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Tragedy In Borough Park Puts Shomrim Under Scrutiny

Community watchdogs are praised, criticized for actions and delay.

Special to The Jewish Week
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 As the Borough Park community struggles with the brutal murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, and as more information surfaces about the history and emotional state of his accused killer, the tragedy is shining a light on the neighborhood watch groups that operate within the strictly Orthodox communities — and the largely under-the-surface tensions between these groups and the NYPD.

Those tensions became more apparent in recent days as sources in the community and the NYPD expressed frustration with how the Shomrim (Hebrew for “guardians”) operate – however well intentioned – with little accountability, sometimes hindering the work of the police.

The heartbreaking outcome in the Leiby case is seen by some in these circles as a dramatic case in point.

The Shomrim, who respond to calls about everything from vandalism to missing persons, domestic violence and sexual abuse, are highly respected in their communities. While they don’t have the power to make arrests, they tend to be trusted more than police in these tight-knit communities, as they have a reputation for responding quickly to calls and taking care of their own.

They have also been criticized at times for overzealousness bordering on vigilantism.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly publicly praised the Shomrim for mobilizing the community in a massive search effort for the boy and his killer. But some close to the case question the public version of events in this case, and what they see as problematic practices engaged in by the Shomrim, often with the approval or outright cooperation of the NYPD top brass.

An NYPD official with experience in the Orthodox community told The Jewish Week it was “unconscionable” for the Brooklyn South Shomrim (which covers Borough Park) to have not called the police immediately upon learning of young Leiby going missing.

Asserting that the Shomrim members tend to “play cops” and take matters into their own hands, he called on the community to “ask the questions that need to be asked and answered” about how these groups operate.

“Who are they accountable to?” the official asked, adding that “we will never know” if the Shomrim, who keep their own files on neighborhood figures suspected of foul play, had prior information on the alleged killer. (Those files are not shared with the police.)

Time Lag

According to published accounts, Leiby was first reported missing to the Brooklyn South Shomrim by his mother. Statements made by Kelly note that there was “about a two or two and a half hour gap between the notification to Shomrim and the notification to the Police Department.”

While early accounts had Shomrim calling the report in to the police, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told The Jewish Week that that the first 911 call was in fact made by the boy’s father at approximately 8:30 p.m., more than two hours after the mother’s call to Shomrim.

Calls by The Jewish Week to Yakov Daskal, founder and coordinator of the Brooklyn South Shomrim, were not returned. But in an interview with The Wall Street Journal he seemed to brush off the apparent discrepancy, saying that "it wouldn't have mattered [had the Shomrim reported to the police sooner] … And the police wouldn't have come right away."

While Commissioner Kelly also stated publicly that the time lag would not have made a difference in this case, he did acknowledge to The Wall Street Journal that the Shomrim often do not immediately notify police when they get reports and that this has been a “longstanding” issue for the department.

Both Daskal and Kelly’s remarks have angered some in the NYPD, who insist that police do in fact respond immediately to calls about missing children, and believe that the failure of Shomrim to report suspected crimes to law enforcement immediately (and, in some cases, at all) is a serious problem.

They believe that Kelly is downplaying his criticism of the Shomrim for political reasons, since the NYPD top brass and city officials value their relationship with the Shomrim groups.

“The first three hours of an investigation are key,” said a source within the NYPD. “And while Kelly said he would prefer [that the police] hear about [these situations] right away, it is outrageous to say it probably didn’t make a difference in this case,” especially in light of the fact that the authorities have been vague about the timeline of the murder.

Each of the Brooklyn-area Shomrim groups – in Crown Heights, Flatbush, Williamsburg and Borough Park – has its own personality and protocol, and there is an element of rivalry as well as cooperation among them.

Chaim Deutsch, the founder of the Flatbush Shomrim organization, insists that it is standard protocol within his group to call the police immediately when his volunteers receive a call about a “special category missing,” the term used to refer to a missing child or elderly or mentally ill person.

