Yesterday the New York Times continued its great investigation of child abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community of New York by demonstrating that Brooklyn district attorney Charles J. Hynes has one set of rules for the Orthodox in these cases, and another set of rules for the general public. The piece focused on the an ultra-Orthodox advocacy group called Agudath Israel:
An influential rabbi came last summer to the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, with a message: his ultra-Orthodox advocacy group was instructing adherent Jews that they could report allegations of child sexual abuse to district attorneys or the police only if a rabbi first determined that the suspicions were credible.
The pronouncement was a blunt challenge to Mr. Hynes’s authority. But the district attorney “expressed no opposition or objection,” the rabbi, Chaim Dovid Zweibel, recalled.
In fact, when Mr. Hynes held a Hanukkah party at his office in December, he invited many ultra-Orthodox rabbis affiliated with the advocacy group, Agudath Israel of America. He even chose Rabbi Zweibel, the group’s executive vice president, as keynote speaker at the party....
Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University was one of the few victims’ advocates who attended the Hanukkah party in December.
“Basically, I looked around the room and the message that I got is: You are in bed with all the fixers in Brooklyn,” Rabbi Blau said. “Nothing is going to change, because these people, the message they got is: These are the ones that count.”
Well hold on now. Last December? The same group, Agudath Israel, was favored with an ambassador of the Obama administration at the same time. Check out the youtube video below. It's Jarrod Bernstein, the Jewish outreach director for the Obama administration, addressing Agudath Israel last November, days after he took his new job. He says he first started working with Agudath when he was in the Bloomberg administration in New York.
And he recruits Agudath in the war against terror. "If you see something, say something," Jarrod Bernstein says of stopping terrorism-- not Agudath's policy when it's child abuse.
You will see that a lot of Bernstein's talk is about how the Obama administration supports Israel. Big applause lines. And he praises Agudath: "I value my long standing relationships in this community and this room and I look forward to working with you in the future... I will be there for you. Shalom aleichem."