Friday, September 19, 2008

Orthodox Jewish Crime


[Simon of Trent, allegedly murdered by Jews]

One topic that seems to be very controversial is the issue of crime and substance abuse within the Orthodox Jewish community.

To the best of my knowledge, these problems are far more rare in the Orthodox community than they are in American society in general.

In regards to violent crime, I posted several months ago a request for information about Orthodox Jewish homicides in the United States. I was able to find only one confirmed case of an Orthodox Jew ever convicted of homicide in the United States; a man in Cleveland who over twenty years ago shot his ex-wife’s father during a dispute. The perpetrator was modern Orthodox and had become Orthodox as an adult. In the United States as a whole, 8,400 Americans were convicted of murder in 2004 from a population of about 300 million. There are about 600,000 Orthodox Jews in the United States. Proportionally, there would be 17 homicide convictions per year in the Orthodox community. I would suggest that a very low rate of homicide is an indicator of a very low level of violence in general since assault often escalates, intentionally or otherwise, to homicide. This applies to child abuse and spousal abuse as well.

In regards to sexual abuse, in the National Sex Offender Registry, there are several people who appear to be Orthodox Jews. However, bear in mind that there are over 491,720 registered sex offenders in the United States, meaning that about one in every 620 Americans is a registered sex offender. Proportionally about 970 Orthodox Jews should be registered sex offenders. I don’t believe that there is 1% that number.

As far as substance abuse is concerned, I am aware of only two Sabbath observant residential rehabilitation facilities in the United States - Chabad Residential Treatment Center For Men in Los Angeles, California and Yatzkan Center in Brooklyn, NY for addicted teenage boys age 14-19. Both these centers seem to be very small and serve non-Orthodox as well as Orthodox. When I called, Chabad told me that they have 35 beds and accept non-Jewish patients as well. Over 1.46 million drivers were arrested in 2006 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. This is an arrest rate of 1 for every 139 licensed drivers in the United States. I am not aware of any Orthodox Jew ever having been arrested for driving while intoxicated, although proportionally it should be about 1,000 annually.

The rebuttal to this seems to be: These facts are deceptive. In reality, Orthodox Jews are no different than their neighbors, however they succeed in evading detection for wrong doing because they will not report each other to the police. Jewish law allegedly prohibits contacting or cooperating with the authorities and the Orthodox community will shun anyone doing so. Therefore, few outsiders are aware of the actual level of crime and substance abuse within the Orthodox community.

In my humble opinion, this is ludicrous.

Jewish law does not prohibit cooperating with the authorities in regards to violent or sexual offences.

Many people leave the Orthodox community annually and would certainly have no compunctions about reporting any complaints to law enforcement.

Homicide would be impossible to completely conceal. Large numbers of people cannot easily disappear without law enforcement becoming involved. It is difficult to dispose of bodies without attracting any attention or leaving any traces.

Law enforcement officers would directly detect drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In my humble opinion, this charge that “Orthodox Jews merely appear to be so good however in reality are evil” is an ancient anti-Orthodox, if not anti-Semitic, canard.

Jesus is quoted as saying (Matthew 23:27) “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.”

Martin Luther wrote in the “The Jews and Their Lies” chapter XII: “They deny just as brazenly as they lie. And wherever they can secretly curse, poison, or harm us Christians they do so without any qualms of conscience. If they are caught in the act or charged with something, they are bold enough to deny it impudently, even to the point of death, since they do not regard us worthy of being told the truth. In fact, these holy children of God consider any harm they can wish or inflict on us as a great service to God. Indeed, if they had the power to do to us what we are able to do to them, not one of us would live for an hour. But since they lack the power to do this publicly, they remain our daily murderers and bloodthirsty foes in their hearts. Their prayers and curses furnish evidence of that, as do the many stories which relate their torturing of children and all sorts of crimes for which they have often been burned at the stake or banished. Therefore I firmly believe that they say and practice far worse things secretly than the histories and others record about them, meanwhile relying on their denials and on their money.”

Therefore the accusation of secret Jewish criminality is far from original. Through out the Middle Ages, Jews were constantly accused of murdering Christian children and abusing communion wafers. As recently as 1989, a woman appeared on Oprah claiming to have participated in Jewish human sacrifice. The woman, according to some websites, was in fact Vicki Polin, who now operates a website dedicated to alleged rabbinical sexual abuse.

