Honour in New York

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.


  1. bobo says

    Watch this, if you can


    I had NO idea how common sexual abuse was across all religions. Plenty of sexual abuse in the orthodox jewish communities – and of course, the community rallies around the abuser, b/c they are more worried about the ‘image’ than about the raped children.

    In Winnipeg and Brooklyn, allegations of child abuse rock Orthodox Jewry. The sin is compounded by Orthodox Jewish authorities closing ranks around the accused rabbis. It is compounded further as these same holy men try to prevent the victims and their families from going public. The effects on the victims are devastating. But now, the truth comes out. With unusual access to this tightly bound community we find some hope that openness and justice will finally clear out the predators.

    The movie also profiles Buddhism, and this surprised me:

    Buddhism. An image of peace, meditation, gentle respect. Not serial sex abuse. Accusations of tawdry sexual exploitation are threatening the elevated status of this beautiful religion. One of the Dalai Lama’s star protégés, the author of one of the most powerful and popular books in the history of Buddhism, and the leader of a global network of holy centers, has left a wake of damaged and abused women. Until now, they have been kept silent. Speaking out for the first time in this documentary, they accuse him of rape, seduction, physical assault and moral deceit. It’s an extraordinary story of sexual aggression, spiritual arrogance and avoidance of moral leadership…to the very top.

  2. left0ver1under says

    This news is unsurprising, considering that jews, christians and muslims worship the same non-existent “god” and believe in the same book of fiction, the “old testament”. The more extreme the religion, the more willing it is to commit atrocities.

  3. Didaktylos says

    What I’ve wondered about this case is the extent to which Weberman’s activities were condoned and even actively facilitated by the Satmar leadership as disciplinary action against rebellious members of their community.

  4. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    A dreadful story indeed, but here’s a heads-up: “jews” with a lower-case initial letter has been a staple of antisemitic discourse for decades (no, I don’t know why). I’m sure you had no such intention, but it’s best avoided.

  5. bradleybetts says

    I am literally shaking with anger. This is why I hate religion. There is no other force on the planet that can cause a community to close ranks around a pedophilic rapist and then BLIND A MAN WITH ACID because that man exposed this depraved sexual predator. In any other circumstances he’d get praise and recognition, but he got a face full of acid instead.

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