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Thursday, February 21, 2013 

UK rabbi arrested for sexual assaults

Some more information on the abuse scandal that's cropped up in the Haredi community in Britain:
The Police arrested Rabbi Chaim Halpern in the north London neighborhood of Golders Green Wednesday morning after months in which he has been accused of sexual abusing a large number of women, according to some versions a high as 30, who came to him for family guidance. Halpern, the scion of one of the more influential Haredi families in the country, the rabbi of a community in Golders Green and formerly a Dayan (rabbinical judge) of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, which is the main ultra-Orthodox establishment in Britain, has been pressured into resigning from his religious positions and a special ad-hoc rabbinical court has been convened to hear the allegations against him.

The three other men arrested are believed to be well-known figures in the local community who are suspected of helping Halpern to "pervert justice" by pressuring some of the women not to complain. According to Haredi sources, another well-known figure to be questioned by police is Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, the head of the Union and the man regarded by many as unofficial "Haredi chief rabbi" of Britain.

Accusations against Halpern have been circulating in London's insular Haredi world for at least six months now and a ruling by senior rabbis that he is unfit to fulfill religious posts was issued already in December. Despite the rabbis' edict, a small number of followers continued to back Halpern who while resigning from his official positions, continued to hold services in the small synagogue at his home. The special beit din (rabbinical court) was due to reconvene in two weeks but there has been a great deal criticism within the community that the court was basically trying to whitewash the allegations and many of Halpern's original accusers failed to appear before the beit din.
Some of the assistance the police received was from within the Haredi community itself, which thankfully shows that some people there don't buy into the notion of "mosrim". A little extra info from this article:
Police confirmed that four men were in custody in a north London police station in relation to an investigation of sexual assault. The three other men, aged 62, 64 and 25 – one of who is reportedly Halpern’s brother – were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in relation to the rabbi’s arrest. Under police powers, the men can be held for questioning for up to 48 hours without being charged.
They may have been a "vaad tzniut", though this news doesn't elaborate on those possibilities.

I think the most angering thing about this case is how these insular fiends won't consider how they're making themselves look as bad as the Muslim community, which can cover up cases like these and thanks to the dhimmitude prevalent in Britain, can often get away with similar crimes. They're going to have to start reevaluating how they run their lives, because this can and will have a bad impact that could harm even non-Haredi communities.

Update: this article tells how the internet has proven helpful in combatting these cases:
In the case of British Haredim, however, the police investigation, while perhaps rather tardy, was inevitable. There was simply too much online activity surrounding it. Blogs in Britain, Israel and the U.S. had covered it furiously at every turn. The bloggers themselves are Haredi, and well-connected to sources in Golders Green. They have information from eager informants on both sides.

And it's not just the insider blogs that have come calling. The mainstream news organizations are covering it as well. Last month, Britain's Channel 4 screened a television program on "Britain's Hidden Child Abuse" which documented the ways in which the Haredi community tries to prevent allegations of child abuse from getting out. The program included undercover footage of Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, leader of the Haredi community in London's Stamford Hill, counseling the victim of an alleged sexual attack not to go to the police.

The Haredi community in Britain, as well as in Israel and the United States, is becoming more transparent by the day, despite the rabbis' efforts to contain it. Anyone who believed that a special beit din could have cleared up the issue before the police came calling was obviously deluding himself.
Well said.

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