46 comments:

offthederech said...

>Jesus is quoted as saying (Matthew 23:27) “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.”

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Anonymous said...

I read recently that 1% of the American population is currently serving time in prison. I read a few years ago that a law was passed that said that the state must accomomdate the religious dietary needs of prison inmates. A total of 70 prisoners requested kosher food. If the Jewish prison population was proportional to that of the rest of the country, then that means that there should be a total Orthodox population in New York State of 7000. And I'm sure that many of the convicts became interested in keeping kosher after they were caugh tand convicted. They underwent jail house conversions.

jewish philosopher said...

"Couldn't have said it better myself." Oh, I know. Plenty of people say that, believe me I was raised by Lutherans. And I find such people to be disgusting bigots.

DrJ said...

No doubt that religion, not just Judaism, can be a moderating force in people's lives. I think that you'll find the same healthier lifestyle and community life in many traditional Christian communities. The awareness that "somebody may be watching" probably reinforces moral behavior. At times, however, it can and has been perverted to justify immoral behavior. There is no shortage of orthodox ganavim.

In my view, the bottom line of all morality is the reduction of suffering of living beings, both individual and collective. The details involve balancing the two. Just about any moral issue that one can think of involves the issue of suffering.

I don't believe in the infinite value of human life (or non-human life, for that matter), and even the Torah acknowledges this. The Torah clearly reflects a differential value in people's lives, based on their faith, ability to work, gender, slave status, etc. Similarly modern morality empasizes the degree of suffering and quality of life in determining life's value. The debates on abortion reflect this.

As a doctor I favor assisting terminally ill suffering patients to end their lives (although I am personally not involved in this). I know that you, JP, will call this murder, but it is no more so than sending off a soldier to his death in battle or a serial killer to the electric chair (which I favor). If society allow taking these lives, (whose value is obviously not infinite), than why should we not allow a suffering patient to take his own?

jewish philosopher said...

I think that basically religion is similar to government - it is a means of controlling people and making it possible for people to live together. Some governments are better than others, likewise some religions are better than others. I would argue that Judaism is the best religion of all. However atheism is the equivalent of anarchism. The atheist says "Sometimes religion is not good, so let's get rid of all religion", like an anarchist might argue "Sometimes governments are not good, so let's get rid of government". The results are not hard to predict.

DrJ said...

I can't argue with what you say. I think that many sociologists would agree with you, too, in the assertion that when people do bad things in the name of religion, its the bad people, not the bad religion. Some people are just nasty, and will hitch a ride on any "ism", including the religion "atheism". But I think that you misunderstand what many atheists say. They are not advocating eradicating religion and leaving nothing, but rather replacing it with humanism, or law, or whatever-- as a way of making it possible to live together and minimizing human suffering.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that many atheists argue that people are naturally good and religion makes them worse. The question is, is there any evidence to support that?

Again, you could just as well argue that people are naturally good and governments, by being oppressive, starting wars, etc make them worse.

DrJ said...

Agree. This is not so much an atheist position but a liberal one, based on poor sociological research. This lies behind the discredited asserion that society and prisons make the criminals bad, and if we'd only treat them right they'd be good.

Have you read Steve Pinker's work? The Blank Slate is worthwhile reading, and gives a very sanguine assessment, based on research, about human nature.

jewish philosopher said...

I think I read the book a while ago; in fact Professor Pinker and I emailed a little bit. He seems like a nice fellow, but a very dogmatic atheist. He is famous for seeming to argue that secularism decreases violence.

He is right that there is more violence per capita in New Guinea than in New York City, however on the other hand there is far more violence in New York City than there is in New Square.

This is the type of deceptive, selective use of facts which atheists, perhaps con men in general, seem to excel in.

alex said...

JP, I generally really appreciate your posts, and have learned from them. But one thing is bothering me a bit.
Do you think it is really wise to keep pointing out the low crime rates in the Orthodox world to a readership who likes to challenge that by pointing out examples? You might as well be ASKING for your readers to air our dirty laundry.

jewish philosopher said...

In the media and the Internet in general it's being aired anyway.

onionsoupmix said...

You need to read the failed messiah blog. Every day,every week,there are articles on crimes committed by Orthos. White collar crimes such as money laundering as well as regular violence, especially in Israel, in the very ultra communities.

