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May I Have a Word, Mr. Rubinstein?

I am having difficulty understanding something about the Ministry you head, Mr. Rubinstein, and would really appreciate your help. It seems that in the last few weeks in at least two instances your Ministry seems to be working overtime to get sex offenders, pedophiles and rapists, as well as those who harbor and protect them, special light treatment under the law because they all happen to be rabbis.

First, there is the disgraceful case of the former headmaster Kopolevitch of Netiv Meir yeshiva high school who lived in a pedophile’s heaven for the last fifteen years, abusing dozens, even hundreds of boys under his tutelage, boys whose complaints were apparently ignored by the Bnai Akiva yeshiva network’s most respected spiritual leaders, Rabbi Druckman and Rabbi Shapira.

And then there is the rapist in Kabbalistic rabbi’s clothing who is still wandering around the south teaching Torah to innocent children, when he should have long joined his comrades in the religious wing of Masiyahu Prison.

Mr. Rubinstein, what can your Ministry be thinking when it agrees to a plea bargain of four and half years for Rabbi Kopolevitch? When it dismisses charges against Rabbis Druckman and Shapira for allowing Kopolevitch to continue committing the most disgustingly immoral acts against young boys in their educational network, long after they apparently knew the facts? When it suspends proceedings against a Rabbi who raped a young woman under the guise of giving her kabbalistic help?

I am only a woman (and everyone knows with what great respect and interest the opinions of such people are held in the religious world) yet, I think that it behooves you to listen carefully to my opinion and my amazement at your Ministry’s behavior.

A friend of mine who was visiting Israel from the States went on a tour of the Supreme Court building. She sat in on an actual case in which a religious man who had molested a child was serving seven years. The man expressed regret, but the judges, pointing out how terrible such a crime is, how destructive to the victim, denied his appeal to have his sentence shortened. How can it be, my friend asked , that this criminal got six years for abusing one child, and Kopolevitch, whose crime is a hundred-fold, will get only four and a half? And this criminal was just an ordinary fellow, unlike Kopolevitch who had perfected a system in which he exploited the full measure of his spiritual and educational authority to lure his victims and ensure their silence.

My friend, an Orthodox woman, daughter of a famous Rabbi who received rabbinical ordination from the Chafetz Chaim himself, was appalled.

And now we have the rapist who presented himself as a Rabbi versed in the mysteries of the kabbalah, a spiritual magic-worker, and wound up instructing a young woman who had come to him for help to undress and submit to his “magic” sexual demands. Exploiting a religious young woman’s innocence, he used his tremendous spiritual power to desecrate not only her body, but her soul as well. Why does such a person deserve leniency? Why does he deserve to have the case against him suspended because “he isn’t feeling well?” I would think such a person deserves to have the case against him pursued relentlessly; deserves to serve a prison sentence twice as harsh as anyone else’s.

Because when a Rabbi abuses someone who looks up to him, he does it not only with his body, but with the full weight of everything the victim holds sacred, destroying the victim’s innocence, faith, religious beliefs, connection to G-d, in a way that no ordinary hormone-crazed offender could ever do. The damage is much greater, because the victim’s faith — that which drew them to be students in Netiv Meir, or to the doorstep of a Kabbalistic mystic — has been raped as well.

I appeal to you, Mr. Rubinstein, as a comrade, a fellow religious Jew, to whom the Torah is sacred. You sent your children to school with mine. We go to the same kind of synagogue. And I have to believe, that as a professed religious Jew, we both hold the Torah in the highest respect.

Would it not make more sense, therefore, to deal twice as harshly with such perpetrators as Kopolevitch and the rapist in “mekubal’s” clothing, and to insist on calling to task those who harbor and employ them? Your apparent sympathy and kindness towards these people baffles me. More, it causes me endless shame.

Why, Mr. Rubinstein? In Heaven’s name, why?

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