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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Agudah Takes A Cautious Step Forward

While Wolf and others are rightfully disappointed with the somewhat weak Jewish Press editorial on the subject of abuse, this VIN article about the Agudah's stance on certain new laws is very interesting.
“Our general sense is that we’re much better off when government leaves us alone,” said David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America for government and public affairs. “But because of the sensitivity of this particular issue, I could see the possibility of our rabbis affirmatively encouraging schools to buy into the system, and even maybe affirmatively encouraging government to impose it on us.”
This is a nice step forward, but it is hard to know if this is merely bluster or an actual policy shift. Certain other comments of Zwiebel are less encouraging.

One regulation under consideration, he related, would institute a “roach motel” principle: Once a school chooses to opt in, it will not be allowed to opt out.

“I’m troubled by that,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like wise public policy.”

Another proposed rule would mandate that a school opting into the system must require every employee to be fingerprinted, without exception.

“I don’t understand that part of it,” he said. “It would allow us no discretion to [exempt], say, certain veterans about whom there have never been any questions from a criminal background check.”

Still, he said, “I’m not necessarily implying those two rules would push us away. I’d like to know exactly what the details are.”

It is unclear why any school would wish to "opt out", presuming the rules and standards were fair. Offhand, there seems to be nothing in the realm of abuse or reports to government (fingerprints of teachers, etc.) that would somehow be a specific issue that schools would wish to avoid presuming everything is on the up-and-up. Granted he is merely asking for details of this, but it seems reasonable.

The other issue he cites is far more troubling to hear. What exactly would be gained by "exempting" certain veterans? Why should any Rebbe or teacher - no matter how long they have been teaching - be excluded from this fingerprinting process? What reasoning would there be to do so - what discomfort is there? Schools often make across the board ("lo plug") rules about issues that are important, even understanding that the rule is not necessarily necessary for all; the same should be applied to this issue as well.

11 comments:

  1. I so do not get the fingerprinting issue. If you think you're beyond reproof, then you have nothing to worry about, no reason to avoid fingerprinting. And if that's not the case, then it definitely warrants investigation.

    Fingerprinting is not a big deal. Anyone who wants to work for the department of education has to do it. I did mine in 15 minutes at the local police station.

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  2. "I could see the possibility of our rabbis affirmatively encouraging schools to buy into the system, and even maybe affirmatively encouraging government to impose it on us.”

    For the love of...what the hell does that even mean?!

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  3. Bas~Melech - Agreed. I really don't get it. Serach did the same.

    G - I think it's a way of saying "Well, MAYBE because people really care we could MAYBE think about having government regulate this aspect of our schools... MAYBE."

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  4. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't all get printed. The only reason I could think of for the to be nervous, is if they have illegal immigrants on staff or some staff off the books. But all the mores so....

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  5. I taught at a couple of Yeshivas in California. I HAD to be fingerprinted by law. This is no big deal.

    The Agudah stance was to try and protect the abusers. They are starting to see that is no longer tenable.

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  6. Agudah will have to rethink a lot of things. I (and many others) have been sounding the alarm for years, but I think 5769 is the year the "Kollel Bubble" bursts

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  7. Will someone polease explain to me why the editorial was "weak?" Do all the frum bloggers use the same talking points? If Dov Bear complains, everyone follows suit? The editorial expressed condemnation of those who intimidated Twerski and expressed the hope that Hikind's task force will succeed in educating the haredi public about the need of such an organization. What did you want the JP to say, that haredim are cavemen and that every right-wing yeshiva rebbe is a potential molester? I've read that editorial four times over now and can't for the life of me see why any sane centrist or modern orthodox Jew would take issue with it.

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  8. Will someone polease explain to me why the editorial was "weak?" Do all the frum bloggers use the same talking points? If Dov Bear complains, everyone follows suit?

    LOL. That's laughable in so many ways.

    The editorial expressed condemnation of those who intimidated Twerski and expressed the hope that Hikind's task force will succeed in educating the haredi public about the need of such an organization.

    It failed to discuss strongly the issue of such self-appointed individuals having such a strong hold on the community at large.

    It called what happened "shabby treatment", which is a rather weak terminology that implies that Dr. Twerski was merely not treated well - ignoring that he was threatened in ways that border on blackmail.

    It says that an equal amount of the focus should be placed on teaching the community why this is important as highlighting what the problem is - odd, considering that one would expect such an issue to be easily understood to be incredibly important.

    Nearly half the piece is dedicated not to decrying what occurred, the importance of stopping the cases of abuse, the importance of such a task force, or the issues the community faces when kannoim carry so much sway. Rather, it talks of placing the onus and responsibility on those who are already doing what they can to go even further above and beyond what they should have to do to get the messages across.

    Are those enough reasons to show why people consider the piece "weak"?

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  9. LB - Agreed.

    DAG - I think more protect themselves from being blamed for hiding the abusers, but same idea.

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  10. Ezz..i think b/c they though they were preventing a Chilul Hashem

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  11. O Sailor, Come Ashore

    (Part I)

    O sailor, come ashore

    What have you brought for me?

    Red coral , white coral,

    Coral from the sea.

    (Part II)

    I did not dig it from the ground ,

    Nor pluck it from a tree;

    Feeble insects made it

    In the stormy sea.

    ~by rs gold

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