In such a situation, he told The Jewish Week, the “first thing is, [call] 911.”

Was Aron Known?

Among the questions that emerged this week was whether Levi Aron, the confessed killer, had previously been reported to either the Shomrim or the police.

At a press conference held by Commissioner Kelly, a reporter from the Orthodox publication, Hamodia, indicated that he had information that several 911 calls were made about Aron before this case, but Kelly said he had no knowledge of those calls.

Further, The Daily, a publication for Apple iPad tablet users published by News Corporation, has reported that the Shomrim were warned about Aron within the past several weeks, when he allegedly stalked an 11 year-old boy. However, Daskal of the Brooklyn South Shomrim denied these claims, both in The Daily and again on a radio show Saturday night.

A law enforcement source with knowledge of the case told The Jewish Week that there is “reason to believe,” based on the video footage of Aron and Leiby last Monday, that this was not, as the NYPD has publicly claimed, an abduction by a stranger, and that the two may have been acquainted prior to the tragic encounter.

Some sources within both the community and the NYPD believe the police and Shomrim are not disclosing the possibility that Aron’s violent tendencies and interest in boys were known to people in the community who should have, but failed, to report him.

List Of Suspected Molesters

Strictly Orthodox communities have a long history of not reporting crimes—and in particular, sexual crimes against children—to the secular authorities, preferring to police their own. Daskal acknowledged that his organization maintains a list of suspected molesters whom they do not report to the police because, as he told The Daily News, “the rabbis don’t let you. It’s not right.”

The issue is one of mesirah, a prohibition against informing on a Jew, which was prevalent in anti-Semitic European countries in earlier times.

The so-called list is actually a binder, which contains “mug shots” taken by Shomrim of suspected molesters and contains other information about the alleged perpetrators, including the make, model and license plate numbers of their cars, The Jewish Week has learned.

Daskal’s revelation that his group maintains such a list, though hardly news to many in the community, comes on the heels of statements made at a recent conference on Jewish law by representatives of the Orthodox umbrella organization Agudath Israel that those wishing to report child sexual abuse to the authorities must first consult with rabbis.

This opinion was reiterated last Tuesday night in Flatbush—at the same time the search for Leiby was underway— by Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky, the vice president of the Agudah’s Council of Rabbinic Sages. In an audio recording posted on the blog, Rabbi Kaminetsky instructed attendees to bring allegations of child abuse to the authorities only after a “consultation with a rav [rabbi].”

While there are respected decisors of Jewish law who say the police should be called, it would appear their rulings generally are not being followed in Borough Park, where this attitude has apparently stymied police on numerous occasions.

An NYPD source knowledgeable about these issues said he feels the Shomrim only consult rabbis who “give them carte blanche” permission to do what they deem necessary to protect the reputation of the community.

Recounting two separate child abduction cases in recent years to which his organization was privy, Ben Hirsch, president and founder of the advocacy group Survivors for Justice, told The Jewish Week that “Borough Park Shomrim aggressively obstructed the investigations by intimidating members of the victims’ families who wished to assist the NYPD in the investigation.”

In each case, the girls were returned within hours, but the perpetrators were not caught and the cases remain unsolved.

Luzer Twersky is an actor, writer and film consultant who grew up in a chasidic family in Borough Park and was abused many years ago. He told The Jewish Week that “the person who caught my abuser red-handed 15 years ago was a Shomrim member, and he is still a Shomrim member. Yet the [abuser] was allowed to teach for 15 more years at various schools, until one parent took the courage to call the police.”

He said the police have a number of reasons “to cover for the Shomrim,” including not wanting to be labeled anti-Semitic. In addition, “the police need to keep the peace and the Shomrim feel the need to show that ‘we Jews can take care of ourselves.’ The police would rather have it that way than start a war.”

When asked for comment about whether or not his office would try to obtain the Brooklyn South Shomrim list of suspected molesters, a spokesman for the Brooklyn DA told The Jewish Week that “the DA encourages anyone with knowledge or suspicion of a crime to report that information to law enforcement authorities.”

