all sorts of sensitivities that don’t exist in
other populations. When police are called, the detectives don’t know our
language and can sometimes ask things that a child wouldn’t know what they
want of him. Sometimes we arranged to have children questioned in Rabbi
Chollak’s office, and that’s acceptable to the police. But the first thing
that must be done is to protect the children – that is, to warn them not to
speak to strangers and that you are the sole proprietor over your body.”

*Nothing new*

Chollak also addressed the gathering, saying, “Unfortunately, assaults on
children are nothing new. Almost every week there’s an incident, in our
community as well, to our great regret. There was a story in Bnei Brak a
while back. Twenty-eight children were assaulted within 10 days, three of
them girls who were hospitalized. I couldn’t sit in my office and I went
out on ambushes with the police.”

Rabbi Yehuda Sillman, a senior rabbinic court judge, told the gathering,
“This story started in the Nahlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem, where there
were evil people who did terrible things and they’re sitting in jail.
There’s no doubt that in various instances you have to go to the
authorities, but in the current case [the rumored missionary cult in Bnei
Brak] it’s clear the story isn’t credible. Hysteria and imagination work
overtime in these cases and cause even worse damage – people who won’t
leave their homes, children who aren’t permitted to play in the park, and

Sillman added, “If there have been cases of assaults on children, they
should be reported to the police, in coordination with the rabbis and
activists to make sure the attackers indeed get punished and that there’s
oversight so that the complaints are checked in a manner suited to the
Haredi community. But there’s no need for exaggerated panic.”

In conclusion, the rabbis instructed the parents to repeatedly tell
children that they shouldn’t approach or talk to strangers, and that they
must explain to them that only they have say over their bodies.

“There are a lot of question marks in this case,” said Eli Schlesinger,
crime reporter for the website Bechadrei Haredim, who has been continuously
covering the issue of sexual assault in the community. “One city resident
collected the information and gave the rabbis a document with 30 instances
of assault. Rabbi Yehuda Sillman investigated but could not find evidence
of a cult operating in the city.”

Yisrael Cohen, a journalist for the Kikar Shabbat website, which divulged
the recordings from the Bnei Brak gathering, told Haaretz, “The rabbis and
the Haredi activists work in cooperation with the police, who in certain
cases look away and allow treatment within the community. The police
understand that the advantages of cooperation with Haredi officials
outweigh the disadvantages.”

1 comment :

  1. As noted in the article, the mass hysteria of the public is reminiscent of the Nachlaot and Sanhedria incidents.
    I'm happy to see, that once again, saner minds have prevailed, in line with the position of our dear blog owner, RDE, who has repeatedly questioned the veracity of those who claimed that there were Satanic cults operating in these neighbohoods.


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