One can pray umpteen times a day, don a yarmulke, tefillin and tzitzit – that doesn’t make them a religious person. In recent days, the mainstream media has paid undue attention to so-called “religious” child molesters – and those who defend them. They can be called a slew of different words – but religious, and Orthodox wouldn’t be words fitting for them.
Media has spoken of Brooklyn prosecutors protecting child molesters in the closed “ultra-Orthodox Jewish” communities. “Rabbinical authorities banned relatives of the abused from reporting the crimes to non-Jewish authorities; those few who spoke out were shunned — expelled from synagogues, their children expelled from schools — or pressured into dropping their cases.” This behavior is simply sickening.
Damage is being done to the children and their families – and the Jewish community worldwide should be shamed by these individuals. A Chabad religious court last summer ruled that the traditional prohibition against mesirah — turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities — did not apply in cases of sexually abused children. “One is forbidden to remain silent in such situations,” it declared.
Those who molest children simply cannot be described in words. It’s simply sickening, tearful and just horrendous. As a Jew it is infuriating to hear molesters or those who protect them as “religious.” What Makes a Jew or any person religious? One cannot be a religious Jew when he molests children – I don’t care how many times a day he prays.
For me, as a father, as a Jew, as a human being; at the age of 37, being religious means being a good person, not hurting anyone, being honest, being decent, and caring about my family and my community. Those who see horrors of young children being molested in schools and don’t say anything – are not religious, nor are those who pray three times a day and then steal. They simply cannot be religious people and shouldn’t be referred to by the media as such.
A Jewish leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky said in 1937, “Jewish religious tradition is not an archaic object of our history, but an active pulsating power which exists today and will continue for all eternity.” Nothing which exists today – no decent religion would dare to talk about protecting child molesters – nor can a child molester be called a “religious Jew.”
I pray for the day that being a religious Jew means being a good, honest, decent ethical person, and not simply someone who dons a certain garb or attends synagogue.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR firm and an active Jewish philanthropist.