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment about the list. 

Last Update:

10/13/2012 - 00:08

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As a Jewish-American, the Shomrim trouble be. They're not an "equal opportunity" organization; they consist entirely of Ashkenazi Hasidim from the Satmar sects. There are no non-Jews, women, Sephardic, Bukharian, gay, lesbian, transgender, or non-religious Jews in the group. The state of NY should not have given them free flak jackets.

I've had many run-ins with them in Brooklyn. They harrass cyclists, verbally assault couples if they think the guy is dating a non-Jewish woman, and impersonate police officers. They always shut up and leave when I cuss at them in Yiddish. They assume I'm not a Jew because of the way I look.

Deborah who wrote: "To be completely honest we must all admit that the police are not very good at finding missing children.

It is unfortunate that Jews have to be wary of authorities but with the 5000 year history of persecution what do you expect. It is a tragedy what happened to this little boy for sure but even if this man were stalking another child the police wouldn't have done anything.

Let's be realistic.
Finding missing children is very difficult for reasons many here would not understand. Children who are kidnapped and raped or molested by strangers or those outside the immediate family are generally murdered. Children in the Jewish communities who are harmed and then dropped off alive are likely victims of community members, meaning Jewish. No offence meant here. Just facts.
So lets be realistic. Police take missing children cases very serious. If the leaders of your community are telling you different then you might want to do the research. Also on a "realistic" note, as community and religious leaders can keep the Jewish community believing they cannot trust the police, the longer they can keep complete control over the community. That too is a fact. Isolate and control. It has worked for decades. What value do we put on a child's life and when do we start thinking rationally and doing whatever it takes to put these perverts away?

Have you no shame? To exploit this tragedy to give Ms Winston a venue (front page yet) to continue her tendentious attacks on the frum community.

The entire article has not one verifiable fact. How convenient to quote unnamed police officials.

Furthermore, it is outrageous that Ms Winston suggests that this poor boy knew the Murderer beforehand. Commissioner Kelly and all other spokesmen denied this, and there is not a shred of evidence to support it.

We all know why Ms Winston wants to suggest a prior acquaintanceship, but it simply does not pass the test of truth or even logic. How would Aron have known Leiby z'l? This child was closely monitored before this one time on his own walking home. Aron lived and worked in a different neighborhood (Kensington) and had no access to the Yeshivah Leiby attended.
As for the claims against the Shomrim, Ms Winston suggests that since we don't know the timeline, that the timeline may have been different if the police were called sooner.
We now do know the timeline based on the ME's report, and it is clear that the case was cracked by the community members who canvassed the cctv's and the boys who identified the car.

When my daughter got lost one time and i called my precint, they told me they will send someone to me "as soon as possible" which was more than 2 hours later! (when she was already found, than God, alive and well). I live in Queens and I wish we had shomrim here who I could have called instead!!

Don't blame Shomrim.We need to be a team.So sorry to the family.

There is alot of talk of Shomrim reporting general info, even without enough evidence for trial for police. And if they were to do so, what would police do? How many times have they made such reports with absolutely no action by the police?

In fact, a week before the incident where 5 members were shot by a sexual predator, Shomrim was called, and when they attempted to approach him, he took off on the sidewalk, and nearly ran over a number of pedestrians. The police were called, given a complete description of the events, and were given the plate # of the vehicle. What did the NYPD do with the info?? Nothing. Even after the shooting, when this story was made public, the CO of the precint conducted an investigation, and the Police Dep't covered up the story.

For us to believe that police would take any of this information seriously is absurd.

First Shomrim should receive credit for their work in searching for Liebby. They are an exceptional group of people who really try to take care of the community. I went to search for Liebby that Tuesday night and they had every block covered.

While I am in my house, I don't want to be told what to do and I am sure Shomrim doesn't want to be told what to do in their community.

