Novominsker Rebbe: Child Molestation Threatens Integrity of the Community


novominsker-rebbeAt the recent Agudas Yisroel Convention, held over Thanksgiving weekend, the Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow, Rosh Agudas Yisroel, addressed an issue that is a sensitive but pressing one in the frum community.

The Rebbe’s remarks were delivered at the Thursday night session at the 88th National Agudah Convention, whose theme was “Leiv Avos al Bonim – For the Sake of Our Precious, Vulnerable Youth: Securing Our Yeshivos…Our Homes…Our Future.” The convention was held last weekend at the East Brunswick, NJ, Hilton.  

The Rebbe spoke forcefully at the Thursday evening plenary session of the responsibility toward children shared by parents and the community. While a yeshiva may be a private institution, he said, they are agents of the community and, as such, must ensure that each child is ensured a classroom seat in a yeshiva or Bais Yaakov. By the same token, the community must take responsibility for supporting and maintaining yeshivos and day schools, not only in the largest communities, but across the entire country and across the parameters of the Orthodox world.

The Rebbe also spoke of the need for introspection, the need for serious cheshbon hanefesh, a need to identify and rectify the cracks in the walls that surround us and protect us. A child who is not in a school for whatever reason – financial, physical, emotional, or ideological – represents a crack in that structure. A school that is forced to close for lack of funds represents a crack in that structure. If special needs children who can be helped are not, and if teachers have to wait months for their salaries, there is something wrong. And as painful as it is to admit that the problem exists, said the Rebbe the possibility that a child could be molested in our own community is a crack that threatens the very integrity of the structure.

Ensuring that children find a safe haven in home and school was the topic of a late session on Thursday evening, led by Dr. Benzion Twerski. Noting that abuse takes many forms, Dr. Twerski spoke of the need to be certain that children are not victimized by the adults who are supposed to constitute their safety net. While admitting that he had no simple solutions to the problem, he did outline important steps that had to be taken to address it, including the need for parents to maintain open lines of communication with their children and be sensitive to any changes that could signal a problem, the need to educate teachers, caregivers, and school staff to detect the symptoms of abuse, and in the need to immediately remove anyone accused of an offense (albeit a rare occurrence in schools and unfortunately more likely to be a threat among other acquaintances), while simultaneously respecting the privacy of both the accuser and the accused.

{Yossi Newscenter}


  1. While the the privacy of both the accuser and the accused is important, the identification of child abuse must be ascertained in no uncertain terms by qualified people. Furthermore, the community must make sure the guilty party has no access to other children to carry out his depraved acts again. Furthermore, those cooperating with the guilty party just because he is a relative, or davens in the stieb’l must be ostracized.

  2. these people who do the molestation have been offered free hotlines, and know that this is unacceptable (to say it mildly). We cannot afford this. On top of this, some of these people have Borderline Personality disorder (I’ve seen it posted here on some of the other articles, and know about it now, and everyone should know about it which you can google or look up anywhere)….some of these molesters have BPD, and they will get back at people for trying to stop them, and we have to have conferences and know how to deal with them. NO MORE, we must stop this.

  3. <<<>>>

    I am not exactly sure what is meant by Yeshovos being “private institutions”. Inasmuch as they are reliant on their communities for support and actively fundraise in that domain, they should be beholden and accountable to the tzibbur. Perhaps the fact that many moisdois have morphed into institutions whose critical decisions are made by a chosen few is the reason why they are not as transparent and accountable as they should be, in order to help ameliorate problems like abuse and financial impropriety.

  4. I worked in the Nursing Home field and it was a state and federal requirement to do a 50 state criminal backgroung check on each new employee. I higly recommend this for ALL Employees (Teachers and other staff) in all our schools and institutions that service our precious children, even post High school.

  5. And for those of you for whom this is all so new, rabbi elyashiv ruled molesters are rodfim and one has aq halachic obligation to inform the proper aurthorities…the police, that is, since these are criminal actions…

  6. Shmuel Stop pretending to care about children and just attack as in comment one and 14. Instead lets have constructive discussions and applaud the actions.

  7. Since RAV ELYASHEV’s PSAK is being discussed, here it is:

    Kovetz Teshuvos 3:231:

    Question: If someone is abusing a boy a girl in circumstances which we don’t have the means to stop him from continuing his evil deeds – is it permissible to notify the government authorities?

    Answer: [Yes] … However, it is permitted to notify the government authorities only in the case which it is certain that the accused has been abusing children. Informing the authorities in such a case is clearly something for the well being of the society (tikun olam). However in a case where there is no proof that this activity is happening but it is merely a conjecture or suspicion, if we permit the calling of the authorities – not only would it not be an improvement (tikun olam) – but it would destroy society. That is because it is possible that allegations are being made solely because of some bitterness the student has against his teacher or because of some unfounded fantasy. As a result of these false allegations the accused will be placed in a situation for which death is better than life – even though he is innocent. Therefore I do not see any justification for calling the authorities in such circumstances.

  8. Here is another relevant psak.

    Rav Menashe Klein (Mishneh Halachos 16:58):

    … Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 388:9) writes that it is prohibited to cause a Jew to be handed over to the secular government whether physically or his money – even if he is a wicked person and even if he irritates and causes someone distress. It would seem from this statement of the Shulchan Aruch that it is prohibited to report a person to the police. Nevertheless in Nishmas Avraham (C.M. part 4 page 207) he cites in the name of Prof Avraham Sofer that Rav Eliashiv, the Tzitz Eliezer, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach classify a molester as a rodef (pursuer) and that they rule that it is permitted to report the molester to the police. However I don’t have this book to see what they actually said….

