For a number of years, we have read of sex acts involving Catholic clergy with adolescents and seminarians taking place in a number of countries, including the U.S.
The New York Times, to its credit, has been relentless in keeping this situation under examination by its reporters over the years with front page stories devoted to exposing the abuses.
The Hasidim started in eastern Europe several hundred years ago. Each Hasidic sect often takes the name of the village where their rabbi once lived. The Hasidic community is close knit, somewhat like the Amish.
It maintains a lot of control over its members, with its rabbis and religious courts often being the arbiters of disputes. The Hassids, as they are known, prefer not to use secular governmental institutions, such as the police and courts. Those not abiding by community rules are often shunned and sometimes even assaulted.
In Brooklyn, the major communities where Hasidic groups live — the largest being Satmar and Lubavitch — are Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Borough Park.
Different Hasidic groups contend with one another and other ethnic communities for space — their housing needs are enormous because they typically have very large families of eight or more children — and occasionally philosophical differences have led to physical attacks.
In Brooklyn, many Hasidic groups have been very supportive of Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes, who is Irish and Catholic. The Times articles provide us with one major reason for the support. He apparently has treated them preferentially, particularly in child abuse cases.
As reported in a May 11 New York Times article authored by Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera: “The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.
Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. And, he said, the mother of a child in a wheelchair confronted Mr. Jungreis’s mother-in-law, saying the same man had molested her son, and she ‘did not report this crime, so why did your son-in-law have to?’”
The Times article cites a number of cases of sexual abuse of children and the threats parents received from rabbis and others in the community if they alerted the police. The article reported on the shunning by the community of a rabbi who urged victims of sexual molestation to call the police, reporting, “Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg of Williamsburg, for example, has been shunned by communal authorities because he maintains a telephone number that features his impassioned lectures in Yiddish, Hebrew and English imploring victims to call 911 and accusing rabbis of silencing cases.
He also shows up at court hearings and provides victims’ families with advice. His call-in line gets nearly 3,000 listeners a day. In 2008, fliers were posted around Williamsburg denouncing him.
One depicted a coiled snake, with Mr. Rosenberg’s face superimposed on its head. ‘Nuchem Snake Rosenberg: Leave Tainted One!’ it said in Hebrew. The local Satmar Hasidic authorities banned him from their synagogues, and a wider group of 32 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis and religious judges signed an order, published in a community newspaper, formally ostracizing him.”