Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Weberman Trial and the Mixed-up Morals of the Community

I've been following the Weberman Trial in the news and on Twitter the last few days and I must say, it's been quite... instructive, to learn about Mr. Weberman and his occupation, as well as what goes on in the Satmar community.

Just in case you're not familiar with the case, I'll present the basics here:

There was a girl in the local Satmar school was not conforming to the standards of behavior in the community.  The principal of the school ordered her parents to have her see Nechemya Weberman, a local "counselor."  They were also ordered to pay about $12,000 up front in fees to Mr. Weberman for his services.  Failure to comply would result in her being expelled from the school.

The girl saw Mr. Weberman over the next three years, from ages 12 to 15.  She alleges that, during that time, she was sexually abused by Mr. Weberman in locked-room sessions.  Mr. Weberman denies all wrong-doing with regard to the issues of sexual abuse.

However, there are several facts that are not in dispute, which make me wonder about the goings on in the community and with Mr. Weberman in particular.

Let's start with the fact that he took his "client" on a 14-hour trip to Monsey.  They took this trip alone and did not arrive back home until midnight.  Granted, this is no proof that any abuse took place on the trip, but I've got to say, it certainly does not pass the stink test, *especially* for someone in a community where separation of the sexes is such a high priority and where they take every practical precaution against unmarried/unrelated men and women being together. 

There is also the fact that, it came out in trial, that Mr. Weberman runs a non-profit organization.  He admitted on the stand that he used funds from the non-profit to pay for yeshiva tuition for his kids.  Prosecutors also showed that purchases from the non-profit went to purchase items at at least three lingerie shops. 

It was also confirmed in trial that the Williamsburg Va'ad HaTznius (Modesty Committee) exists (despite one defense witness's attempt to deny the existence of such a body, another defense witness confirmed it) and that they engage in practices such as invading the rooms of girls to look for (and confiscate) contraband, such as cell phones. 

In addition, there is also the fact that four men are now awaiting trial for witness tampering, bribing a witness and coercion, after they tried to pressure the girl into not pressing charges.  It is also alleged that they wanted to pay her and her then-boyfriend $500,000 to leave the country and let the matter drop.  There are also four other men who have now been charged with witness intimidation by taking photographs of her in court. 

You could easily argue that there are simply some bad apples in the community.  Yes, it's been shown that Mr. Weberman is not exactly what one would call a morally upright person.  In addition, it's very obvious that there are others in the community who are willing to break the law and do whatever they feel is necessary to prevent the case from running it's course.  But that doesn't speak to the entire community, of course. 

But there is one point which can be made regarding the leadership of the community.  It's something that I noted back when Shaul Spitzer was awaiting trial on arson charges for attempting to burn down a New Square house with its residents asleep in their beds.  It speaks to what the true values are of the leadership of the community and where they truly stand on the moral compass.

9000 schoolboys in Satmar were given a prayer to say for Nechemya Weberman and instructed to say it.  In short, they were asked to pray that this man, who has admitted to stealing charity money and  who engages in 14-hour trips alone with an underage girl.  Apparently, however, none of that matters to the leaders of the community, as they view him as an upstanding member of the community.  However, had he done something such as owned a television, shaved his beard, espoused Zionist beliefs, or even been seen eating Hebrew National hot dogs, he'd likely be written off as a bum or a heretic and not someone who is worthy of the time to utter a prayer. 

It's actions such as these that show the moral leadership of the community.  In New Square,  Aron Rottenberg found his daughters expelled from school for the "crime" of their father davening in another shul, yet Shaul Spitzer was welcome in the yeshiva following his arrest on arson charges.  It's almost incomprehensible -- daven in another shul, you're a social outcast; attempt to burn down a house with people sleeping inside -- you're welcome back to the yeshiva with open arms.  The moral values of the leadership of the community are so wrong that I'm just left to scratching my head in bewilderment. 

The same thing applies here with regard to this case.  You can steal from charity, you can do things that would otherwise shock the community and, as long as you had the endorsement of the leadership, you're a moral person worthy of the community's support.  But if you were to do something such as shave your beard, wear the wrong clothing or even own a TV, you'd be an outcast and a social pariah.

The mind just boggles.

The Wolf


SubWife said...

It sure does boggle.

The Hedyot said...

All very true what you say, but what irks me most is not really about these nutjobs with their warped values and dysfunctioanl society.