But this isn't about religious - it's about children and keeping all children safe. I don't think they should give any names of people who they just suspect, but I would think if a binder has been made of possible child molesters, then something must have happened in the past in order for that person to be on their list. I wish that they would share that information with the police so that the police can keep on eye on these people and have the advantage when a child goes missing.

Although I think the safe haven businesses and homes are a good idea, Levi Aron would have been approved as a safe haven home because he didn't have a prior record.

To be completely honest we must all admit that the police are not very good at finding missing children.

It is unfortunate that Jews have to be wary of authorities but with the 5000 year history of persecution what do you expect. It is a tragedy what happened to this little boy for sure but even if this man were stalking another child the police wouldn't have done anything.

Let's be realistic.

FIRST REPORT: NYPD Links Two Boro Park Abductions; Hikind Offers $20,000 Reward
(Tuesday, August 19th, 2008)
9:20PM EST: Credible sources tell YWN that NYPD Detectives have linked the abduction of a 14-year-old girl in Boro Park two weeks ago first reported HERE by YWN, and the abduction of a 4-year-old child in July of 2007 – reported HERE on YWN.

Sufficient evidence has convinced detectives working on the cases that the abductor is the same in both incidents.

The abduction in the summer of 2007 occurred on 52nd Street between 19th and 20th avenues at approximately 8:00PM. Apparently, the child was playing outside her home, when a man forced her into a vehicle and sped off. She was found on a street about two and half hours later, about 15 blocks from where she was abducted.

Advertise On YWN »
Parents are reminded to please be vigilant with your children. Do not leave them unattended even for one minute. If you see anything suspicious, call the police immediately.

The NYPD must be publicly commended for utilizing all resources available to link these two horrific crimes. Most notably is the dedication and devotion of Brooklyn South Chief Joseph Fox and his staff at PBBS – for doing everything they possibly can to secure the Boro Park community in the past two weeks. Chief Fox has personally been involved in this intense investigation, and has been in Boro Park countless times in the past few days assisting with the investigation.

The following statement has just been given to YWN by NYS Assemblyman Dov Hikind:

“I am deeply concerned about the two Borough Park abductions which have now been tied to the same assailant,” said Assemblyman Hikind (D-Brooklyn). “Already shaken by the recent assault, this will make residents even more anxious about the safety of our children. This is a community with a lot of children and they must be protected. The NYPD is to be commended for the significant resources they have committed to capturing this perpetrator.”

At 8:45 p.m. on August 3rd, an attacker forced a fourteen-year-old girl into a four-door black sedan, drove the victim to a secluded location. The teen fought with her attacker; he then drove on and left her at Fort Hamilton Parkway and 36th Street after midnight.

On July 16, 2007, a four-year-old girl was snatched from in front of her home and then dropped off 15 blocks from her Borough Park home. No one has been apprehended in that attack.

“We are urging witnesses to come forward; someone must have seen or heard something,” Hikind added. Anyone with information regarding the suspect should contact the New York Police Department Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Hikind tells YWN that he has raised the reward to $20,000 [from its original $10,000] for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the Boro Park “serial abductor” on the loose.

And both these abductions were not by members of the community. I mentioned the case of 2007 and the case of the 14 year old, police believe that the girl knew her abductor, arranged a meet, and then came forward with her story of abduction. In both those cases there was no intervention by Shomrim in any way.

From the Jewish Week

Borough Park Abduction Alert

Friday, July 20, 2007

by Steve Lipman Staff Writer
The largely Orthodox community of Borough Park was on high alert this week, and patrols by the 66th Precinct and the Shomrim civilian group in the Brooklyn neighborhood were increased, after a 4-year-old girl was abducted from a Borough Park street and sexually molested on Monday evening.
The Boro Park Shomrim, whose 150 volunteers patrol the area in cars and by foot around the clock, stepped up their activities this week, and sent out security alerts to residents, said Rabbi Jacob Daskal, coordinator.

