Letters | July 7, 2022

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Why abusers transgress is not the point

While I was grateful to see a review of “When Rabbis Abuse” (Arts, June 30), I was alarmed by some of reviewer Aaron Leilbel’s assertions regarding the realities of this topic. First, I was particularly perplexed by his assertion that, “It is easy to have compassion for the victims of abuse; it’s more difficult to understand what may have caused the abusers to transgress.” This is a dangerously misleading statement as it implies that the balance of compassion is typically in favor of the victim, and that the offenses are mere lapses in judgement.

This could not be further from the truth; typically, the rabbi has committed intense grooming and innumerable sexual assaults and is given a great deal of compassion while the victim is discarded by the community. Rabbi Barry Freundel is an unusual case in that most victims did not know they were victimized until after he was caught, and victims were therefore believed by default while their perpetrator faced severe consequences. In contrast, the usual situation involves an individual victim who seeks help and is blamed or not believed (“bad kid,” “jilted lover”), or is believed but then the “compassion” is channeled towards the “poor, misunderstood” rabbi who “lost” his career.


Crucially, the perpetrator then uses this sympathy as fuel for continued grooming and abuse. Second, the author’s hope that mere “therapy” can rehabilitate sexual perpetrators is dangerously ignorant. I beg everyone to do much deeper reading about this topic. Finally, I think that WJW can do better, and I suggest that next time the topic of rabbinic sexual abuse comes up, more discernment is given to what is published.

SARAH RUTH HOFFMAN
Silver Spring

https://www.washingtonjewishweek.com/enewsletter/

Read the rulings and leave it to the states

With all of the chest beating and shivah sitting along with the June 30 articles by Char Freedberg (“Congregations gather to mourn Roe v. Wade,” Local) and Eleanor Levie (“The fight isn’t over,” Opinion), you would think that the overturn of Roe v. Wade actually bans abortions which, of course is farthest from the truth. The Mississippi law that was at the heart of the case limited the number of allowable weeks to 15 which, by the way, is more liberal than the 12 weeks allowed by many Western European countries.

Anyone having experiences in high-risk pregnancy units know that the survival rates of fetuses in the 20-24 week period is high enough to make 24 week abortions uncomfortable. Since state statutes are responsible for murder, assault and battery and rape, it is only logical that the abortion statutes also remain with the states and their elected representatives as opposed to a 50-year-old ruling by judicial fiat by unelected justices. Even the late Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, who has reached mythical status in our community, called the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision an absolutely terrible decision that needed not be made.


Let’s actually read these rulings and make our own judgements and, as expressed by Supreme Court, let the duly elected state legislators expressing the will of their constituents earn their salaries and determine the course their state will follow.

IRA REESE
Olney

The cracks in the wall widen

I respectfully disagree with your editorial regarding the recently decided Supreme Court case of Carson v. Makin allowing state funds to be provided to religious schools (“A Supreme Court win for school choice,” June 30). As we all know, the Bill of Rights enumerates a number of rights we as Americans hold dearly. These rights include the separation of church and state. It is interesting that our Founding Fathers incorporated the Establishment and Free Exercise clause in the First Amendment which prohibits the government from having excessive entanglements with religious educational institutions. By providing these rights in the First Amendment, we must conclude how important they were to the Founding Fathers.

Prior to Carson, the seminal case for the Establishment Clause was Lemon v. Kurtzman. That case included a three-prong test to protect against active state involvement in religious activity. If any of these three prongs are violated, state involvement in religious schools would be unconstitutional. Although Justice Neil Gorsuch gave fealty to the holding in Lemon, Carson basically overruled Lemon, since allowing the state of Maine to provide funds to religious schools results in excessive entanglements. People in Maine and any other jurisdiction should be able to freely exercise their freedom of religion, but not by using taxpayer money to do so.

While the ruling in Carson would potentially benefit Jewish schools, this would continue to erode the bedrock principle of separation of church and state. Subsequent Supreme Court or other court rulings using Carson as precedent would provide more cracks in this bedrock principle. It is important to consider the big picture of vigilantly maintaining the separation of church and state, and not only looking at the bottom line of funding religious schools.

MITCHELL WASSON
Olney

Correction

The results of a Baltimore Sun poll as reported in “Who will be Maryland’s governor?” (June 30) were reversed. The correct results are:
Peter Franchot: 20%; Wes Moore: 15%; Tom Perez: 12%.

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