It's that the mainstream chareidi world will still find them more respectable than a MO or liberal rabbi. I guarantee you that even with all the absolutely reprehensible behavior these thugs allow and even endorse, they will still seem more kosher than a rabbi that wants to help a religious woman be recognized for her expertise in gemara.

G*3 said...

All I can say is that I'm very glad I don't live in that world.

The part about the vaad hatznius searching girls' rooms, is that in a dorm or in their parent's houses? Dorm searches are par for the course, but searching private homes is especially creepy.

Ronit said...

The Satmar rabbis are claiming they don't feel Hassidim should be sitting in a goyish prison. They are suggesting that they will take care of Weberman. However it makes you wonder how much did the leadership know of his behavior.

ProfK said...

Religion run amok. And re Weberman's not being in a "goyish" prison, what ever happened to "Dinai d'malchusah dinai"? They live here in the US and if they contravene US law, they pay the price in a US prison.

Anonymous said...

For those of us that are KOSHER I'd like to know why is there a premium on "chasidisha shechita"? I wouldn't trust any of them with a dead whore

Zach Kessin said...

does anyone know exactly what he is charged with and how many years he could be sent up the river for?

Anonymous said...

Chazal say al taan kesil keivalto then there's a chazal vedaa ma shetoshiv leapikores so accordimg to chazal I can't n will not go into a discussion with you but y do u call urself WOLF? When the name stinky skunk is more appropriate for an animal like you

Zach Kessin said...

Anon 9:13 pm:

You might want to try signing your name. Or better yet say something intelligent instead of randomly throwing around insults.

Anonymous said...

guess u not Jewish viz u wrote ur comment this morning if that's the case I understand ur comment cuz u don't understand what I wrote but if ur Jewish do u really think I'm gone learn intelligence by a a person That doesn't understand basic Hebrew words and has the chutzpah to desecrate the shabbos?

Zach Kessin said...

Oh I need a good flame war.

First of all its "You" not "U" and "Your" not "ur"

Second where did I desecrate Shabbat? the timestamp on my post as 11:05 pm EST so even if I had been in New York (which I am not) shabbat was over by many hours.

Actually I am in Israel and it was Sunday morning when I wrote that.

And for someone who can't go into a discussion, why are you still here?

Anonymous said...

After writing my comment I realized u live in the so called state of Israel - let me ask u is this considered intelligent to hate a whole community because they have a different ideology? Don't need an answer because the original post goes for all of those who have just 1 mitzvah "love for Israel"

Anonymous said...

excuse me the stamp by me says December 8 1124am btw u have the Israeli ignorance of thinking they know everything well I don't hv to learn english by u n urs alike bye

Zach Kessin said...

If that Ideology involves allowing adult men to have sex with teen girls, and then try to bribe said girl into silence yes I have a problem with that.

In general I could care less what the Satmar community does or does not do. It has no effect on my life.

And yes I live in Israel. Because after 2000 years of my ancestors saying "Next year in Jerusalem" I could not stay in Boston any longer.

Anonymous said...

Ur a total idiot and apikores by saying u can't say anymore next yr in Jerusalem it shows exactly who/what ur! But hv news 4u not me n no1 in satmar or anybody in the authentic Jewish world gives a hood about u - and back this so called innocent victim I happened to know the whole fam unfortunately for a few bucks u get them in2 bed so they hv no credibility

Pesky Settler said...

He was in "locked-door sessions" with a girl? How does that not violate Yichud?

And to the anonymous poster above me, if you had taken the time to read ZK's post carefully, he said he can no longer STAY in Boston. I have it on good authority that he still does say "Next year in Jerusalem" on Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur and Leil Seder, and that it means (especially for those already fulfilling the Mitzvah of living in Israel) next year in a (rebuilt) Jerusalem, where we have the Beit Hamikdash.

Anonymous said...

1) Did u hear all witnesses? No he was never in a locked rm! 2) read again his post after 2000yrs his ancestors said next yr in Jerusalem he decided he can't wait anymore well there's NO mitzvah of living in EY today! N could possibly b even a issur because its the most dangerous place on earth tnx to those who hv no patience to say over n over next yr in Jerusalem I would rather live under any communist regime then under the Israeli/Nazi regime btw I'm 8th generation yerushalmy our whole fam left that regime over 50 yrs ago

Zach Kessin said...