In fliers and Internet notices, Shomrim urged parents to watch children, on summer vacation, who are playing outside, said Rabbi Daskal, who also serves as Shomrim coordinator with the police department. “We’re asking everybody to be more vigilant – if they see a car parked too long around children, give us a call.” (The Shomrim hotline number is [718] 871-6666.)
The 66th Precinct, which increased its street patrols this week, has established a Command Center on 52nd Street to monitor the situation, said Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

The abducted girl, who was playing outside her home, was grabbed by a man who shoved her into a car before exposing himself and fondling her, then leaving her in the nearby streets a few hours later, police said. They said they were looking for a white man driving a black vehicle.

“Ours is a community of children. People are very, very concerned,” Hikind told The Jewish Week Wednesday morning. He said this week’s incident came a little over a year after five attempted abductions of children in the same neighborhood
“This is a wakeup call for everybody” to be more alert, he said. “You cannot let you child be unattended.”

Hikind said he will devote his talk show on WMCA radio, Saturday from 11 p.m. to midnight, to this topic.

Hella Winston's article relies on an unnamed police source, and many of the accusations against Shomrim do not even have quotes, but come straight from the reporter. Then she cites Failed Messiah, a blog with an open hostility towards Orthodoxy. Also, how are Luzer Twersky and Ben Hirsh relevant to this story? More hostile quotes piling on the Shomrim. This is very skewed journalism, expect a paid-for reply by Marvin Schick to appear.

This Winston article stands on very weak legs.

