To the Editor:
An open letter to the our rabbis and our community:
There has been much dialogue this past week about the appropriateness of Teaneck community rabbis submitting requests for leniency on behalf of a community youth leader who admitted to committing abusive acts towards children. This dialogue is important and healthy, and broaches a topic which requires an open discussion with our leaders.
While justifications for rabbinical action have centered around justice and the legal process, this conversation clearly misses the objections of a concerned community that is less concerned with the justice of the matter than it is about leadership in general.
The question more worthy of discussion is whether our spiritual leaders have done enough within the community to address the lingering concerns that leaders and administrators of Orthodoxy neither be, or appear to be, protected from within—which has historically been a legitimate concern. Even more so, and more to the point: Have leaders combated this perception by proactively venturing outward to reinforce this message and offer compassion to victims, whether abuse has been proven or simply claimed?
This takes more than words on a blog or speeches from the pulpit. This requires action: to proactively involve oneself with congregants and community members impacted by, or concerned with, perceived wrongs. To demonstrate compassion as an ends to itself, which provides a sense of balance and comfort to the community overall.
The same type of proactive compassion that rabbis have shown toward an aggressor. This outpouring of objection is not about justice, but about compassion: There is a community perception that victims do not receive the appropriate amount of compassion, contrasted to a guilty party receiving tens of letters from spiritual leaders pleading for leniency.
How do we think community leaders should conduct themselves in these instances? Would it be appropriate for the community (including victims) to be made aware of these actions and the reasons thereof before finding it in the news? To understand that their voice is representative of the congregation they lead?
This view may ultimately be a minority view. After all, rabbis occupy pulpits as per the will of the congregation, and I do not see any leaders in danger of facing the wrath of their employers. Ultimately, we as a community are the ones who should be held most accountable.
It may at times be easy to forget, but our rabbis’ actions and conduct in the public and community eye are ultimately a reflection of our implicit approval.
Name Withheld Upon Request
To the Editor:
We just finished reading your article about Evan Zauder. Then we took a look at the Mi Li? blog. Are the rabbis out of their minds are or are they just ignorant? Of course Evan had a charming and engaging personality....that just made him even better at luring his underage victims into bed! I was unimpressed with the descriptions of how Zauder helped the poor—even on his vacations. How does that piece of information change the fact that a trusted adult took advantage of underage boys for the purpose of his own sexual gratification? After reading your article and the blog, the notion that rabbis in our community are supportive of the perpetrator rather than the victims is sickening...
Remember when Reagan went to Bitburg and Eli Wiesel spoke truth to power and told him that his place was with the victims?! That’s definitely not what happened here. Ugh.
Lou and Debby Flancbaum
To the Editor:
I truly enjoyed George Friedman’s L’Dor V’Dor article, but I think I can top it!
I raised my two sons (and even our one daughter) as true Mets fans. Proof, you ask? When the Yankees had a Beanie Baby give away day (remember those?), my youngest son, ordered eight Yankee bleacher tickets on line for $8 each. He took along a friend and I was the driver, hoping to collect eight Beanie Babies and sell them on E-Bay for a big profit. They collected six, but were turned away at the gate for the final two (long story, how they even got the six).
So, here we are with tickets to see the Yankees play Seattle. When I said let’s go in, my son looked at me and said, “Why would I want to see the Yankees play?” We went home!
One more example: when I brought home 2000 World Series tickets for a game at Yankee Stadium vs. the Mets, my son asked me if I could switch them for a game at Shea. Luckily for him, I could and we went to Shea!
I hope to soon take my grandchildren to Mets’ games and teach them the lessons of rooting for the underdog!
A Mets fan since 1965!
To the Editor:
With Pesach just around the corner, I wanted to share a recipe for charoses that was in the YNJ cookbook years ago, before it was RYNJ. The cookbook attributes the recipe to my mother Rosalind Rosenbaum, but it was really my father Aaron’s recipe. It’s tried and true and goes back to pre-Cuisinart days—when the Modern Orthodox Jewish community was just being born in Hudson County. It requires a bit of elbow grease, but it’s worth every moment of the effort. My kids eat it all Yom Tov long and treat it like peanut butter. Since there is no matzoh or matzoh meal in the recipe, you can taste it before you serve it to make sure it is exactly the way you want it to be. If you need bigger batches, double, triple or quadruple the recipe and everyone will be happy for at least a week. Here it is:
One cup of mixed chopped nuts. We used a mix of freshly shelled walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazel nuts. No grinding allowed. We chopped in a wooden bowl with a rounded blade to start, and finished the charoses in a mortar with pestle.
1 McIntosh apple, peeled, cored and grated by hand on the side of a box grater that you use to grate potatoes for latkes
Dash of ginger powder
Cinnamon to taste
Red Sweet Wine (Concord is the perfect choice) or use grape juice
Chop the nuts, then mix them together with the apples and cinnamon and put them in the mortar bowl. Add the wine slowly and work the mixture with the pestle until it is like a paste.
Chag Sameach everyone, and enjoy. P.S. I love the Jewish Link!