We have come to believe that honour attacks and the like are a rarity in the west. That they mainly occur far away and are such fleeting glimpses into a terrible world. The readers eyeballs prick with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers…
But we don’t expect this sort of attack in New York.
On Monday, a horrible person was convicted in court. He had systematically abused a 12 year old girl for 3 years while posing as a unlicensed therapist. The girl in question endured the abuse in silence, mainly because she had no one to turn to until she met a religious leader who she confided in. This man ran a blog to document and advise those who were victims of abuse, not in a judgemental preachy way but an actual “human way”.
For his troubles this man was stopped on the street and had bleach hurled at his face.
Now by this point people are expecting this to be some sort of story about someone who has insulted the islamic faith. Maybe someone who has irritated Hindus or Sikhs…
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg’s crime was to speak out against the abuse of a twelve year old girl for 3 years by Nechemya Weberman. Weberman was convicted of 59 counts of child abuse (molestation). Weberman was one of the people considered as “true” jews. He was a Satmar Hassidic.
Rather than praise the actions of Rosenberg the Ultra-orthodox jewish community which Weberman belonged to may have been responsible for trying to permanently blind and scar him with bleach. This is a honour crime.
Accusations of abuse are spoken in quite whispers around the Satmar Hassidic community and this apparently will lever open investigations into the reports of abuse. Traditionally the community has simply closed ranks but this marks a precedent and a very important one at that. That there are people willing to fight against injustice not because of a divine mandate but because of a human one.
To many jews the stories they hear out of the hassidic community is much like the tales Catholics used to hear out of institutions like Christian Brothers or Magdalene Laundries. But are they stories or truth? Hopefully we can find out so as to stop more cases like this one. It doesn’t need to be said that one of the main reasons that the abuse of a 12 year old was carried out for so long was that the young girl didn’t have any means of getting help in a purely patriarchal community which may have even excused this sort of behaviour in the past and actively hidden it.