Friday, May 19, 2006

Rabbi A. Ginzberg Speaks Out On Abuse

(via DovBear)

Much like DB, I do not know what FTS/FTJC is; I assume it has something to do with the Five Towns. The first comment at DovBear states:
He [R' Ginzberg] is a local rabbi in Cedarhurst with a small shul on the corner of West Broadway and Derby and the letter was put out tothe community email list.

He is apparently close to R. Sheinberg who visited his house recently.
UPDATE: Orthomom's post says on the bottom of the letter that R' Ginzberg is from the Chofetz Chaim Torah Center in Cedarhurst, NY.

Now, the e-mail that was sent:
At the request of Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg, we, the moderators of FTS/FTJC,have approved the distribution of the below letter (which is also attached in pdf format). Rabbi Ginzberg has informed us that he has been approached by numerous community members to clarify -- and issue a ruling on -- the matter addressed in the letter. Given the urgency of this message, and the unavailablity of other effective means in which to distribute this information on a Friday afternoon, we believe it is important to use this list to support the request of a community Rov.

Finally, we assure you that this was in fact authorized by Rabbi
Ginzberg and have met with him personally to confirm.
Dear Community Members

Over the last few days, a number of people have brought to my
attention an article from a secular publication asserting that a
world-renowned Rosh Hayeshiva issued a halachic ruling regarding child molestation. This alleged ruling – through this publication – has resulted in widespread Chilul Hashem and gross misrepresentation of clear and indisputable Halacha.

The purpose of this letter is not to address the context of the quote, the alleged ruling in question or the specifics of the primary accusations made in the article. This letter is about clarifying the position of halacha with regard to child abuse, to the extent that position has been clouded by these recent events. Moreover, this letter is about urgently disseminating essential halachic facts which -- hopefully -- will serve to mitigate the potential damage and destruction caused by this mischaracterization.

It is incumbent upon all Rabbonim worldwide to unite and unequivocally declare that Orthodox Judaism absolutely forbids child abuse of any kind – sexual and non-sexual. And, as with any other allegation of halachic wrongdoing, the appropriate testimony must be given, and the appropriate proceedings must be convened, in order to establish the truth of any accusations.

Allow me to be among the first to make this declaration, and I speak not only for myself but also for the Rosh Hayeshiva named in this publication, with whom I have consulted:

Sexually abusing a child in any form is a flagrant violation of our Torah. Halacha absolutely prohibits any and all such conduct. No "benchmark" exists to qualify a sexually motivated act as child molestation, and there are no "technical defenses" to justify child abuse. To be crystal clear: the touching of a child in a sexual manner is utterly forbidden by our Torah and by our mesorah.

It is my hope and prayer that this letter will serve to clarify any confusion about the Torah view on these very serious issues.Obviously, this is not a scholarly letter or article -- now is not the time for Talmudic sources, lengthy discussions or intellectual debates. It is simply the time to set the record straight – solely for the purpose of abruptly ending the Chilul Shaim Shomayim facilitated by the dissemination of the supposed Torah viewpoint reported in the article.

Child abuse is forbidden. An issue this easy does not need further clarification. It is my sincere hope that, in consultation with other Rabbonim in our community, we can collectively and effectively formulate appropriate strategies to ensure that the issue of child abuse is dealt with appropriately, proactively and swiftly in our community and beyond.

Good Shabbos.

Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg
Chofetz Chaim Torah Center
Cedarhurst, NY
It's a start.


  1. we can collectively and effectively formulate appropriate strategies to ensure that the issue of child abuse is dealt with appropriately, proactively and swiftly in our community and beyond.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about these strategies!

    Of course, you already linked to my take, by in brief: professional hiring standards including background checks, reporting to authorities, codes of conduct, databases, a place to file and adjudicate complaints, and adults not putting themselves in positions that could come back to haunt them-no unsupervised Shabbatons, tutoring, and more.

    On the parental side: professional skepticism (a term you learned in accounting-right?). Don't place blind trust in teachers. Insist on professional standards in schools and camps (let them know you, as a parent, care). Watch your children for any changes and strange relationships. And, don't be afraid to talk about sexual abuse-there is nothing sexual about it.

  2. FIIIIIIIIINALLY! this letter made my shabbos, if only to give me a glimmer of hope. (it didn't take as long as i thought it would to get from Cedarhurst to Tora Or!)

  3. The fact that it does NOT deny that rabbi Sheinberg said it, is quite disturbing

  4. Oh, BTW FTS = Five Towns Shuls and FTJC =Five towns jewish community. Each is a yahoo group


  5. i dunno DAG, in my book, that letter makes up for whatever MIGHT have been said...especially considering it's coming from an actual source. and possibly a ??reliable?? one at that? (i know, it might be a little hard to believe.) but yeah, this is what passes for good stuff in my book. actual repsonses.

  6. Mord, this is a denial that skirts the main issues. Either Rabbi Ginsburg has no idea how to do these things, OR he is hiding something he either knows or cannot discredit. If hes quoting Rabbi Sheinberg, why not quote Rabbi Sheinberg's denial if it is forthcoming. You think he didnt ask about that comment? Like I've said on other blogs, Im not 93, and I can't tell you most things I said 20 years ago, BUT I sure as day can tell you something I did NOT say. A response that skirts the real issue is either a shoddy press release, a staling tactic or a coverup.


  7. I think I'm missing the denial here that some seem to be seeing.

  8. whtvr it is, it's works for now. and i think the letter made it clear that this was just a rush release in order to hold people over till after shabbos. believe me, if you read my post, you know i'll be the first to admit to the cover-ups that definately still exist. but this is a small step in a direction... whichever direction it leads us in, it's still a step.

  9. Got to disagree Mord....A qucik response would include a denial if it was easily forthcoming

  10. then we agree to disagree... YAY SHOLOM ON THE INTERNET!!! hahaha...
    shabbat shalom people

  11. oops. that was me. a little too quick on the enter button. pardon me.

  12. Important issues deserve the most publicity.

  13. DAG, R' Scheinberg statement was most likely taken completely out of context. I highly doubt that any form of child abuse would be ruled as "halachically acceptable" by anyone, as you well know. I have a feeling it probably was in reference to the issur of mishkav zachar.

  14. Thank you Ayelet (why have I not been following this thread?). That is my impression, as well. I would not read anything more than face value into this letter, which was written quickly to get out before Shabbos.

    The *next* letters and statements will be far more important.

  15. I have to disagree...quick letter, even if well intentioned do more harm than good. I also would like to believe that this is takne out of contxt, or is a fabrication, BUT this letter did much more harm than good. There are professionals who can be hired to handle thge media and such responses. If a perosn is NOT an expert..hes better keeping quiet


  16. I think you're the only one who reads it that way. I think it did good, no harm.

  17. Unfortunately, and I understand why it is so hard to believe, what Scheinberg said in short to numerous victims was: "no penetration - no molestation".

    Please understand that Scheinberg was hired by Margulies in order to bury the previous beis din and dismiss any demands that Kolko had done anything wrong.

  18. I'm not certain I want to discuss this in a comments section, and you are welcome to e-mail me, but...

    Was this said *directly* to the victims by R' Scheinberg or was this a message passed along? What was the context of the conversation?

  19. No need to speculate here David...but I will continue to say that a response that skirts the issues, is worse than no response...Especially if that resppnse gets picked up in MSM