The Netflix documentary, One of Us, released in 2017 exposed what whistleblowers have been saying for years. Just as the Catholic Church maintained, protected, and allowed a pedophile ring of hundreds if not thousands of Catholic priests to rape and abuse children for decades, so too, has the Ultra-orthodox Jewish community in NY been accused of allowing 1 out of every 5 ultra-orthodox Jews to be abused without informing police.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, 68, has been blowing the whistle for decades in what may have seemed to some as a futile attempt to bring awareness to sexual abuses taking place in New York’s Jewish community. In a 2013 interview with Vice, Rosenberg stated he witnessed firsthand the rape of a boy he believed to be around 7 years old when he visited an Orthodox Jewish ceremonial bath house (schvitz) in Israel. He described what he saw in 2005 with his own eyes. The following account is extremely graphic and the account may be a trigger for victims of child sexual abuse.
“I opened a door that entered into a schvitz…and I see an old man, my age, long white beard, a holy-looking man, sitting in the vapors. On his lap, facing away from him, is a boy, maybe seven years old. And the old man is having anal sex with this boy…This boy was speared on the man like an animal, like a pig, and the boy was saying nothing. But on his face—fear. The old man [looked at me] without any fear, as if this was common practice. He didn’t stop. I was so angry, I confronted him. He removed the boy from his penis, and I took the boy aside. I told this man, ‘It’s a sin before God, a mishkovzucher. What are you doing to this boy’s soul? You’re destroying this boy!’ He had a sponge on a stick to clean his back, and he hit me across the face with it. ‘How dare you interrupt me!’ he said. I had heard of these things for a long time, but now I had seen.”
Years later, such anecdotal instances of child sexual abuse were recounted by survivors, all fundamentalist Jews, who were sexually abused by their religious leaders.
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One instance of abuse in the film is tempered by a 2008 expose by the New York Times which uncovered at least 60 pedophiles and predators were being protected by powerful Jewish politicians and lawyers.
Israel Becoming a ‘Refuge for Pedophiles,’ Warns Advocate for Child Sex Abuse Victims
Israel has become a safe haven for Jewish pedophiles from around the world, a leading advocate for child sexual abuse victims warned at a Knesset committee pre-hearing on pedophilia in the ultra-Orthodox community.
“Sex offenders tend to move from country to country to avoid jail, but what makes Israel unique is the Law of Return, which essentially grants unhindered access to anyone who is Jewish to come here without any real screening,” said Manny Waks, the chief executive officer of Kol v’Oz, a newly formed nonprofit that aims to prevent child sexual abuse in the global Jewish community.
Waks was raised in Melbourne, Australia where he attended Yeshiva Centre, a school run by the Chabad movement. Years later, he reported that he had been sexually abused by two members of the staff there.
Among those accused of sexual abuse who have fled to Israel, Waks cited the prominent case of Malka Leifer, the former principal of a religious girls’ school in Melbourne, who allegedly assaulted eight of her charges. She is now under house arrest, and the Australian authorities are seeking her extradition. Waks noted several other cases of pedophiles and alleged pedophiles from the United States, Britain and the Netherlands who had fled to Israel either after being charged or to avoid being charged. Some have already been extradited back to their home countries where they are serving jail sentences.