Hella Winston The Jewish Week Your recent article titled "Tragedy In Borough Park Puts Shomrim Under Scrutiny, Community watchdogs are praised, criticized for actions and delay" was a serious of claims against this fine organization, many of them based on rumors with questionable sources. As a respected journalist, I was taken aback by your lack of integrity in investigating those claims, and you becoming a party to the bashing. I hereby address those claims.
Accountability: The shomrim are registered with the NYPD Citizen Observation Patrol, receive training from the NYPD, and are accountable to the Dept of Community Affairs. They also must follow all laws, and members have been arrested in some cases where it was substantiated and warranted. In today's age of cameras everywhere, no one is above any law, and any claim thereof is nothing but obvious misinformation. If there are those that believe there is cases of vigilantism, let them make those accusations in a court of law with evidence to back it up. Listening to rumors is comparable to listening to everyone in Rikers who claims they are innocent. Further, they have no arrest powers, and have no ability to "take care" of anyone caught breaking the law. If they were to meek out street justice, the victim would go to the police with a claim. Why doesn't the Jewish Week use its investigative powers to discover how many such claims are made. In fact, many such complaints are made against the NYPD, and many of those are unsubstantiated upon investigation. Unfortunately criminals caught, tend to make many claims.
Time Lag: A child not immediately arriving home is not an emergency. There are many logical reason for the tardiness, many of them innocent. It doesn't become a police emergency until it is obvious that this is not standard child's play, and that only occurs after an hour or two. It is for that reason police were not called right away by the shomrim. Also, it's the parents responsibility to call Police, not Shomrim. That aside, why isn't pd being taken to task for how long it took for police to arrive when they were called? If time is so critical as they so allege, why weren't they there within minutes? Why did it take 51 minutes for the first officer to arrive, an additional 1/2 hour until his boss arrived, and additional hour until a Level 1 was declared? Shomrim arrived within 2 minutes when they were called, and immediately began to search. The police do not search, it is the shomrim that does searches. The police investigate, but don't have the sheer numbers of people needed to spread out and conduct a thorough search. Police did not begin to seriously operate until 10 hours after the first officer arrived. Only after Dov Hikind went on TV complaining that PD was not to be found, did the NYPD arrive in force. The first detective was not on the scene until 12 hours later. Even after the NYPD did arrive, it was another 5 hours until Shomrim found the video, and gave it to police. If the police are so competent, how come they did not find Leibby, who we now know may have been alive for the first 24hrs. Even after PD was given the video, and they went to visit the dentist, they still did not have the alleged perps address until Shomrim gave them the plate of the vehicle. So where are all these sources, and what did they do for Leibby? The police claim that the first three hours are critical, yet the police's own protocol indicates that the first 24 hours don't warrant resources, as most likely the child is a run-away, with the exception of those with a mental history, or other mitigating factor - such as evidence of an abduction. If the police are so on top of the game, why was there no Amber alert issued (even after a license plate was ascertained), and why did it take the state 24 hours to issue an alert.
Was Aron Known? You are ok with the NYPD's denial, but don't believe the Shomrim's denial. If there is a solid claim that they were informed, let someone come forward with proof. Today, every call is logged on a phone record somewhere, and let someone come forward and prove they actually called Shomrim. To give credence to those claims, in absence of that proof, is an abuse of journalistic powers. In fact, in a recently well publicized interview, a neighborhood activist tells how he encouraged the parents to contact the NYPD and Shomrim, yet the parents did not do so. After the NYPD's own review, they were unable to substantiate such claims of previous reports. The video does not show any acquaintance between the boy and the alleged perp, and any claim to is further proof of an agenda. What "the anonymous NYPD sources" fail to understand, is how a jewish boy is so trusting of another jewish looking person. This is a trait that is unique to our community, and is not indication of prior relationship or acquaintance. When a jew stops to help another jew stranded on the side of the road, in that case too it is without the need of a prior acquaintance, yet to the casual observer it seems they have known each other since birth.
List Of Suspected Molesters: Daskal never made the comment being attributed to him. What Daskal said, is that the community doesn't report the crimes, and "that's not right". The Shomrim encourage parents to report abuse, and in fact about a year ago an ad was taken out in the papers warning abusers that Shomrim will report them if they aware of substantiated claims. It is the responsibility of the parent and child to go to the NYPD. As for claims that Shomrim have stymied investigations, that too is untrue. A few years back, a prominent Rabbi, Rabbi Bernard Freilich was arrested for allegedly interfering in such an investigation. If there are claims that Shomrim are doing the same, let them make arrests. As for lists, binders, plates, etc, that too is unfounded. Mr Twersky's claim that his molester was caught by Shomrim is seeking to lay blame on others for his own failure to report that person to authorities. Why did he not simply go himself to the police. He had not to fear being shunned by the community, as he has already left the community and chose a different lifestyle. Without cooperation from the victim, there was nothing for Shomrim to report, nor for the NYPD to investigate. When a parent finally did make claims, was the teacher fired. Even after a parent went to police, no charges were filed. Why didn't Mr Twersky have the same courage as that parent. Why is Shomrim to blame for his lack of courage? As for Mr Hirsch's claims, there were no child abduction cases recently in the community, as if there was, it would be all over the press. Why doesn't the Jewish Week research it's own archives to find substance to those claims and those news stories. The only reported abduction was two summers ago, and in that case, the description of the perp given to police by the child was a person of color and likely not a community member. Mr Hirsch has a well publicized history of making claims against the community and he has made his anti-orthodox agenda well publicized.
Too many times when an organization of such dedicated volunteers come into the spotlight, there are those that are offended and seek to downplay those achievements. It is probable that your NYPD sources are those that are directly responsible for doing a video canvas, and they failed the community and Leibby, and are now trying to reflect that responsibility. Your lack of sustainable claims makes you an equal party to those, and in light of the events, the dedication this organization has shown to the community, in unconscionable. Shomrim has served many outside their community as well. This past January, Shomrim organized a search in Riverhead, Long Island, and there too, 5,000 volunteers came to search for a Mr. Mayer, an unknown person, not from Boro Park, not Chasidic/Orthodox. When Mr. Rothman from Cedarhurst, New York went missing, it was once again the Boro Park Shomrim that organized a 3,000 strong search, for another unknown person, not from Boro Park, not Chasidic/Orthodox. To claim that Shomrim is used for "taking care of their own" and "tend to “play cops” and take matters into their own hands" is equally unconscionable. In each of those cases, it was in coordination with the local authorities, and Shomrim was publicly commended in the Non-Jewish press. If the non-jewish press can find the means to praise Shomrim, I would expect that at least the Jewish Week not further anti Shomrim propaganda.
Sincerely, Chaim Meyersohn

But according to reports, it was the shomrim who located the surveillance video in this case, and who located the suspect as well. The police only verified links afterward. I still trust them more than the police on most issues. Moreover, hatzola always responds before the 911 ambulances...always. And they treat people like family.

