12 thoughts on “When Rabbis Lose Their Way in Ethical Thicket – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. The Forward used the term “sexual misconduct”, and you use the term “sexual abuse”.
    This guy is a scumbag, no doubt, but no criminal charges have been filed.

    1. It does not seem to occur to you that there is also the option NOT to comment, if you have nothing substantial to add.

      1. Elisabeth, don’t forget that the first rule of the Book of Hasbaradim is: “occupy the virtual space as we occupy the real space in Palestine”. Second rule: “try to take the discussion somewhere else”, but Hip-Hop missed that.
        What Hip-Hop is doing here is called ‘enculer des mouches’ in French, i.e. ‘sodomizing flies’ (debating on details) …. Maybe he got inspired by the topic of Richard’s article 🙂

        1. The Forward article details four instances of ‘sexual misconduct’; two unwanted romantic overtures, one consensual affair, and one instance of forcibly kissing a 17 year old girl on the mouth.
          Where’s the sexual abuse?

          Deir? Elizabeth?

    2. @Hopper: When you are a rabbi & have sex with congregants you are violating civil law & halacha. This is the worst case of sexual predation & abuse.

      If he wasn’t charged with abuse it is the fault of the Reform movement and CCAR, not the fault of the victims.

  2. A perfect fit – A Mensch in the Midwest

    So sad, I can’t make the final judgement, but with all abuse cases there is his own family which suffers through the whole process. Nevertheless, vulnerable persons should be secure in a society where predators roam. We are all responsible to protect. As long as a rabbi, counselor, priest, teacher is not convicted for a sexual crime, the chance for more victims are ominously present. A devil’s dilemma especially with a clause for confidentiality when someone is fired.

  3. RS: Early in this piece, you named two rabbis — Siroka and Lipper — and also said you’d never want any child you knew to be in tbhe same room with or to study anything from him. The “him” by general context is Siroka, but in the context of the paragraph, seems to me to be Lipper.

    I hope both names are fictitious, if you want to protect “the innocent” including yourself.

    As to the general point, under the American law of “at will employment”, as I remember it, an employer may fire an “at will” (that is, non-contractual-with-fixed-term-of-employment) employee without any cause or for any reason other than impermissible discrimination.

    A suspicion of malfeasance of any kind would seem an adequate reason to fire an employee without comment. (Writing a bad letter of reference, OTOH, would be another matter entirely absent proof of malfeasance.)

    A school or synagogue would seem to have an ethical (if not indeed a legal) responsibility to protect the students generally and in particular from their teachers, or others in authority. It is not only Catholics who have such responsibilities — or similar failures — including administratively.

    Now, to leave to one side your topic (sexual predation), there is another and far more important reason for all of us to heed your warning about people who, ” when they are forced to make a choice between their own individual values and those of the community, [they] invariably choose to suppress their individual views. They speak on behalf of a corporate community. One that closes ranks in order to protect its own.”

    The reason this is so important is that communal support for Zionism and closed-ranks support for Israel, no matter what Israel does, can every day be understood as a triumph of submission to a group view (or to orders from above) or to a misplaced zeal to protect Jews from the consequences of their misbehavior over personal ethical standards. The supine ethical posture of the vast majority of rabbis and other “leaders” of Jewish communities where the question of Israel arises should be the ultimate ethical embarrassment for anyone who is capable of embarrassment by what Jews do.

    1. @pabelmont: The picture makes clear, at least I thought so, that I was referring to Siroka, not Lipper. The only thing disturbing about Lipper is his defense of Siroka.

      Rabbis all have contracts and may only be dismissed under terms of it. Presumably, the contract would have a morals clause of some kind.

  4. Local communities, including Hillels and other Non-Profits, might do well to study and discuss alternative ways of handling alleged closed ranks communal support– in both personal and political cases.

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