How Does This Even Happen

Whenever another scandal hits about rabbis overstepping boundaries with their female students, I always wonder: how does this happen?

I’m not wondering how rabbis, in positions of unquestioned authority, come to abuse their power. Rabbis are human. Humans can’t handle unbridled control. Rather, I wonder how nobody — especially the students — have alarm bells going off in their heads when rabbinical behavior steps out of the bounds of normal (or halachic).

So this was a very eye-opening article by someone who has seen an abusive rabbi operating firsthand. I recommend you click through.

How Does This Even Happen

3 thoughts on “How Does This Even Happen

  1. DF3 says:

    To make girls aware that there are predators in their schools, several things must be acknowledged that have proven difficult for them to admit over decades.

    1) Not all rabbis are inherently good Jews.
    2) Some of those people are teachers
    3) The schools make bad hiring decisions
    4) The students ought to be aware of sexual advances and what they are
    5) The students need to be able to turn on an instinct to distrust those teachers, and to realize that ANY teacher, regardless of gender, and their seeming holiness, and mesiras nefesh, could be a predator.
    6) That the school is incapable of handling the entire matter internally, and that, after a certain point, the authorities must get involved.
    7) Some of the people who had taught in their schools belong in prison
    8) The Orthodox community, including school administrations, must help that happen.

    A lot of this will stop the first time a yeshiva rebbe does a “perp walk” in front of TV cameras, and school authortiies take responsibility. Until then, it will continue unabated because the schools are complicit in cover-ups and denials.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. girlpower says:

    I was in Binas the year the seminary scandal happened.

    Most of us felt something was terribly wrong. I kept away from Meisels and so did many other girls who felt uncomfortable. You cannot imagine what some classes looked like with girls fawning over him and desperately vying for his attention. Yet we couldn’t put our finger on it, because abusers are masters of manipulation, mind games, charisma and making you doubt your perceptions and discernment. And of course, most of these people pick their victims well, so it becomes easier to blame the victim for what happened instead of the poor rabbi stuck in an impossible situation.

    Things have drastically changed in the seminary. Both students and staff receive training in this and know how to recognize it and what to do if they become aware of such a thing. Boundaries have finally been put into place.

    The biggest pity is that none of the other Bais Yaakov seminaries I know have followed suit. As if they’re all invincible.


  3. girlpower says:

    About the article:

    Brilliant. Kudos to the author for saying something that should have been addressed years ago.

    People with personality disorders and unhealthy dependencies are drawn like a magnet to positions of power. Vulnerable seminary students away from their home? A dream come true to feast on their insecurities and raw emotions and exploit or remake them.

    And yet this society continues to idolize rabbis, leaders and authority figures and mostly considers them to be infallible, despite the fact that many are drawn to such positions for ugly reasons in the first place.

    “We can’t question those on a higher madreiga than us.” “Emunas chochomin means following even when we don’t understand.” Attitudes like that allow abusers to get away scot free and continue doing their dirty work in the name of holiness.

    It’s high time we got our communities educated about personality disorders, abuser tactics and modes of operation, and how to deal with it. Any volunteers for the task?


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