'Ub-u-sive'

Spelling Out Abuse After Nechemya Weberman's Conviction

Lisa Anchin

By Judy Brown (Eishes Chayil)

Published December 20, 2012, issue of December 28, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 6)

I don’t know if we will ever find an answer. Yet if we look deep within our own mindset, perhaps we can better understand the complicated factors that have brought the community to where it is today: cover-up, abuse and scandal exploding in the daily news, like buried landmines in old battlefields.

The religious Jewish community is a closed world, one that has built high walls around itself, walls that ensure that the gentiles and their evil influences cannot infiltrate. Yet the religious Jewish community is also a giving world, one with countless chesed organizations, there to help ease the suffering within. It is a generous world so long as the suffering is of a certain kind, so long as it does not violate the rules of what can and cannot happen.

Chai Lifeline, Tomchei Shabbos, Bonei Olam, among others — these are all organizations that help the ill, the poor, the widows and the orphans to deal with misfortunes sent by heaven.

Heavenly tragedies are not in the community’s control. They are there by a decree of the Almighty, a small part of a larger, divine story, just one piece of God’s grand plan, one that we cannot hope to understand. We must accept it with simple faith.

Sexual abuse is not from heaven. Sexual abuse is an act of man. Sexual abuse is suffering brought upon a person by the twisted demons of another. It is part of a darkness we declared to be safely beyond our high walls.

It means that there are victims, and where there are victims there are villains. It means that there are scars, and where there are scars there are criminals.

The ultra-Orthodox community does not want to know its criminals. It does not want to see its villains. It chooses to hide the darkness, to fight like hell against those who try to show it. It chooses to ban the words that define the evil, to intimidate those who try to speak or understand it. This way the community continues to feel safe, to hold an image of itself as whole, unbroken, secure from the harm of suffering children.

It is deeply disturbing, seeing those scars, the part of the community that doesn’t fit the traditional Jewish narrative. It is terrifying to look in the mirror and see a gentile’s reflection; that was only supposed to belong to the goyim. The instinctive reaction is denial: This cannot be us. The instinctive reaction became community policy, and it is visceral, terrifying and cruel. Such children were called mentally unstable. It was better to be crazy than to be abused. Crazy was the child’s fault, abused was the community’s own.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.