Meira E. Schneider-Atik
marching to the beat of my own drummer

The Points That Need To Be Made

I’ve seen several statements about the abuser Walder in several forums, both in print and on social media. Some were good (and I’m proud to be associated with a publication that did one of the good ones, and under the wire too). Others were outright bad, blaming the victims for Walder’s suicide and going on about how Lashon Hara destroyed a great man. But many were just wishy-washy. One minute they’re offering sympathy to the survivors and the next minute they’re going on about Lashon Hara and other things. 

In my opinion, the good statements cover all of the following points:

  1. Walder betrayed us. We thought of him as a tzaddik and a voice for children and he turned out to be a molester, abuser, and rapist. He didn’t just do bad things or make mistakes. 
  2. His suicide was his own choice. He didn’t want to face his accusers and try to prove his innocence. 
  3. Our community failed miserably. We should’ve been taking the victims seriously from the start and giving them a safe space to speak up. Many people could’ve been spared from Walder’s abuses if we had done this. 
  4. Lashon Hara does NOT apply here. There is no greater to’eles than protecting our families. And if we know that someone is hurting people and we don’t speak up, we are in violation of Lo Ta’amod Al Dam Rei’echa. Now, we have to answer for the lives ruined. 
  5. Yes, the Walder family does deserve some compassion. They’re stuck with that horrific legacy. But…
  6. …the majority of our compassion should be for the victims and survivors who will never get justice and who may never fully heal. 
  7. We need to talk to our children about this and make sure they understand that these abuses can and do happen. 
  8. We need our children to understand that bad guys don’t wear bad guy costumes, have bad guy faces, or speak in bad guy voices. They can dress, look, and speak just like the rest of us or even like tzaddikim.  
  9. We need our children to know that we will love them no matter what and that they can tell us anything. 
  10. We need our children to know about inappropriate touch, keeping healthy secrets vs unhealthy secrets, and that a predator’s bad behavior is NEVER their fault even if that predator has the reputation of a tzaddik.  

Any statement that doesn’t state ALL of the above points, without equivocation, is not good. It doesn’t send the message that our children can and should tell us everything and it makes everyone that much more vulnerable to predators. Some issues have plenty of gray areas and so straddling the proverbial fence is appropriate. But when it comes to right vs. wrong, straddling the fence is absolutely wrong. The issue of sexual crimes is not a gray area. 

I support the survivors. Do you?

About the Author
Meira E. Schneider-Atik is a wardrobe stylist, personal shopper, and writer/blogger. Her goal is to help women feel good about themselves and to dispel the myths about tzniut and dressing well. Her heart is in Eretz Yisrael, but for now, she and her family live in Queens, NY.