Friday, September 12, 2008

Failure to Act is itself an Action - a bad one.

When there's no lack of freedom to fight for at home,
let a man fight for that of his neighbors!
Let him think of the glories of greece and of rome,
and get knocked on the head for his labours.
To do good for mankind is the chivalrous plan,
and is always as nobly requited.
So battle for freedom wherever you can,
and, if not shot or hung, you'll get knighted!
Lord Byron, 1820

A follow up from a discussion elsewhere:

By now everyone is well aware of the resignation of Benzion Twerski from the panel that was supposed to deal with accusations of molestation in the Chereidi community. I read the story first on UOJ, but a lot of other blogs have picked it up.

In his own defense, Twerski said:

...For several days, I was approached by individuals, some stating that they would cross the street if they were to meet me while walking with their children. Others told me that they would not accept my child into their class if assigned. Others used euphemisms that I refuse to repeat. Family members were likewise confronted by all sorts of comments and phone calls. My married children had been told to fear ever getting shidduchim for their children. Basically, I was left to choose between abandoning my family for this mission, or to take the painful step that I did...

Rabbi Horowitz added:

...I ask you to put yourself in the place of our very street-smart teenagers who have immediate access to all the swirls of information and are drawing their own conclusions. What message are we sending them when we allow hooligans to silence a wonderful individual like Dr. Twerski who has dedicated his life to keeping them safe? Is it any wonder that so many of our kids are heading for the exits when we show them that their safety is not our paramount concern?

Now, for some of the comments:

LVF said...

A sad day for klal yisroel!!
shame on a community that protects murderers and victimizes people who want to help the victims.
Shame on us !!!
3:30 PM, September 10, 2008

Anonymous said...

An Open letter to Rabbi Benzion Twerski

Dear Benzion,

The Torah says "Al Todin Es Chavercha Ad Shetagia Limkomo" so I can not second guess your difficult decision and I commend you for having tried to deal with our "AM KSHEY OREF".

However, I find myself bewildered, wondering how you or anyone of us (me included) can sleep at night, while we attempt to "rationalize" to ourselves imagining that "my conscience is clear entering the days of selichos and yemai hadin".

How can anyones "conscience be clear" when we know the truth that we have just abandoned innocent Neshomos to abuse - why? To save ourselves from being abused on the street by the "Am Kshey Oref" who are in FEAR and don't want the problem fixed.

We are a people who have had 6 Million of our brothers and sisters abandoned to abuse and much worse, while the entire world turned their back on us because "they didn't want to get involved" and "couldn't take the heat".

If I was in your shoes, perhaps I couldn't take the heat either.

But I also could not sleep at night, never mind say "my conscience is clear" when I know that i just turned my back on all the Yiddishe Neshomos who continue to be abused RIGHT NOW, as we speak and we DO NOTHING about it, because we have to "save our own skin"!
6:10 PM, September 10, 2008

"UOJ" - "The Un-Orthodox Jew" said...

Dov means well --- If this panel, in any way, discourages parents from going to the police, I would not sit on such a panel.

It took me a few years to realize this. There is NO substitute for police intervention in a crime of this magnitude!

If the panel will hold peoples' hands as they walk them down to the police station, tavo alav bracha.
6:45 PM, September 10, 2008

Anonymous said...

...from history I can tell you, and promise you, with certainty unless the parents of the abused children go to the government, authorities, nothing will be done. Nothing.

... Frankly I do not get it. Why are you looking for answers from the very same people who have failed you for twenty years in this matter. Do something on your own, or has the rabbis brainwashed so much that you cannot even take action to protect your children without their blessing.
6:54 PM, September 10, 2008

Anonymous said...

"I was prosecuted in the street" [Twerski compalined.]
"To protect myself, my family, and reputation, I decided to withdraw from this project,”

"Prosecution"? Sounds more like threats, harassement - in other words a crime.

But now Twerski says that he was afraid his kids wouldn't be accepted to class or his grandkids wouldn't get shidduchim.
R.Twerski, do you want your kids to go to schools that support molestors or your grandkids to marry into a community with such corrupt values that they don't want their kids protected?

Yikes, and we wonder about the cover up at Rubashkin's - Haredi children are being abused and the priority is to protect the guilty. What chance that they'd care about abused goyim or tortured cows!

...A truly religious person should shudder when he wonders what god must think when He sees how the "frum yiddim" have abused and twisted the torah and deficated on everything it stands for.
7:18 PM, September 10, 2008

Sad But True said...

Dr. Twerski,
Pardon my confusion but I seem to be missing something.

You acknowledge the severity of the abuse problem and seem proud of your reputation as an Orthodox professional who has built a career, and earns a living, in the community dealing with controversial issues.

