I come to you with a mixture of pain, anguish and anger. I’ve heard about yet another very big “Rav” who is leading a double life. To everyone on the outside he extolls the virtues of Yiddishkeit and the Torah and behind closed doors he’s a serial rapist. He abuses the innocent and vulnerable girls and women that come to him for shailos and guidance.
It’s two days after I heard about this and I’m still in shock. I literally can’t function. How can someone who claims to be so close to Hashem and purports to have emunah, stoop to such an extreme low, to transgress (time and time again) one of the three gravest sins of the entire Torah.
What bothers me even more, is when these allegations come to light, the rabbonim in town just lay low and choose to ignore these heinous crimes. I’d like to ask a hypothetical question, and expect an honest response; If there was a school that gives out free smart phones to every boy that finishes his summer homework, what would your reaction be? Will you lay low or will there be a public outcry against this school? You and I know that there would immediately be a paper signed by all rabbonim to remove their kids from the school.
I suppose the same would be true if a Rav would have a mishnayos program and the top five boys were rewarded with an unfiltered smart phone. You would all come together and make sure this Rav went out of business.
While I agree that smart phones without a filter can be a potential danger, it doesn’t come close to the physical, emotional and religious danger of abusing a vulnerable minor. At worst, the victim will either commit suicide or go off the derech and at best they would live their life as a frum Jew but everyday would be a struggle to get through the day. Every day would be a new battle necessitating new gear to plow through yet another day of the devastating effects of abuse. Another day of triggers and flashbacks that have such extreme power.
I know this battle because I’m a soldier fighting in its war every single day. No, I didn’t end my life. No, I didn’t go off the derech. No, I didn’t get into drugs or other pain numbing behaviors. Instead I chose to fight the battles head on. They don’t stop and don’t get easier. It takes years and years until there is a slightly noticeable difference in the severity of the battles. Yes, every day is a battle as there is not a day that goes by that I don’t struggle from my childhood abuse.
So I ask you, where are you all? Where are you hiding? Why are you laying so very low? I see you at all the parlor meetings for Yeshivos and at the events collecting money for young orphans. We abuse victims are orphans. We lost our childhood. We lost our innocence. We lost our sense of trust and safety in the world. And now we are losing our sense of respect for you all. It hurts me to say this but this is how I feel and this is how so many other victims that I’ve spoken to feel.
Why is it that with every story that I hear about, I keep finding the same thing, that it was going on for years and nothing was done about it despite the fact that many of you knew about it. If there would be a Rav that would be caught driving to shul on Shabbos and hiding his car behind some dumpster in a parking lot, he would immediately get kicked out. Driving on Shabbos is terrible, but sexual abuse is so much worse. So instead I need to drive on Shabbos to a support group in order not to become suicidal on Shabbos. This s what you all prefer? Does it makes sense?
If you rabbonim don’t want to do anything, then why don’t we install video cameras in every Rav’s study? There’s a rule in the medical profession that if a male doctor needs to do an exam on a woman, they need another person in the room as a witness to appropriate conduct. What makes todays rabbonim “stronger” than these doctors. How can they be trusted to be in a room alone with women all day long? Just because an individual knows Halacha, it is hardly a safeguard against the worst inclinations of humanity.
I know I’m talking to deaf ears because I’ve already tried so hard to educate some rabbonim. I got no where and I don’t expect to get anywhere with this letter. I’m just venting my extreme frustration. Additionally, why is it that me, a simple laymen, needs to explain the obvious to someone who officially leads our community. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
If I tell you that the chief of police told me that if I would know all the cover ups that go on in our community I would run away, would that shake you up? Well, it shook me up and I think it should shake you out of your paralyzed state well. When will you make it your business to educate yourselves? When will you care about us victims and stop feeling bad for the reputation and families of the abusers?
I ask, who are my role models today? Who do I turn to for support and questions? How can I respect you when you don’t care about us and just bury all the crimes committed by our very own leaders? When I come to you with a question and I tell you I’m an abuse victim and to please take that into consideration, why can’t you give me a hug appreciating that I’m still frum? Why can’t you at least have the decency to look at me and say I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I get none of that. Not a hug. Not a pat on the back and not the slightest acknowledgement that I’ve been through the holocaust called sexual abuse. It’s because you can see a seemingly healthy body but refuse to recognize a soul that has been extinguished.
When was the last time you had a nightmare and woke up sweating and had a migraine all day from the nightmare? When was the last time you had a trigger experience while driving and needed to pull over to cry it out? When was the last time you felt so overwhelmed with grief and sadness that you wanted to just end your life? This and so much more is what we go through each and every day.
I don’t have strength to continue this letter and after trying so hard, I feel like the one and only hope for us victims is Moshiach. On that day which I am yearning for so much for, there will be such extreme purity and honesty. There will be no more cover ups. It will be so validating for me and my other fellow victims when Hashem will call out to us all and give us a hug for staying frum despite every reason to throw it all away.
He will be so proud that we are still alive despite having every reason to end our lives.
What will you feel like, when we will be hugged my Hashem. Us, with the Holister hoodies, with the jeans and with the colored shirts will be so close to Hashem. Us, who might even have a smart phone in our pocket will be hugged and loved by Hashem because we never left Him despite all the garbage that went on. Oh, how I yearn for that day! The day of beauty. The day of truth. The day when our daily battles will be over. The day when we won’t need to use up every ounce of strength that we have, just to get through the day.