With regards to child molestation, people hide it, rabbonim tell them that it is loshon hora to talk about it. There is so much evidence of that it is overwhelming. You need to educate yourself on the opposing evidence before you post.

jewish philosopher said...

As you may have noticed in this post, I do affirm the existence of crime in the Orthodox Jewish community. I merely point out that the crime rate is very low in comparison to most other communities. This charge that “Orthodox Jews merely appear to be so good however in reality are evil” is an ancient anti-Orthodox, if not anti-Semitic, canard.

little sheep said...

JP, i hate to break it to you, but informing is not the one and only reason why people don't report sex crimes.

there is shame involved, from the survivors end. there is guilt. there is fear of breaking up the family.

i am a survivor, with the support of my family and rabbanim. you may want to deny that the problem of sex abuse exists in orthodox world as much as the secular, but i can tell you that i have personally spoken to more than one rav (and i'm talking big time. mishgiach in one of the biggest yeshivos. chassidish rabbanim. email me, and i will gladly provide names) who says that he know HUNDREDS of kids who have been abused! and these rabbanim are not in touch with all the girls i'm in touch with!

if you want to continue to bury your head in the sand, go ahead. but i can promise you that you are wrong.

now let's see if you'll even post my comment.

jewish philosopher said...

"there is shame involved, from the survivors end. there is guilt. there is fear of breaking up the family."

But goyim have no shame, fear or guilt? I'm not so sure.

jewish philosopher said...

Sheep, let me put it this way. I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I am going to assume that you are sincere. However, I think you are very, very naive. You imagine "Oh wow, some man touched me! No place can be worse than my community!"

You just can't even begin to imagine.

little sheep said...

JP, here's where you're wrong. i'm not saying that there's no place worse than my community. i think that my community is a WONDERFUL place. proof of that is that i grew up in a household with 7 males, and only one was sick enough to do anything to me. but molestation and abuse is a lot worse than "some man touched me." and it's quite interesting that you didn't even ask which rabbanim i refered to in my comment.

goyim have plenty of fear, shame, and guilt as well. not every incident of rape, abuse and molestation gets reported. i think you're the one who is being naive here. like i said, you can email me, and i can give you names of rabbanim who agree. and let me tell you, they are not naive. some of them are quite well known. in fact, one name i can give you here, along with his website. ever heard of rabbi yakov horowitz? are you going to call him naive? www.rabbihorowitz.com

after you read what he has to say, you can come argue with me.

let me make something very clear, once again. the jewish community is wonderful. i have amazing friends and parents. i went to a great school. i love yiddishkeit, even if i'm finding some things very difficult. but i was abused, by a very frum looking guy, as were many, many other people. it's out there, and as long as people will deny it, there will be more abusers.

jewish philosopher said...

Who is denying anything? In my post I wrote "In regards to sexual abuse, in the National Sex Offender Registry, there are several people who appear to be Orthodox Jews."

I am denying what you wrote "that the problem of sex abuse exists in orthodox world as much as the secular"

LS's Friend said...

JP- let me tell you something. I am by no means an expert in this manner, and my only experience is knowing Little Sheep.
Let me start with a question. Before you doubted LS's sincerity, did you read her blog? Did you hear the pain she conveys with every word she writes? Do you begin to understand the pain she experiences constantly? Can you imagine how hard it is for a friend who lives in a different city (as I do) to listen to LS on the phone and not be able to help her any more than listen? And that is the tiniest bit of second hand suffering...
JP, please realize that LS is a million percent sincere. She has to avoid family get-togethers because this animal who calls himself her brother is there. Can you imagine?
"Oh wow, some man touched me! No place can be worse than my community!"
Hello? That animal did not just "touch" her. Sorry if I sound like I am attacking, but that minimizes what LS went thru, and therefor maximizes the pain. She did not invent this. She is going thru therapy for more than ten years. That isn't because some guy "touched" her. It is because there is a very "frum" sicko on the loose, a sicko who lives in a frum community and has a daughter now...
Again, I refer you to LS's blog. I doubt you will feel like this when you are finished.

I am not dennying the fact that there are sickos in all communities. I will even conceed that it is possible that it seems like more than it really is in the orthodox sphere of things, because our community is so tight knit, and every tragedy is felt so much. But you have to realize that burying your head in the sand is just plain wrong. There are girls out there who are seriously suffering. And you also have to realize that minimizing their experiences is invalidating them and maximizing their pain.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm just wondering, why is it that every time I state the obvious truth that the Orthodox community is far better than the secular community, I get a bunch of angry comments "JP, you don't know what's going on!"

