Religion can be very disturbing. When clear violations against the justice and love that God demands within the community as witnessed all throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, a community must change. This is the case for Hasidic Jews as well.
Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.
The message is still not clear for many who claim to follow the God of Abraham. This isn’t just a Catholic issue, it’s a human race issue. The problem is when religion is used as a cover for clear acts that go against the very fibers of that religion.
Jewish Law going back to Deuteronomy is very clear that forced sex on a girl much less a boy is punishable by death. At the very least a man who had sex with an unengaged woman would pay the father of the woman and then would become her husband by default. This means that as a result of the rape he could not just leave the woman as if nothing happened. It was his duty to support her for the rest of his life (Deut. 22:13-30).
Disobeying these kinds of statutes is indefensible in Jewish Law. So which is more sacred to God, pedophilia and rape or keeping social boundaries from those who are non-Hasidic? If these acts are going unpunished in the community, that is one level of egregious shirking of responsibility. Keeping unpunished acts secret from those who have the legal responsibility to defend children and punish those responsible is simply criminal in the United States.
When religion fails our kids, someone has to break down the walls and rescue them even if that means the destruction of long cherished sectarian boundaries. Secrets make all of us sick. Something we don’t feel free to share because we fear the consequences of our actions is probably already in the wrong. As soon as that bitter sensation of guilt begins to form in the pit of our stomach it’s time to get honest. When the life of children is involved and we keep secrets, it’s an acute illness that calls for a radical treatment.
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire (Matt. 18:8).
If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea (Mark 9:42).
The 1st Amendment protects liberty for all, not sexual abuse.