    Concerning the issue of whether it is permitted to give him over to the secular courts (see Shulchan Aruch 388:9). But this that you want to say that he is a rodef (pursuer); I don’t know what you mean. In the case of the rodef we have an established principle that if we can stop him by damaging one of his limbs then he should be stopped that way. Therefore in our case we can say that after the matter has been clarified that he in fact committed the crime, nevertheless he can be stopped by firing him from the school and therefore he will not have the opportunity to do the crime again. Since the administration can stop him in this manner they have no right to punish him by given him to the secular government since he is no longer a rodef. Furthermore if he is now pursued after he has been fired then the victim becomes the rodef and the rodef becomes the victim. If it has been clarified before proper witnesses then there is an alternative way of dealing with him by firing him – it is prohibited to hand him over to the government. And surely in the case where the facts have not been clarified by proper witness as I said before – but only by means of circumstantial evidence. Nevertheless he does not have the status of a wicked person except by means of proper witnesses. So surely it is prohibited to hand him over to the police and to have him imprisoned. (Also because in the case of imprisonment when he is freed he will be like he was before.) Nevertheless after he has committed a transgression we have no ability give him a punishment of flogging because we don’t have a beis din with proper semicha. We do have the ability to make various decrees but what ever is done must be done according to the Torah and with a proper beis din. Nevertheless in a situation where all the clarifications of facts have not been done according to the Torah as we have written, even though it is possible to fire him from the school – but G?d forbid to hand him over to the police and have him imprisoned.

    Therefore I am extremely upset that there are rabbis that have decided to give permission in all cases to go to the civil courts. There are cases of people who have come to me where a child who learns in the school and has various problems with the teacher and has accused the teacher of pursing him in a disgusting manner. Even though there is no previous history of such a thing and he has acted like any other religious teacher. Nevertheless they go to a rav who tells them immediately to call the police. That is in my humble opinion a very serious prohibition. Concerning this the Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 26) says that a person who goes to the secular courts is a wicked person and is like one who blasphemes and raises his hand against the Torah of Moshe. The Rema adds to the Shulchan Aruch and says to punish anyone who assists in this endeavor. Thus one who rules that one should go to the secular courts is included in one who assists in this endeavor. In addition he is giving permission to be a moser and to go to the secular courts which is included in cherem – G?d forbid.

  9. Agudath Israel Convention

    The 88th annual Agudath Israel convention was held this past weekend at the Hilton in East Brunswick, N.J. This year’s theme was “For the Sake of Our Precious, Vulnerable Youth: Securing Our Yeshivos, Our Homes, Our Future.” The Thursday evening Plenary Session, as well as the Melaveh Malkah Keynote Session, drew an overflow audience.

    Thursday’s evening session heard Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, Novominsker Rebbeand rosh Agudath Israel; Rabbi Yaakov Bender, rosh yeshiva Darchei Torah, Far Rockaway; and Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, rosh yeshiva Meor Yitzchok, Monsey. The session was chaired by Avi Schron. In keeping with the theme of this year’s convention, the Novominsker Rebbe asserted that the Jewish community needs to pull sensitive topics out from under the rug for the sake of our children’s security and safety.

    One of the many thought-provoking presentations following the Plenary Session was a talk by noted psychologist Dr. Benzion Twerski on “Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous People in a Dangerous World.” The room was packed with parents concerned about their children and how to protect them from abuse. Dr. Twerski dealt with many scenarios and advised as to how they have to be handled and when authorities should be called in. If the child’s safety is at risk, Dr. Twerski stressed, one must immediately signal authorities.

  10. The Novominsker Rebbe has made a Kiddush Hashem. He is so right. He is saying, “We are not going to take it anymore!”
    Those who did not sincerely do tshuva over their horrific actsand really and completely stopped, deserve to be shamed publicly because other monsters are waiting and watching to see what their fate will be if they don’t totally stop and repent.
    Also, there are those who live in DENIAL and refuse to bring the issue into the open. What is THEIR motivation? What about those who want to keep this buried?

    Bikitzoor, the Rebe is brave and it is good that he is supporting those victims who are so often too young to find the avenue of leagal resort. Thank you Novominsker Rebbe!

    you obviously have not seen the psak from reb elyashiv bec he says nothing like you quote him as saying i suggest you take a look at the psak inside and you will see something very different then what you think you heard someone say that maybe he said something like this…. you get my drift

  12. We can still be a light to other nations by courageously demonstrating that we put our children’s safety above a temporarily tarnished image. We need to teach our children on an annual and age-appropriate basis about personal safety, including informing them that perpetrators are usually family members or neighbors – not strangers. And we need to follow Rabbi Elyashiv’s directives and report these dangerous rodfim in our midst to police who can conduct proper invesitgations and help to safely guard our children from them.

  13. Right now when a parent of a victim goes to the police they get harassed and even thrown out of shuls. We need to declare that those who harass complainants and victims are worse than the molesters. Some of the molesters are not in control of their impulses and need to be apprehended. But those who aid the cover up have no such excuse.

  14. 1) If someone criminally assaults you or a loved one, including molestation, report that person to the police immediately.

    2) Many professionals are mandated reporters; it is a crime for such professionals to decline to report even suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, for example.

    3) The list of rabbis who insist on reporting is large and growing.

    4) The recividism rate of those who have molested children is very high. These people often present an ongoing danger to others. It is virtually impossible to keep such people under 24 / 7 surveillance. Sooner or later, they will find a way to act on their impulses.

    5) The impression in the outside world that orthodox Jews protect abusers is appalling and represents a tremendous disgrace.

  15. Rav Moshe Soloveichik in Chicago, son of Rav Aaron Soloveichik Zatzal made an incredible speech about this at a recent mesibah in Chicago about protecting children. It is now available as a video.