Mystic silhouette. Reflection of a man on a dark background.

Rabbi, Why Did You Welcome A Child Molester Into Our Shul?

Rabbi, we are new here. Rabbi, I came to talk to you because my heart is heavy. Rabbi, my son was diagnosed with a mental condition. We knew something was off his whole entire life. Rabbi, he did not get accepted to two Jewish schools. He has difficulties learning. Yes, I know you would have never guessed. Yes, he is on medication, getting the help he needs.

What I need from you, Rabbi, is to help me. He feels comfortable in your shul and for that, I am grateful. If he does come to a grown-up class, do not shoo him out. Let him stay in and listen. He is a bright boy, he learns well in English. I would love for him to imbibe as much Torah as he can because all the standard methods have failed.

I’m sorry that I am crying, Rabbi. What’s that? Are you offering to pray for him? Do you know how many years I have been praying for him? Do you know that he has been praying himself for Hashem to make him better? I’m sorry to sound cynical Rabbi, but yes, please pray for my Dovid*. Yes, I hope it helps.

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A week passes and you see me at a bris. You mention how you have been praying for me and for my son and I tell you that I feel better, that your prayer is working, Rabbi. I believe that we are on the same team. I feel a sense of relief, like I have come full circle, to the supportive environment that I have been looking for.

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Rabbi, we really need to hold this meeting. Rabbi, what do we need to know about this former neighbor of ours? Rabbi, people are calling me for information. Rabbi, they are telling me he is a child molester. Rabbi, we put people in his house, had his family over for meals, introduced friends to them. You are telling me he is not a nice person. You are telling me he seemed odd. Rabbi, he made inappropriate remarks. Rabbi, you are telling me that you are refusing to connect the dots. I am nervous, Rabbi. I am nervous, so I brought my husband with me. Rabbi, we just want to hear the truth. We are here for transparency. We want to know what is being done to protect our children, to protect the women of the congregation.

Rabbi, you are telling us that he is not allowed on the premises again. You are telling us that there will be a code of conduct so that such a situation will not repeat again. Why didn’t you warn us when we naively treated him like any other Jew, with openness? I feel wary.

Rabbi, you are saying that your judgement was clouded because you knew the alleged molester’s family and you wavered. Yes, I understand that his children are involved. Yes, I am very sorry that it has come to this. I have heard enough, but not enough to put my mind at ease.

Thank you for your time, Rabbi. It is time for us to go. What’s that you say, Rabbi? Oh, you want to know how’s Daniel doing? Rabbi, my son’s name is Dovid.

How have you been praying for my son when you do not even know his first name? I bet you know the names of the neighbor’s children. I bet you have been davening for them with the correct names. Rabbi, I have a hard time trusting you. I will be connecting my own dots.

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How could you, Rabbi? I walked into the shul on Shabbos and, lo and behold, the alleged molester is back in the congregation, on the bimah, next to the bar mitzvah boy. Are my eyes deceiving me? This could not be happening. Then you get up and wish Mazal Tovs all around, singling out the excellent bar mitzvah tutor by name on a job well done. My ears cannot be hearing this. What about all the children of the congregation? What about the promises not to allow this man on the shul’s property? What about all the women who have been heckled by this man? Rabbi, have you thought how you have silenced them all?

Rabbi, your shul president has slandered me in a public letter for spreading rumors and lies. You know the truth, but you chose to remain silent. Rabbi, I have a special needs kid. He is a prime target for molestation. Why did you put this stumbling block before your congregation? Why did you not warn the parents of all that you knew? Why did you make it look and sound that a dear guest has returned?

Rabbi, I do not know what to think. How silly of me to sit in your office, divulging my son’s secret, pouring out my heart. How many others have done the same, believing that you are our protector, equally looking out for the well-being of all the members of the congregation? How hard is it to find a shul that cares about the children AND does not shelter child molesters?

You have undermined my Judaism, Rabbi.

*not his real name