Sex scandals in Ultra-Orthodox communities: Are these scenes becoming too familiar?

Earlier this month reports came through of sex scandals related to the Yeshiva University which campus is based in the Washington Heights area of New York City. The reports are based on sexual attacks that took place 30 or 40 years ago. The current president of the school has admitted that there were sexual molestations that took place that are widely believed to have been perpetrated by two former staff rabbis.

Across the Atlantic Ocean Britain is also currently dealing with its own Rabbinical Sex scandal as Rabbi Chaim Halpern, a rabbi of an independent Orthodox synagogue and a rabbinical adviser to some of the most respected Jewish authorities has been forced to resign from all community posts excluding his synagogue which he himself owns.

Meanwhile, Melbourne Australia has also been hit by Sex scandals that have affected its Chabbad community and the ultra orthodox Adas Yisrael Community where over 41 accounts of rape have been uncovered involving a security guard between the years of 1989-92

These scandals as outrageous as they are,are unfortunately only the latest in a string of rabbinical sexual offences that seem to be occurring for decades before anyone has the courage to come forward and make an accusation.

One of the most famous of these cases in recent times is the case of Rabbi Leib Tropper of Rockland County. Rabbi Tropper, who was in charge of Jewish Orthodox conversions was caught on tape discussing his love affair with a 32 year old woman in the process of converting from Christianity to Judaism. The tape exposes his affair where he is alleged to have offered a conversion in exchange for sexual favors.

The question that springs to mind with all of these cases is what is taking people so long to come forward? How does a Rabbi, who in many cases is the most trusted member of the community, get away with such atrocities? How does a Rabbi Like Rabbi Ellon for example, the former Rosh Hashiva of a world famous Yeshiva based by the Western wall, only get accused of sexual misconduct in 2010 for several inappropriate relationships with several male students that occurred in 2003?

The answer unfortunately appears to be the silence of the communities themselves on such issues. In June four members of the Satmar community in Williamsburg New York were accused of bribing a teenage girl who had been sexually molested by one of their members. One of the bribers is being alleged to have offered the 17 year old female victim $500,000 to keep quiet. Through the case it transpired that Borooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes had failed to prevent sexual abuse in this particular community for decades.

It is common knowledge that at this very moment in the Nachlot neighborhood of Jerusalem the largest ring of pedophiles in the history of Israel are currently roaming free. This current ring has been operating for 6 years and over 100 children have been affected. I wonder how many decades this ring and other rings in Ultra Orthodox Jewish communities will be committing sexual crimes before someone has the courage to do something about it.

About the Author
David Z Bernstein was raised in Britain and educated at Clifton College before attending Birmingham University where he studied English and Drama. David made aliyah several years ago and studied at the Ohr Sameyach Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the Refuah institute in Jerusalem where he received a Diploma in social work. Currently David is a freelancer specializing in affiliate marketing