An open letter to Rabonim [rabbis] and Askonim
In the aftermath of what has been a very difficult time for chareidi [ultra-Orthodox] leadership in the UK, I ask you to allow me to reflect on my experience as a victim of Mr Grynhaus, and to hear what I have to say.
There are indecent people in every society. Our community, which prides itself on kedusha [holiness] and tahara [purity], is not immune. Some people are just sick. They need to be kept away from children as a basic safety measure for the klall [society].
I don't want to talk about those types of people.I want to talk about other people, who are not sick. Who don't have twisted desires and who have self-control and self-respect. I'm referring to rabonim [rabbis], teachers, layleaders, frum [reigious] GPs and therapists.
The behaviour of some of these people is what pushed me to the edge of my sanity, and to the edge of my faith. I was lied to, lied about, ignored, pacified, and profoundly betrayed. Not by sick, indecent men, but by people who thought they were doing the right thing.
I know that many of these Rabonim [rabbis] do not set out to be cruel. Their actions are not malicious. However, even if they didn't mean to, they caused me horrific pain and suffering. That suffering is on a level with the suffering caused by the abuse itself, and responsibility needs to be accepted for that pain.
Apart from more recent UK laws surrounding safeguarding issues, our own halacha [Jewish Law] is thousands of years old. The first time I was assaulted, it was in a situation of yichud [prohibition of seclusion in a private area between a male and female who are not married to each other] I can count at least five frum [religious] adults who knew this man was being meyached [breaching the Jewish Law of yichud] with me. But they kept quiet. They must bear responsibility for their silence, for ignoring the breach in halacha [Jewish Law].
I am suffering so much. If you looked the other way then, don't look away now. If, in the past, you were involved in keeping abuse quiet or abuse happened on your watch, hold up your hands to it. It would help me, and other victims, if you could reach out and apologise, and acknowledge what happened. Please, take steps to become educated in safeguarding issues.
If you are someone who has responsibility for children or vulnerable adults, provide pastoral care or healthcare, please, take my message on board. If you can't, perhaps you need to rethink your position.
Our community must stop being a safe place for predators. If you look away, that invites an offender to strike again.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.