Oh Wow!!! Just wait & see how fast all those "Hasidic Outcasts" will jump for joy with this article, and add their insightfull comments about what else is wrong in the hasidic community, all the supposed mollestations and infidelity etc. giving that all as the reason why the left the community, while at the same time unwantingly exposing their guilty feelings for their behavior.

International authorities in Jewish law such as Rabbi Elyashiv of Israel have indicated that the secular authorities need to be notified of any case of child abuse. Predators are considered "rodfim" (pursuers) under Jewish law and such individuals must be stopped. Indeed, the Torah mandates stopping someone running after someone to rape or murder them even at the cost of the perpetrator's life.

We live in a country categorized by the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein of blessed memory, the premier sage of our generation, as a country of benevolence. Even if that were not the case, the danger to our children from pedophiles and the like is such that it would warrant notification of the authorities. The Talmud records that a prominent sage without hesitation turned common criminals over to the Roman authorities, who dealt with such individuals often in a brutal manner, including capital punishment.

Those of us who have cared for victims of abuse can testify as to the long-term, and sometimes lifelong, damage caused to these innocent individuals. The damage from abuse is compounded when adults do not believe them, and instead rally around the perpetrator or try to silence the victim. This is unconscionable.

Let us hope that this horrific case will galvanize all of us to be more vigilant about child safety and to report suspected cases of abuse promptly to those trained to investigate such matters and to protect our children, rather than risk being silent enablers of crimes against children.


It is imperative that the Chasidic/Strict Orthodox come to grips with their discomfort and unease about reporting abuses and suspicious activity within their groups. Not reporting such instances is a safety lapse that allowed the perpetrator to target the next victim. This small "crime" has and had very tragic consequences. It's time to take responsibility for your community members in general and your children in particular.

An ongoing crime is the Chasidic/Strict Orthodox community's discomfort and refusal to report any suspicious activity. Adults who did not and do not report prior attempts to lure children into cars or similar abuses are responsible for this lapse of safety that clearly made it easier for the criminal to target another victim.

Why don't the rabbis know about the oddballs in their midst and try and do something first by getting close up to oddballs to hear their story and knowing them better by showing interest. For better or for worse.
Social isolation must be dealt with and who if not the rabbi is best suited esp. to know situation of congregants.

The article notes that the Shomrim's files are not shared with the police. A reader might draw the conclusion that the Shomrim were being irresponsibly secretive in not sharing, although the article does not suggest that at that point. However, it is possible that there may be valid legal reasons why the Shomrim's files could not be shared or used by the NYPD.

It's funny that the writer of this article refrences NYPD saying that he did know his killer, NYPD does not say that , and if it were true, then they would be creating a hole in their version of events which would taint their whole case.

I'm not sure what the purpose of this article is, but it seems the author is just try to bash shomrim, an organization that has halped the NYPD crack numerous crimes. Non-withstanding, i do believe it should have been reported immediately and I do belive the NYPD would have waitied 2 -3 hours, because that is protocol in children missing cases.

It's becoming clear that the first priority of these "first responder" organizations, like Shomrim, Hatzalah, Chaverim, etc., is to protect the community's reputation. If an underage boy gets drunk and passes out in shul, don't call EMS; get a Hatzalah guy to treat him. If you set your neighbor on fire in a botched arson attempt, don't go to the ER; go to the 'burn lady' who runs a 'would-healing gemach' out of her basement. These are all ways to circumvent the mandatory reporting system.

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