There are two kinds of abuse:
One is directly towards a person.
Another, public actions, if not condemned, are by default allowed to continue.
Recently, thanks to an amazing organization, http://www.jewishcommunitywatch.org/, there is now an awareness of abuse happening in the Jewish community. In a synagogue a man was recognized and ousted immediately, having a no tolerance policy. Great reason why below:
Benny Forer Should a Child-Molester be allowed to Daven in your Shul?
Any predator of children presents two problems:
1) potential danger to others; and
2) whether it’s morally correct to accept such a person in any way.
Obviously, the former should be easier to discuss than the latter. Every rational person would conclude that no community should accept someone that is a potential danger to the children of the community. Simply put, should any level of risk be acceptable when dealing with our children?
Moral correctness presents a more complex issue, because on who’s morals are we relying? Should we evaluate a person’s business dealings? Do we examine their criminal records and have a rap sheet run?
Actually, it’s the other way around! Would you let an unrepentant murderer in your shul? Would you let a Nazi hang out in your shul?
A Nazi that murdered a Jew in 1945 now wants to visit your shul. He hasn’t murdered a Jew in 65 years; has a family and a regular job and is not a danger to anyone. Should we ever accept this person? The answer is unambiguously no! He did such an immoral, indecent, evil, horrible, disgusting and insert other adjectives thing, that this person should never be allowed to exist in peace. In fact, we encourage the identification and prosecution (including deportment) of any Nazi. Why is a person that molested a child any better than a Nazi?
For the record, yes, I am comparing a child molester to a Nazi. We don’t have, nor do we need, many rules regarding acceptance of a person into a shul. It isn’t about a fuzzy line that will cause us to be unsure of whether other people are acceptable. It’s really one rule: Are you a Nazi (murderer or sex-offender)? If yes, that person should be morally excluded from a shul.
Moreover, the very presence of a child-molester may have a tremendously negative impact on any survivors that may daven in that shul. Certainly, it would be destructive to the actual victim, should he show up in that shul. However, it would also harm the other survivors by being a constant trigger, reminding them of their own holocaust. It also is a harmful demonstration of a culture of acceptance of this horror. To use the prior example, would you allow a Nazi to be around a holocaust survivor?
Often, people will claim that it is wrong to exclude an offender from a house of worship (he obviously still has to pray). Their solution is to proclaim that they will “keep an eye on him.” In fact, this is the stated position of the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America): http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105763
This is a fundamentally misplaced and badly thought-out concept. As a prosecutor, I have never seen a case where a sex-offender molested a child in the presence of the whole community and during services. That’s not where they tend to operate.
Moreover, your “keeping an eye” on him is irrelevant to his ability to groom or have contact with a potential victim. You see a sex-offender and you are keeping an eye on him; ensuring he doesn’t go near or talk to children. That’s great, but,
What do you think your children see?
They see a pious person with a beard, yarmulka, nice talis, praying with absolute sincerity. A person that doesn’t talk in shul and listens intently to the Rabbis’ speech. A person that sits next to their dad and says “good Shabbos” in a very tender way. They see a trustworthy person. In their minds, this person is good, kind, nice, religious and proper. The predator does not care what you see and think. He only cares what his potential victim sees and thinks.
One day, when your child is waiting for the bus, the predator will be there. He will invite your child into his car and offer him a ride. And, your child will accept. Why? Because he knows the pious man from shul.
That is the danger of “acceptance” of a predator. They are experts at manipulation, revealing a false façade to their world. Their goal is to fool you into acceptance of their past – whether by passage of time (“it happened so long ago”), by fabricated claims of teshuva or by belief that it was a one-time thing. All statistics overwhelmingly indicate the opposite to be true.
A final thought: many will often claim that the above scenarios don’t apply because the predator did teshuva and repented for his sins and has been evaluated as a non-risk. This misplaced concept has put children in danger for many years. Have you ever seen a predator do proper teshuva, where he admitted his sins, profusely apologized for them and the victim accepted the apology? Unless and until that happens, the discussion of teshuva should not begin.
Yes, a predator/sex-offender needs to pray. If you care about him and his soul, I suggest a group of 9 men visit him at his house and make a minyan for him. Not because you respect him. Not because you forgave him (not that it’s your right anyway). But, because you want to respect G-d.
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