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Friday, November 19, 2021 

Haredi children's author accused of sexual abuse, and his career takes a downfall

An ultra-Orthodox writer who'd been in the business for about 3 decades has been accused of violating three community women when they were younger, and now, many Haredi representatives are taking steps to distance themselves from and blacklist him:
A Judaica and Jewish books store has stopped selling a series of popular children’s books after accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced against the books’ author.

Eichler’s Judaica, located in Borough Park in Brooklyn, made the announcement Tuesday evening, several days after the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Chaim Walder, the author of the “Kids Speak” series. The books, which have been published since the 1990s, tell stories about Orthodox Jewish children and emphasize a child’s perspective on the the problems they face in their lives. The books are popular among school-age children in Israel and the United States. Mordy Getz, the owner of Eichler’s in Borough Park, announced the decision in a letter posted to Twitter and Instagram.

“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that we will no longer carry the books of Chaim Walder in our stores due to shocking allegations recently revealed,” Getz wrote. “This decision was not made lightly and will no doubt come at a heavy financial cost, as these books were bestsellers — but as a business that cares about our community, we cannot ignore the pleas we have received on behalf of the alleged victims.”

In addition to his writing, Walder also works as a therapist and was honored in 2003 with the Israeli prime minister’s “protector of the child” award. According to the investigation by Haaretz, several women accused Walder of initiating sexual relationships with them when they approached him for counseling.
Ariel Sharon was the premier at the time, and in addition to now being seen as a horrific traitor who abandoned the Gaza strip to the Hamas, this can be viewed as another offensive act on his part, as he gave an undeserved prize to a sex offender. Here's more:
One girl told Haaretz that the alleged abuse began when she was 13, eventually progressing to weekly sexual encounters in a rented hotel room. Walder told another woman, who was 20 when he began a sexual relationship with her, that their sexual encounters “gave him the power to write to the children of Israel,” according to Haaretz.

Walder, who lives in Israel and is a popular speaker in the Haredi community in Israel, is also a regular columnist and radio host for several Orthodox publications there. He was suspended from two of those publications, Yated Neeman and Radio Kol Hai, last week in the wake of the allegations, according to Israeli news site Arutz Sheva.

Getz pointed to the contact Walder has with children through his work as a reason to stop selling the books at Eichler’s.

“Given that the access to alleged victims was largely by way of the author’s books and work, we believe that this decision is an essential step in protecting our children and building a safer, healthier community,” Getz wrote.
It sounds vaguely reminiscent of what a sex offender in the Satmar community told a victim of his a decade ago. His lawyers claimed he underwent a polygraph test and passed, but this hasn't been officially confirmed. In fairness, if he is being wrongfully targeted, of course that's bad. But based on what's been discovered in these insular communities over the years, that's why it their gurus are doing the right thing to put some distance between them and him for now. The chief rabbi of Safed also pointed out why it's wise to do so:
In a halachic statement posted on Facebook, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu noted that while these allegations have yet to reach the court, they are still serious, and one should not keep Walder's books in their homes or schools. Keeping his books in schools while he faces these accusations makes Walder "a character who has legitimacy, and it is an educational disaster," Eliyahu noted.

"The Torah wants us to treat rape with the greatest severity there is and tells us that rape is considered murder. It is impossible to keep books at home by someone suspected of sexually abusing so many women," he said, stressing the need to make it clear that his actions have "no shred of legitimacy."

"I hope for his sake that the accusations against him aren't true," Eliyahu concluded. "But meanwhile, there are many women who testify that he has harmed them, and their voices cannot be ignored."
It's good to see there's more representatives who believe in acting responsibly in the wake of such scandals, something which was insufficient in past decades. This article also notes:
Notably, one of his stories, titled "Stay away from strangers," deals with a minor being raped by an adult.
Now, it's going to lose whatever impact it was thought to have, because of Walder's crimes, which are sadly possible for somebody in that position to do, and look more like what a hypocrite would write. And, as this latest news notes:
However, he has been accused of allegedly engaging in sexual activities with minors, two girls aged 12 and 15, with a third testimony accusing him of regularly raping a 20-year-old woman, his therapy patient, as first revealed by Haaretz.

Since then, the number of women coming out with accusations against Walder number over 20.
This is indeed alarming, and when it's this kind of critical mass, there's no going back for the man. He has stepped away from public life, and the police will presumably be running an investigation into his past deeds. It's terrible this had to happen, but the insularity communities like his followed for many years is exactly what enabled him to commit serious offenses.

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