UPDATE:: This article has sparked some interesting response. Below are just a few,,,__
The Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s premier yeshiva is seeking to assure parents that no sexual or physical abuse is taking place within its walls following a detailed report on allegations of such abuse in the past.
“I categorically assure you that there is absolutely no abuse taking place in Oholei Torah that we know of,” Rabbi Sholom Rosenfeld, the school’s administrator, wrote parents in a March 8 letter on school letterhead, “neither sexual abuse, nor physical abuse, nor verbal abuse.”
The school’s letter to the parents, dated March 8 and posted on community websites, neither addressed or denied any specific allegations or complaints, but described “many actions and precautions” that the school has instituted in recent years to prevent abuse. Among other things, the letter stated, Oholei Torah has, in recent years installed “windows on every classroom door” and has invited “numerous speakers” to address “child abuse and bullying.”
But no complaints were ever registered about the rabbi, nor were any criminal charges filed—in fact, a Freedom of Information Act request to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office turned up no evidence of his name ever appearing in its records. By now, the statute of limitations for most, if not all, of Reizes’s alleged crimes has expired, and the survivors are grown men, some with young boys in the Hasidic school system. Most are afraid to go public because they fear ruining the lives of their children. Reizes, now retired and in his 60s, lives across the street from the school where he used to teach.
While there is no evidence that child abuse is any more likely to occur in ultra-Orthodox schools than in public or secular institutions, stories like Reizes’s—an alleged abuser sheltered and victims unwilling to talk for fear of losing the only way of life they know—are common in the Hasidic school system. The many former students, advocates, sociologists, social workers and survivors interviewed by Newsweek, along with recordings, documents, public filings and personal emails that Newsweek obtained, place the blame on a confluence of factors: widespread sexual repression, a strong resistance to the secular world, and, most important, a power structure designed to keep people from speaking up about abuse.
If children aren’t taught by their parents and teachers about appropriate sexual behavior, they have no way to sense when touching turns into something that is wrong. “You don’t even know what your body is,” says Lynn Davidman, a professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of Kansas who grew up in a religious Jewish family. “And you are not supposed to touch or know, and then all of a sudden you are introduced to forbidden knowledge in a most abusive way.” The abused have no way to make sense of what’s going on, to stop it or to tell anybody about it.
In New York, survivors of most cases of child molestation have five years after they turn 18 to get the district attorney to prosecute. (In cases of sexual misconduct, legal proceedings must begin within two years after the offense was committed, regardless of the child’s age at the time of the alleged crime.) Many child abuse experts say that window is not nearly big enough for young men just starting to understand what happened to them. It’s no surprise that most of the abuse Newsweek uncovered happened long ago—no 10-year-old has the wherewithal to talk to the press about his abusive teacher. It takes a 25-year-old who has finally received a proper education to understand what was done to him 15 years ago.
Child Abuse Allegations Plague the Hasidic Community
See also: Investigating Abuse Allegations in the Chabad School System