Rabbi Kenneth Brander is beyond reproach. He has done probably 1000 times more for victims of abuse and beyond than our own Captains of Morality, and is well-known to be absolutely rock solid on moral issues, such as abuse. Yet, we have the Tzedek organisation, in a move which can only be described as approaching the level of the disgraced site run by Scott Rosenberg, expressing “concern”. To be sure, Rosenberg’s site, like Tzedek, performs some good; but it is an amoeba with an anti-Orthodox (especially Chabad) agenda. It isn’t at all dispassionate about fact finding, and is often twisting and sensationalising headlines like a desperate journalist trying to bring down organisations. Unlike Rosenberg, though, I would have expected Tzedek to have done its own solid research before they dare cast any real “concern” about Rabbi Brander. Tzedek have been tardy. If they have anything of substance, apart from discredited articles from the Forward and elsewhere which we can and have all read, then they should put up. Otherwise, let them shut up, and spend their time in the holy task of supporting victims and unmasking actual predators and their supporters.
Does Tzedek think the community are a pack of fools who need their imprimatur in order to determine moral issues? Do they think that the community and individual Shules haven’t seen the badly researched, journalistic hooey, flashing in neon lights? Rest assured, that members of this community involved in overseeing this visit include many people and Rabbis who are at least as moral, sensitive and aware as Tzedek, but perhaps less inclined to hang people on the basis of unproven innuendo or use over-inflammatory language. Yes, it is true, that some have not (thank God) been victims themselves, but you do not have to be a victim to loathe predators or support those who might come to you for help.
I have personally seen current correspondence from arguably the most respected professional experts in this arena, who are very well acquainted with a situation in which they support Rabbi Brander unequivocally based on personal knowledge of the facts.
Rabbi Brander is not only to be looked up to; he has demonstrated many times that he has zero tolerance for those who wish to sweep such issues under the carpet. He has demonstrated this many times in his career, well before it became de jure to do so. Tzedek would do a lot better to actually engage Rabbi Brander in an hour of private discussion. They would be most surprised, and less inclined to issue their “letters of concern”. I have every confidence that they will be most impressed and enthused.
Life isn’t that simple though, and forming a “connection” between Rabbi Brander and the current civil proceedings over past issues at YU is, frankly, beneath contempt. Is everyone at the Yeshivah Center a supporter of predators because of past sins and ills? Of course not. If they are, then there are people who are directly or indirectly affiliated with Tzedek that can equally dubiously be accused of such “sins of association”.
Tzedek—many in this community do not consider you as our soul or sole moral compass, even though we admire many things you do. We do not consult you in respect of who we should and should not invite to our shores. We have our own access to facts and research, that you simply may not have, nor have discovered. As long as you sit on the outside and do not work within roof bodies all of whom equally abhor abuse, you are in danger of eventually becoming less relevant.
I urge anyone who can attend any and all of Rabbi Branders’ Shiurim and colloquia to do so, and this includes members of Tzedek. This is a unique opportunity.
Disclaimer: it was originally my idea to have the Centre for the Jewish Future invited to Melbourne to aid Orthodox congregations and organisations in order to re-enfranchise ever increasing Jewishly unaffiliated youth to the holy covenant of Torah and Judaism.