Tuesday, February 03, 2009

NPR Opens Up Elusive Window Into Dark Side of Hasidic World

Stunning Report from Barbara Bradley Hagerty Reveals How Insular Religion Protect Pedophiles In Their Midst

If you're not an Hasidic Jew, chances are you're persona non grata to them, especially if you're a less-observant Jew, as I found out when I was a reporter in a suburban New York county where thousands of them lived.
They live in a world that, in many ways, resembles the shtetls of Eastern Europe from where the sect sprung. They are content to wall themselves off from much of the world to remain ostensibly righteous, and steadfastly devoted to G-d and Torah.
But they remain human beings. And like the general population, some share dark secrets, which are rarely revealed because the communities they live in are so close-knit.
So, a report by NPR's religion reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty on sexual abuse in the Hasidic enclave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is, to say the least, a revelation.
As disturbing are the allegations by two men who say they suffered abuse, are the attempts by the chief rabbis to handle this matter themselves -- in other words, do whatever they can to sweep this scandal under the rug.
Most Hasidim don't indulge in media such as TV, radio, English-langugage newspapers. So, any hubbub over this report may go unnoticed. Suffice to say, though, it's a safe bet many of them have heard stories or rumors about abuse, or knew someone has been molested. This story will hardly be news.
But for the rest of us, let's hope the secular and Jewish media keep on this story, and perhaps allow for healing to begin.

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