I do know what's going on. And I know what Antisemitism is too.

little sheep said...

maybe JP, it's because you say it in a way that makes it seem like you're denying the flaws in our community.

jewish philosopher said...

In the post I write that there are several convicted Orthodox pedophiles.

little sheep said...

i don't deny that you wrote there are "several convicted Orthodox pedophiles." my point is, that there is a difference between the "several" who are convicted, and the fact that there are hundreds of others. it's a lot more widespread than you portray it to be. THAT is the problem with your entire post.

and just for the record-kids with substance abuse problems will very often go to non jewish programs, out of fear of meeting up with people they know. this is true with most mental health issues. there was an attempt to start an frum inpatient psych ward in NY, and it fell through, no one wanted to be admitted there.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think law enforcement favors Orthodox Jews, if that's what your implying.

little sheep said...

that's my point. it's not that they favor the Orthodox Jews. it's that for many, many reasons, it goes unreported. i can tell you that from experience. i never reported. none of my friends have either.

jewish philosopher said...

And what makes you think gentiles do? Maybe Orthodox Jews, who are so sensitive to modesty, report much more often.

little sheep said...

not all gentiles do either. but in a way, it's our modesty that stops us from reporting. and our fear of hurting our parents. did you stop to think about what it might be like for a young girl to get up in front of a bunch of men and say "he touched me here, made me touch him there, he did ____, he said____"? i can only tell you from my view of things, but based on things that i have read about the court procedures, i probably would not have made it out alive, being prone to suicidal tendencies. the same can be said of a lot of people.

did it ever occur to you that many kids (in both the jewish and secular worlds) don't report because they've been threatened that no one will believe them (which is often the case-people dismiss claims on the grounds that "he's such a wonderful person/ba'al chessed/big tzaddik he would never do that")? or because they've been threatened with the lives of their families and friends? because they love the perpetrator, and don't understand that he doesn't love them?

here are some quotes from the "pursuing legal action" section of a survivors website:
"One of my witnesses in my case got some very nasty verbal abuse from my perps best friend sat. night"
"hi, I shared last fall how a PI was spreading lies to anyone who knew me in hopes to intimidate me. Its happening aagain, but this time much more serious. I just wrote a post describing it but my battery died and i'm too emotionally exausted to explain it again. But basically he is now telling people that its my fiance thats accused of the r*pe and spreading lies about him, my best friend, and a former roommate. He is trying to turn people closest to me against me. The defense even subpeanad my best friend for the trial next month to speak on behalf of the perp. I'm baffled and worried. I talked to my lawyer and victims advocate, and nothing can be done since slandering is only unethical, even if he is using blatant lies to try and fish for info."
"I have to call a certain agency in my city. An attorney directed me there. I am supposed to call and say, Hello, I was molested as a young child in the city of *blank*. I am still in college and would like to see the guy prosecuted. Who do I contact?"
I emailed them. No response yet. I have contacted several other people but they really feel this is the place to start. I am terrifed to call and say just that simple sentence, why is that so scary? I have told quite a few people...but...a stranger..on the phone?"

i think that's enough for one comment...although, if you'd like more, i'll gladly find more.

jewish philosopher said...

Fine, whatever. But if you think the problem is even remotely comparable in the Orthodox Jewish world and the secular American world, then you are either very naive or antisemitic.

little sheep said...

all i'm saying is that the proper way to find out if it is at all similar is to call up rabbanim who are involved and ask them. the national registry is not the place for complete information on this issue.

jewish philosopher said...

The answer is obvious.

little sheep said...

the answer is only obvious once you've spoken to the rabbanim involved. they know thousands of kids, and usually will also know if they reported or not. to do proper research on a topic, you can't only look at one source of information.

if you look at the secular media, israel targets children when fighting terrorism. is that really what happens?

just as we have to look at all the sources there (first hand reports, the jewish media, and the secular media), we have to look at all the sources here. so far, you have the secular source (national registry), a first hand survivor report (me), but you don't have a single rav on your side. again, i invite you to speak to one of the rabbanim, either rabbi horowitz or you can contact me and i will give you other names. until you do so, you have not researched the topic enough to speak/write on it.

jewish philosopher said...