Yet, you run from the problem as soon as the establishment wags its finger at you? You state that children are being irreparably harmed daily and you’re concerned with people crossing the street when they see you? These are the people you wish to do shiduchim with and have your offspring share classrooms with?

Uncle Aaron wasn’t afraid to take a stand and defend Lipa Margulies when he thought it was the expedient thing to do. Did he care that the world would ridicule him and uncover his business dealings with Lipa? Not Professor Aaron.

So, where’s your gumption when given the opportunity to redeem your family’s name? Where’s your integrity? Shame on you.
You have not earned the right to go into the Yom HaDin with a clear conscience. Quite the contrary.
9:28 PM, September 10, 2008

Then I said:
Ahavah Gayle said...

The problem with backing down now is that the "damage" is already done - his standing in the community is already on the black-list, so to speak, his kids already on their radar, and the grandkids. This is how the social terrorism works - recanting doesn't change anything. It just takes both parties back under the radar - his "status" is already down in the dumps and while the harassment may let up, no one will forget. It'll be whispered about 20 years from now, and the discrimination may not be overt but it will most certainly be there. That's the way the chereidiban operates - just like any other mafia-style organization that rules by violence instead of legitimate authority. By quitting he only gives them a victory, he doesn't win any protections for his or his family's future. They'll see to that.
12:22 AM, September 11, 2008

Anonymous said...

Poor Bentzion. He had a chance to have greatness bestowed upon him from Above but he was afraid his kids wouldn't get a 'good' shidduch and didn't like the angry stares directed his way.

You can't make this stuff up, folks!
1:01 AM, September 11, 2008

Anonymous said...

Child-rape is one of the challenges facing our generation. Rav Twerski made it clear he's not one of our generation's heroes. We know a coward when we see one. He makes his uncle Aron Twerski proud!
11:27 AM, September 11, 2008

Anonymous said...

On Yom Kippur we will read about the Rabbanim who matryred themselves instead og giving into to evil.

As jews, we are all taught that this kind of selfless beleif is what we are to aspire to. I am not saying that Rabbi Benzion Twerski is obligated to give his life for this cause.. but at the same time I have to wonder what it is all worth when no one is prepared to stand of for what is right.

I have seen Rabbi after Rabbi fold on their position when the threat of financial impact to their parnasah (income) is threatened (most close to me is a rabbi who backed out of converting a baby when another rabbi and member of the RCA literally threatened to take is income from him by smearing him).

If there ever was a cause worth fighting for you would think that molestation of children is just about that important. So again, forgive me if I sound like I am directingt this at rabbi Benzion Twerski , and let me be clear that I am not. I am just asking "Is there any cause that is worth risking money or life for in Juadaism today ?" if not, I fail to see the value in what we practice as a religion.
2:37 PM, September 11, 2008

Anonymous said...

As with any form of religious terrorism, the only thing the perpetrators understand is physical force.

Perhaps it will take an enraged parent, or a victim who is now an adult, to purchase a weapon and perform their own justice. Until then, the religious terrorists win.

If nothing is done, many more such atrocities will be committed against children, who will abandon the community and the faith as soon as they can. In a few more years, the Jewish religious world will shrink and collapse, from the weight of its own sin.
2:43 PM, September 11, 2008

Anonymous said...

Twerski is a coward and fraud. The fact that he wants in laws who might side with molesters and that he worrys about being able to participate in molester minyanim is all I need to know.
2:50 PM, September 11, 2008

Anonymous said...

As long as the community tolerates child molesters, and does not get serious, this problem will fester, and thousands more children will get victimized by the dozens of pedophiles.

Are there not RICO statutes to deal with those who intimidate the likes of Twerski? They are, but if a whole community is paralyzed by fear, the evil ones win.

Just look at how Kolko got off so easy, or at how allegations have gone away in southern Florida. These monsters seem to work in collusion with one another, and without a vigorous approach by district attorneys, SUPPORTED by the communities, the chances for success are minimal.

People like Elliot Pasik deserve support. If 100 people joined his Jewish Board for children, and acted as one, this conspiracy would fall. If 5,000 people emailed Sheldon Silver's office demanding he act on Pasik's bill for mandatory fingerprinting in yeshivas, could he refuse?

We allow the yeshiva administrators to divide and conquer us, not only in terms of tuition and mediocrity in education, but in the terms of the very safety of our most prized possession, our children.
6:01 PM, September 11, 2008


There were other comments, but I have selected those that deal specifically with Twerski's resignation, since people also use UOJ's comments section to post news and to discuss other ongoing cases.

