Australian Rabbis Are Surprised to Hear That Inappropriate Touching Of Children Is Against the Law

They’re so busy studying ancient texts, perhaps we ought to cut them some slack for not keeping up with the innovations of secular law. I mean, who knew that child molestation is illegal? Not these guys.

Australian rabbis continued to plead ignorance regarding the proper procedures for handling suspected cases of molestation on Friday, during testimony before a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Yeshiva Center’s Rabbi Yosef Feldman — appearing before the commission a day after his father, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, admitted he had neglected to inform the police a suspected pedophile was about to flee the country — said he was aware that the same suspect, identified as AVL, had massaged an underage boy. Feldman is reported to be related to AVL.

While Yosef Feldman acknowledged the behavior was “highly improper” from a “Jewish perspective,” he told the commission he had not reported the incident to law enforcement and he “wasn’t looking from a legal criminal perspective,” according to news reports. “It could potentially be something that was highly inappropriate. I did not know what a crime was. In Japan, I heard they allow child pornography.”

He heard wrong. And how odd that he possesses (incorrect) knowledge of the legislation in a country five thousand miles away, but is mystified by his own nation’s laws!

The younger Feldman wants it both ways. At one point he says,

“I agree without qualification that it is obligatory to immediately report all allegations of sexual abuse to the police,”

… but soon the “without qualification” part turns into the opposite:

“One must go to a Rov (rabbi) who should firstly investigate the veracity of the complaint and if thought to be serious, warn the culprit etc. and act in a way that could scare him by threatening him with publicity by internet to the whole community. I personally feel that if we as a Jewish leadership can’t deal with this and other issues bifnim [internally], we are showing ourselves to be impotent…”

At least a colleague of Feldman’s has had quite enough of the doublespeak, and of the shame that pervasive child abuse has brought on Orthodox Jewry.

On Sunday, Rabbi James Kennard, a former member of the executive of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV), lambasted the Australian Rabbinate, writing on Facebook that “the Orthodox community is being engulfed in the terrible hillul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) that is revealed each day at the Royal Commission; as the media coverage has made ‘rabbi’ a mark of shame and ‘Orthodox Jew’ a byword for the cover-up of child abuse.

Kennard said he resigned from the RCV over the failure of the rabbinical body to “issue a statement calling the leadership of the Yeshiva community to account.”

It’ll be a process to change the culture of child rape and cover-up. Just yesterday, at another Commission hearing,

A child sex abuse victim who was repeatedly raped by a staff member of an Orthodox Jewish school said he was stripped of his scholarship when he told the principal what happened. The victim, identified only as AVR, said a security guard at the Yeshivah centre and college in Melbourne, David Cyprys, raped him multiple times.

And last week,

The head of a Jewish school sent a female student to live with a youth leader weeks after a group of young boys said they had all been abused by him, a royal commission has heard. After the student from the Yeshivah center in Bondi was indecently touched by the youth leader, Daniel ‘Gug’ Hayman, she complained to the center’s head who had sent her, Rabbi Boruch Lesches. But the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse heard that the rabbi replied: “I do not believe you, you made it all up.”

In all these cases, religious morality, if not an outright oxymoron, is certainly more religious than moral.

(via My Secret Atheist Blog. Image via Shutterstock)

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