LS, I used to be gentile. My brother and mother still are. I divide my time now between work in Manhattan and home in Wesley Hills. I am telling you once more: If you think the problem is even remotely comparable in the Orthodox Jewish world and the secular American world, then you are either very naive or antisemitic. I have no doubt Rabbi Horowitz would agree. If any rabbi does have any questions, they may contact me.

little sheep said...

i'm not going to continue arguing, only because you expect sources to come running to you. i gave you the source, now go check it out. i wish i could say i was sure you're right. i'm not sure though. you haven't given an unbiased report yet.

jewish philosopher said...

As far as crime goes, I look at crime statistics.

little sheep said...

statistics are nice, but don't include unreported crime. and by the way, even in the secular "statistics" experts say that the majority of sex crimes GO UNREPORTED

jewish philosopher said...

So what's your advice? Do a survey - "Have you committed a crime - yes or no?"

little sheep said...

go talk to rabbanim who are involved, and have a better picture of what is really going on. i mentioned one. have you contacted him? his website has a phone number to call him on, during certain hours in the evening? have you tried calling?

jewish philosopher said...

And Rabbi Horowitz is also an expert on how many secular American girls are abused?

I really can't believe it how whenever I write a post like this, someone comes out screaming "There are no Jewish addicts, drunks, pedophiles?? What do you mean, I know somebody who smokes pot!"

Come on.

little sheep said...

since you're not convinced that this is a major problem today, i'm sending you a quote from an email i got yesterday, from someone who was at the first day of the Nefesh convention last weeek. (Nefesh is an organization connecting frum mental health professionals worldwide.)
"...at the nefesh convention last week, and someone mentioned that the problem in our community has grown to the extent that there are websites such as your in which beis yaakov women can discuss their situation. i did a search..."
still not convinced?

jewish philosopher said...

LS, I don't think you're reading what I am writing. I'm saying the problem is tiny compared to secular society, not that there is no problem. I am admitting that there are convicted offenders in the community.

Let me just give you some examples.

A single mom. Very common in a society where 40% of children are born to single women and 50% of marriages end in divorce. She is desperate for a husband/boyfriend. Some guy moves in. He really is a pedophile who is interested in the kids not her. The mom may even know that and doesn't care. Or the mom may be on drugs. An addict will do anything for drugs. A dealer comes over and says "Here's a bag of cocaine, but you're child is coming with me for the day." This is an everyday thing today. Do you see why there is a difference?

little sheep said...

i hear what you're saying. but you should know that most abuse happens with someone the child is VERY familiar with. so "some dealer" doesn't fit the general profile. it's most likely to be the kids father, uncle, friend, sibling...

there is no real way to compare to secular society.

jewish philosopher said...

That's it. It can't be compared.

another blogger said...

Stats can be deceptive. I know that saying we have a low homicide rate sounds very nice, but you have to compare it to other (educated) minorities as well. For example, how does our homicide, drug abuse, and sexual abuse compare to the Chinese or Indian (insert other educated minority) communities here in the US?

Further more, there are a number of sexual abuse scandals in the Orthodox Jewish that are coming to light. Most get hushed up though. The Rabbi of my old Schul was involved in a big scandal. I've only heard of a handful of scandals. Most people don't go around talking about them because it's considered Lashon HaRaa, so we really never hear about them until a reporter gets wind of it.

jewish philosopher said...

"a low homicide rate sounds very nice, but you have to compare it to other (educated) minorities as well"

You mean how does the crime rate among Orthodox Jews compare to the crime rate among other Americans who are not black or Hispanic? I think pretty well. Utah for example is about 90% white http://www.infoplease.com/us/census/data/utah/demographic.html yet has a fair amount of violent crime http://www.justice.utah.gov/Research/Crime/utahvsus.html about 1 crime per 500 residents per year.

"Most get hushed up though."

In other words, Jews are not more law abiding but are just more sneaky. I think I've already dealt with that theory.

gatogreensleeves said...

This should be here too:

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/07/23/crimesider/entry5182910.shtml

jewish philosopher said...

As you may have noticed in this post, I do affirm the existence of crime in the Orthodox Jewish community. I merely point out that the crime rate is very low in comparison to most other communities. This charge that “Orthodox Jews merely appear to be so good however in reality are evil” is an ancient anti-Orthodox, if not anti-Semitic, canard.