Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kannoim Strong-arm Twerski Off Molestation Panel

Top Doc Scared Off Panel On Rabbinic Sex Molesters
by Hella Winston

A prominent Orthodox rabbi and psychologist has been intimidated into quitting as head of a just-formed task force dealing with rabbinic sex abuse of minors, organized by Assemblyman Dov Hikind this week.

Dr. Benzion Twerski told The Jewish Week Wednesday that he was quitting the task force because “I was prosecuted in the street for daring to join such a venture.”

“To protect myself, my family, and reputation, I decided to withdraw from this project,” he wrote in an e-mail as the paper was going to press with a story announcing Hikind’s formation of the task force. “From this point, I am avoiding participation in any forms of public service. Public life is not for me.”

Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat who represents Borough Park and Flatbush, deplored Twerski’s abrupt departure from his new panel.

“He was basically forced to resign,” said Hikind. “He was literally put against the wall, and he felt he had no choice. We’ll get somebody else who’s very respected. But that’s not the point. The point is they got to him, they threatened him.”

Twerski’s dramatic departure came just as Hikind was rolling out the new panel, planned as the next step in a personal crusade against child sex abuse in the Orthodox community that he has come to view as an epidemic.

Hikind said he had amassed a dossier with the cases of “hundreds” of individuals who say they have been sexually molested by rabbis and other Orthodox community members during their childhood. And he threatened to broadcast the names of their abusers if community leaders do not respond to his call for action against them.

“Let me tell you,” he said in an interview last week, “when there’s a person who we have confirmed through a variety of people has been doing terrible things” and those who know refuse to go to the authorities, “I am prepared to name names. I am prepared to be sued by those pedophiles. If they’re innocent, let them sue me.”

Neither man would specify the nature of the threats made against Twerski to force his departure. But Hikind called them “pathetic and sad.”

“My heart goes out to him,” he said. “I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. Things are opening up, people are coming forward, but we are still so far away.”

This story is absolutely pathetic. I really hate what those self-important holier-than-thou protectors of child molesters are doing. Friggin' Taliban Kannoim. Somehow in their screwed up little minds, they think making a serious attempt to put a stop to rabbinical child abuse is somehow a potential damage to their community. Their priorities are totally screwed up and each person who pressured Dr. Twerski - or frankly aided or abetted this apparent policy of secrecy and cover-up generally - is morally responsible for each and every child molested since their obstruction of justice. Make no mistake, that is what they are doing and by right they ought to have their own seats right next to the actual molesters when they have their day in court. Utterly disgusting.

On the bright side though, I'm very glad to see Dov Hikind stepping up to the plate on this one. I'm surprised to see it, since I've generally not been impressed with his public service to date, but I give credit where credit is due. Frankly, I'm glad to see people of some note making motions to control this festering disease deep in the underbelly of the Orthodox community.


frumheretic said...

I also was never a great admirer of Dov Hikind. And I hope that I'm proven wrong in my belief that his threats to broadcast the names of abusers are just threats. We need action and we need it now!

rebecca said...

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do.


Up in the air and over the wall,

Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all

Over the countryside


Till I look down on the garden green

Down on the roof so brown
Up in the air I go flying again

Up in the air and down!

-----by runescape money

alex said...

It was weird how much passive voice was used in the article. Never did it say /who/ pressured R' Twersky. It might not be hard to figure out, but still.

Miri said...

It's intensely disturbing to me that there are people in the Orthodox community who try to protect these people. I've been getting more and more frustrated with religous Jews generally, but this sort of thing is a prime example. How can anyone protect these sorts of people and claim to be G-d fearing? It doesn't make any sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Greatness came a-calling and Rabbi Bentzion Twerski headed for h\the hills.


alex said...

"Add to this the recent debacle in which Rabbi Dr Benzion Twerski abruptly stepped down from a task force on molestation formed by Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Dr Twerski cited unbearable threats and intimidation, although from ordinary people, not by the kano’im/askanim as originally reported. This means that the source of the problem is not just a bunch of terrorists with beards, but serious misinformation and misguided priorities among amchah."

That comes from a popular online discussion group. Any comments?

Orthoprax said...


Anybody who acts this way is a misguided fanatic. That's essentially a synonym for kanoim as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

The latest word on the street is that Rabbi BT made up the threats as a figleaf to resign from Hikind's panel as he wasn't happy with DH's plan to publicize the names of molesters.

Has the ring of truth to it if you ask me.

Orthoprax said...


No, that actually sounds precisely like a lie.

In Dr. Twerski's own words:

"For several days, I was approached by individuals, some stating that they would cross the street if they were to meet me while walking with their children. Others told me that they would not accept my child into their class if assigned. Others used euphemisms that I refuse to repeat. Family members were likewise confronted by all sorts of comments and phone calls. My married children had been told to fear ever getting shidduchim for their children. Basically, I was left to choose between abandoning my family for this mission, or to take the painful step that I did."

Anonymous said...

That was then. But he has backtracked since then. Besides, who gives up on such an opportunity because some lowlife putz crosses the street or states he won't allow his kids to marry BT's kids?

Makes no sense to me.

Orthoprax said...

You are libeling this good man's name. He was publically accosted and threatened with social ostracism. What exactly do you think taking that position on Hikind's panel was such an 'opportunity' for?

Gila said...

This is absolutely sickening. I don't understand the persistent tendency of the Orthodox community to protect child molesters. We had a huge balagan in Baltimore about a year and a half ago when a prominent weekly Jewish magazine began a crusade to unmask these disgusting men. When the magazine did in fact name names, many people stopped reading it and wrote angry letters. I have the utmost respect for that magazine for having the courage to fly in the face of public opinion. (Mind you, they never released a single name without first having at least several dozen separate eyewitness accounts from men and women who had been traumatized by these men as young children.) We should be protecting our innocent children, not this scourge of our community who turn people off to Judaism and make chilul Hashem.

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