And there we have it, Godwin's law in action.

BrooklynWolf said...


If you want to discuss the case without name-calling and childishness, I'll be more than happy to. Otherwise, I'll will delete your posts as off-topic (whether someone lives in EY or not is *not* the topic of this post.

Furthermore, if you re-read the post, you'll see that I made no statements about Mr. Weberman's guilt or innocence except in matters that he admitted to in court.

If you're willing to talk about this rationally in plain written Ebglish (no text-speak, please), then proceed on topic only. Otherwise, I'll simply delete your posts and disallow anonymous comments.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what's happening today in EY Avoida Zorah Gilu arayos Shfichas Dam ein Ben dovid bo ad sheticleh malchus hazalo miyisroel

BrooklynWolf said...


All further off-topic posts will be deleted and result in the previous posts being deleted. Eretz Yisroel is NOT the topic under discussion.

Last warning.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

First off all I'm not threatened if u do or don't block me be"h ill b able to survive without u NOW to the original post YES u Did unfortunately take a side against weberman and moreover against satmar and ALL chasidic communities as if they hv to get guidance by the MO community or whoever B"H satmar doesn't need anyone to protect them and the fact is satmar and the general chasidic community is growing blah"r unbelievably and that's probably the main reason of the hate thrown on them Well bigger enemies of klal yisroel r gone for a long time and we are here thanks to authentic Judaism NO ONE else has a future

BrooklynWolf said...

First off all I'm not threatened if u do or don't block me be"h ill b able to survive without u

I don't believe I ever said that you couldn't survive without me.

NOW to the original post YES u Did unfortunately take a side against weberman

Yes, I did...but only in matters to which he, himself, admitted in court.

and moreover against satmar and ALL chasidic communities

Of course I never said any such thing about ALL chassidus. I did question the attitudes of some leaders in two communities. Two != all. And, furthermore, questioning something doesn't mean I am against them, it simply means that I question them.

as if they hv to get guidance by the MO community or whoever

So, you see nothing wrong with saying you're not welcome in a community for davening in another shul but you are welcome if you try to murder a family in their sleep?

B"H satmar doesn't need anyone to protect them and the fact is sat mar and the general chasidic community is growing blah"r unbelievably

The growth of Satmar is not the issue here. I have no problem with Satmar (or any other chassidus) growing.

and that's probably the main reason of the hate thrown on them Well bigger enemies of klal yisroel r gone for a long time and we are here thanks to authentic Judaism NO ONE else has a future

I don't hate chassidus, so this is just yadda, yadda, yadda.

The Wolf

LFD said...

Nice to see you posting again. Unfortunately, the "circle the wagons" mentality is still with us. Often at the cost of innocence.

jrs said...

<<< Unfortunately, the "circle the wagons" mentality is still with us. Often at the cost of innocence. >>>

Exactly. What's more, the circle extends farther than anyone realizes. Even among those who claim to disagree with certain things the rabbonim or the community does, their criticism is muted & wimpy to the point of being little more than a half-baked apologia---everyone's fearful to say anything direct because it might adversely daughter's shidduch potential.

So instead of constructive debate, you hear a lot of, "Well, maybe they went a little overboard" or "the problem is, our leaders [rabbis] are misinformed by those around them".. and other useless nonsense.

EvaB said...

Thank you for teaching me about this trial. I had no idea this was going on, and I'm sad to say, I'm not surprised. The increasing perversion of the Jewish moral code led by powerful [men] is a frightening reality. The pressures on women to stay silent after surviving any sexual abuse scenario are immense in modern day settings. Apologetic language like, "well, he's really a nice guy." and "he didn't know what he was doing" run rampant through school hallways, offices, and homes. But, the will to overcome that pressure in a society which teaches small children that speaking about sex in any fashion - even sexual violence - throws you into the heretic pool? (followed quickly by ridicule and ex-communication). How are young people whose first education taught them to trust their leaders no matter what, and who know nothing about even the most of obvious of modern societal norms (don't molest/rape anyone), supposed to overcome the complexities of social politics without the appropriate outlets? It would take even partial extrication from the community to recognize the corruption that ensues when a revered leader has committed a horrific crime. And, with the doors of the community bolted shut to anyone abiding by slightly alternate schools of thought, there is little light to be seen.