We are living in perilous times. It is said that more people are alive on the earth today than have died in all of human history. We’re living in an unprecedented time of human evolution, where morality has disappeared to be replaced with a tribal mentality, where people feel they could do what they please, when they please, with no repercussions.
Take for example, the recent sexual molestation accusations of rabbis and priests. Growing up as a Jew in Montreal, it was always explained to me that sexual abuse was almost non-existant within the Jewish community. I was told that Jews don’t do that, they may beat their wives, but they don’t sexually molest their kids. I believed it, perhaps I was naive, perhaps I always tried to see the good in people, but I never believed that sexual molestation was a problem within our community.
Reality, however, has a way of smacking you in the face. I woke up to reality one day, when I read the story of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko. The story, essentially changed my outlook on the Jewish community and more specifically on the teachers and leaders of the community.
In brief, Rabbi Kolko was a rebbe in a major yeshiva in New York City. For decades it appears that Rabbi Kolko abused, physically and sexually the children in his yeshiva. It also appears that the yeshiva, particularly the administration, hid the allegations from the community and allowed Rabbi Kolko unfettered access to the young boys in the yeshiva, in effect enabling his abusive power for decades.
Once the Kolko case broke, it seems like the floodgates of child abuse allegations in the yeshiva community flew open. Hundreds of children came forward with allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
I did my first show on the subject two years ago. Since then, I’ve received countless emails outlining abuse within the Montreal community. The majority of the emails came from hotmail accounts anonymously and the ones that came attached to names asked me not to even reveal the stories for fear that the victim might be recognized.
It amazes me that even in today’s age, people are still fearful of a negative stigma put onto the family of abuse victims. It’s shocking that a lot of families will ignore the issue, even to the detriment of the abused, in order to maintain a family reputation so that the rest of the children of the family can get married. It’s revolting that in certain communities, that abuse victims and their families are stigmatized for events that are way beyond their control.
It’s time we put an end to the outcasting, it’s time for the entire community, everyone from every sect, to recognize and understand that an abused person is just that, an abused person. That they did nothing to invite or welcome the abuse, and that they are not guilty of any crime.
It’s time for religious communities to stop protecting the perpetrators and start treating the victims.