What I wanted you to see here is the in-your-face demonstration of something I wrote for the UOJ group some months ago. I'll copy some here again for you:

...19. To make a serious issue short – the ravs are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Those who are not part of the solution are going to have to be overthrown from their little fiefdoms. We do this by no longer contributing to their shuls, day-schools, yeshivas and charities and by operating our own co-operative education and self-help groups instead. Those who are part of the solution identify themselves as such by their words and actions – they speak out about these issues and make positive moves toward implementing suggestions like those in this article that will restore the physical, spiritual, and financial health of our communities.

20. We need an intensive public service educational campaign about signs of physical, emotional, sexual abuse and drug abuse. People need to understand that their physical and psychological safety is their right as human beings – not to mention American Law – and blind support of molestors and perpetrators just because they are Jewish and/or are in positions of authority is no longer acceptable. Those claiming to be leaders must be held to a higher standard, not a lower one.

...And last, but not least – the crime and corruption problem is undeniably huge. People’s lives are being ruined by abuse (physical, psychological, and sexual), and by every sort of fraud, swindle, scheme, and even outright theft. The Mafia could hardly have done it better – everyone is terrified to go to the authorities, either because of some sort of residual hang-up from the Holocaust generation or due to the power-mongering of the Gedolim. By imagining ourselves above the civil law we have actually made ourselves below it – we don’t have basic protections that ordinary citizens enjoy. We live in a permanent underworld of graft and coercion, abuse and neglect. In a very real way, we don’t have freedom of speech, assembly, or religious practice. We aren’t safe, because those who make us unsafe are our own people that we can’t “tell on” or “turn against,” – as if racial or religious solidarity somehow trumps justice. Women are chained, kids are molested, people’s livlihoods are ruined – and there is no recourse for them. In the end, this will drive people away from the communities. People can’t live in fear forever – eventually they realize they can, in fact, walk away from it. Increasingly, they have been and will continue to.

...Some of these problems, such as crime and molestation, have been treated very briefly, because we all know that these are wide-spread and deeply entrenched issues that a paragraph simply won’t address. These things appear on UOJ and other blogs almost daily – but as long as people fear the consequences of outing the criminals and perpetrators then not much can be done to stop the situation. What we must recognize is that the fallout from these issues affects not just our minds and spirits, but also the functioning of the broader community – and right now, it’s not funcitonal, it’s dysfunctional. This fear is killing our ability to help ourselves and take control of our lives in ways that is perfectly well within the halachic framework and works with economic reality instead of the control-and-power-mongering of a regrettably large number of our current leaders.

Did you notice anything about the comments? They were mostly anonymous, and the rest, including mine, omit their last names, or use pseudonyms.

We are still in a situation where very few are brave enough to actually sign their own names to their comments due to the fear of social terrorism that Twerski got a sample of just for wanting to do something Good for the community that would have been Bad for the power-mongers in charge. We live in a mafia state of intimidation and harassment and as Horowitz said, and I concur: Who in their right minds thinks today's kids are going to put up with this? We're losing the next generation of observant Jews - we're driving them away with our cowardice and our elevation of acceptance into the community - that is, fear of being ostracized - far above any ethical or moral considerations. A community held together by fear is a dead community, class.

The reason there's so much "outreach" for BTs is obvious: frum kids are fleeing in droves, some 40% as UOJ stated previously - and I believe it. And a significant portion of BTs end up walking away, too, due to the lies and power-mongering and hypocrisy. You can't build communities on fear - you can only build little fiefdoms, and those only last as long as the victims are willing to be victimized.

Judaism is being destroyed by our so-called "gedolim" and by those like Twerski who know what they need to do but are too afraid to do it. I don't see how he can live with the shame and guilt of refusing to step up to the plate when Hashem clearly put him in a position to do something to root out the corruption. He has failed in his mission in life. As I saw somewhere else (maybe it was Harry Maryles, I'm not sure - possibly it was the Wolf), somebody pointed out the passage from megilas esther [paraphrased]:

If you fail to act, salvation will come to the Jews from some other source, but you and your family will be destroyed.

And as I pointed out in my comment, it's too late to take back his original intention to help those in need - his withdrawal will not secure his "place" in their society. He has already "indicated" to them that if the situation were "right," he might turn against him. Just because he chickened out this time doesn't mean he will chicken out again - he has lost their trust, and the very name of Twerski, due to his uncle Aron, et al, is besmirched to the point that people outside of his chereidiban set who don't even know him will presume he's one of the molestors. I have trouble keeping it all straight myself, frankly - anytime I see the name Twerski I think corruption and molestation. Those words are indelibly linked in my mind, and no doubt the mind of many, many others.

Benzion had an opportunity to change that, and chose not to. The harm to his children and their shidduch prospects will stem far more from his failure to act than if he had stepped up to the plate and heeded Hashem's call.

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