DOCUMENTARY EXAMINES CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE
By SHELDON KIRSHNER,
The Canadian Jewish News
Thursday, 12 May 2011
It’s an incredible betrayal, says Nancy Meyer, a Toronto therapist. She is talking about pedophilia in North American Orthodox Jewish communities, the subject of a Vision TV documentary by Alan Mendelsohn due to be broadcast on May 16 at 10:30 p.m.
Titled Wall of Silence, this frank film sets out to expose a phenomenon that has caused untold grief and is usually hushed up by rabbis.
According to Mendelsohn, the Orthodox community is vulnerable to sexual predators. In outlining his case, he cites two examples, taking viewers to Brooklyn and Winnipeg, where pedophiles have wreaked havoc.
In Brooklyn, the principal of a day school molested a boy who belonged to the Satmar sect. The assault threw the boy into depression. North of the border, in Winnipeg, a rabbi assaulted a boy the son of a newspaper journalist who referred to his perpetrator as The Zipper Man.
Wall of Silence claims that a victim who reports the crime to civil authorities is held up to ridicule and shame and is ostracized.
Victims are branded as liars, while offenders walk free, charges Amy Neustein, an author.
Orthodox rabbis prefer to refer sexual abuse cases to rabbinical counsels, where such crimes are reportedly not treated with the gravity they deserve, Mendelsohn suggests.
Wall of Silence says that a rabbi who attempted to expose a molester was the object of an assassination attempt and barred from praying at his synagogue.
Dov Hikind, a New York assemblyman who represents a heavily populated Orthodox district, urges the Orthodox community to deal firmly with this problem.
But as Wall of Silence points out, there is still “stiff resistance” to bringing pedophiles to justice.
“We have a long way to go”, says a man familiar with the situation.