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Jewish Journal

Ultra-Orthodox group: Before reporting abuse, consult a rabbi

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 31, 2011 | 10:55 pm

Haven’t we learned anything from past religious sexual abuse scandals? Apparently not.

The Forward reports on the absurd hurdles to reporting abuse put up by on ultra-Orthodox Jewish group:

At the daylong “Halacha Conference for Professionals,” held in Brooklyn on May 15, speakers elaborated on a recent ruling by Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv, one of ultra-Orthodoxy’s foremost authorities on Jewish religious law, or Halacha. Elyashiv recently decreed that Jews with reasonable suspicions that a case of sexual abuse has occurred are permitted to go to secular law enforcement authorities, notwithstanding traditional religious prohibitions against mesirah, or informing on fellow Jews.

But at a panel discussion titled “Molestation Issues and Reporting: Current Halachic Thinking,” the panel’s leader, Rabbi Shlomo Gottesman, cautioned that Elyashiv never explained what constitutes “reasonable suspicion.” To establish this, Gottesman said, a person should consult a rabbi “who has experience in these issues” before going to secular authorities.

“If [the rabbi] thinks reasonable suspicion has been met, then you would be allowed to overcome mesirah and report,” said Gottesman, a board member of Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools.

Except, what happens when the rabbi, like so many Roman Catholic bishops and rabbinical leaders from the ultra-Orthodox community have before, don’t think the abuse should be reported? The abuse rolls on.

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