Every person lives in a bubble. All of us have a bubble that we built for ourselves from what we hear, what we know, and what we believe. But what do you do when that bubble is shattered, when what you have been told to believe and accept as true is suddenly proven to be completely false.
Last week, the moment I heard the atrocities that happened to Leiby Kletzky, my bubble was gone.
In the past few years, there have been more and more speeches and meetings about abuse within religious communities. We have all heard multiple opinions and da’as torah about it, with most of them boiling down to that abuse doesn’t really occur in religious communities, and when on the rare occasion, it does, tell your rabbi and he will deal with it by sending the perpetrator to therapy and ‘curing’ him.
Whenever I’ve heard the topic of abuse come up, at least one person will say that most allegations can’t be true because Jews don’t hurt other Jews. I’ve heard that line from rabbis, teachers and parents, all of whom deal with children every single day. And then one day I wake up to hear that a religious Jew murdered an eight year old boy. Jews are human; that means that we each have our own free will to do whatever it is we want with it. Although we don’t want to think about it, there are Jews out there who use their free will to make deplorable choices that can destroy children’s and families’ lives forever.
Just because someone is Jewish does not automatically make him a good person in any way, or safe to be around our children. Levi Aron is a ‘religious’ Jew who murdered and mutilated an eight year old child. There are sick people out there who do sick things. We just need to learn how best to protect ourselves and our children from them.
Statistics show that two out of every five girls and one out of six boys is abused. That means that it is statistically impossible to not know at least one child being abused. It is also extremely likely that in a family of six children at least one of them is being hurt. Granted, the numbers might not be THAT high in the Jewish communities, but it is happening all around us. We need to be aware of it, learn how to protect our children, and in turn, teach our children how to protect themselves.
But no matter how aware people are of the problem, abuse can still happen to any child in any family. So what do we do if the situation arises where we know a child who is being hurt by someone in their family or their community? Well, we’ve all been told to go to the rabbis, most of who say that you should not report the abuse, but that they will force the abuser to go to therapy that will cure them from their ‘disease’. It is proven that more than 99% of abusers CONTINUE to abuse no matter what amount of therapy they’ve been through.
So in essence, we are just sitting back and letting more and more children get hurt.
Is there one rabbi in the world who would say that we should allow Levi Aron out of jail and put him in therapy because we Jews know how to cure people from doing inexplicable acts? He murdered a boy. He needs to be locked up. So how is it that we can’t cure a murder but we can cure molesters and child abusers? We ‘cure’ them and then let them back onto the streets where our children are at their mercy! The halacha to not report other Jews to the police does not hold in a time of pikuah nefesh. How can children getting abused not be a matter of life and death? A boy just died. Every time a child is abused, a part of him is killed. What is more important than our children?
The only way to truly protect our children is be aware of suspected abusers. If the rabbis have lists of who has touched children in the past, than why don’t we have that list? Why don’t we know who we are supposed to be protecting our children from? I don’t care how much therapy he or she has been through; therapists themselves have no idea what triggers abusers to do what they do and therefore can never predict when or if an abuser will strike again. We should be told who in the community might be a danger. I would like to know if my kind sweet neighbor used to be a pedophile. That is important for the protection of klal yisroel and our precious neshamot.
The more we realize and learn about child abuse, the more we realize that we need to protect our children. They are our future generations. Leiby Kletzky is getting justice but what about the other thousands of kids who have no one to turn to? What about the parents who don’t know who to go to for advice because if who would ever believe them that their child is telling the truth!
We are commanded “U’shmartem me’od le’nafshoseichem.” We are responsible to protect ourselves and our children. They are looking to us for guidance and shelter. If we don’t guard our children, then who will?
If you are a victim or know of one in the New York area, call the NYPD unit that deals with such issues at 718-330-5600