I was discussing pederasty in the Talmud yesterday on the RBN radio network with Deanna Spingola. I found the following letter to the Baltimore City Paper today.
Andrea Appleton’s “Silent No More” (Feature, March 9) was a fine treatment of Phil Jacobs’ “several-year quest to expose sexual abuse within Baltimore’s insular Orthodox community,” an effort that resulted in huge repercussions for him personally.
The pedophilia question is a particularly sensitive matter, especially since, as the article indicates, the tendency of the insular (=ultra) Orthodox is to dismiss it or wish to cover it up, even going so far as to invoke Jewish law (Halacha) to chastise Mr. Jacobs for “embarrassing” the Jewish community by exposing it. As though Jewish law trumps American law in Baltimore!
As New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (who, like Phil Jacobs, is himself Orthodox) observed, “If you’re a pedophile, the best place for you to come to are some of the [ultra-Orthodox] Jewish communities. Why? Because you can be a pedophile and no one’s going to do anything.” (The Jewish Daily Forward, March 13, 2009).
One is prompted to ask : Might there be something in the culture of this community that fosters such outrageous permissiveness? Sadly, there is.
Orthodox Jews strictly follow all the dictates of the Talmud (the non-Orthodox do so critically and selectively). According to the Talmud, “a girl of the age of three years and one day may be betrothed by intercourse.” (Niddah 44b, Yebamoth 57b). For the Talmud, the legal age of sexual maturity for girls is 3 years and one day—and for boys 9 years of age.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is currently holding hearings in Washington because it is his position that the religion of Islam predisposes its followers to engage in terrorist acts against the United States.
Just as the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists, so the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews are not pedophiles.
But fair is fair. If the American Muslim faith community can be faulted as being “soft on extremism” (per Rep. King), then the ultra-Orthodox contingent (per Assemblyman Hikind) can be accused of being “soft on pedophilia.” Certainly, as Rep. King insists, if there are “too many mosques in this country,” then—if Baltimore is any indication—there are also far too many ultra-Orthodox institutions that are pedophilia-friendly.
Therefore, it seems to me that if a Congressional investigation of Islam is valid, then by the same token, should not, perhaps on the local or state level, a similar probe be launched exploring ultra-Orthodox Judaism’s apparent predisposition toward sexual abuse of children? In the words of Rep. King: “It is our responsibility to put aside political correctness and define who our enemy truly is.”
By all means. Especially for the sake of the children. Of Pikesville.
Or is the trump card quashing any such inquiry going to be that, while the American Muslim community is not politically well connected, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community definitely is—especially in Baltimore.